Commentary on "Federalism" Executive Order 13083
by Glen Burdue
Special to The Libertarian Enterprise
Not a joke, folks; I've been aware of this one for a few days.
-- Dale Seago firstname.lastname@example.org
President Clinton has just written a dangerous new Executive Order
(EO), on "federalism" which appears to be a major step toward reducing
state legislatures to a mostly ceremonial status, with most major laws
("policies") enacted by federal agencies.
To find it, go to: Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents
http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/nara003.html. Leave the setting at:
"1998 Presidential Documents". Type the word "federalism" on the
search line and click on "Submit".
Clinton and previous presidents have written many dangerous EOs,
but this is the first I have been aware of, for which there is time to
stop it. My congressman's staff is researching the facts for me, but
I believe the Congress has a limited number of days in which it can
stop executive orders -- and after that they cannot kill an EO except
by passing legislation over a presidential veto.
Because of the blatantly unconstitutional usurpation of state
powers, this EO should be of great interest to all state legislators,
as well as congressmen and citizens. If enough people become aware of
it quickly enough, it may be possible to stop it.
This EO gives authority to federal and "independent agencies"
(Sec. 6) to implement policies which supercede state law if "there is
a need for uniform national standards" [Sec. 3(d)(3)]; if the federal
agency can govern more cheaply [Sec. 3(d)(4)]; if the federal agency
can better protect "individual rights and liberties" [Sec. 3(d)(5)];
or if the agency believes the state is unable to implement a policy
The first section and part of Section 2 appear to be a destructive
rewrite of familiar Constitutional principles; the remainder of the EO
specifies how Constitutional principles will be violated.
When you read this EO, consider the validity of the following
speculations: for Section 3(d)(2) we should remember that "protecting
our water supply" is one of the most recent excuses for violating our
rights, e.g., water must be protected beginning with where it falls
within the watershed. So I guess farmers better be sure no fertilizer
is washed off their fields, and homeowners better be sure none runs
off their lawn. If Section 3(d)(2) gives federal agencies authority
over every spot of ground on which rain falls, then federal agencies
will control the entire country.
Sec. 3. (d) (3) Isn't the "need for uniform national standards"
rather broad? Would that include the need for all children to wear
school uniforms? Would that include the need to install exactly the
same high-priced smoke alarm system in every house where there are
Sec. 3 (d) (4) Federal agencies can take over anything that they
think they can run cheaper. Isn't this similar to saying that, if
fascism is the most efficient system of government, then to get
efficiency, we must have fascism?
Sec. 3 (d) (5) The fox will guard the henhouse: historically, the
U.S. government has been somewhat less than noble, such as the cases
of Japanese internment camps in WWII, genocide of American aborigines
as their land was stolen, the Muskeegee experiments, etc. Now federal
bureaucrats will decide whether they can better "protect" our rights
than our local government does.
Sec. 4 Federal agencies will govern. Representatives of state
and local government (but no individuals) can register complaints but
no action needs to be taken on those complaints. There will be no
consideration of individual rights, and there will be no mechanism to
reimburse individuals who are harmed.
Sec. 5 Sets up waivers. This is necessary to enable rewards for
special friends in local government who are willing to do what they
are told and don't make waves.
I have already been told by my Congressman's chief of staff that
the best way to stop an EO is not to kill it, but to cut off its
funding. I disagreed and he later admitted that funding would later
be provided. Let's contact our state legislators and find out if they
believe it would be more "efficient" to allow Federal agencies to
override state law.
Let's also call our Congressmen and Senators immediately to
protest this executive order.
Please take action now!!
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