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 21, 2003:
INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE (IRS) - $6 MILLION IN GRANTS AVAILABLE FOR LOW-INCOME TAXPAYER CLINIC PROGRAM
The IRS will provide matching grants (up to $100,000 each) to 'qualified organizations that represent low-income taxpayers in controversies with the IRS and/or inform individuals for whom English is a second language of their tax rights and responsibilities.'
After sticking it to their 'customers' by utilizing their shameless money-grabbing methods, the IRS gives away some of the money they confiscate in order to provide protection for their low-income victims. What a racket.
APRIL 22, 2003:
FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE (FWS) ' DESIGNATION OF CRITICAL HABITAT FOR THE SAN DIEGO FAIRY SHRIMP
The FWS proposes to designate 6,098 acres within Orange and San Diego Counties as 'critical habitat' to protect the San Diego fairy shrimp, pursuant to the Endangered Species Act of 1973.
Private land accounts for 4,151 acres of the designated critical habitat.
According to the FWS, 'critical habitat receives protection from destruction or adverse modification through consultation under section 7 of the Act.' This means that private landowners whose property is designated 'critical habitat' no longer have sovereign authority over their property. Instead, their land becomes subject to the rules and regulations of D.C. bureaucrats. In essence, their property becomes 'nationalized.'
When it was authorized in 1973, the Endangered Species Act garnered nearly universal support from Republicans and Democrats alike. After passing the Senate by voice vote (the cowardly way that lawmakers use to support legislation without being held accountable for their actions, since no recorded vote is taken), it passed the House by a vote of 355 to 4. President Nixon signed the land-grabbing legislation in December 1973.
Although this particular critical habitat proposal will compromise the property rights of many landowners, 'the economic impact of this decision is unknown at this time.' However, the FWS claims that an economic impact analysis is being prepared.
Not that it matters. The FWS could care less about any negative economic impact that their decisions have upon helpless landowners, taxpayers, or the surrounding communities.
History proves this.
In 1978, the Supreme Court ruled that the Endangered Species Act requires that construction of Tellico Dam, a TVA project, be halted to protect the snail darter. The arguments that $78 million in taxpayer money had already been spent on the dam or that the endangered snail darter was only a tiny fish did not impress the court. The "plain intent" of the law, said six of the nine members, is to save all species "whatever the cost.'
Yet, in 1980, more snail darters are found and the species turned out not to be endangered after all.
APRIL 23, 2003:
PRESIDENTIAL DOCUMENTS ' NATIONAL PARK WEEK, 2003
President Bush proclaims April 21-27, 2003, as 'National Park Week,' and calls on the American people to join him in recognizing the importance of our national parks.
In collaboration with the announcement, he claims that his fiscal 2004 budget includes over $1 billion in park spending (an increase of $180 million over last year's request) to reduce the maintenance backlog, along with $76 million (a $9 million increase over last year) for the National Park Service Natural Resource Challenge to 'monitor 'vital signs' of conditions in our parks.'
Is that $1 billion in park spending? Or pork spending? Oh, well. It's all the same after awhile. We should all be proud. Go out and hug a tree today in tribute to this grand occasion.
APRIL 24, 2003:
FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE ' PROPOSAL TO DESIGNATE CRITICAL HABITAT FOR THE COASTAL CALIFORNIA GNATCATCHER
This notice proposes the designation of 495,795 acres of land as 'critical habitat' for the 'long-tailed member of the old-world warbler and gnatcatcher family Sylviidae.'
Of the total, nearly 432,000 acres are lands that are privately held.
Though no economic analysis has been performed at this time, the FWS is required to consider the economic impact of any action. However, they make it crystal clear that economic impact is of little concern to them.
'We cannot exclude such areas from critical habitat,' states the FWS, 'when such exclusion will result in the extinction of the species.'
Once the economic analysis is completed, the FWS will announce the availability of the draft economic analysis with a notice in the Federal Register. Then, they will open a 30-day comment period to give landowners one last glimmer of hope before deciding whether or not to take away their land rights.
The FWS is possibly the single most dangerous federal department when it comes to destroying private property rights.
APRIL 25, 2003:
AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT ' MEETING OF THE 'ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON VOLUNTARY FOREIGN AID' (ACVFA)
Notice that the ACVFA will meet on Wednesday, May 14. Of course, this committee is not to be confused with the meeting of the Coercive Foreign Aid Committee, which meets the following week.
The federal government takes $10 billion per year from taxpayers in order to give it away as foreign aid. I am quite sure the feds raise a lot more money using coercive measures than the Voluntary Foreign Aid Committee does through charitable means.
COMMODITY CREDIT CORPORATION ' COTTONSEED PAYMENT PROGRAM
Price supports for cottonseed growers. Growers are paid according to the amount they produce, without regard to the market demand, until the $50 million available for the 2002 cotton crop is spent. Collectivist farming at its finest. Karl Marx would be proud.
DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT ' SuperNOFA FOR HUD 2003 DISCRETIONARY PROGRAMS
HUD announces a 'Super Notice of Funding Ability' (SuperNOFA) for fiscal year 2003, which will provide $2.3 billion in OPM (Other People's Money) available for various HUD programs.
Organizations eligible for funding include public housing agencies, local and state governments, tribal governments and tribally-designated housing entities, veterans service organizations, non-profit organizations, including grass-roots faith-based and other community-based organizations, and others.
Some of the qualifications that will assist your organization in successfully receiving funds include the following:
- The neighborhood's total percentage of minority persons is at least 20 points higher than the total percentage of minorities for the housing market area as a whole.
- At least 51% of your board members are persons with disabilities.
- The scope, extent, and quality of your experience in providing housing or related services to minority persons or families.
SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION (SSA) ' CREATION OF THE RETIREMENT RESEARCH CONSORTIUM (RRC)
Two aspects of this notice are amazing. The first is the summary that explains why the SSA is seeking applications to create a Retirement Research Consortium, which will be composed of one or more Centers, which will have a combined annual budget of $5 million per year:
'The Board of Trustees has found that Social Security is financially unsustainable over the long-term at present payroll tax and scheduled benefit levels.'
While I am not amazed that Social Security is insolvent, I am surprised that the SSA itself would admit it.
The second aspect of this notice that amazes me (though it should not) is their inane idea to 'solve' the crisis ' by creating a government organization (RRC) to 'study the issue':
'The Social Security Administration (SSA) is committed, through education and research efforts, to support reforms to ensure sustainable solvency and more responsive programs.'
According to the SSA, the goal of the RRC is to educate the public and provide research that will lead to 'system reform and program solvency.'
Government 'reform' is not the answer to the Social Security problem. In fact, government caused the problem in the first place.
Choice is the answer.
This simple three-step 'program' for solving the Social Security dilemma, if implemented, will eliminate the insolvency problem once and for all.
- 1. Let individuals OPT OUT of Social Security if they want to, with the agreement that they give up any future benefits. If given this choice, it is likely that 30-40% of the entire citizenry would choose to drop out of the Social Security program.
- 2. Sell federal assets to pay the future debt obligation owed to current and future retirees who choose to stay in the government program. The federal government owns one-third of the entire land in the United States, power plants, mineral rights, unused buildings, unused military bases, and much more. The sale of these items to private investors would raise trillions of dollars ' enough to cover the debt owed to retirees choosing to stay in the program.
- 3. Refuse to 'accept' any new participants in the SS program. Attrition will eliminate the program once and for all!
Naturally, this will never happen, because bureaucrats always seek government solutions to the problems they caused in the first place. Their innate desire to retain power over our lives trumps any ability they may have to find pragmatic solutions to societal problems.
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