Technical Performance. Technology makes art cheap and subsidies obsolete. Yamaha retrofits pianos with digital technology to repeat any performance exactly—a friend recorded at home or Vladimir Horowitz at Carnegie Hall. VCRs may "revolutionize funding for the arts overnight," by creating a market for tapes of plays, concerts, opera, even art exhibits, says a study commissioned by Philip Morris.
Pacific Notion. Bush eases western fears of an eastern presidency by proclaiming the United States "a Pacific nation" and visiting Asia while covering his old funeral beat. In a CBS/New York Times poll, 73 percent say they have "friendly" feelings toward Japan; the figures run 82 percent among the postwar generations. Japanese respond similarly about the United States. The bad news: only 34 percent of Americans say trade with Japan is good for the U.S. economy.
Happy Bookers. The Supreme Court unanimously throws out two sleazy attacks on pornography—using RICO to shut down bookstores before proving any crime in court and charging X-rated film makers with pandering. Even Reagan appointees can see First Amendment issues when they're this obvious.
Good Riddance. Planners face unemployment and little public sympathy. New York State's office for local government is down to a third of its old size. "I ran an agency in New Jersey. It was cut from 25 to 1—me. Then my salary was cut in half, to $23,000," kvetches Marvin Burton, an much-credentialed fellow who stops hospital expansions for a living. And people say lawyers are useless…
Kemp Follower. The new HUD secretary throws good sense—and his political career—overboard by latching on to homeless advocate Robert Hayes as a tour guide. Hayes is best known for shamelessly fabricating figures on the number of homeless in America (see "The Homeless Issue: An Adman's Dream," July 1987). Confusing compassion with largess, Kemp shows no signs of creativity in dealing with urban issues. He'd rather be liked than president.
Class Act. The noblesse oblige crowd pushes a peculiar form of "voluntarism" that involves large federal expenditures. Fawning over "youth service" reveals a gross contempt for ordinary work, the kind that teaches young people to take responsibility for themselves. That private employers are willing to pay for. That preppies can afford not to do.
Rushdie Judgment. The sad story of Salman Rushdie and the ayatollah's murderous conviction that ideas have consequences reveals once again the fragility of liberal society—especially in an era when death threats can cross thousands of miles and dozens of national boundaries. The ideas may be medieval, but the technology isn't. Oh yes, and why hasn't our pro-literacy education president had more to say on the subject?
Feminine Mistake. A federal judge rules that basing scholarships on SAT scores discriminates against girls. Now, the SAT isn't perfect—and it does have that pesky math part—but it's more gender-blind than the typical teacher. (Remember how sweet little girls with neat handwriting always got better grades?) The antitesting crowd seems awfully fond of grades. Maybe, just maybe, they think some kinds of cultural bias are okay.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Balance Sheet".