"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.
FEBRUARY 18, 2003 :
COMMODITY CREDIT CORPORATION ' CONSERVATION SECURITY PROGRAM (CSP)
This program was authorized by the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002, the massive federal spending bill that provided unprecedented levels of subsidies to farmers across the nation.
According to the notice, the CSP is a 'voluntary' program that provides 'financial and technical assistance to promote the conservation and improvement of soil, water, air, energy, plant and animal life, and other conservation purposes on Tribal and private working lands.'
Voluntary? The program is NOT 'voluntary' for the taxpayers who are forced to pay for it. Besides, the government has a horrible track record when it comes to conservation--from the mismanagement of national forests and the uncontrollable wildfires that ensued, to the innumerable government sites contaminated from military operations such as munitions production.
The federal government has a poor record on these issues. The agricultural operators that qualify for this 'voluntary' program would be wise to stay away.
Also, note how the statists shrewdly define taxpayer-funded government spending as an 'investment,' as they did when naming the bill that authorized this program. Yet, private spending or investment by entrepreneurs and other individuals is often considered 'hoarding' or simply 'greedy.'
FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE ' SUBSISTENCE MANAGEMENT REGULATIONS FOR PUBLIC LANDS IN ALASKA
This ruling governs subsistence use of wildlife in Alaska by clarifying how old a person must be to receive a Federal Subsistence Registration Permit.
That's right. The Fish and Wildlife Service requires locals who fish and hunt for their survival on public lands in Alaska to obtain a federal permit to do so. How much lower can the feds stoop in their quest to regulate everyone and everything?
By the way, the federal government owns about two-thirds of Alaska .
NATIONAL HIGHWAY TRANSPORTATION SAFETY ADMINISTRATION ' DENIAL OF REQUEST FOR PETITION
This notice denies a petition for rulemaking from Mr. Ronald J. Slaughter. His request? That the NTHSA initiate rulemaking that would require automakers to equip new vehicles with instrumentation that would alert police when the vehicle is being operated while one or more of the occupants is not wearing a seat belt!
Mr. Slaughter's petition would have required all new cars to be equipped with continuously burning lights mounted inside and outside the vehicle that would be visible when all occupants are belted. He suggested that lights outside the vehicle would help police officers enforce mandatory seat belt laws, thus increasing the rate of safety belt use.
Ostensibly, the denial of this petition is a victory for less government intrusion into our lives.
However, consider the absurdity of a federal department that would actually consider such a proposal--not to mention the taxpayer dollars that were spent on administration, research and the rulemaking process that ultimately denied Mr. Slaughter' petition.
FEBRUARY 19, 2003 :
FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE ' DESIGNATION OF CRITICAL HABITAT FOR THE RIO GRANDE SILVERY MINNOW
This ruling requires 212 miles of streams and rivers throughout New Mexico to be designated 'critical habitat' in order to preserve the Rio Grande silvery minnow. The critical habitat designation includes lands located within 300 feet on each side of the streams. The Fish and Wildlife Service estimates the cost to taxpayers for implementing this critical habitat designation will range from $1.9 million to $16.2 million annually.
Of course, all public and private lands designated 'critical habitat' in this ruling are restricted from any use that may 'adversely affect' the minnow. So much for private property rights.
INTERNATIONAL TRADE ADMINISTRATION (ITA) ' ANTIDUMPING NOTICE ' POLYVINYL ALCOHOL FROM GERMANY
The ITA determined that polyvinyl imports from Germany have been sold at 'less than fair value,' as provided in Section 733(b) of the Tariff Act of 1930. The United States international Trade Commission determined that these imports are 'materially injuring United States industry.'
Polyvinyl alcohol has many industrial applications due to its high abrasion resistance, tensile strength, and resistance to greases and other petroleum hydrocarbons.
As a result of this 'antidumping' determination, the ITC imposed a 19.05% tariff on future imports by the two major non-American producers, Clariant GMBH and Kuraray Specialties Europe GMBH. The effect of the tariff is a hidden tax that American consumers will never see. Higher prices, courtesy of government intervention in the markets.
The act that authorized this tariff, the Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act of 1930, is widely blamed for exacerbating the depression. It brought the U.S. tariff to the highest protective level yet in the history of the United States . The act brought retaliatory tariff acts from foreign countries. U.S. foreign trade suffered a sharp decline, and the depression intensified.
The act continues to haunt us to this day.
FEBRUARY 20, 2003 :
AGRICULTURAL MARKETING SERVICE (AMS) ' GRADE STANDARDS FOR FROZEN CELERY
The AMS is soliciting comments on its proposal to create new standards for grades of frozen celery, including a description of the product, style, sample unit size, and grades. The grade of a sample unit will be ascertained by considering the factors of varietal characteristics flavor and odor, color, defects, and character.
It seems that a bureaucrat's work is never done!
FEBRUARY 21, 2003 :
TREASURY DEPARTMENT ' FINANCIAL CRIMES ENFORCEMENT NETWORK (FinCEN); ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING PROGRAMS FOR DEALERS IN PRECIOUS METALS, STONES, OR JEWELS
FinCEN is issuing this proposed rule to require dealers in precious metals, stones, or jewels to establish anti-money laundering programs, pursuant to the provisions in the U.S.A. Patriot Act of 2001.
The stated purpose of the program is to prevent international money laundering and the financing of terrorism. In reality, it simply allows the federal government to get its greedy hands on information regarding private financial transactions between consenting parties. This will likely result in more frequent incidents of government seizure of private property due to the mere suspicion of illicit activities.
With this ruling, the federal government is harassing honest, peaceful individuals in the name of 'combating terrorism.' Who are the terrorists here?
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