"The basic test of freedom is perhaps less in what we are free to do than in what we are free not to do." ~ Eric Hoffer
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.
MONDAY, DECEMBER 8:
FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE/NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION - FLAME ON!
These two agencies teamed up to issue this set of regulations, intended to reduce the devastation caused by forest fires. The incidence of forest fires has increased dramatically in lands owned by the federal government, with great damage to private property and the ecosystem that the feds purport to protect by owning these lands in the first place. The state freely takes property on a regular basis, asserting that they can redistribute it in a more efficient fashion.
But the state fails in every responsibility it takes for itself, and when it becomes clear that it has done so, it arrogantly demands more money, asserting that only government can accomplish these tasks properly. More regulations are written, and the state's property becomes increasingly mismanaged.
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 9:
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION - LONGER REGULATIONS, LOWER LITERACY LEVELS
As a result of Bush's No Child Left Behind Act, the Department of Education is attempting to tie federal assistance to school accountability. Of course, expecting any form of accountability from the government, especially from an agency within a state apparatus that represents almost 300 million people, is absurd.
Nonetheless, this proclamation seeks to throw more federal funds, tied to mind-numbing regulations, at the problem of the education of children with disabilities. What children with disabilities need, more than anything, is individualized treatment, focused on the needs of each child. Centralizing educational bureaucracies, on the other hand, accomplishes the opposite--children with disabilities, contrary to Bush's maudlin slogan, are increasingly left behind.
The bureaucratization of the "public" school system has resulted in a society that, more than ever, is functionally illiterate. The reaction of Republicans and Democrats? Throw more government money at the problem. Yeah, it'll just get worse . . . but voters will think that they're doing something "for the children."
HEALTH RESOURCES AND SERVICES ADMINISTRATION (HRSA) - SEX ED, COURTESY OF THE CLINTONS , KENNEDYS AND BUSHES
The HRSA is giving out $33 million in taxpayer money for private and public organizations to provide "abstinence education" to adolescents. The responsibility to teach children about sex belongs solely to parents; the state has no right to be promoting any sort of lifestyle--even one generally regarded as proper.
Furthermore, this $33 million will certainly be wasted. It's difficult to imagine that today's youths will regard these groups' ham-fisted efforts with anything beyond contempt. Just consider the failure that is D.A.R.E.
The primary cause for the increase in teen pregnancy is the decline of morality as a result of various government programs: the break from personal responsibility as a result of social welfare programs, the dehumanization of society caused by an anti-human public school system, and a general anti-family attitude generated by nationalist government policies.
If any class of individuals needs to learn about abstinence, it's not adolescents (teen pregnancy rates have been going down for a decade now), but politicians, who need to abstain from passing tyrannical laws and increasing taxes.
INTERNATIONAL TRADE ADMINISTRATION - BUSH'S FALSE FREE TRADE GAMBIT
When Bush rescinded the steel tariffs last week, what he demonstrated--as we all could have guessed--was not a true commitment to free trade and capitalism, but a willingness to engage in political grandstanding. He accompanied the tariff-ending memorandum with an order to the Secretary of Commerce to continue a steel import-monitoring and licensing program that was established when the tariffs were.
The purpose of such a program is to ensure that it will be easier to reinstate tariffs in the future. Free trade can only be free when those engaged in legitimate trade suffer no indignities at the hands of a state monopoly of force. Playing supplicant to nosy bureaucrats is a humiliation that honest businessmen should never have to endure.
Adding insult to (financial) injury, this proclamation refers to tariffs as "safeguard measures." These measures only safeguard the financial well being of the steel company managers and union employees who contribute heavily to politicians, at the expense of American consumers (and consumers around the world, as trade wars ensue).
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 10:
OFFICE OF THE WHITE HOUSE - A DATE WHICH WILL LIVE IN INFAMY
This proclamation was issued in remembrance of the victims of Pearl Harbor Day. The vicious junta that oversaw the Japanese military actions during the 1930s and '40s murdered millions of people and deserves every bit of the opprobrium heaped upon it. But, as Americans, we must bear in mind that Pearl Harbor would not have occurred had FDR not pushed the United States into conflict with Japan. Politicians frequently pursue war because they know that the resultant patriotic support for the state's activities will result in its enlargement, to their benefit. Each war that the U.S. has gotten involved in has led to massive increases in federal government spending.
The state had no right to drag private individuals into its expensive and deadly war, but it did so, and the federal budget has never recovered.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 11, 2003:
INTERNATIONAL TRADE COMMISSION (ITC) - FOWL PRACTICES
The ITC is investigating whether Canadian Kosher chicken is being sold "less than fair value."
As I've noted before, "fair value" can only be determined by the free market. If producers and consumers agree to exchange money for the product, then the product is being sold at a fair value. If the state, with its monopoly of political power, and therefore its monopoly of violence, can coerce the market into charging higher prices because certain American producers prefer political assistance over an honest living, then there is no fair value involved. The state, however, prefers to obfuscate the situation with its own definition of "fair."
Such is the nature of the state!
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