Balance Sheet



Dead Letter-Office. Business is killing the postal monopoly. Fax machines—400,000 sold in 1987—will soon be as ubiquitous as copiers. Publishers and direct mailers look for cheaper, better delivery. (Fifty-two percent of weekly publications were late last year.) Mailers even consider paying protection money, a.k.a. a ¾-cent stamp to give the USPS a cut on junk letters delivered by private companies.

Russian Roulette. Round and round and round it goes…Will Gorby do to Lenin what Deng did to Mao? And, if so, how will Leninists worldwide justify their revolutions without a role model? Jumpy Soviet "conservatives" may have noticed that you don't meet many Maoists these days.

FDA'd Up. The agency's good guy image fades to black, as rage over AIDS drugs spills into other areas. Mort Downey's shout show offers a suitably hostile forum for attacking FDA pig-headedness, with occasionally moving results. Most promising development: Accutane, an acne cure still on the market (with controls) despite links to birth defects. Maybe somebody finally realized that men don't have babies.

Private Lessons. George Bush needs all the help he can get, so here's my contribution. Repeat after me: "Parents should choose what school their kids go to. Private school shouldn't just be for the rich. We should have vouchers." This is a winning issue. Times-Mirror surveys show overwhelming support among all Republican groups and must-win core Democrats. Run on this, George, and you might even carry Massachusetts.


Unfree Association. Feminist conspiracy theorists win Supreme Court approval of the silly notion that women can't get ahead unless they get into the boys' urban treehouses. The real difference between public and private clubs now seems to be that guys take their clothes off in the latter—frat houses, locker rooms, Bohemian Grove. But with L.A. harpy Gloria Allred suing Chippendales for keeping men out, can bare behinds be far behind?

Silicon Slip. Chip import quotas are wrecking the computer business. Meanwhile, the Cambridge crowd is out to turn Silicon Valley into Detroit. (Five years ago, they wanted the opposite.) "Chronic entrepreneurialism" is the problem, says MIT guru Charles Ferguson. Government is the solution. Watch out for these guys. They think they know.

No Exit. Emigration controls are in in Asia. China cuts the number of citizens allowed to study abroad by 75 percent. The Philippines (the only government in the world constitutionally required to "love" its people) slams the OUT door on women who want to be maids abroad, robbing them of work and the country of some $60 million a year in foreign exchange.

Bare Minimum. I got fired once when the minimum wage went up, so call me biased. More people will soon share the experience. Jim Wright et al. suppress a CBO study predicting (surprise!) that a $5.05 minimum could throw a half million people out of work. Republicans cry cover-up but push a lite hike. When economists disagree they're the butts of jokes; when they agree—as about the minimum wage—they're ideologues.