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They’ll Have to Pry My Swine Flu-Infected Blankets from My Cold, Dead Hands

Posted on : Sep-02-2009 | By : Joshua | In : Blog Post

Tags: , ,

2

Look out, guys! It turns out that SOCIALISED OBAMACARE is secretly all about giving the government powers to send unarmed and untrained medical volunteers to enter your home and steal all of your shit! And they’re starting right here in Massachusetts! FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU–

Oh, wait. The government already has the power to do that. It’s called declaring martial law. And of course there’s also eminent domain. And when they use either of those, they have police forces and this heavily-armed, well-regulated militia we like to call the National Guard to come in and take your shit. But clearly the Medical Reserve Corps is what we really need to be afraid of.

Well, ok, it’s easy enough to quote without context a portion of a bill that enumerates emergency powers and scare people like that. But any bill that enumerates new powers always comes with a well-defined set of circumstances where that power applies. You know, just like the laws that permit the use of martial law and eminent domain. So let’s see just what the full bill itself actually has to say about the conditions under which the government is allowed to declare a “public health emergency” and also what it says about who’s actually empowered to conduct the seizures of property.

(I should warn you that I’ll be quoting heavily from the bill, so this is probably going to be rather tl;dr. But I think it’s important to get the full context whenever people are quote-mining to scaremonger about the government killing their grandma or whatever.)

So, what’s the very first sentence of this bill?

Chapter 17 of the General Laws is hereby amended by striking out section 2A, as appearing  in the 2006 Official Edition, and inserting in place thereof the following section

Ok, great. So, first of all, we’re not actually creating anything new. We’re just amending a previously existing power to take into account public health emergencies. Before getting into the new bill, then, it’s probably helpful to look into Chapter 17, section 2A of the Massachusetts General Laws as it already exists:

Upon declaration by the governor that an emergency exists which is detrimental to the public health, the commissioner may, with the approval of the governor and the public health council, during such period of emergency, take such action and incur such liabilities as he may deem necessary to assure the maintenance of public health and the prevention of disease.

The commissioner, with the approval of the public health council, may establish procedures to be followed during such emergency to insure the continuation of essential public health services and the enforcement of the same.

Upon declaration by the governor that such emergency has terminated, all powers granted to and exercised by the commissioner under this section shall terminate.

That’s it. You’ll note that it’s exactly the same as the new bill, except that the new bill explicitly enumerates the powers that the governor and public health commissioner has. It’s more limited than the old law.

What’s especially relevant in the new law is what immediately precedes the scary, scary enumeration of crazy, limitless powers public health authorities have:

[T]he commissioner shall have and may exercise, or may direct or authorize other state or local government agencies to exercise, authority relative to any one or more of the following if necessary to protect the public health during an emergency declared pursuant to section 2A or a state of emergency declared under chapter 639 of the acts of 1950.

Yeah, that’s right. Another reference to previously existing laws defining when a state of emergency can actually be declared. Again, the bill is just explicitly enumerating the powers that were implied under existing law. And it very explicitly doesn’t make it any easier for the governor or anybody else to declare a state of emergency, because it keeps referencing existing laws defining when states of emergency can be declared. If the government isn’t breaking into your home and stealing all your shit now, this bill won’t make it any easier for them to do it.

But, hey, there’s still some scary stuff in here! These “public health authorities” can be anybody that the public health commissioner chooses! And they can do stuff like:

  1. (to require the owner or occupier of premises to permit entry into and investigation of the premises;
  2. to close, direct, and compel the evacuation of, or to decontaminate or cause to be decontaminated any building or facility, and to allow the reopening of the building or facility when the danger has ended;
  3. to decontaminate or cause to be decontaminated, or to destroy any material;
  4. to restrict or prohibit assemblages of persons;
  5. to require a health care facility to provide services or the use of its facility, or to transfer the management and supervision of the health care facility to the department or to a local public health authority;
  6. to control ingress to and egress from any stricken or threatened public area, and the movement of persons and materials within the area;
  7. to adopt and enforce measures to provide for the safe disposal of infectious waste and human remains, provided that religious, cultural, family, and individual beliefs of the deceased person shall be followed to the extent possible when disposing of human remains, whenever that may be done without endangering the public health;
  8. to procure, take immediate possession from any source, store, or distribute any anti­toxins, serums, vaccines, immunizing agents, antibiotics, and other pharmaceutical agents or medical supplies located within the commonwealth as may be necessary to respond to the emergency;
  9. to require in­state health care providers to assist in the performance of vaccination, treatment, examination, or testing of any individual as a condition of licensure, authorization, or the ability to continue to function as a health care provider in the commonwealth;
  10. to waive the commonwealth’s licensing requirements for health care professionals with a valid license from another state in the United States or whose professional training would otherwise qualify them for an appropriate professional license in the commonwealth;
  11. to allow for the dispensing of controlled substances by appropriate personnel consistent with federal statutes as necessary for the prevention or treatment of illness;
  12. to authorize the chief medical examiner to appoint and prescribe the duties of such emergency assistant medical examiners as may be required for the proper performance of the duties of the office;
  13. to collect specimens and perform tests on any animal, living or deceased;
  14. to exercise authorit y under sections 95 and 96 of chapter 111;
  15. to care for any emerging mental health or crisis counseling needs that individuals may exhibit, with the consent of the individuals.

NO! THEY BE TAKIN’ MAH VACCINES! But again, this is all stuff that can be done in any state of emergency, just with a few special clauses specifically related to “health care facilities”. But what stops them from declaring your home a “health care facility” and breaking in and taking your grandma’s insulin? Oh, this part does:

In this section, “Health care facility”, means any non-federal institution, building, or agency or portion thereof, whether public or private (for-profit or nonprofit) that is used, operated, or designed to provide health services, medical treatment, or nursing, rehabilitative, or preventive care to any person or persons.

Oh, shit! That might be me! Oh, wait. No, it’s not. Anyway, speaking of “that might be me”, gwendally then says this:

Later on it gets into some detail of who the “local public health authority or its designee” is that gets to enter your home without a warrant and take any supplies we find expedient. It’s me! Wuhoo!

Orly? Actually, it comes before the enumeration of powers:

In circumstances where the governor declares that the emergency detrimental to public health is limited to a specified local area, the appropriate local public health authority, as defined in section 1 of chapter 111, may, with the approval of the commissioner, during such period of emergency, take such action and incur such liabilities as it may deem necessary to assure the maintenance of public health and the prevention of disease.

Ok, so what about Section 1 of Chapter 111? The new bill amends that, too:

“Local public health authority”, any body politic or political subdivision of the commonwealth that acts as a board of health, public health commission, or health department for a city or town and includes any board of health as defined in this section and any regional board of health or regional health district as defined in section 27B of chapter 111.

OMG THAT COULD BE ANYBODY! Anybody who, you know, is already empowered through the usual political process to have authority over public health in some local area. SCARY. Any old random board of health member could just show up and arrest me!

Upon request or issuance of an order by the commissioner or his or her designee, or by a local public health authority or its designee, an officer authorized to serve criminal process may arrest without a warrant any person whom the officer has probable cause to believe has violated an order given to effectuate the purposes of this subsection and shall use reasonable diligence to enforce such order.

… by calling a police officer and demonstrating to said police officer probable cause that I’ve broken the law. Which happens to be exactly how warrantless arrests can be conducted now, as defined in the goddamned Fourth Amendment.

Seriously, if I could demonstrate probable cause that you’ve committed a crime, I could have you arrested. Right now. Without a state of emergency and without being a “local public health authority or its designee”. Because that’s how arrests work.

Anyway, I’ve already humoured this bullshit far more than it deserves, so let’s review what this bill does. It enumerates some powers that existing, pre-defined “local public health authorities” will have… if a state of emergency has been declared, under the already existing laws for declaring states of emergency. Oh, yeah, and most of the new powers have to do specifically with compelling health providers to, you know, provide health in the case of a emergency related to public health. But they can have you arrested without a warrant… if they call the cops and demonstrate probable cause that you’ve broken the law.

But, hey, I’m obviously wrong. Some random asshole on LJ who listens to Alex Jones can be trusted on this. It’s totally a government takeover and shit. For reals.

You’ll excuse me if I decline to don my aluminium chapeau.

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Comments (2)

Um hello. The people that freak out about the “Medical Reserve Corps” also freak out about martial law and eminent domain.

It’s a terrible argument to say that people shouldn’t freak out about government’s power to ruin your life and society because the government has had that power for a long time.

If you want to wear a tin foil hat, that’s your business.

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