Federal Register Watch
by Nick Ebinger 
February 17 - 20, 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.
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 18, 2004 :
ENGRAVING AND PRINTING BUREAU - NEXT GENERATION OF COUNTERFEITING
The Bureau of Engraving and Printing has determined that there are no adverse environmental impacts associated with its new efforts to phase in its "Next Generation of Currency" initiative. This may be true, but there are always adverse economic impacts associated with any currency it creates.
For almost a century now (and sporadically before that), the federal government has forced ("legal tender," remember) a currency system upon the American people that has been a font of inflation and utterly unsound, with nothing but the state's stale promises to back it up.
I hope that this "Next Generation of Currency"--any cosmetic appearances aside (will Truman or Clinton replace Jackson on the $20?)--is, at least, a hard currency. Alas, I know better. Maybe by then, consumers will know better and forgo government currency for something more stable.
OFFICE OF THE WHITE HOUSE - FREE TRADE* (*Details to come)
President Bush notified Congress of his intent to enter into a free trade agreement with Australia . Shall we take him at his word? Both Dubya's past actions and the record of so-called free trade agreements entered into by the federal government indicate that we shouldn't.
Proper free trade--in the honest, classical sense of the term--doesn't need a written agreement to be fulfilled. What it requires is a complete lack of tariffs, regulations, and all other state-imposed hindrances to free trade. As with NAFTA and with every other recent "free trade" agreement, I guarantee that this one will be accompanied by reams of regulations to mollify environmental, labor, trade association, and other special interest groups.
George W. Bush is as committed to free trade as he was to his National Guard obligations.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 19:
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION - MORE CHILDREN LEFT BEHIND
Among its many draconian elements, the No Child Left Behind Act included stricter guidelines for who could become a teacher, shutting out many qualified educators. The typical hypocrisy of government is shown here, as the so-called Office of Innovation and Improvement (goals impossible within a bureaucracy) implemented regulations in an effort to get unlicensed but qualified teachers into the classrooms into which they'd otherwise be barred.
In effect, the federal government--which has no Constitutional right to be involved in local school decision making, anyway--has set up rules circumventing its own rules, for efficiency's sake. All with more paperwork.
God forbid a teacher spend time trying to teach a child while navigating the regulations!
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 20:
OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET - MORE GOVERNMENT DOES YOU GOOD
This agency released a report on the costs and benefits of federal regulations, and--what a surprise!--it claims that a significant, multi-billion dollar net benefit is derived from these regulations.
Of course, it couches these comments in its typical rhetoric of how regulation serves certain sectors (oh, to be a recipient of one of those sectors' benefits at taxpayer expense!), while ignoring the costs on society. Needless to say, government economics is as undisciplined as the discipline can get, devoid of common sense.
Oh, and they want to simplify the IRS as well. They might want to start by telling Bush that lowering the tax rate doesn't lower taxes, lowering government spending does. Y'know, if they can get him away from campaign appearances at NASCAR races on the taxpayer's dime.
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