"Freedom is not merely the opportunity to do as one pleases; neither is it merely the opportunity to choose between set alternatives. Freedom is, first of all, the chance to formulate the available choices, to argue over them -- and then, the opportunity to choose." ~ C. Wright Mills
Federal Register Watch
Federal Register Watch
October 17-21, 2005
What freedoms have you lost this week?
October 17, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 199)
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE - Antitrust Division
I find it incredibly sad that companies have to jump through antitrust hurdles in order to collaborate and conduct research together. This Notice is just a minor example.
FEDERAL RESERVE SYSTEM
A few pages of requirements and micromanagement of revolving credit accounts, including several forced-speech mandates that hardly anyone questions.
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR - Fish and Wildlife Service
The Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge in Illinois is about to go through some regulatory changes. The FWS asked for public input "to identify and prioritize issues facing the Refuge." Among the suggestions: "technical rock climbing would be prohibited"; "a 14-day camping limit would be instituted"; and "use of prescribed fire would increase."
This is part of the larger 15-year Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP). I'm fairly certain that procedure and designation's resemblance to the USSR is lost on the FWS.
October 18, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 200)
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
More than 18 tons of "commercial summer flounder quota" are to be transferred from New Jersey to Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, and New York. This is done "in order to reduce the amount of fish that must be discarded as bycatch in the commercial fishery in states with relatively low summer flounder quotas." Your tax dollars at work.
DEPARTMENT OF THE TREASURY - Internal Revenue Service
"This document contains proposed regulations under which qualified subchapter S subsidiaries and single-owner eligible entities that currently are disregarded as entities separate from their owners for federal tax purposes would be treated as separate entities for employment tax and related reporting requirement purposes. These regulations also propose to treat such disregarded entities as separate entities for purposes of certain excise taxes reported on Forms 720, 730, 2290, and". . . I give up.
Lots of Americans aren't concerned or are skeptical towards claims that businesses are burdened with regulations. No doubt many would be relieved of those feelings if they spent time reading what "our government" does so often in "our name."
Department of the Interior - Fish and Wildlife Service
If you live in San Diego and Los Angeles Counties in California, you have a new potential problem to contend with: Navarretia fossalis. This "low, mostly spreading or ascending, annual herb" apparently deserves a designation of critical habitat. Therefore, tampering with this herb and its habitat could subject you to a federal crime.
Ignoring the mundane Final Rule for a moment, you've got to check out the "supplementary information" section at the beginning that outlines some FWS complaining. I don't follow the agency or the legal proceedings its actions spawn, but with lines like "The Service's present system for designating critical habitat is driven by litigation rather than biology, limits our ability to fully evaluate the science involved, consumes enormous agency resources, and imposes huge social and economic costs." and ". . . we have consistently found that, in most circumstances, the designation of critical habitat is of little additional value for most listed species, yet it consumes large amounts of conservation resources," it makes for some interesting reading.
October 19, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 201)
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
Here's something to chew on. If someone "intends to manufacture" (and import) chemicals not on the Toxic Substances Control Act Inventory (aka, "a new chemical"), they have to let the EPA know and then follow the set of rules that applies to the production of new chemicals. The TSCA is intended to regulate chemicals that pose "an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment."
If you think about it, this could be one of the most sweeping laws in the nation, touching upon substances that are literally fundamental to nearly every economic activity in the nation.
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
This Final Rule "reallots Channel 262C1, Station KSNR(FM) ("KSNR'') from Thief River Falls, Minnesota, to Fisher, Minnesota." This must be one of those public interest regulatory actions I hear about so often. I wonder if each resident (8,400+ and 430+, respectively) affected by the two radio stations was asked for their opinion on the matter. Perhaps those Americans who don't live there but travel through on a regular basis were polled as well. The public owns the airwaves! Any regulations must have the public's approval. Those who disagree with the majority, of course, don't count.
October 20, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 202)
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
So far, this is the most timely action published in the Federal Register I've encountered. On October 17th, the CDC said that it was formally "adding reconstructed replication competent forms of the 1918 pandemic influenza virus containing any portion of the coding regions of all eight gene segments to the list of HHS select agents and toxins."
DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY - Bureau of Customs and Border Protection
Here's something that will probably irk the closed borders crowd. Customs wants to impose an "extension of the import restrictions on certain categories of archaeological material from the Pre-Hispanic cultures of the Republic of Nicaragua." The Acting Assistant Secretary for Educational and Cultural Affairs (such a position exists?) at the Department of State has deemed these prohibitions necessary. Therefore it must be so! I wonder if the people who cycle through that position have any idea that they face choices like this one.
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE - International Trade Administration
Irony alert! Someone's been dumping pasta from Italy on our shores!
Office of the President
This was an unsettling find. Since October of 1995, a national emergency has been declared in response to "the actions of significant narcotics traffickers centered in Colombia, and the extreme level of violence, corruption, and harm such actions cause in the United States and abroad." What this declaration does is interfere greatly with the "property and interests in property" of picked foreign individuals and Americans linked to those individuals and their property if it was used in support of narcotics production and distribution. Everyone knows the War on Drugs is a general failure. Apparently, this extends to Mr. Bush, who has chosen to extend the emergency declaration another year.
October 21, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 203)
DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE - Agricultural Marketing Service
Ask someone if we have a capitalist system in place for agriculture. If they say yes, let them know the federal government imposes regulations that "identifies synthetic substances that are allowed and nonsynthetic substances that are prohibited in organic crop and livestock production."
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE - Drug Enforcement Administration
Not only does the federal government make it outright illegal or damn-near impossible to own chemicals listed in Schedules I and II of the Controlled Substances Act, it also tells those people who are allowed to own them how much of that specific substance can be produced.
I suppose it isn't technically, literally outlawing when licensed, approved persons are allowed to--aggregately!--produce two grams of a substance. There are a lot of those in this list. Of note: 4,500,000 grams of marijuana have been allotted and a total of 94,833,000 grams of cocaine are allowed for various purposes.
NATIONAL FOUNDATION ON THE ARTS AND THE HUMANITIES
The Humanities Panel is meeting. Why? To spend the portion of our income on "financial assistance under the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act of 1965."
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