Balance Sheet



Trade Wins. Pol watchers push protectionism as a pick-me-up for sagging campaigns. Voters prefer prosperity. Would-be prime minister John Turner joins Michael Dukakis and Dick Gephardt as Canadian delegate to the demagogue-come-lately loser's circle.

Smurfs Up. Old radio hand Reagan vetoes the popular bill limiting commercials on kids' TV. (His soft spot for broadcasters' First Amendment rights will be missed.) Meanwhile, ratings leader NBC contemplates canning Saturday morning cartoons. There might be more money in adults.

New Enlightenment. Will classical liberalism supplant Marxism as a revolutionary doctrine? Ferment is greatest in countries all too familiar with Marxist realities. Underground presses in Poland turn out works by Hayek, Friedman, and Rand; Polish-American Michael Novak's Spirit of Democratic Capitalism is a hit. Latvian activists order a translation of the Declaration of Independence from their American supporters, who throw in the Constitution as well.

Last Hurrah. Bob Dole and friends may yet push through their beloved tax hikes, despite Bush's bravado. But one Reagan legacy seems secure: the end of bracket creep. Indexing for inflation saves the median-income family of four $212 this year. Don't spend it all in one place.


Wretched Refuge. "We're from the government and we're here to help" hits immigrants hard. The INS cracks down on "a modern system of slavery"—hiring illegal aliens to work in Wendy's at above-minimum wage. The fine: $60,000. The workers lose their jobs, of course. Meanwhile, an L.A. judge throws immigrant families into the street by forcing their resident landlord to tear down substandard (but cheap) housing.

Puffed Rice. The fuss over whether to batter down Japan's barriers to U.S. rice obscures more-basic questions. Why are Texas and California farmers growing rice in the first place? And in near-desert? If they paid anything near what their water is worth, they'd find less-thirsty crops to grow.

Artificial Preservatives. Cities landmark every site in sight, from Westwood movie theaters to Coney Island's Cyclone roller coaster. And they mean it. Montgomery County, Maryland, files criminal charges against a couple who illegally tore down their house; they face up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine. "This is the next generation of historic preservation," says county code oberstfuhrer Mel Tull.

Faulty Policy. Insurance threatens to go from problem to "crisis," thanks to price controls. California's rate rollback promises to spread, à la rent control. Massachusetts won't let insurers sell anything if they drop heavily regulated car insurance; Allstate throws up its good hands and gets out.