Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Whatever Happened to the Republican Doctrine of Getting the Government Off Your Back?

If Democrats ever run out of issues to disagree with Republicans over, like the war in Iraq, funding for education, Social Security, outrageous deficits and tax cuts for the rich, one basic idea that irks most Americans is having to comply with some stupid regulations where the benefit to the common good is not obvious or even necessary.

Most urban dwellers haven’t heard about NAIS because it doesn’t affect them, at least not yet. But because of the fear of terrorists and mad cow disease, a few entrepreneurs, looking to expand their product line so that millions of them would have to be purchased, have lobbied their Republican buddies to require that all farm animals would have to be registered into a huge new federal database and tagged so they could be identified in the National Animal Identification System.

It might seem reasonable for a tracking system to be able to follow a potentially diseased animal from farm to table, but that is not what will happen. Large scale producers can register just one number for a lot of animals, but Linda and her kids out on Deerfield Road who are raising a few 4-H horses for riding and show and retired Charlie who has only one egg-laying chicken out on Baseline Road will be required to buy a tag for his chicken too.

If Linda trailers the horses over to the County Fair she will have to report that within 24 hours and if Charlie’s chicken has to go the vet, that movement would have to be reported too. If the vet notices that Charlie’s chicken has no required ID tag, then under proposed regulations that are not yet final, the vet would be required to report that to the federal government.

It’s too late to stop the legislation. Our Republican-controlled Congress in its wisdom rammed the NAIS system through, but the USDA is still finalizing the regulations that are scheduled to go into effect in January 2008. No need to rush things since the manufacturers of the systems need to gear up the hardware and software they hope to make a killing on. There is even talk of privatizing the whole database system too so another Republican organization can hit the jackpot too. More information about the whole mess is available here. (click) and here (click).

Now various organizations including homesteaders who grow and eat their own food and groups of horse owners are beginning to see the problems related to the NAIS. The opposition is growing as the impact on Amish farmers and others is becoming apparent. Is it an unnecessary burden or is it intrusion into the lives of people who can cause no harm to others?

One wonders if people who keep birds as pets might also be added to the registry later as the fear of bird flu spreads and why not add cats and dogs to the registry too?

I can see it now. My dog will soon be getting his very own customized ad for Dog Chow after the private database people sell his tag number to Purina.


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