"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.
MARCH 11, 2003 :
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT - DNA IDENTIFICATION PROGRAM FOR FEDERAL OFFENDERS
This rule amends the list of federal offenses that will be treated as 'qualifying offenses' that allow the federal government to collect DNA samples from federal offenders.
This rule is being implemented as part of the hideous USA Patriot Act of 2001. Individuals convicted of any of the specified qualifying offenses must have samples of their DNA collected and the resulting information entered into the Combined DNA Index System established by the FBI.
Section 503 of the USA Patriot Act provides three additional categories of offenses that qualify for the mandatory DNA collection. However, the descriptions of these offenses are so vague that nearly any violation of the law would qualify as a 'qualifying offense' if the feds decide it is in their best interest to do so.
Orwell's Year is here.
MARCH 12, 2003 :
AGRICULTURAL MARKETING SERVICE (AMS) ' MARKETING QUOTAS FOR DOMESTIC HAZELNUT PRODUCERS IN WASHINGTON AND OREGON
This rule establishes the quantity of domestically produced hazelnuts that may be marketed in the domestic in-shell market.
According to the AMS, 'the percentages are intended to stabilize the supply of domestic in-shell hazelnuts to meet the limited domestic demand for such hazelnuts and provide reasonable returns to producers.'
Soviet-style planning of domestic agricultural markets, courtesy of the federal government.
AGRICULTURAL MARKETING SERVICE (AMS) ' PRODUCTION LIMITS FOR SPEARMINT OIL PRODUCED IN THE FAR WEST
The proposed rule would limit the amount of spearmint oil that handlers may purchase from producers during the 2003-2004 marketing year. Spearmint oil is a flavoring that is commonly found in toothpaste, gum, and mouthwash.
The purpose of these production limits, according to the AMS, is to 'avoid extreme fluctuations in supplies and prices, and to help maintain stability in the spearmint oil market.'
The reality, however, is that the artificial manipulation of the markets by otherwise well-intended bureaucrats leads to restrictions in production and artificially higher prices that are ultimately paid by the consumer.
FEDERAL TRANSIT ADMINISTRATION (FTA) ' TRANSIT ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS FOR 2003
The Omnibus Appropriations Bill signed into law by President Bush provides $7 Billion in FTA funding for FY 2003 transit assistance programs. These programs provide monies for transit systems throughout the country ' taxpayer funds that are spent on everything from security and emergency preparedness to job access and reverse commute planning services that ensure former welfare recipients will have 'adequate mobility for reaching employment opportunities.'
Like every other federal bureaucracy, the FTA is a maze of red tape that imposes a myriad of rules and regulations on every transit system within its jurisdiction. It is no wonder that there is not a single public transit system in the country that is self-sufficient.
INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE (IRS) ' PROHIBITIONS AND PENALTIES FOR UNAUTHORIZED INSPECTION OF TAX RETURNS
This regulation requires tax accountants and other contractors employed to perform tax administration services to notify their officers and employees of the prohibitions against and penalties for unauthorized inspection of returns or return information.
The rule 'strengthens' the existing regulation against unauthorized inspection by requiring officers and employees of the tax accountants to receive written notification of the prohibitions and penalties.
So, the IRS is imposing regulations to 'protect' me from their own demands that require my personal finances to be exposed in the first place? I feel so much safer now.
INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE (IRS) ' MEETING OF THE ART ADVISORY PANEL
This notice is to inform the public of the closed meeting of the Art Advisory Panel, a division of the IRS. Their sole function is to review and evaluate the acceptability of fair market value appraisals of works of art involved in federal income, estate, or gift tax returns.
The greedy hand of government is never satisfied.
MARCH 13, 2003 :
AGRICULTURAL MARKETING SERVICE (AMS) ' PORK PROMOTION, RESEARCH AND CONSUMER INFORMATION ORDER
This rule would require remitters of pork checkoff assessments to submit additional information to conduct a survey of eligible producers to determine if they favor a referendum on the Pork Checkoff Program.
This, despite the fact that 30,000 hog producers voted to end the mandatory checkoff program in a referendum conducted in September 2000.
The AMS estimates the total cost of complying with this request would be $241,320.
The Pork Checkoff Program is a mandatory assessment program imposed on hog farmers and supervised by the USDA that is best known for its promotion of pork as 'the other white meat.' The fees collected from hog farmers (45 cents for every $100 of a pig's value when it's sold) are also used for financing research and consumer information.
A federal judge ruled the program unconstitutional in October 2002 after the Campaign for Family Farms, a coalition of groups representing small hog farms, challenged the constitutionality of the program. They claimed that much of the money was being spent to promote pork raised by large, corporate-owned operations. The USDA and checkoff supporters are appealing the decision.
American farmers and ranchers are forced to pay hundreds of millions of dollars annually to these mandatory assessment programs for so-called 'generic' advertising.
Last year, the dairy checkoff program (2 cents per gallon of milk) collected $250 million; the meat checkoff ($1 per head of cattle sold) raised $80 million. Other commodity producers, including grape and mushroom producers, are compelled to pay for generic advertising, whether they agree with the promotion or not.
Here is yet another stunning example of indescribable government incompetence. These mandatory programs, imposed by an overzealous, tyrannical bureaucracy, place confiscatory fees on unwilling producers to promote inefficient advertising campaigns that are not in the producers' best interests.
This is the arrogance of government.
EDUCATION DEPARTMENT ' MEETING OF THE BROWN V. BOARD OF EDUCATION 50TH ANNIVERSARY COMMISSION
This notice informs the public of the upcoming meeting of the Brown v. Board of Education 50th Anniversary Commission - the commission formed to celebrate the decision that all Americans, regardless of race, are entitled to an equally lousy education provided by the government schools.
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS ' NATIONAL FILM PRESERVATION BOARD; 1994 ' 2002 FILM SELECTIONS FOR INCLUSION IN THE NATIONAL FILM REGISTRY
The Librarian of Congress is publishing the following list of films selected from 1994-2002 for inclusion in the National Film Registry in the Library of Congress pursuant to Section 103 of the National Film Preservation Act of 1996.
The films are published to notify the public of the Librarian's selection of 25 films selected in each of these years deemed to be 'culturally, historically or aesthetically significant'' in accordance with Congress' mandate.
Among the films selected:
The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Porky In Wackyland (1938)
Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)
National Lampoon's Animal House (1978)
This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
A bureaucrat's work is never done!
MARCH 14, 2003 :
PRESIDENTIAL DOCUMENTS ' GLOBAL WAR ON TERRORISM MEDALS
This Executive Order establishes two new 'Global War on Terrorism' medals.
The Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal shall be awarded to members of the Armed Forces who serve or have served in military expeditions to combat terrorism on or after September 11, 2001 .
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