"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.
JULY 17, 2003:
INTERNATIONAL TRADE ADMINISTRATION (ITA) ' 'ANTIDUMPING' DUTIES ON STEEL WIRE STRAND IMPORTS
In a 'preliminary determination,' the ITA has imposed tariffs ranging from 11% to 118% on future imports of prestressed concrete steel wire strand (PC strand) from several countries. PC strand is steel strand produced from wire of non-stainless, non-galvanized steel, which is suitable for use in prestressed concrete applications.
The beneficiaries of the tariffs ' American Spring Wire Corp., Insteel Wire Products Company, and Sumiden Wire Products Corp. ' petitioned the Department of Commerce to conduct the Antidumping Duty Investigation. As a result, the ITA determined that the imports were being sold at 'less than fair value' (LTFV).
As is the case with most federal regulations, some groups benefit from the new rules while others are harmed. In this case, the construction industry will pay higher costs for the steel wire strand used in the structures they build. Taxpayers will suffer as well. Since the material is widely used in civil engineering projects, state and local governments will be forced to pay higher prices for PC strand due to the protectionist tariffs.
The LTFV designation stems from Section 733 of the Tariff Act of 1930 that allows domestic manufacturers to reduce competition by lobbying the federal government to impose protectionist tariffs on foreign imports.
Ironically, the Tariff Act of 1930 is widely blamed for worsening the Great Depression. It brought U.S. tariffs to the highest protective level yet in the history of the United States, and this led to retaliatory tariffs from foreign countries. U.S. foreign trade suffered a sharp decline, and the depression intensified.
Brazil (118% tariff):
India (102% tariff):
Korea (54% tariff):
Mexico (77% tariff):
Thailand (11% tariff):
NATIONAL TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION ADMINISTRATION (NTIA) ' FEDERAL GOVERNMENT ESTABLISHES KIDS.US DOMAIN
Billed as 'the first and only 'youth-friendly' Web space to be established by the United States government', it features 'advanced technical, policy and operational mechanisms that keep young people informed, entertained and protected online.'
Information? Or indoctrination?
POSTAL SERVICE (USPS) ' CHANGES IN DOMESTIC MAIL CLASSIFICATIONS
This notice sets forth changes to the Domestic Mail Classification Schedule.
Since 1872, when Congress outlawed the low-priced, rapid delivery of the Pony Express, the Postal Service has maintained a legal monopoly on the delivery of letter mail. Yet, even a government monopoly cannot preserve the USPS's dwindling customer base. The electronic age has adversely impacted their bottom line, as the proliferation of e-mail and online bill paying has significantly reduced letter mail volume.
As a result, the US Postal Service relies more and more on the huge amount of income it derives from bulk rate mail (direct mail advertisers), or 'junk mail.' Unfortunately, postal customers cannot request that the US Post Office cease delivery of bulk rate mail to their residence. Well, they can, but the request will not be honored. How's that for customer 'service'?
The Postal Service lost $1.7 billion in 2001 and another $1.5 billion in 2002. FY 2003 losses are projected at $1 billion.
It's time to decriminalize private letter mail service!
JULY 18, 2003:
CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY DIVISION (CPSD) ' PETITION TO LABEL WEIGHTLIFTING BENCHES TO PREVENT ASPHYXIA
This notice declares that the CPSD received a petition from V. Patteson Lombardi, Ph.D., a human physiology instructor at the University of Oregon. The petition requests that the Commission require labeling of weightlifting bench press benches to prevent deaths from asphyxia due to being trapped beneath a bench press barbell!
I don't mean to be callous, but how do you legislate against stupidity? What's next ' warning labels on toilet seats to warn users about the dangers of slipping into the bowl?
An affirmative decision by the government agency on this critical matter would not be a surprise, considering the source. I'll keep you posted on the Commission's decision.
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