Limited Partnership. Disillusionment with the drug war sets in, as nonlibertarians realize there are some ills government just can't cure. The drug problem, says an ABA study, "is growing worse, and law enforcement has been unable to control" it. Neocon guru Norman Podhoretz likens drugs to the underclass: both are essentially "moral and spiritual" problems that resist government solutions.
Spanish Acquisition. Fourteen years after Franco, Spain promises to become Europe's Sunbelt—home of new industry, low wages, cheap land, and sun-seeking retirees. GNP growth chugs along at 4–5 percent a year; foreign investment topped $8 billion in 1987, a fourfold increase in five years. Says Barcelona businessman Jordi Alberich, "If the jobs are here, who cares who owns the plants?"
Affirmative Act. The Supreme Court stops mincing words and comes out for a more nearly color-blind approach to racial preferences. Civil rights law, says Justice O'Connor, should pursue "the ultimate goal of eliminating entirely from governmental decision making such irrelevant factors as a human being's race."
Safety Second. The swaddled society wins enemies in unlikely places. "L.A. Law" regularly zaps stupid tort suits. The latest: when her bosses substitute lime Jello for her slime of choice, a mud wrestler breaks out in a rash and sues the Jello maker. Henry Fairlie, The New Republic's most independent thinker, waxes eloquent about the contemporary "Fear of Living." Even Technology Review, a leading repository of the better-safe-than-sorry theory of noninnovation, pushes a more risk-accepting attitude toward artificial organs.
Riot Act. A Latino Miami cop shoots an unarmed black man. Riots follow. Do the media focus on the police? No. They drag out the old Kerner Commission script and tell us this is all about economics. Blacks, they say, can't make it; Hispanics can. As looters raid stores and burn black-owned businesses to the ground, Ted Koppel unctuously asks guests what the government can do to help blacks (whom he, being an enlightened type, equates with the looters).
Raggedy Andes. Peru hurtles toward the abyss. Shining Path guerrillas terrorize the countryside. Inflation tops 2,000 percent. The military drops coup hints. And the United States wants to chemically bomb the country's coca crops—along with cocoa, bananas, and everything else that grows—back to the stone age.
Baby Talk. The child-care lobby is back, with a kinder, gentler crusade to foist federal rules on an industry already strapped by local red tape. The Children's Defense Fund parades one guilt-stricken couple before congressional committees and a gullible Wall Street Journal reporter to argue that federal standards would have saved their baby. Bull. But standards will save Kinder-Care from home-based competitors.
Guns and Poses. An AK-47-wielding wacko murders five school kids. Immediately, the cry goes up—we must ban these evil guns. The AK-47 "has no legitimate sporting or recreational use," pronounces the L.A. Times. But Americans imported 80,000 AK-47 copies in recent years. Most buyers obviously aren't murderers. They're blasting tin cans and milk cartons. Once upon a time, gun control nuts stuck to handguns. Little guns, they said, that's all we want to ban. Hah.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Balance Sheet".