The L-Word. Liberalism never really got off to a good start in this country, what with property rights tangled up with slavery, and civil liberties linked to a strong central government. Now that the "progressives" have abandoned it, maybe we classical types can rehabilitate the liberal label.
Smoke Out. Cigarette smoke, especially when you're trying to eat, is pretty annoying. So are bratty kids. RJR's new "smokeless" cigarette promises to ameliorate the first problem, despite questionable taste and safety-Nazi protests that the only good cigarette is a dead cigarette. The brat pack, alas, still haunts the nation's restaurants.
Strange Love. Environmentalists keep worrying and learn to love nuclear power. The greenhouse effect is scarier than TMI—radon will get you first, anyway—and new reactor designs offer a way for former hysterics to save face. Still, Mario keeps Shoreham shut while blackouts roll through New York. Things don't change that fast.
Good Bet. Yes, they're monopolies. Yes, they offer odds only a sucker could love. But state lotteries beat taxes—and people enjoy them. Florida's record $52-million jackpot in September had them turning out 850 Lotto tickets a second. Just think what a one-time national Big Spin could do to the deficit.
Wiseguys. NBC forfeits Olympic gold to show the George & Michael Sound Bite Spectacular. The New York Times applauds: "a contribution…to democracy." The L.A. Times reveals: Congressional thugs Fritz Hollings and John Dingell leaned on the network. Said they'd be real disappointed. Talked about the public trust. Made Team Peacock an offer it couldn't refuse.
Protection Racket. The trade deficit hits a 3½-year low. Are protectionists happy? Is the Pope Baptist? Steelmakers want quotas extended, despite a 25 percent jump in exports. And to preserve South Carolina's bad jobs at bad wages (at a cost of $250,000 per job "saved"), Congress clamps down on foreign textiles, drawing a rare Reagan veto. Old Fritz is in the middle of this one, too.
Rising Sum. Japan passes the United States as the world's number-one source of foreign aid, proving the Japanese aren't as smart as people think. That textile bill veto did more for Bangladesh than the $13 million in flood relief that helped put Japan over the top. Meanwhile, Congress struggles to keep up with the Japanese by wrecking more Third World economies with a boost in World Bank funding.
Grisly Cite. No, no, no, says the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Sheep ranchers can't up and kill grizzlies just because the bears have a taste for mutton. Only duly authorized hunters can shoot the endangered predators: "The right to kill federally protected wildlife in defense of property is not…so 'deeply rooted in this nation's history and tradition' that it can be recognized by us as a fundamental right guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment." Tell that to the sheep.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Balance Sheet".