"Political tags -- such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth -- are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire." ~ Robert Heinlein
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.
AUGUST 4, 2003 :
AGRICULTURAL MARKETING SERVICE ' PROPOSED RULES FOR THE PRODUCTION AND HANDLING OF PISTACHIOS
These rules regulate the development and handling of California pistachios. The administration of these time-consuming rules will be paid for by an assessment on handlers, which ensures that small producers will continue to get squeezed out of the industry, and consumers will be forced to pay more for this product. Unsurprisingly, these rules were suggested (and dare I say paid for?) by the 'Proponents Committee,' a collection of large pistachio producers formed in 2000 with the purpose of having the government put these rules into effect, thus cartelizing the industry to their benefit.
Want a quick tutorial on how democracy works? Take the names of the members of the Proponents Committee, and enter them here to see how much they've given politicians.
I have a better plan for ensuring consumers get good pistachios: don't buy poor-quality pistachios, and poor-quality pistachios won't reach the market.
AUGUST 5, 2003 :
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE (DOC) ' PANEL DECISION ON ANTIDUMPING DUTY DETERMINATION BY DOC
What's noteworthy here is not so much the decision itself, but its circumstances. According to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a panel is set up to review each time any duties placed on trade between the member states. Huh? As we were warned by a few prescient commentators (such as Murray Rothbard), NAFTA is not free trade at all, but merely an extra level of bureaucracy.
Want free trade? Get rid of government.
AUGUST 6, 2003 :
DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMINISTRATION ' 2003 PRODUCTION QUOTAS FOR CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES
If you produce any of these substances, at your own cost, to freely sell to others so that they can engage in the 'pursuit of happiness' that is supposed to be a cornerstone of American life, they lock you up and throw away the key. The DEA, however, is free to produce these items themselves or set limits for drug companies to do so, ensuring high prices for consumers.
FEDERAL RAILROAD ADMINISTRATION ' PETITION FOR WAIVER OF SAFETY RULES
The Maryland Department of Transportation seeks to waive certain safety regulations on part of its train fleet. As with the preceding example, the state has the arrogance to impose costly and restrictive laws and regulations, but considers itself exempt.
AUGUST 7, 2003 :
INTERNATIONAL TRADE COMMISSION (ITC) ' INVESTIGATION INTO COMPETITION CONDITIONS FOR EXPRESS DELIVERY SERVICES
The ITC, at Congress's request, is investigating the competitive climate for express delivery services abroad, including the 'extent to which competition among express delivery service suppliers in foreign markets may be affected by government-sanctioned monopolies competing in those markets.' How about starting here?
The Post Office monopoly on regular mail service has been a dismal failure. It hemorrhages money, and offers poor service. Let the ITC look at the domestic market first.
AUGUST 8, 2003 :
FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE ' PROPOSED BIRD HUNTING RULES ON TRIBAL LAND
The Filch and Wastelife Service here sets forth extremely lengthy regulations regarding bird hunting on the lands of 28 Indian tribes. First the state forces the Indians onto the least desirable land, and then it decrees what they can do for subsistence and recreation on this land? What gall!
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