"There are 10^11 stars in the galaxy. That used to be a huge number. But it's only a hundred billion. It's less than the national deficit! We used to call them astronomical numbers. Now we should call them economical numbers." ~ Richard Feynman
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.
APRIL 14, 2003:
HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES DEPARTMENT (HHS) - SOLICITATION OF PUBLIC COMMENT ON RESEARCH REGARDING THE EFFECTS ON YOUNG PEOPLE OF EVENING INGESTION OF ALCOHOL ON SLEEP
The HHS is seeking public comment and review on a proposed research topic entitled 'The Effects of Evening Ingestion of Alcohol on Sleep, Circadian Phase, and Performance as a Function of Parental History of Alcohol Abuse/Dependence.'
The proposed research will be supported by a (taxpayer provided) grant awarded by the National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
According to the HHS, this research protocol 'proposes to study the effects of a small or moderate evening dose of alcohol on sleep, waking performance, and circadian (24-hour period) phase in a total of 64 adolescents (15 to 16 years of age) and young adults (21 to 22 years of age), and examine how the effects may differ between individuals who have a parent with a history of alcohol dependence and those who do not.'
Yes, this research protocol, overseen by the federal government and paid for with taxpayer funds, proposes to give alcohol to minors to see how it affects their ability to sleep and function the following day. Isn't this the same government that imposes severe criminal penalties on storeowners who sell alcohol to minors?
In the 1980s, the government told kids to 'Just Say No To Drugs.' In 2003, they are saying 'Just Say Yes' to alcohol ' as long as it is taken under the supervision of a state health care worker.
SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION ' DISASTER LOAN AREAS IN WEST VIRGINIA
Notice of 'economic injury loans' to small businesses located in various counties throughout West Virginia due to damages caused by 'a severe winter storm, record snow, heavy rains, flooding and landslides occurring on February 16, 2003, and continuing through March 28, 2003.'
With the government providing business subsidies after disasters, why would anyone bother with buying insurance on their own? Another example of government intervention that eliminates the need for personal responsibility.
APRIL 15, 2003:
FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION ' PUBLIC FINANCING OF PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS
These proposed rules implement the 'Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002.' Supporters of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, also called the McCain-Feingold law, which bans the large campaign contributions known as soft money, say it will curb corruption in politics. Opponents say it is an insidious attempt to criminalize political free speech.
Either way, the bill is designed to assist the efforts of entrenched politicians from both parties to remain in power.
Also, the bill further reinforces the State's legitimacy to force taxpayers to fund presidential candidates and their political conventions. In essence, this makes the receiving candidates and their political parties little more than high profile welfare recipients.
APRIL 17, 2003:
AGRICULTURAL MARKETING SERVICE (AMS) ' CONTINUANCE REFERENDUM FOR CRANBERRY GROWERS
This notice instructs that a continuance referendum be held among eligible growers of cranberries in the States of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, Washington, and Long Island in the State of New York to determine whether they favor continuance of the marketing order regulating the handling of cranberries grown in the production area.
Marketing orders imposed by the Department of Agriculture forcibly subject growers to regulation and handling standards. Additionally, growers are compelled to finance generic ads aimed at boosting their entire industry. These marketing orders cover growers in just about every agricultural industry, including dairy products, pork, beef, eggs, and even cranberries.
The 'Got Milk?' ads are probably the best-known marketing order ads. Yet, dairy farmers and other milk producers are assessed about $250 million a year for the popular ads, often against their will. Dairy farmers say they are being forced to spend about 1% of their gross, an amount that often exceeds their net income.
The only way for growers to lawfully escape these onerous fees and regulations is via the continuance referendum. Yet, the USDA will not consider termination of the order if more than 50 percent of the growers who vote in the referendum and growers of more than 50 percent of the volume of cranberries represented in the referendum favor continuance of the program.
In other words, all cranberry growers will be forced to remain in the program if the majority supports the program.
This is a great example of the tyranny of majority rule.
COMMODITY CREDIT CORPORATION (CCC) ' TOBACCO PAYMENT PROGRAM
This rule implements the Tobacco Payment Program authorized by the Agricultural Assistance Act of 2003. Section 205 of that Act requires the Commodity Credit Corporation to provide assistance to producers of tobacco.
According to the CCC, payments to eligible persons in 2003 are estimated to total $55 million dollars!
First, the states sued the tobacco companies, resulting in a 1998 settlement that will pay them nearly $250 billion over 25 years to pay for tobacco prevention and cessation programs. Then, the federal government sues the tobacco companies in 1999 to recover billions of taxpayer dollars spent on smoking related health care costs ' a suit that was later thrown out by a federal judge.
It was no surprise when many states failed to keep their promise to use the money for tobacco prevention programs. Instead, greedy, power hungry politicians spent the money on new programs and pork spending aimed at appeasing voters.
Now, state and federal governments use taxpayer dollars to subsidize the very industry the tried to sue out of existence!
A contradiction? Not in the least. The false concern shown by the state and federal tobacco money grabbers for the health and welfare of the citizens is just that ' a fraud.
In fact, it is in the state and federal governments' best interest to keep the tobacco companies solvent and prosperous ' because the government makes more money off tobacco sales than the tobacco companies do.
In 2003, the states will receive $20.3 billion in tobacco-generated revenue, including $8.7 billion in tobacco settlement payments and $11.6 billion in tobacco taxes. And last year, the federal government raised nearly $7.5 billion in federal excise taxes on tobacco products alone.
The state and federal governments have a compelling interest to encourage tobacco use among its citizens, not to discourage it. Just follow the tax money.
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