In 1952, during the Korean War, the United Steel Workers of America had gone out on strike. The union was demanding pay increases beyond what steel firms said they could afford to pay, unless they were to raise prices beyond what would be approved by the government’s Wage Stablization Board (set up for the war to attempt to keep costs in line despite inflationary government policies).
President Harry Truman, Democrat, unilaterally declared the steel firms to be at fault for the strikes, which were set to cripple Defense contractors’ ability to keep the war supplied. So, the President nationalized America’s steel manufacturing plants with the plan of dictating his own terms to the unions, appeasing them as part of his political base, while keeping afloat an early front of the Cold War.
The Supreme Court two months later shut the President down, denying the administration’s claim that he had broad implied or residual powers to do whatever he wanted as President of the United States. Had he relied on the Selective Service Act to take control, he might have gotten away with it, but he refused to use it because it had too many pesky controls to protect property rights. Had he relied on Taft-Hartley to stop the strikes, he might have gotten away with it, but he refused to use it because the unions were his allies.
So today, it is surely with the case of Youngstown Sheet & Tube co. vs Sawyer in mind that the Congress debates giving President Barack Obama, Democrat, sweeping authority over Internet Service Providers, including the authority to nationalize whatever Internet resources he declares to be important.
S. 773, a bill by West Virginia Sen. Jay Rockefeller, Democrat, has a 55-page draft bill that would create new “emergency” powers for the President, a ‘cybersecurity’ Enabling Act of sorts, that would give the President the authority broad powers over any “non-governmental” computer networks, whether public or private, that are declared by the President to be “critical.”
On its own, this power is already dangerous, and even frightening to anyone in the industry. Whether large or small, we all who operate on the Internet invest in online capital. Large firms spend billions on the task, and now the Democrats want to nationalize it at the drop of a hat. This is threatened theft on a scale not usually seen outside banana Republics.
These powers extend beyond declared emergencies, however. Rockefeller’s bill would immediately grant the ability of the government to control hiring and firing of jobs related to these so-called critical networks, because the President could unilaterally declare that jobs related to those networks would be required to be filled by people certified to the task by the government. And much like with the car dealerships, the Obama administration is fully expected to use its power to favor political allies for these jobs by granting or denying certification depending on your level of donations to Obama for America or the Democratic National Committee.
Elections have consequences, and all those people who told themselves that Democrats would leave the Internet alone now have a lesson to learn regarding letting the scorpion of big government onto their backs. But it is not too late, and we all now can unite against the socialist threat now looming over the Internet.
The author is a contributing editor at RedState.com and a new media consultant available for hire. He can also be found on Twitter.