On the Independent Institute’s blog:
During World War II, the U.S. government created and operated a system of fascist central planning. (I have described this system in my books Crisis and Leviathan and Depression, War, and Cold War.) After the war, much of this system was abandoned, but it was revived in large part during the Korean War, and it was retained afterward in the form of statutory authority for its reinstatement whenever the president might so order under the authority of the Defense Production Act of 1950, as amended….
[Obama's recent order] shows plainly that private control of economic life in the United States, to the extent that it survives, exists solely at the president’s pleasure and sufferance. Whenever he chooses to put into effect a full-fledged operational fascist economy, controlled from his office, he has the statutory power to do so; all he has to do is to murmur the words “national defense” and give the orders…
Higgs is the premier scholar on the growth of government in America. For an introduction to his thought, I have particular regard for the speech he delivered in New York for the Mises Institute’s 25th anniversary in 2007. I was there, and I will never forget it.
The text is available here.