Federal Register Watch
by Nick Ebinger 
February 9 - 13, 2004
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.
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 10:
ANTITRUST DIVISION, DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (DOJ) - THE REAL MONOPOLY'S HYPOCRISY AND TYRANNY
First Data Corp. and Concord EFS, Inc., decided to merge, to the great benefit of bank users (nearly everyone). First Data owns a controlling share of the NYCE PIN debit network, while Concord owns the STAR PIN network. The result of merging these companies should have been the greater ability of debit card holders to use their cards at ATMs and with merchants nationwide.
The Department of Justice, however, declared this merger to be a threat to competition, and is forcing First Data to divest its interests in the NYCE PIN network. Unfortunately, we cannot declare the Department of Justice to be a threat to competition, and are forced to deal with its brutal monopoly. How do you think Ashcroft's "services" would fare on the free market?
INTERNATIONAL TRADE ADMINISTRATION - ARE BRAKE ROTORS THE NEW WMDS?
The International Trade Administration is extending its review of Chinese brake rotor imports, which will undoubtedly end with an anitdumping duty being placed on these items. Imports of cars and car parts have provided the American consumer with a better, more diverse auto market. Unfortunately, the costs of these cars are much greater than they should be, due to all of the taxes and tariff costs placed on them by politicians pandering to various constituencies.
Want meaningful electoral reform? I like one wag's suggestion : "Unless a candidate supports free trade, his party can only drive supporters to the polls with American-made cars."
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 11:
OFFICE OF THE WHITE HOUSE - THE U.S. COMMISSION TO SHIFT BLAME
As has been widely discussed, Bush is creating a commission to investigate intelligence failures with regard to finding the feared Weapons of Mass Destruction (yes, the phrase is capitalized--the lexical equivalent of Code Red). Regrettably, this commission is unlikely to settle on the clearest intelligence failure: allowing neocons to make government policy.
In this document, the president has the gall to invoke his authority under the Constitution, having spent three years ignoring its limitations on his power. Based on the language used, I wouldn't be surprised if, after the Commission announces its findings, Bush creates an all-new intelligence agency, staffed with those more willing to toe the White House line, with the old agencies taking the blame whenever the new one's "intelligence" turns out to be inaccurate.
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 13:
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY (EPA) - MULTIPLE SOURCES OF GOVERNMENT INCOME; MULTIPLE ATTACKS ON AMERICAN LIBERTY
The EPA is increasing the amount of its penalties to adjust for inflation. Not only are the EPA's regulations an affront to liberty, but now, when they punish property owners with civil penalties, those penalties will be greater than ever as a result of the government's abysmal monetary policy. Of course, while average Americans suffer from inflation, the federal government benefits from the Fed's inflation of the money supply.
FOREIGN AGRICULTURAL SERVICE (FAS) - SCRIMP AND SAVE TO SAVE THE SHRIMPERS
A group of Arizona shrimp producers applied to the FAS for "adjustment assistance payments"--free money at taxpayer expense--because imported shrimp has caused a decline in domestic shrimp prices. While shrimp lovers are enjoying these lower prices, non-shrimp eaters are being forced to subsidize these desert producers, including taxpayers who are allergic to shellfish or are religiously obligated not to touch the stuff.
Also, as you might suspect, Arizona is not a natural shrimping region. The shrimp industry only developed there in the 1990s, in the form of aquaculture. A look at the list of aquaculture licenses issued by the Arizona Department of Agriculture (regulatory tyranny at the state level!) shows a mere two producers  of shrimp in the state of Arizona.
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