Thinking Out Loud

Man, by virtue of evolution, is programmed to learn by swapping tales around the campfire. Welcome to my fire.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

By Whose Authority?

We are back in the disaster season. California wildfires are again threatening residential areas, and tornadoes are showing up in the weather forecasts for the central and some eastern states. Flash floods are regular threats along some roadways. I see in today's news that "authorities have ordered mandatory evacuations" in some fire threatened areas.

This idea of "authorities ordered" is one I found troubling. In a nation built on the principals of personal freedom, personal sovereignty, it seems that we should be extremely reluctant to accept any authority by any government agency ever having the power to mandate. Simply put, authority held by government is freedom taken from the individual.

Now in Texas, we still have a fairly clear idea of what authority our elected officials have in regard to mandatory evacuations. It is stated in "Texas Homeland Security Strategic Plan, Part III State of Texas Emergency Management Plan" Section A Situation, Item 11 (page 5) which states:

Elected official in Texas do not have the authority to issue mandatory evacuation orders. However, the Governor, mayors, and county judges may recommend evacuation of the population and control ingress and egress to and from a disaster area.

Reading through the entire plan, the logic used is consistent. Authority and responsibility rests first with the individual. This responsibility includes when to act, how to act, planning and preparation for action, and mutual assistance between neighbors and any outside organization. This planning and preparation, and the mutual assistance between neighbors and outside organizations, moves up as the scope of a disaster expands. This is why Texas Governor Perry offered assistance from Texas to Louisiana, and is prepared to offer or request assistance from all neighboring states.

So, at least in Texas, the individual is the final authority on whether to evacuate.

Interestingly, and of great importance, is the role of the federal government. Just as the individual Texan does not surrender his authority to local, county, or state government, Texas does not surrender its authority to the federal government.

Something to keep in mind as we enter another season of natural disaster threats.

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Anonymous allen Barth said...

Getting kind of anal in your old age aren't you?

5/05/2008 11:53 AM  

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