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.
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APRIL 7, 2003:
EDUCATION DEPARTMENT (ED) - IMPLEMENTATION OF THE 'UNSAFE SCHOOL CHOICE OPTION'
The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 amended the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 by including the Unsafe School Choice Option (USCO).
This notice proposes deadlines for implementation of USCO, which requires each State to identify persistently dangerous schools, as well as offer students in those schools and students who are victims of violent criminal offenses while on school property the opportunity to transfer to a safe school.
Let me get this straight . . . the only students who will be offered a 'choice' of government schools are those who are attending dangerous schools and those who have actually been victims of violent crimes at these schools? Amazing.
If there were no government intervention in an educational free market system and parents truly had freedom of choice in their child's education, few parents would choose to send their kid to a school where their child's well being is in danger, let alone one whose educational standards were sub par to others in the area. Such schools would fail in a free enterprise system.
Yet, with a virtual monopoly on education, the government is able to coercively demand that its 'customers' continue to use (or at least pay for) its service, no matter how dangerous or inferior the service might be.
Remember the 'Republican Revolution' of 1994, when the GOP pledged to 'abolish the Department of Education (ED) and end federal meddling in our schools'? In fact, Ronald Regan promised, if elected in 1980, that he would eliminate the ED. Yet, after eight years of the Reagan presidency and Republican control of the House since 1994, the ED has grown in leaps and bounds. In fact, President Bush increased ED federal spending to record levels in the last federal budget.
What's the moral here? Never trust a politician.
NATIONAL HIGHWAY TRAFFIC SAFETY ADMINISTRATION ' INCREASE IN FUEL ECONOMY STANDARDS FOR LIGHT TRUCKS FOR 2005-2007
This final rule establishes corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards for light trucks. NHTSA is setting a standard of 21.0 miles per gallon (mpg) for model year (MY) 2005, 21.6 mpg for MY 2006, and 22.2 mpg for MY 2007.
That's right. The feds are once again mandating higher fuel economy standards for truck manufacturers. While it may be possible for manufacturers to achieve these federally mandated goals, it is likely that they will result in a higher cost to consumers. It is also possible that these mandates will compromise safety, since manufacturers may choose to use lighter material (or even less material) in their trucks to reduce weight in order to meet the increased gas mileage requirements.
Ironically, the CAFE standards were borne out of the 1973-74 oil embargo, which was largely caused by the federal government's foreign interventionist policies. Middle Eastern countries cut off oil exports to the United States in anger over the United States federal government's involvement in Arab-Israeli conflicts.
In essence, the CAFE requirements were the government's 'solution' to a problem that was created by the government in the first place.
APRIL 8, 2003:
RURAL BUSINESS-COOPERATIVE SERVICE ' $23 MILLION IN GRANTS FOR THE RENEWABLE ENERGY SYSTEMS AND ENERGY EFFICIENCY IMPROVEMENTS PROGRAM
Another collectivist agricultural program created by the Farm Security and Rural investment Act of 2002. The $23 million grant giveaway is just for FY 2003, with equivalent or greater amounts to be given away every year henceforth. Surely, this program will become just another wealth redistribution program that will continue in perpetuity as long as politicians need to secure the farm vote.
According to the Department of Agriculture, the program is designed 'to help agricultural producers and rural small businesses reduce energy costs and consumption and help meet the nation's critical energy needs.' At the expense of taxpayers, of course.
APRIL 9, 2003:
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ADMINISTRATION ' $288 MILLION AVAILABLE FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS
This notice announces $288 MILLION available for FY 2003 economic development assistance programs.
Who is eligible for these grants? Why, only government associated entities, of course. Economic Development Districts (organized and established by state and local governments for the sole purpose of obtaining state and federal grant money to develop economically distressed areas); Indian tribes; States; cities or other political subdivisions of a State; public universities; public and private non-profit organizations acting in cooperation with government officials.
In fact, the EDA is not authorized to provide grants directly to individuals or to other for-profit entities seeking to start or expand a business! Yet, they claim to be a conduit for business development and job creation.
The summary on this notice is amazing. According to the Economic Development Administration, 'the role of government is to create conditions in which jobs are created, and in which people can find work.'
In fact, even President Bush says this. The EDA website ( http://www.osec.doc.gov/eda/ ) features a quote by the President that says, 'The role of government is to create conditions in which jobs are created, in which people can find work.'
Really? And how does the government do this? By imposing a multitude of rules and regulations on businesses and their development? In reality, government intervention at every level typically hinders business expansion and job creation.
Worker's compensation laws. Mandatory benefits coverage for employees. Prevailing wage and minimum wage laws. Ergonomics regulations. Americans With Disabilities Act requirements. Environmental regulations. Hiring and firing requirements. Endangered Species Act regulations that allow the government to dictate land use practices. Licensing laws that increase business expenses and discourage competition. A myriad of federal, state, and local business taxes that are ultimately passed on to consumers. Tariffs and quotas on imported goods. Local zoning and land use regulations.
The Public Works and Economic Development Act of 1965, an offshoot of President Lyndon Johnson's 'War on Poverty,' authorized funding for this program. Despite trillions of dollars spent on these social programs over the last 30 years, the poverty rate has remained virtually unchanged. The government has failed in its attempt to 'end poverty.' It's time to give freedom a chance.
FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE (FWS) ' DESIGNATION OF CRITICAL HABITAT FOR THE KAUAI CAVE WOLF SPIDER
The FWS announces the designation of critical habitat for the Kauai cave wolf spider. This designation encompasses 272 acres of land on the island of Kauai, Hawaii, and restricts any private use of the land that may hinder the development and reproduction of the species. According to the FWS, the potential loss in property values due to this critical habitat designation ranges from $4.5 million to $6.1 million.
The FWS continues its assault on private property rights.
APRIL 11, 2003:
PRESIDENTIAL DOCUMENTS ' NATIONAL D.A.R.E. DAY
Proclamation 7660 declares April 10,2003 as 'National D.A.R.E. Day' to honor the popular program designed to steer America's youth away from drug use. Since its inception in 1983, the D.A.R.E. program has been implemented in more than 300,000 classrooms in the United States and throughout the world. D.A.R.E. programs are taught in 80 percent of the nation's public school districts.
Yet, many agree that there is no evidence that the program works ( http://www.drcnet.org/DARE/ ). No scientific study has proven any statistically significant difference between drug usage rates of D.A.R.E. graduates and non-graduates.
D.A.R.E. is typical of many government feel good programs whose results are inconclusive or insignificant. As long as the intentions are noble, the funding will continue. The success of the program is essentially irrelevant.
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