"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.
SEPTEMBER 2, 2003 :
UNITED STATES SENTENCING COMMISSION ' PRIORITIES SET FOR COMING YEAR
The United States Sentencing Commission has assembled a list of priorities on which to focus for the coming year. This list represents the state at its worst, a state that arbitrarily punishes individuals without regard to the individual nature of the crime, or even whether what the criminal did was indeed an unjust act. This is a state that punishes crime by forcing the victim, as a taxpayer, to suffer additional disgrace and defeat by paying for the criminal's punishment. This is a state that worries not about a proper sense of justice and responsibility, but rather about getting its caretakers reelected on a platform of gaudy slogans and overblown expenditures to favored industries, including the abject failure that is the prison-industrial complex.
The Commission's priorities over the next year include pursuing longer sentences for illegal drug offenders in a prison system already crowded with them (when they shouldn't even be there in the first place!) and implementing a ridiculously unreasonable 'Two Strikes' law tacked onto the mawkishly promoted 'Amber Alert' bill passed earlier this year.
The system of 'justice' in this country continues to be further and further divorced from common sense.
SEPTEMBER 3, 2003 :
PRESIDENTIAL DOCUMENTS ' SEIZURE OF PROPERTY OF SENIOR IRAQI OFFICIALS
Bush, citing 'the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by . . . the removal of Iraqi property from that country by certain senior officials of the former Iraqi regime and their immediate family members,' rationalized the seizure of said stolen property by the Development Fund for Iraq , a federal government agency.
Of course, the moral thing to do in this case is to return the property to its original rightful owners, whomever they may be. Less concerned with justice and property rights than with funding his bloated socialist Iraqi morass, Bush insists instead on taking the money himself to help cover the costs of his addiction to 'reconstructing' the world with others' money. In essence, this stolen property is only being transferred from one thief to another.
Private property grows increasingly insecure, subject to seizure at the whims of capricious politicians ready to redistribute it in any way they can sell to voters as 'in the public interest.' When private property can be converted at any time to public property, how far are we from Communism? Not very far at all, unfortunately.
SEPTEMBER 4, 2003 :
FARM SERVICE AGENCY ' LOANS TO BEGINNING FARMERS AND RANCHERS GUARANTEED BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT
Those of us who don't own our own businesses have all considered taking the leap into self-employment. The problem, of course, is that this path is fraught with peril. Failure is common, and it takes a great degree of forethought, planning and skill to succeed on one's own.
Scary as this is, it is a good and necessary part of the free market. It provides a greater degree of efficiency in the marketplace by ensuring that resources don't go toward overly risky enterprises. Loans are only extended to those likely to make a good profit.
In comes the Farm Service Agency. Efficiency and freedom be damned! Over the next five years, they will be guaranteeing loans to beginning farmers and ranchers in qualifying states. An industry that already has a high failure rate, and that currently survives in its present, swollen state thanks to government largesse, will encourage even more people--and inexperienced, unproven novices at that--to enter it. Now, not only will American taxpayers and consumers partially foot the bill for the rewards of success in agriculture, but they will help to underwrite the risks of failure as well.
Green Acres is the place for me
Risk-free loans are what lured me
Land guaranteed so far and wide
Keep Manhattan , give me your money while I swallow my pride . . . .
OFFICE OF THE WHITE HOUSE ' NATIONAL DRUG AND ALCOHOL ADDICTION RECOVERY MONTH
Oh, where to start? Aside from the absurdity of these purely symbolic measures that waste (albeit in a minor way) time and money, Bush's maudlin proclamation is a study in government hypocrisy. Drug prohibition is a major (and perhaps the major) cause of drug addiction, mirroring the high incidence of alcoholism during in America during the 1920s. This is the state decrying the fruits of its immoral labor!
Furthermore, while this document emphasizes recovery for those addicted to drugs and alcohol, this country's 'welcoming and compassionate culture' ostracizes and suppresses the freedom of those who use illegal drugs, without regard to whether the user is indeed addicted, and prioritizes punishment over recovery for those who do suffer from addiction.
What I would like to see is Government Spending Recovery Month, where the seizure and redistribution of taxpayer property is recognized as a serious problem that afflicts hundreds of thousands of politicians each year, and we as a people seek to stamp out this horrifying menace once and for all.
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