"[T]he burden of government is not measured by how much it taxes, but by how much it spends." ~ Milton Friedman
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 15, 2003 :
UNITED STATES AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT (USAID) - U.S. TAXPAYERS TO GUARANTEE $9 BILLION IN LOANS TO THE GOVERNMENT OF ISRAEL
The United States of America (read: its captive taxpayers) is pledging its "full faith and credit" (how far it can squeeze those taxpayers before they get fed up) to guarantee up to $9 billion in loans to the government of Israel .
It's bad enough that we are forced to bankroll one spendthrift government and its immoral wars, but the feds want us to pay for others as well, most notably the government of Israel . It's absurd that a government that claims to support individual liberty and autonomy so strongly backs a regime that is headed by a war criminal and engages in brutal practices against those involuntarily under its control.
No, I take that back. A government's practices more often than not run counter to its avowed principles.
COAST GUARD (DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY) - SECURITY ZONE CREATED
I also take back every bad thing I've ever said about the Department of Homeland Security. It's protecting our nation's most precious resource: bawdy poetry.
INTERNATIONAL TRADE COMMISSION (USITC) - INVESTIGATION INTO IRON WATERWORKS FITTINGS FROM CHINA
If you dig deep enough, government actions that appear to be merely unethical and ridiculous often turn out to have motivations that are flat-out villainous and surreal. The USITC is beginning an investigation into whether certain iron waterworks fittings from China are being imported into the U.S. in such a way as to cause "market disruption" to domestic producers. Per usual, the government is not actually seeking to prevent market disruption, but rather to artificially disrupt the market itself by favoring domestic manufacturers at the expense of consumers. Years of Keynesianism and other pseudo-economic claptrap have established a conventional wisdom that some sort of government intervention to produce a "scientifically-deduced" balance of the needs of industry and consumers is the natural and correct market equilibrium.
This is patently false. Free trade is the natural order. Needs and desires are individualized and subjective, and can only be determined from the bottom up, not from the top down. Natural market forces are derived from the actions of individuals, and efforts to intervene in the market disrupt and skew the free market to the unnatural and unfair benefit of certain groups, and at the equally unnatural and unfair expense of others.
These favored groups are the industries and constituencies that can produce the most money and votes for politicians. Morality plays no part in this game. This USITC investigation is a perfect example. It was started as a result of a petition by a domestic manufacturer of these waterworks fittings, McWane, Inc.
McWane is perhaps the most notorious manufacturing concern in the United States . In addition to being a major polluter, the company is responsible for a sickening 4,000 injuries and 9 deaths since 1995. McWane bullies injured employees and legal investigators with a legion of lawyers that have cowed even a New York State attorney general into backing off.
McWane defends its poor safety record (unsafe and uninspected machinery, forcing injured employees to work, ignoring recognized hazards) as a necessary cost-cutting measure in the face of cheaper Chinese and Korean imports, and the petitioning for this investigation is yet another diversionary tactic in this vein. For sure, this doesn't excuse its inhuman behavior toward its employees and neighbors, but it doesn't even wash as a utilitarian excuse, either: its hometown competitor, the American Cast Iron Pipe Company, was recently rated one of America 's best employers by Fortune Magazine. Its employees are well-treated, a legacy from when, soon after its 1905 founding, the owner announced that the company would treat its employees fairly under the Golden Rule.
Here's where the bizarre connection comes in: at that point, its president, one J.R. McWane, left in protest to form his own company. His unprincipled policy of greed above decency remains in effect with McWane, Inc., today, as well as with the government agencies it influences.
For more information, check out the joint investigation done earlier this year into McWane's practices by the New York Times (only a few of the articles are free), Nightline and the Canadian Broadcasting Company. It also provides some good material proving that federal bureaucrats really don't have individuals' welfare in mind; for example, the punishment for endangering an employee's life is less than that for harassing a burro on government land!
SEPTEMBER 16, 2003 :
EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT - PROCLAMATION OF SMALL BUSINESS WEEK
In this document, Bush discusses the importance of small businesses in the economy, and then smugly pats himself on the back for his administration's "tax cuts" and "removed obstacles to growth." Small businesses succeed in America despite the government, not because of it, Dubya. Including self-congratulatory remarks in a document meant to praise the efforts of others is a rude and insulting act.
But his masturbatory rhetoric is, unsurprisingly, unfounded. For one thing, there never were any tax cuts, only tax shifts. Reducing one year's tax rates while increasing spending merely passes along the tax burden, with interest, to the next generation of taxpayers. Furthermore, the president crowing about a tax cut is like a burglar bragging to you that he only emptied your safe, rather than ransacking your entire house. Taxation is theft, no matter what the amount, and it is detrimental to consumers and businesses at any level. Finally, those "obstacles to growth" come in two forms: 1) not obstacles at all, but natural free market demand levels, which greedy producers push their hired politicians to alter using the power of the state and its tax base; and 2) obstacles already placed by the state, which shouldn't have been there in the first place.
Honest American innovators and entrepreneurs will profit when Bush, Clinton and their cronies no longer have the power to steal from them.
SEPTEMBER 19, 2003 :
EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT - PROCLAMATION OF CITIZENSHIP DAY AND CONSTITUTION WEEK
What a bizarre proclamation! A president hailing the supposed merits of a contract, when he (and all who have preceded him) have broken their end of that contract at the expense of those bound to that same contract as "citizens."
The American constitution is a joke, as is any other constitution that empowers a government with a monopoly of coercion over a territory and its inhabitants. Those who are able to gain power within the institution of government will inevitably abuse it, and the history of the United States is a reflection of that abuse.
The U.S. government is free to alter, misinterpret or ignore its constitution any time it chooses, because those within its territory are involuntarily bound to it. Only when individuals become free clients as opposed to citizens will the ideals of the American Revolution become reality.
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