"The framers of the constitution knew human nature as well as we do. They too had lived in dangerous days; they too knew the suffocating influence of orthodoxy and standardized thought. They weighed the compulsions for restrained speech and thought against the abuses of liberty. They chose liberty." ~ Justice William O. Douglas
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.
OCTOBER 20, 2003 :
EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT- DESIGNATION OF THE PHILIPPINES AS A MAJOR U.S. ALLY
I'm not sure why the government of the Philippines would be keen to ally with the colonial power that killed hundreds of thousands of its citizens in a conquering role, and then controlled it for half a century; then again, the state always values power over the well-being of its citizens.
EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT- CONTINUATION OF DRUG WAR IN COLOMBIA
Bush has declared a continued national emergency (how many there are, and how rarely they apply to me!) in regard to the drug barons of Colombia . The current administration, like the preceding ones, has not recognized the failures of Prohibition and how they relate to the current drug war. The brutal, bloodthirsty "narcotraffickers" of today are primarily the creation of U.S. drug policy. As government drug laws raise prices and relegate the trade to the most barbarous, these immoral characters develop empires while American taxpayers pay to imprison people for making choices about what to put in their own bodies.
The drug war is the best example of the state's opposition to individualism, as well as its ability to create justifications for its existence. It creates, by means of its drug policies, a violent drug marketplace, and then robs the taxpayers and violates their rights in order to combat it.
OCTOBER 21, 2003 :
AGRICULTURAL MARKETING SERVICE(AMS) - FEDS TO CHARGE PEAR PRODUCERS AN EXTRA 1,240%:
Yet again, the Agricultural Marketing Service has established a monopoly over the marketing of an agricultural product for no good reason, but at extra cost.
In this case, the production and marketing of Bartlett pears produced in Oregon and Washington was previously regulated by the states (itself an unnecessary and tyrannical act). But the AMS decided that it should take over regulation of marketing of this product, with no decent reason given. The result? The AMS will now regulate the state marketing boards, but at a whopping 1,240% increase in the assessment to the producers, which will be passed on to consumers in the form of increased prices.
Is federal regulation so much better for the consumer that it warrants such an increase? Of course not. But as polities increase in size, so do their egos, and their lust for power.
OCTOBER 23, 2003 :
CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY COMMISSION (CPSC) - REQUEST FOR COMMENTS ON FURNITURE FLAMABILITY
Several weeks ago, I addressed this issue. The CPSC has been desperate to find some justification for increased regulatory power over the furniture industry; specifically, here it seeks to create flammability standards for upholstery.
Manufacturers already largely conform to a useful standard; furthermore, there is no reason for taxpayers to subsidize the poor choices of those who choose to fall asleep while smoking on their furniture. The CPSC cites the bogus concept of "societal costs" to make a stranger's mistake your problem. (In the private sector, an insurance company may charge a smoking homeowner more, and it would almost certainly drop a policyholder who accidentally set fire to his or her home. When the state underwrites these risks, it is not the careless who pay, but all consumers and taxpayers.)
As I showed, the industry has only accepted a modicum of federal regulation to avoid further state intervention; nonetheless, the CPSC is now seeking public comments in an effort to justify further regulation. It won't take much: one or two voices for further state involvement (from neo-Puritan do-gooders, or perhaps from the manufacturers of upholstery treatments) will be amplified and drown out those who oppose more regulation. It's how government inevitably works.
OCTOBER 24, 2003 :
U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION (CBP) - TRADE SYMPOSIUM
The CBP (like many agencies, now a part of the Department of Homeland Security) will be holding a trade symposium to discuss trade and border protection issues, and how they relate to homeland security. . . that is, it's holding a taxpayer-subsidized conference to justify its existence, and why it should violate the rights of the individual.
Political borders are arbitrary lines created by long-dead politicians and generals for the purpose of delineating state monopolies. The CBP is the old Customs bureau (albeit with a Big Brotheresque name), and its purpose is to patrol these arbitrary boundaries with the aim of seizing legitimately owned goods, or placing a levy on them, which is passed on, in the form of higher costs, to the consumer.
The CBP protects borders all right, but it certainly does not protect the majority of the people inside of them. Rather, it protects the monopoly of the state and its cash flow. These borders (as opposed to legitimate property lines) are a tyranny against the majority, and the officials that use them to protect their power are 21st-century Redcoats.
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