Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Ruling by Decree: How Will President Obama Use his Authority to Issue "Executive Orders?"

One of the most important, yet least publicized, powers of the U.S. President is the authority to issue legally binding decrees, without the consent of Congress.

Using an instrument known as an executive order, the president may, at the stroke of a pen:

•Freeze the U.S. property of any person, entity, or government

•Eliminate the right of habeas corpus and bring accused political criminals before military tribunals for trial

•Imprison or detain individuals or an entire class of people without trial

•Impose national banking "holidays" closing all U.S. banks or restrict and ration currency withdrawals and the cashing of checks or drafts.

•Shut down domestic stock and commodity exchanges

•Investigate, regulate, or prohibit the importing, exporting, or holding of currency, securities, or precious metals

•Impose punitive taxes on inbound or outbound foreign investments

•Impose wage and price controls

In the 230-year history of the United States, presidents have used all of these powers. In just the last eight years, President George W. Bush has unilaterally frozen the assets of suspected terrorists, dramatically expanded surveillance of domestic communications, and detained hundreds of people without accusing them of any crime.

President-elect Obama campaigned on a platform of "change," but there is little assurance that he will be more judicious in his use of executive orders than George W. Bush. That's because in a crisis—or a perceived crisis—executive orders are a convenient way to demonstrate to the American people that their president is "doing something" to deal with the problem.

In the Bush administration, of course, the "problem" was the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. President-elect Obama still faces the specter of terrorism, of course, but the unraveling economy presents an even greater challenge. And, especially if Congress doesn't go along with his domestic policy agenda, Obama may be tempted to draw on precedents set by previous presidents to "go it alone" via executive orders. For instance, in 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued an executive order that temporarily closed all U.S. banks. He issued another order that mandated the forced sale of all gold and silver held by U.S. persons.

Still, while hoping for the best, it's important to be prepared for the worst:

•Set up an offshore account if you haven't done so already. If you already have one, it wouldn't hurt to add to it if you can afford to so.

•Keep enough cash on hand to pay for at least a month's necessities if U.S. banks close down. Store it securely at home or other private location, NOT in a safety deposit box. Also keep some "junk silver" and small denomination gold coins on hand. (But keep the bulk of your precious metals holdings offshore.)

•Establish reserves of necessities, especially food and water.

•Upgrade the physical security of your home.

It's hard to imagine why anyone would want to be president as the United States heads into what may be the worst economic downturn in its history. President-elect Obama made that choice, and I wish him the best. But I'm preparing for the worst, and you should, too.


Increasing Obama Rule By Decree

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