Balance Sheet

Assets

Special Delivery. Telling a conference of business customers the Postal Service "needs to be deregulated, commercialized," new Postmaster General William
L. Henderson concedes the first-class mail monopoly will eventually end. This public reversal may also signal less hostility from the Postal Service toward its customers and competitors.

Local Authority. The Salt Lake City Council refuses to convert its local police force into federal immigration cops. A plan drafted by the chief of police, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, Attorney General Janet Reno, and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) to "cross-deputize" 20 Salt Lake City cops is voted down 4 to 3.

Trumping Trump. Donald Trump and the Atlantic City Casino Reinvestment Development Authority end their attempt to seize boardinghouse owner Vera Coking's property. (See "Trump Change," Citings, May 1997.) The CRDA tried to take Coking's home so that Trump Plaza could build a parking lot for its limos. But after a local court rules this use of eminent domain unconstitutional, the agency abandons its effort.

Blue Moon. Pandering to the "family values" crowd, Norway's ruling Christian People's Party implements Sunday blue laws. Large retailers must shut their doors. But gas stations are exempt, letting crafty merchants fight back. RIMI and REMA, the nation's two largest supermarket chains, say they'll install gas pumps at several hundred outlets.

Liabilities

Stun Gun. Mr. Smith, Mr. Wesson, meet Mr. Nader. The latest gun control scheme would apply federal health and safety regulations to firearms. Writes Violence Policy Center analyst Susan Glick in the Los Angeles Times, "If handguns were held to the same standards as every other consumer product in America, they would likely be banned."

Cattle Prod. The General Accounting Office says more than one-quarter of the federal government's $1 billion food inspection budget is wasted on a single antiquated process. While safety measures to check for infectious bacteria go unfunded, notes the GAO, federal inspectors squander $271 million a year eyeballing cow and chicken carcasses for visible signs of disease.

Kangaroo Court. Did ads for Bill Clinton's 1996 re-election violate campaign laws against "express advocacy"? Certainly not, despite the bleatings of campaign reformers and the Federal Election Commission. Clinton may deserve to lose the White House, but not over this.

Old News? Greedy geezers and the redistributionist crowd get an unexpected reprieve: Stock market gyrations and the Clinton scandals all but guarantee that Social Security reforms won't take place before the 2000 election.

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