Balance Sheet

Assets

Nature's Course? Hopeful medical news has bio-Luddites on the run. The massive popularity of Viagra shows that men no longer consider impotence a "natural" condition they must accept. And the tumor-shrinking cancer treatment discovered by Boston physician Judah Folkman suggests that biotech may conquer the disease we fear most.

Welfare Relief. North Carolinians resoundingly say no to tax handouts for Major League Baseball. (See "Squeeze Play," page 74.) More than 60 percent of voters in Forsyth and Guilford Counties reject an initiative to raise taxes for a $210 million stadium intended to lure the struggling Minnesota Twins to the Piedmont Triad.

Cash Rebates. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the 1998 budget surplus will be $68 billion, up from a projected $5 billion in April. Perennial presidential hopeful Jack Kemp suggests several simple, nondistortionary ways to give that money back, including: Repeal the Bush/Clinton tax hikes; increase the standard deduction for individual income taxes; and raise the income people can earn before they're kicked from the 15 percent into the 28 percent tax bracket.

Honor Roll. Gov. Pete Wilson signs a bill jump-starting California's charter schools. (See "Class Acts," April.) The bill will increase the number of charters from 100 to 250 this fall, adding up to 100 additional charter schools each succeeding year. It also lets parents or teachers petition to convert existing public schools into charter facilities.

Liabilities

Safe Harbors? While you contemplate summer vacation, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration works overtime. OSHA wants to require every convenience store to install bulletproof glass and have at least two clerks on the clock during late shifts. It also plans to make contractors increase the number of porta-potties on construction sites.

Silicon Ceiling. Asserting that lightly regulated high-tech companies treat women more shabbily than men, Rep. Connie Morella (R-Md.), chair of the House technology subcommittee, calls for a federal Commission on Women in Science, Engineering, and Technology Development. Science says the commission could call for new, gender-based regulations for tech firms.

Pig Feed. House Speaker Newt Gingrich personally guarantees a corporate welfare hog stays at the tax trough. Gingrich restores the $600 million annual ethanol subsidy through 2007. Most of the money goes to Archer Daniels Midland, a bipartisan source of campaign cash.

Dixie Dregs. Alabama's legislature unanimously enacts the nation's toughest restrictions on adult entertainment. One provision would designate any store that sells, rents, or distributes materials that depict nudity an "adult" business subject to advertising and promotional restrictions. Cinemas may not be able to post billboards for Titanic; bookstores may have to keep collections of Michaelangelo's work under the counter; and newsstands may have to shrinkwrap the June issue of REASON.

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