"Freedom is not merely the opportunity to do as one pleases; neither is it merely the opportunity to choose between set alternatives. Freedom is, first of all, the chance to formulate the available choices, to argue over them -- and then, the opportunity to choose." ~ C. Wright Mills
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 26, 2003 :
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE - POLLUTION CONTROL, CONSENT JUDGEMENTS: UNITED STATES vs. DANNY HAMMOND
A proposed consent decree was filed against Danny Hammond, the proprietor of Sauk Trail Val U Car, a used car lot in South Chicago Heights , Illinois . The proposed decree concerns a complaint filed by the United States against Danny Hammond for violations of Sections 301(a) and 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA).
His crime? Depositing fill material on his own land to expand his business. His mistake was depositing the fill into a wetland portion of his property. Section 301(a) of the CWA prohibits discharge of fill material into the 'waters of the United States, ' unless authorized by a permit issued pursuant to Section 404 of the Act. Collectivism rears its ugly head.
The Clean Water Act requires a permit system for the discharge of fill material to be administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Since Mr. Hammond chose not to obtain the permit, the Corps was none too happy.
The proposed consent decree requires Hammond to remove the fill material, restore the affected swamp (er, wetland) to its original appearance, place a deed restriction on the property, and pay a civil penalty of $10,000.
Private property rights are null and void when the government gets involved.
LEGAL SERVICES CORPORATION (LSC)' INCOME LEVELS FOR INDIVIDUALS ELIGIBLE FOR ASSISTANCE
The LSC establishes maximum income levels for individuals eligible for legal assistance. If you actually pay taxes to subsidize this service, don't expect to be eligible to use it.
FEBRUARY 27, 2003 :
FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE ' CRITICAL HABITAT DESIGNATIONS FOR HAWAIIAN PLANT SPECIES
The Fish and Wildlife Service announces its designation of critical habitat for 83 species of plant on the Hawaiian islands of Kauai and Niihau . Approximately 52,549 acres of land on the island of Kauai and 143 acres on the island of Niihau fall within the boundaries of the 217 critical habitat units.
They estimate that the direct economic impact (costs incurred by businesses and individuals as the result of the designation) are to fall between $178,200 and $1,124,800 over the next ten years ' a relatively small amount compared to previous designations.
Approximately 30% of the designated critical habitat areas are private lands. The remainder is state-owned lands.
One of the qualifiers for establishing a critical habitat designation is that the action will not adversely impact the economy (via expenses incurred by individuals, businesses, and governments) by more than $100 million per year! How considerate.
This document is an incomprehensible 364 pages long. Government bureaucracy at its unproductive and destructive finest.
INTERNATIONAL TRADE ADMINISTRATION (ITA) ' ANTIDUMPING DUTIES
Urea Ammonium Nitrate Solutions from Ukraine
The ITA instructed the U.S. Customs Service to impose an incredible 193% tariff on ammonium nitrate imports from Ukraine , after they determined that these imports were being sold at 'less than fair value,' whatever that means. What it does mean is that farmers will pay more for the nitrogen fertilizers that are made from these solutions, which will lead to higher prices for consumers at the market.
The petitioner is the Nitrogen Solutions Fair Trade Committee, whose members include CF Industries, Inc., Mississippi Chemical Corporation, and Terra Industries, Inc. This is just one more example of private businesses using the government to squash their competition. Government intervention, not free markets, leads to monopolistic practices.
RURAL UTILITIES SERVICE ' RURAL BROADBAND ACCESS LOANS AND GUARANTEES
Thanks to the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002, taxpayers will be providing loans and loan guarantees (subsidies) to fund the cost of construction, improvement, and acquisition of facilities and equipment to provide broadband service in eligible rural communities.
High-speed Internet access is now an entitlement!
FEBRUARY 28, 2003 :
TREASURY DEPARTMENT ' TERRORISM RISK INSURANCE PROGRAM
Thanks to the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002, the federal government will 'share the risk' of insured loss from certified acts of terrorism with commercial property and casualty insurers until the program sunsets (or is renewed) on December 31, 2005 .
Taxpayers as involuntary underwriters.
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