What is Martial Law and How Can It Affect a Business and Society in General?


“Martial Law is the imposition of direct military control of normal civilian functions by a government, especially in response to a temporary emergency such as an invasion or a major disaster.”

Society and business in society is fickle by nature.  There is the day to day functions that exist in a society that almost everybody is involved in, in some way or another.  Going to the grocery store to buy a carton of milk. There is also the negatives in society that will always exist. Somebody trying to steal somebody else’s purse, and civilized societies have laws against that.

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But then there are the gray areas of society … the pressure release valves of society.  Drinking alcohol, indulging in a 40 oz slushy instead of eating a healthy dinner, and even having some fun at Thunderbolt online casino.  When done once in a while and not in excess to a point where you lose control, they can be a healthy way to release the stresses of day to day life — a society pressure release valve.

But what about Martial Law?  Can Martial Law be viewed in the same way?  As a pressure release valve for society in general?

Our Fear of Martial Law

It is written in US law, a law that allows the government to essentially do whatever they need to do in order to “get control of the situation”.  That is a huge amount of power. As Spiderman would say, “With great power, comes great responsibility.”

How do we know that our government officials are not going to abuse this power?  The honest answer is that we don’t. Our only protection is our elections. The ability to “fire” our leaders who are abusing their power.

The same can be said for Executive Orders.  Executive Orders are orders given by the President that do not need to go through the traditional government process.  It a power that was given to the President in the US Constitution. How do we know that the President is not going to abuse this power?  The answer is that we don’t. Our only protection is the elections that happen every 4 years and our ability to “fire” our leaders who are abusing their power.

The third area in the Constitution that is ripe for abuse is impeachment.  Impeachment is essentially overthrowing the voters. Are there times when impeachment is appropriate?  Yes, when our leaders are breaking laws that are written in our law books and can be proven without a doubt in a court of law.  Impeachment is a huge power that is provided to Congress in the Constitution, but as with the other two huge powers provided to our government (Martial Law and Executive Order), it has the potential to be abused if it goes unchecked.

Example: Hurricane Sandy and Martial Law

“Hurricane Sandy was the deadliest and most destructive, as well as the strongest, hurricane of 2012.”  It was formed on October 22, 2012, and dissipated on November 2, 2012. I remember it well because my youngest son was born on November 7, 2012.  

It was an interesting experience.  The roads were closed, so if I went into labor, there was no way that I was going to be able to drive to the hospital that I was scheduled to give birth in.  “Okay, I will just walk to the closest hospital, across the bridge in the next town over.”  The river overflowed, the bridge got flooded, nobody, not even cars, were going to get across that bridge.  “Kid, please stay put inside mommy.” 

Luckily, my son decided to cooperate and stay put inside mommy.  But it took a bit for society to clear itself up, and as would be expected, people panicked.  Electricity was out. There were gas shortages. At one point, we had enough gas in our car that I knew that I could physically get to the hospital, but there would not be enough gas to get home.  At some gas stations, there were mile-long waits.

At least in NJ, the government issued “Martial Law”.  On major through roads, the street lights we turned to green for the major road, and all connecting roads were always red.  If you could get yourself to a major road, you were fine. If you could not, it was a mess.

Some gas stations were taken over by the government.  You try to go to the local gas station, and you were told by the police that the station had no gas.  But then you could clearly see the police cars being filled up with gas.

The government rationed gas at other gas stations.  If the last digit on your license plate was even or odd, determine which day of the week you could fill your car with gas.

On the flip side, the government opened up public areas for people to recharge their phones for free and warmth.  The government used the old short wave radio channels for communication for disaster discussions, so the current police channels would get clogged with storm discussions.  The police chatter on these radio channels during an emergency can be quite amusing at times. Anyway …

Within a week, for a majority of people, things went back to normal.  But for some, like my neighbors across the street, it still took another week for the electricity to return.

But what I remember most about this event is that the NJ governor issued “martial law”, but the NY governor did not.  The end result was that NJ got back to normal quicker than NY did.

In this example, one can argue that Martial Law, with the intentions that it was designed for, was more helpful to society and businesses, than not declaring Martial Law.  Could the NJ Governor have abused his Martial Law power? Of course. He was making up things as he went along.

There was no law in any law book, either before or after this event, that said depending on your license plate, which day of the week you can get gas for your car.  There was no law in any law book that said the government could change street lights to always be red in one direction and always be green in a different direction.

These were made-up laws, but it worked as intended and paved the way for life to return back to normal.

Example: Impeachment of President Trump

The Impeachment of a President is a huge power that is granted to Congress.  But it is like Martial Law in many ways. When used as it was intended to be used, it can be a benefit to society.  But when it is abused, it can be detrimental to society and our trust in our government.

If the governor of NJ decided on a clear summer day to change all of the street lights in one direction to red and rationed which day of the week you could buy gas for your car, everybody would consider it an abuse of power.  The laws did not change. The actions of the Governor did not change. Yet on a clear summer day, those actions would not be considered appropriate. But in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, it was appropriate.

On December 20, 2019, President Trump was impeached by a vote of 230 (all Democrats) to 197 (All Republicans + 2 Democrats).  

The question is “Did the House of Representatives abuse their power in a clearly partisan vote to impeach President Trump?” 

Think about it this way.  6 States had closed their filing deadlines for running in primary elections:  Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, California, Texas, Ohio, and North Carolina. Let’s say that Trump was impeached and forbidden from running in the next election.  Doesn’t that give a clear political advantage to the Democratic Party in the 2020 election?  

The Democrats have already been running their primary elections for 6 months.  6 States have already passed their primary filing deadlines. If the Republicans were forced to find a new candidate for the 2020 election, the Democrats would be entering into the 2020 election cycle with a 6-month head start.  The first Democratic debate was held on June 26, 2019, almost EXACTLY 6 months ago.

Nancy Pelosi is running around saying, “The Senate Trial is going to be a biased trial. We can’t trust the Senate to do a fair trial.”  

Of course, it is going to be a biased trial.  Does anybody honestly believe that any Republican Senator is going to give the Democrats a 6-month head start in the next election?  Does anybody honestly believe that any Democrat Senator is going to give up their 6-month head start?

Impeaching a President AFTER the candidates had already crossed the starting line (June 26, 2019, at 8:00 pm) is inherently biased.  It becomes politics and neither side is going to do anything that would be detrimental to their side winning in the next election.

It is no different than asking if the government should or should not be allowed to ration gas on a clear summer day?  The law technically allows the government to do it, but we trust our government NOT to do it when the situation on the ground does not merit such drastic emergency actions.

The Presidential candidates have already crossed the starting line — 6 months ago.  If the majority of Americans truly believe that the President should be impeached, then the majority of Americans will vote Trump out of office in November.  Impeachment was intended for emergency situations. It was NOT intended to give one political party a 6-month head start in the next Presidential election — a clear abuse of power.

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