“Indeed if all needs felt by important groups that can be satisfied only by the exercise of dictatorial powers constitute an emergency, every situation is an emergency situation.”
People are rightly wondering about the legal and constitutional authority to impose strict lockdowns on both the population and the economy, and more broadly wondering whether, like “emergencies” in the past, our current response will lead to a permanent expansion certain kinds of government power (and spending!), and thus yet another ratchet to larger government and a further diminution of individual liberty. Many “temporary” measures and policies seem to have a way of becoming permanent after the emergency is over.
I decided to check out what F.A. Hayek might have had to say on this question, and sure enough, in his mid-1970s opus Law, Legislation and Liberty, Vol. 3, ch. 17, he offers this extended reflection:…