"The most common characteristic of all police states is intimidation by surveillance. Citizens know they are being watched and overheard. Their mail is being examined. Their homes can be invaded." ~ Vance Packard
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.
MAY 12, 2003:
INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE (IRS) ' TAXPAYER ACCOUNTING METHOD CHANGES
This document contains amendments to regulations under sections 263A and 448 of the IRS code that are designed to "simplify" accounting methods for taxpayers.
Despite ample competition for the bureaucratic inefficiency crown, the IRS is perhaps the most inept federal government agency of all. Individuals and businesses endure tremendous financial burdens in their attempts to comply with the multitudes of IRS rules and regulations.
Consider the following facts:
- ' The costs of federal tax compliance are in the order of $200 billion - about 10 percent of total tax revenue collected by the government.
- ' Tax laws, regulations, and related documentation include more than 700 tax forms and span nearly 46,000 pages.
- ' The federal tax code has endured more than 6,000 changes since 1986.
- ' There were 441 changes to the tax rules in last year's tax-cut law alone.
It is estimated that the average American family pays more in taxes than they do for food, clothing and shelter COMBINED.
Utilizing their endless resolve to separate individuals and businesses from their property, governments at every level continue to deprive Americans of the ability to live freer, more prosperous lives.
MAY 14, 2003:
INTERNATIONAL TRADE ADMINISTRATION (ITA) ' ANTIDUMPING DUTIES ON BRAKE ROTORS FROM CHINA
The ITA determined that Beijing Concord Auto Technology, Inc., a Chinese manufacturer of brake rotors, were selling their goods at 'less than fair value' in the American markets, imposing 'anti-dumping' duties as a result.
Under the Tariff Act of 1930, U.S. industries may petition the government for relief from imports that are sold in the United States at 'less than fair value' ("dumped") or which benefit from subsidies provided through foreign government programs.
The Coalition for the Preservation of American Brake Drum and Rotor Aftermarket Manufacturers petitioned for the review in order to protect their market share. The protectionist measure worked for the Coalition, as Beijing Concord will now pay a 43% tariff on brake rotor imports ' ensuring that Americans will pay more for these parts.
The ITA singled out Beijing Concord for the duties because they failed to 'provide requested information and did not properly notify the Department of its difficulty in meeting our requirements in accordance with section 782(copyright) of the Act.'
Yet, it is consumers who will ultimately pay the duties via higher prices for brake parts.
PRESIDENTIAL DOCUMENTS ' 'NATIONAL SAFE BOATING WEEK'
President Bush declares May 17-23, 2003, as 'National Safe Boating Week' and encourages all boaters to 'learn about proper boating practices, including the wearing of life jackets, and to take advantage of boating safety programs throughout the year.'
You know, if it weren't for President Bush's recommendations, I would probably have no regard for my own personal safety or the safety of others while on the nation's waterways. Thanks, President Bush!
MAY 15, 2003:
FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION ' TAXPAYER FINANCING OF PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS AND POLITICAL CONVENTIONS
This notice extends the public comment period on the Federal Election Commission's notice of proposed rulemaking on public financing of presidential candidates and nominating conventions.
In the 2000 presidential election, George Bush and Al Gore received a combined $150 million in taxpayer-funded 'federal matching funds.' Bush collected $67.5 million while Gore received $83 million.
What do we get for our involuntary support of these candidates? Higher taxes, more government spending, more bureaucratic regulation, less freedom. Only in America!
NATIONAL COUNCIL ON DISABILITY (NCD) ' MEETING OF THE CULTURAL DIVERSITY ADVISORY COMMITTEE
The purpose of the CDAC is 'to provide advice and recommendations to NCD on issues affecting people with disabilities from culturally diverse backgrounds.'
Specifically, the committee helps to 'identify issues, expand outreach, infuse participation, and elevate the voices of underserved and unserved segments of this nation's population that will help NCD develop federal policy that will address the needs and advance the civil and human rights of people from diverse cultures.'
Non-diverse disabled persons need not apply!
MAY 16, 2003:
CENTERS FOR MEDICARE AND MEDICAID SERVICES ' MEDICARE INPATIENT FACILITY PROSPECTIVE PAYMENT SYSTEM
This proposed rule updates the prospective payment rates for inpatient rehabilitation facilities (IRFs) for Federal fiscal year 2004.
This 52-page document is just one of many rules and regulations that health care providers must follow in order to comply with the Medicare program.
Recent cuts in Medicare disbursements have prompted many physicians to complain that payments no longer cover the cost of caring for the elderly. To no one's surprise, a growing number of doctors are refusing to treat new Medicare patients. Yet, politicians continue to add benefits while reducing Medicare payments to doctors. The situation will surely get worse before it gets better.
CHILDREN AND FAMILIES ADMINISTRATION (ACF) ' MENTORING OF CHILDREN OF PRISONERS PROGRAM
This program is designed to provide mentoring service for children whose parents are incarcerated.
According to the ACF, the number of children with a parent in a federal or state correctional facility increased by more than 100 percent between 1991 and 1999, from approximately 900,000 to approximately 2,000,000.
Not coincidentally, drug arrests increased by 50% during the same period. In 2000 alone, 1.5 million Americans were arrested for drug offenses, and half of those were for simple marijuana possession.
The ACF continues: 'Like their parents, children of criminal offenders reflect the racial disparities of the justice system. Seven percent of African American children have an incarcerated parent, almost three percent of Hispanic children have an incarcerated parent while less than one percent of white children have an incarcerated parent.'
Again, the War on Drugs has traditionally targeted minorities. Blacks comprise 38% of those arrested for drug offenses and 59% of those convicted for drug offenses.
The War on Drugs is a war on the American people - impoverishing families, destroying civil liberties, increasing crime rates, and fostering dependency upon a government that created the problem in the first place.
An end to the War on Drugs would reduce the need for programs like this.
EMPLOYMENT STANDARDS ADMINISTRATION ' MINIMUM WAGES FOR FEDERAL AND FEDERALLY ASSISTED CONSTRUCTION
The Davis-Bacon Act of 1931 requires that federal construction contractors pay their workers "prevailing wages." The original intent of the legislation was to favor white workers who belonged to white-only unions over non-unionized black workers.
The act continues to have discriminatory effects today by favoring disproportionately white, skilled and unionized construction workers over disproportionately black, unskilled and non-unionized construction workers.
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