"It is poor civic hygiene to install technologies that could someday facilitate a police state." ~ Bruce Schneier
Federal Register Watch
Federal Register Watch
August 15 - 19, 2005
What freedoms have you lost this week?
Hello, Root Strikers. My name is Charles Hueter and I'll be presenting the Federal Register Watch for the week of August 15 - August 19. Feel free to e-mail questions, comments, suggestions and miscellany.
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.
Monday, August 15, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 156)
DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY
Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau
We start with 14 pages of detail encompassing the topic of defining seven new "Viticultural Areas" in California . What is a viticultural area, you ask? It is a defined area where wine grapes are grown, defined in order to help consumers "attribute a given quality, reputation, or other characteristic of a wine" by the name of the viticultural area. Vinters use these designations to market their grapes and as a byproduct, the wines for which those grapes are used. Obviously, this is something no free market process could create!
As you might imagine, the wine industry has latched onto this process. Getting one of these areas entered as a viticultural area means only other wines from that region can bear that name. A wine must have at least 85% of its grape content from that region to qualify for the label. You can view a list published by the Wine Institute here. Remember this the next time someone complains about Europe getting in the business of prohibiting businesses from using the names of geographic regions for food products! The federal government is certainly not afraid of a little protectionism and has done it for wine grapes since 1980.
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
Does anyone find it at least mildly amusing that a Final Rule designed to "remove obsolete and redundant regulations" and "make many sections more concise, easier to understand and more performance oriented" takes 48 pages of Federal Register space to accomplish, and the history of this particular rulemaking process began in April of 1997? Government isn't adept at much; it is good at dulling our sense of irony.
PENSION BENEFIT GUARANTY CORPORATION
Lest anyone forget the power of quasi-corporate appointed officials, Vincent K. Snowbarger says giving the public notice and letting the public comment on a change to "interest assumptions for valuing and paying benefits under terminating single-employer plans" is "impracticable and contrary to the public interest" because these assumptions need to reflect current market conditions. Thanks, Vincent!
Tuesday, August 16, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 157)
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Agricultural Marketing Service
Apparently, the Kiwifruit Administrative Committee needs money to cover those darn "reasonable and necessary" expenses incurred when it "locally administers the marketing order which regulates the handling of kiwifruit grown in California ." This Proposed Rule proposes to change the imposed "assessment rate" from $0.002 per pound of fruit to "$0.045 per 9-kilo volume-fill container or equivalent." I didn't know you could spell "tax" with 14 letters . . . .
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Remember when President Bush called for a renewed attack on AIDS in his 2003 State of the Union speech? Yeah, I kinda forgot about it as well. He promised to spend $15 billion in wealth scared out of us by the threat of force and, over the next five years, direct it towards needy nations in Africa and the Caribbean . In this eight-pager, not only does the CDC have the gall to call this wealth an "award" to those who get approved for the funding, but it also establishes an entangling series of regulations, requirements, and commands for the "awardees" to follow. Anyone care to guess the resources to be wasted on paperwork and administration? I won't.
FEDERAL RESERVE SYSTEM
You hear a lot from so-called liberals about a "right to privacy," but how quickly do you think they'd drop their claim to that right if you asked them about requiring individuals to endure a public notice process whenever they apply to "acquire a bank or bank holding company"?
Thursday, August 18, 2005 ( Volume 70, Number 159)
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Rural Telephone Bank
On August 4 of this year, the Board of Directors for the RTB voted to "liquidate and dissolve" the Bank. This notice was published to "ensure that all interested parties are informed of the details of the resolutions approved by the Board." Because we all know how avidly rural folks read the Federal Register.
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
Bureau of Land Management
Calling all free market anarchists with extra cash on hand! The feds are selling 86 parcels of federal public land in the Las Vegas Valley ! More than three thousand acres available! Act now!
Friday, August 19, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 160)
Presidential Memorandum of April 21, 2005
"The reporting functions of the President under sections 4026(a)(4)(A), 4026(c)(2), 7104(e)(4)(A), 7202(d), 7204(c)(1)-(2), and 7119(a) of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (Public Law 108-458, 118 Stat. 3638) (the "Act'') are hereby assigned to the Secretary of State."
Tough question: Would you rather have all that responsibility on George W. Bush's shoulders . . . or on Condoleezza Rice's?
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