Busy Work: Financial Reform Targets Conflict Minerals

We heard all last summer (and after) that "we" needed to pass the financial reform act to restore balance to the financial markets, to reign in out of control bankers, and to protect consumers. So, why are Target and Wal-Mart having to report whether they are using tungsten mined in the Congo?

Top U.S. retailers including Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Target Corp. are battling to limit a new federal law that could force them to report whether their store-brand goods contain minerals from war-torn Central Africa.

The requirement, part of the Dodd-Frank financial law passed in July, aims to pressure companies to spurn so-called conflict minerals—tin, tantalum, tungsten or gold from parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo or neighboring countries.

Income from those minerals is blamed for fueling violence that has claimed millions of lives in eastern Congo, which a senior United Nations official recently branded the world's rape capital.

Under the new law, public companies using any of the four minerals from Central Africa must report what steps they have taken to verify the minerals weren't taxed or controlled by rebel groups. Products that don't contain minerals that benefited such groups can bear the label "DRC conflict free." Companies that fail to verify their sources can still sell their products, but could face embarrassment.

A broad array of U.S. companies, including makers of medical devices, cellphones, airplanes and machine tools, will be affected by the requirement because the minerals are in the products they manufacture.

Less clear is the status of retailers, such as Wal-Mart and Target, who carry private-label goods. The Securities and Exchange Commission has the power to decide who is considered a manufacturer under the law, and so must comply with it.

Granted I am conservative which means I'm dumm and support "deregulation" but what the hell do conflict minerals have to do with financial reform? The answer, I believe, is nothing. But, we had yet another 1,000+ page "I haven't read the bill" piece of legislation passed by meddling liberals who would believe every NGO with a fax machine and a modem before they believe multi-billion dollar American retailers. Also, how is this not yet another chain around American manufacturing? Are there other countries out there passing this sort of legislation? No. They are buying the natural resources they need to innovate and grow their economies. When I see this sort of thing, it gives the lie to the Dems' claims that they are "pro-business."

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