"It [government] covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting: such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to be nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd." ~ Alexis de Tocqueville
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.
NOVEMBER 3, 2003:
DRUG ENFORCEMENT AGENCY (DEA) - CIVIL SERVANTS PICKING ON THE INVALID AND THE ELDERLY
The DEA is now insisting that long-term care facilities ("LTCFs," one of many acronyms in this notice; shades of FDR's dreaded Alphabet Soup) develop practices to more carefully monitor the release of controlled substances to patients so that excess surpluses don't develop. "Controlled substances" are, by definition, any items that the DEA, the Nurse Ratched of the federal government, deems too fun for the general populace to enjoy.
(One pictures the teacher's pet: "Ma'am, Billy's accumulated a surplus of Oxycontin!")
The federal government has a history of preferring the prevention of the proliferation of unregulated medicines to alleviating the suffering and preventing the deaths of its citizens. (The disregard for humanity by the bureaucrats at the FDA and the opposing generals at the Battle of Verdun are not dissimilar; nor are their justifications.) Here, the state is willing to risk that patients at these long-term care facilities don't receive the medication they need, or that such medication is delivered less efficiently at extra cost to the patients (or other consumers or the taxpayers, depending on the nature of the scheme and the regulations and legislation involved) just so that a few nurses don't end up with surplus painkillers.
No doubt that these leftover medicines sometimes end up in the wrong hands, but this is theft, as these medicines belong to the patient, and these cases should be prosecuted as crimes against the owners of the medicines (the patients or their heirs), not crimes against the state. Only in a society where the personal is the political (and the private is therefore the public--rights, property, etc.), does the government find a reason to get involved and bind itself to the true victim. The state has the final say (effectively, ownership) about what you put into your body, about your body itself, and about your property, all in the name of "public safety." Eminent domain begins with your driveway and ends with your esophagus. Such is the nature of the state, and such is the nature of the do-gooders that seek out government employment to further their neo-Puritan ideals.
NOVEMBER 4, 2003:
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION - MORE GIBBERISH REGULATIONS
In response to Bush's No Child Left Behind Act (which has resulted in increased federal control of education, and will therefore result in more children "left behind"), the Department of Education is enforcing "scientifically based methods" of schooling.
Public education is a well-documented failure, and increased federal involvement makes it far worse. Compulsory mass schooling has resulted in a less-educated, less free-thinking society, one that is falling behind the rest of the world in terms of literacy and innovation.
The origins of the institution of public school remain largely unquestioned today, as if taxpayer-based K-12 schooling was handed down to Adam and Eve. Instead, mass compulsory schooling was forced upon a critical (and, at the time, better educated and more open-minded) public in the Nineteenth Century by a coalition of socialists, industrialists, and do-gooder Protestants who sought a more docile populace. The modern development of the public education system is the brainchild of the "scientifically-based" delirium of certain intellectuals, active throughout the Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries, who believed that society could be efficiently controlled by elites, in the spirit of Utilitarianism, Positivism and Marxism.
The failures of the modern Western system of compulsory schooling and its state monopolist origins are too sweeping to go into here, but it's clear that something is fundamentally wrong with the state's concept of schooling. The idea that the individual should be educated to become the best person that he or she can be has been subsumed by the concept of producing someone that is best for society. Of course, "society" is the state, and the state is that group of individuals who benefit from political power. No surprise, then, that Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller, both of whom were primarily educated outside of the public school system, rose to such great heights, but then advocated compulsory mass schooling to produce a steady pool of unquestioning workers for their elitist industrial society. It's particularly interesting - and ironic - that the leftist ideal of the scientifically-developed citizen should have reached realization through the efforts of industrial barons who themselves received more individual, and effective, means of education, and that they encouraged it in an attempt to preserve their oligarchial, class-based society.
While the goals of and/or reasons for home schooling have been the primary flashpoints for public dissent against public schooling, a stronger basis for opposing the concept of public schools can be found in a proper understanding of the history of their evolution. More information on the development of public education and its failures can be found from the Alliance for the Separation of School and State and, best of all, the writings of John Taylor Gatto.
NOVEMBER 6, 2003:
FEDERAL RAILROAD ADMINISTRATION - MAKING THE TRAINS SHINE ON TIME
The Federal Railroad Administration has developed rules to ensure that railroad cars are more visible to reduce the number of accidents at highway-railway crossings. This is certainly a nice sentiment, but whether or not it is worthwhile can only be determined by the free market, which properly balances needs and risks, unlike the federal government, which milks the taxpayer dry to cover every possible contingency of its semi-nationalized (via regulation and resultant cartelization) industries.
Of particular interest, though, is the fact that the federal government required 29 pages of obtuse regulation merely to ensure that the sides of railroad cars are reflective enough to be seen at night. Even Mussolini, whose electoral mandate was to make the trains run on time (or so we're told), would have ensured their reflectiveness in a half-page of regulations or less, right?
NOVEMBER 7, 2003:
COAST GUARD - SUPER BOAT RACING A MATTER OF PUBLIC SAFETY
The World Championship Super Boat Race was held November 4 - 9 off of Deerfield Beach, Florida, in an area of water otherwise frequently used by commercial fishing and recreational boating vessels. As about 80 watercraft and some 200 spectator boats would be involved, it was deemed necessary to make the area off-limits to any other boats; indeed, this is common sense.
Less sensible, however, is the application of taxpayer funds to this event. A Coast Guard Patrol Commander was present throughout the race, at taxpayer expense, to ensure that no outside vessels entered the racing area. The exclusivity of the area of the race should be monitored and enforced by the owners of the race series (in this case, Super Boat International Productions, Inc.), its insurer, or the owner of the beach and adjacent offshore area where the event will be held. By what logic should the feds get involved?
Of course, it's "public safety." The Coast Guard invokes public safety as the reason for its participation, and as a result, shows how ridiculous the concept of "public safety" is. What public? As a U.S. taxpayer, I'm helping to pay for the safety of the participants and spectators in this event, even though I'm not involved in any way with it. (I've never even heard of Super Boat racing!) Hundreds of millions of taxpayers across the United States pay taxes to the federal government, ostensibly because it protects their safety. What buncombe! Safety is the responsibility of property owners and their insurers, and nobody else.
That this event should be defined as an issue of the safety of all Americans (who are, after all, paying for the security of the event) is absurd. The state is the embodiment of the abandonment of responsibility by individuals, as responsibility is transferred to the people at large, "the people" being defined by borders delineated by long-dead politicians and generals. Individuals are arbitrarily thrown together in a pool of risk and collective security, regardless of their behavior.
This is irresponsible. Such is the nature of politics.
Week in, week out, the Coast Guard publishes notices of its activities, and they invariably involve lifting drawbridges or monitoring waterways for private or local celebrations that the federal government has no right spending money on. Just as modern mythology argues that the personal becomes the political (see above), so the local becomes the federal . . . and so Oregonian taxpayers fund Fort Lauderdale Day and residents of Maine help to pay for the Molokai Jubilee.
Where does this end? Just consider what percentage of U.N. funds come from U.S. tax coffers . . . .
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