Today the government held the first test of the Emergency Alert System, the national warning system that replaced the Emergency Broadcast System. If you could have heard the botched test, it would have sounded just like the EBS tests we’ve heard all our lives, but there is a big difference. The EBS was operated by the broadcast station owners; the EAS is an automated system that allows the government to seize remote control of the station. Previously, stations had been allowed to opt out of specific alerts (but not the mandatory tests) if they chose to.
It operates on AM, FM, Land Mobile Radio Service, VHF, UHF, cable television, digital television, Sirius XM radio, and several other broadcast modes are all required to participate in EAS.
There are several things wrong with this:
- Government seizure of the airwaves. The government has no basis to control the airwaves in the first place. The airwaves are just like any other natural resource — the first to homestead it has the right to profit from it. With the advent of radio, common law courts were in the process of developing a body of law that determined the property rights in the airwaves, when the government simply confiscated them from the private sector and declared itself the owner and administrator of all electromagnetic broadcast frequencies.
- Fascist regulation of station owners. The government has no right to force station owners to spend their own money installing equipment that allows the government to take control. This is nothing less than fascism.
- Government control of broadcasting nationwide. The very fact that the government can now shut down a station’s broadcast at will, without any legal process, should make you tremble in fear. Watch the video above:
I’m sure that over the next few years the government will use this power for good, warning people of bad weather, issuing Amber alerts, and so on. Maybe they will issue alerts for terrorist threats. All these are “good” reasons to give up liberty and hand it over to the government. It reminds me of the One Ring. What scares me is the very fact that the government can shut down all broadcasting and issue a message of its choosing.
One day the FCC will shut down a station because the message being broadcast was distasteful to the men at the power switch. When that happens, it will be too late.