"The most common characteristic of all police states is intimidation by surveillance. Citizens know they are being watched and overheard. Their mail is being examined. Their homes can be invaded." ~ Vance Packard
Federal Register Watch
What freedoms have you lost this week?
The Federal Register is the official daily publication for Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of Federal agencies and organizations, as well as Executive Orders and other Presidential Documents. This column attempts to summarize the highlights (or lowlights) of the Federal Register during the preceding week.
Instructions for subscribing to the Federal Register can be found at the end of the column.
MAY 5, 2003:
COMMODITY CREDIT CORPORATION ' LIVESTOCK COMPENSATION PROGRAM
This notice announces the availability of funds to implement the 2002 Livestock Compensation Program. It provides immediate financial assistance to livestock farmers in order to offset losses due to drought. An incredible $937 million was made available for this program (thanks to the involuntary contributions by innumerable American taxpayers) for FY 2002.
Despite the availability of livestock, crop, and multiple peril insurance protection in the open market, the federal government still insists on subsidizing farmers for weather-related losses.
OFFICE OF GOVERNMENT ETHICS (OGE) ' STATUTORY GIFT ACCEPTANCE AUTHORITY
This rule authorizes the OGE to accept gifts for the purpose of 'facilitating the work of the agency.' Additionally, it establishes guidelines for the solicitation and acceptance of gifts and states certain conditions for acceptance and use of gifts.
Office of Government Ethics!?! Talk about a contradiction in terms.
NATIONAL HIGHWAY TRAFFIC SAFETY ADMINISTRATION ' PHASE-IN REQUIREMENTS FOR FUTURE AIR BAGS
This rule requires future air bags to be designed to create less risk for occupants, specifically small women and young children.
Federal mandates can have unintended consequences. The 'passive restraint' requirements in the 1980s, for example, mandated driver and passenger air bags in new vehicles. So far, over 100 children have been crushed to death as a result.
PRESIDENTIAL DOCUMENTS ' NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER
With Proclamation 7672, issued April 30, 2003, President Bush proclaimed May 1, 2003 as a 'National Day of Prayer.'
Personally, I'm praying for less government!
DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY ' FinCEN ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING PROGRAMS FOR COMMODITY TRADING ADVISORS
This rule requires commodity trading advisors to set up 'anti-money laundering programs.' This will allow the federal government to snoop into private financial records of commodities and options traders under the guise of preventing terrorist financing. Another hideous consequence of the USA Patriot Act of 2001.
MAY 6, 2003:
EDUCATION DEPARTMENT ' $99 MILLION FOR THE 'TEACHING AMERICAN HISTORY' GRANT PROGRAM
The purpose of the grant program is to 'raise student achievement by improving teachers' knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of traditional American history.'
It continues: 'By helping teachers to develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of traditional American history as a separate subject matter within the core curriculum, these programs improve instruction and raise student achievement.'
The program intends to instruct teachers, not students, on American history. A question: Why do public school teachers who are currently instructing students on American history, and are licensed and accredited to do so, need further instruction on a subject they should be proficient in?
This looks like a 'make-work' program created to provide funding to local educational agencies (LEAs).
FOOD AND NUTRITION SERVICE ' FOOD STAMP PROGRAM, ELECTRONIC BENEFIT TRANSFER PROVISIONS
This action revises Food Stamp Program regulations pertaining to the standards of approval for the Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) systems.
Instead of receiving traditional food stamps, benefits recipients are now issued a plastic debit-like card and a personal identification number (PIN) through which they access their benefits. With the EBT system, recipients pay for their groceries by swiping the EBT card through Point of Sale (POS) devices in stores.
The EBT card allows benefits recipients to receive their stolen goods without embarrassment. Which is too bad, because there should be some shame involved in forcibly taking other people's property to satisfy one's own needs.
MAY 7, 2003:
COMMITTEE FOR THE IMPLEMENTATION OF TEXTILE AGREEMENTS (CITA) REDUCTION IN IMPORT LIMITS ON TEXTILES FROM SRI LANKA
This directive reduces the quota limits that the CITA allows to be imported to the United States. Besides limiting the choices available to American consumers, this decree hinders the development of a poverty-stricken country ($800 annual GDP per capita) that is heavily reliant on its textile industry.
PRESIDENTIAL DOCUMENTS ' NATIONAL JEWISH WEEK
President Bush proclaims May 4-11, 2003 as 'National Jewish Week,' and urges all Americans to 'learn more about the rich history of Jewish Americans and to celebrate their contribution to our cultural diversity.' L'chaim!
MAY 9, 2003:
FEDERAL DEPOSIT INSURANCE CORPORATION ' CUSTOMER IDENTIFICATION PROGRAMS FOR BANKS, SAVINGS ASSOCIATIONS, AND CREDIT UNIONS
This regulation requires financial institutions to implement 'reasonable' procedures to verify the identity of any person seeking to open an account. It also requires financial institutions to 'maintain records of the information used to verify the person's identity; and determine whether the person appears on any lists of known or suspected terrorists or terrorist organizations provided to the financial institution by any government agency.'
The feds claim that this legislation will 'facilitate the prevention, detection, and prosecution of international money laundering and the financing of terrorism.' In reality, it gives the federal government greater access to the financial activities of every American that uses one of these institutions for banking purposes.
Another product of the anti-liberty USA Patriot Act.
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