"The war against illegal plunder has been fought since the beginning of the world. But how is... legal plunder to be identified? Quite simply. See if the law takes from some persons what belongs to them, and gives it to other persons to whom it does not belong. See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime. Then abolish this law without delay ... If such a law is not abolished immediately it will spread, multiply and develop into a system." ~ Frederic Bastiat
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 24, 2003:
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY (EPA) ' DISADVANTAGED ENTERPRISE BUSINESS PROGRAM
This rule mandates that a certain percentage of taxpayer-funded EPA grants and cooperative agreements are directed toward business entities run by individuals who are deemed 'socially or economically disadvantaged' (women and minorities).
According to the EPA, this proposed rule 'reflects EPA's efforts to ensure that the compelling government interest of remedying past and current racial discrimination through the use of agency-wide DBE procurement objectives at EPA is served by a narrowly-tailored program.'
In order to remedy the government-approved discriminations of the past, the EPA makes new rules to ensure that government-authorized discrimination (via socioeconomic quotas) will continue well into the future.
INTERNATIONAL TRADE ADMINISTRATION (ITA) ' IMPORT DUTIES ON VIETNAMESE FROZEN FISH IMPORTS
The ITA imposed 'antidumping' duties ranging from 36% to 63% on frozen fish fillet imports from Vietnam after determining that they were being sold at 'less than fair value.' The plaintiffs in the case include the Catfish Farmers of America and several individual catfish processors, who petitioned the government for the protectionist tariffs against their foreign competitors.
Every government-imposed tariff has winners and losers. In this case, domestic catfish producers benefit from the protectionist tariffs that reduce competition. Meanwhile, American consumers are compelled to pay artificially higher prices for fish products at the market.
It is no surprise that so many companies seek government assistance to protect their business. It is much easier to get the government to reduce your competition by imposing protective tariffs and subsidies than it is to offer a better (or less expensive) good or service than your rival.
Protectionist policies are great vote-buying schemes. The beneficiaries of government-induced tariffs or subsidies are always more willing to fight for the involuntary largesse than the victims (taxpayers or consumers) are willing to oppose it.
President Bush's effort to garner political support from the American steel industry by imposing tariffs on imported steel is an excellent example of vote-buying protectionist policies.
It would be more accurate to refer to the ITA as the 'International Anti-Trade Administration,' since they do far more to obstruct free trade than to encourage it.
JUVENILE JUSTICE AND DELINQUENCY PREVENTION OFFICE ' GRANTS AVAILABLE FOR 'GIRLS STUDY GROUP'
The purpose of the Girls Study Group is 'to develop a sound theoretical and empirical foundation to guide future development, testing, and dissemination of strategies to effectively prevent and reduce girls' involvement in delinquency and violence and reduce the negative consequences of such involvement.'
That's psychological techno-babble for 'spending taxpayer money on useless grants that provide jobs for government researchers while providing policymakers with propaganda to promote their social engineering plans.'
JULY 25, 2003:
FEDERAL TRANSIT ADMINISTRATION ' 'BUY AMERICA' WAIVERS
This waiver grants ticket vending machine manufacturers a non-availability waiver to comply with Buy America requirements. Manufacturers sought the waiver since there is no U.S. manufacturer of an equivalent bill-handling unit.
The Buy American Act was originally passed in 1933 to 'encourage' federal agencies to buy domestically manufactured products over foreign goods. A domestically manufactured product is defined as a product made in the United States and comprised of at least 50 percent American-made components.
While the Buy American Act does not prohibit federal agencies from buying foreign products, it discourages their acquisition by imposing an 'evaluation penalty' to their cost!
According to regulation, a Contracting Officer evaluating offers for a civilian agency must add a 6% evaluation penalty to an offer of foreign-made products, or add a 12% penalty if the competing domestic vendor is a small business or operates in a labor surplus area. Defense agencies add a 50% penalty to the foreign offer!
Buy America is nothing more than a federal subsidy to domestic manufacturers. By paying more for goods simply because they are manufactured domestically, taxpayers are saddled with a bigger tax bill. This takes more money out of the pockets of consumers ' money that would have been spent or invested in the economy.
Buy America does not create jobs, as the policy's supporters claim. In reality, it is a job destroyer.
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