"It is poor civic hygiene to install technologies that could someday facilitate a police state." ~ Bruce Schneier
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 27, 2003:
AGRICULTURE DEPARTMENT (USDA) ' SEMI-ANNUAL AGENDA
Provides summary descriptions of regulations being developed by the USDA, including production quotas, price supports, mandatory marketing orders, subsidized loans, and subsidized crop insurance for every type of agricultural producer ' from tobacco, peanut, wheat, and livestock farmers to sugarcane, rice, corn, and cotton producers.
This document highlights nearly every misguided policy promoted by interventionist, self-serving politicians. As a result, Americans are saddled with an inefficient socialized farming system that limits production and artificially increases the prices that unsuspecting consumers pay for domestic agricultural products.
PRESIDIO TRUST ' SEMI-ANNUAL AGENDA
The Presidio in San Francisco, founded in 1776, was first used as a Spanish military installation and later operated by the Mexican Army before the U.S. Army took control of it in 1846. It remained an operating military base until its closure in 1994, when it was transferred to the National Park Service.
After the base closure, the federal government had the opportunity to sell the valuable property, which spans 1,480 acres from the Pacific Ocean to the San Francisco Bay, and perhaps use the money to pay down existing federal debt. Instead, the politicians chose to create a new taxpayer money pit.
President Clinton signed the Presidio Trust Act into law on November 12, 1996, establishing the trust as a federal corporation. Although the act required the park to become financially sustainable by the year 2013, it guaranteed millions in federal subsidies in the interim.
The Base Closure and Realignment Act that transferred the Presidio to the National Park Service also provided federal funds for cleanup. Originally, the plan was to spend $6 million on the environmental cleanup. However, the Army spent more than $123 million in the first five years.
Most of the cleanup involved removing contaminated soil from landfills that include substances ranging from building debris and household garbage to hazardous materials. But unknown contamination, such as unexploded munitions, may have existed as well.
The Trust enjoys annual federal subsidies in excess of $25 million per year to finance an administrative bureaucracy that employs hundreds of full-time staff and professional consultants.
Additionally, the National Park Service plans to spend more than $600 million on improvements to the land.
Though it is debatable whether or not this federal boondoggle will reach sustainability by 2013, there is no doubt that it will remain a drag on federal taxpayers for years to come.
MAY 28, 2003:
NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION ' $35 MILLION IN GRANTS FOR THE 'FISHERIES DISASTERS PROGRAM'
This program provides financial assistance to the shrimp industries in the Gulf and South Atlantic.
Approximately $35 million will be available for FY 2003 for projects that include: personal assistance, with priority given to food, energy needs, housing assistance, transportation fuel, and other urgent needs; assistance for small businesses including fishermen, fish processors, and related businesses serving the fishing industry; domestic product marketing and seafood promotion; state seafood testing programs; development of limited entry programs for the fishery; funding or other incentives to ensure widespread and proper use of turtle excluder devices and bycatch reduction devices in the fishery; and voluntary capacity reduction programs for shrimp fisheries under limited access.
Surely, the shrimp industry is more than willing to receive federal handouts, which are likely to lessen production incentives. But taxpayers and seafood lovers will pay the price of government intervention that results in less money in their pockets and higher prices at the market.
PRESIDENTIAL DOCUMENTS ' PRAYER FOR PEACE, MEMORIAL DAY
President Bush proclaims Memorial Day, May 26, 2003, as a day of prayer for permanent peace. Meanwhile, many thousands of Iraqi soldiers and civilians and over 200 American troops have died during the Bush-led 'Operation Iraqi Freedom.'
So, as you pray for peace on Memorial Day, be sure to remember all those who died in vain as a result of recent and previous unprovoked U.S. military aggressions abroad.
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