Tyranny is the arbitrary use of power that leads to a cruel and oppressive government. Our founding fathers took a stand against it and subsequently developed our unique form of government with three separate but equal branches to ensure that power would be wielded judiciously. Each branch is to serve as a check and balance against the other two. A checks and balance system ensures that no one branch can become too powerful. Is there still a balance of powers in our system of government? The growth and consolidation of power by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) give me the reason to wonder if we are just one disaster away from falling into tyranny.
What began under Richard Nixon’s administration as an agency to ensure our survival under a nuclear attack, has evolved into an agency with more power than the President of the United States or Congress. FEMA has developed into a paramilitary organization that can assume power in the face of any disturbance. Once a disaster has been declared, FEMA has the authority
- to take over all modes of transportation and control of highways and seaports
- to seize and control the communication media
- to take over all food resources and farms, to mobilize civilians into work brigades under government supervision
- to relocate communities, build new housing with public funds, designate areas to be abandoned, and establish new locations for populations.
These represent just a few of the powers granted to FEMA.
We should remember the cautionary words of our founding fathers when considering the power and authority invested in FEMA.
Words of Our Founding Fathers
Nip the shoots of arbitrary power in the bud, is the only maxim which can ever preserve the liberties of any people. — John Adams
Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide. — John Adams
“The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the law of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence.” — John Adams
“It is the religion of ignorance that tyranny begins.”
“Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God”
“It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority.”
“All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.”
“When the people fear the government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.”—Thomas Jefferson
“When once a republic is corrupted, there is no possibility of remedying any of the growing evils but by removing the corruption and restoring its lost principles; every other correction is either useless or a new evil.”
— Thomas Jefferson
“Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force; like fire, a troublesome servant and a fearful master. Never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action.”
“Overgrown military establishments are under any form of government inauspicious to liberty, and are to be regarded as particularly hostile to liberty.”
“The means of defense against a foreign danger historically have become the instruments of tyranny at home.”
“If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be under the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.”
“It is the duty of the patriot to protect its country from its government.”
“Tyranny, like hell is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.”
“The greatest tyrannies are always perpetrated in the name of the noblest causes.