[extropy-chat] Politics: US talks of suspending elections

David Lubkin extropy at unreasonable.com
Wed Jul 14 16:34:45 UTC 2004

Samantha Atkins wrote:

>I don't see why we our society needs to answer this hypothetical
>situation before the fact.  Before the fact planning how to shutdown
>the election and for how many reasons makes people pretty darn
>nervous.  If something that extreme happens we will have to deal with
>it vis a vis the election when it happens.   Too much planning in
>terms of extremely horrendous but very small possibilities results in
>paranoia and temptation to invoke emergency powers all ready to go.
>I certainly don't trust an incumbent to decide whether to hold the
>election that could remove him.

It's pretty clear that classified emergency powers have been in place for 
decades. Certainly since the advent of NORAD. I'm sure some date back to 
the flu pandemics or the Civil War.

What we know of them seems scary and unconstitutional.

And yet -- looking at this country's history, the greatest threats to 
liberty have come from the slow, inexorable incursions, not from abrupt 
acts like the Japanese internment or gas rationing. The slow has grown 
roots through decades of add-on regulation and court interpretation; 
emergency measures (usually) abated when the excuse passed.

There are a lot of details to get right in the face or wake of a virulent 
outbreak, governmental decapitation, or continental EMP. Mistakes in 
response can be worse than an initial problem, e.g., paralyzing an accident 
victim with a neck injury by moving her without cervical support.

Since this is fairly obvious, the planning and authorization of requisite 
powers *will* be done. The question is whether it happens in the light of 
day, subject to public scrutiny.

By jumping on anyone who proposes something you find offensive or 
dangerous, e.g., Patriot II or Eliezer's SIAI project, you may not stop or 
alter it. You may simply cause it to move to black. Moreover, it sends a 
signal that, next time, no one should be told about it.

-- David Lubkin.

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