Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Michigan Power Grab

Via Steve Benen comes a story about the new governor of Michigan being granted basically limitless power to do anything he wants.

Newly elected Republican governor, Rick Snyder, is set to pass one of the most sweeping, anti-democratic pieces of legislation in the country — and almost no one is talking about it.

Snyder’s law gives the state government the power not only to break up unions, but to dissolve entire local governments and place appointed “Emergency Managers” in their stead. But that’s not all — whole cities could be eliminated if Emergency Managers and the governor choose to do so. And Snyder can fire elected officials unilaterally, without any input from voters. It doesn’t get much more anti-Democratic than that.

Except it does. The governor simply has to declare a financial emergency to invoke these powers — or he can hire a private company to declare financial emergency and take over oversight of the city. That’s right, a private corporation can declare your city in a state of financial emergency and send in its Emergency Manager, fire your elected officials, and reap the benefits of the ensuing state contracts. [Italics in the original.]

Ironically, this was the kind of thing all the tea-partiers were screaming about last year that President Obama was plotting to do with the stimulus and healthcare law: he’s a tyrant who will stop at nothing to take away the power from the people and turn it over to the bureaucrats and the evil Soshulists. So, naturally, you’d think that the tea-folk in Michigan would be apoplectic about this. Well, you would be wrong. They’re delighted with it.

One of the Republican state lawmakers who supports this effort characterized the plan as “financial martial law” — and as far as he’s concerned, that’s not a criticism, that a defense for this little scheme.

Rule Number 1 of Dictators: It’s not tyranny when we do it; it’s “emergency powers.” (See: Mubarak, Hosni; Castro, Fidel & Raul).