Balance Sheet



Toys Land. Toys R Us teams up with McDonald's to hit Japan. Those stodgy Japanese retailers are in for the shock of their lives. The company completely transformed toy selling in this country, making it a year-round business and combining huge inventories with sophisticated tracking systems. Imagine what it can do in a land where grown men and women can't get enough of Mickey Mouse and Hello Kitty.

Crack Up. The drug war backlash begins. "Nightline" questions the media's rah-rah attitude. The set-up crack bust in Lafayette Park makes Bush look both silly and sleazy. Great Right Hope Pat Buchanan comes perilously close to advocating legalization. The big questions remain: Will the popular media follow the elites? Will the public follow them? And how nasty will the drug warriors get when they start losing? (Should REASON editors expect tax audits?)

Capitol Gain. The Reagan Revolution fizzled but tax-cutting fervor survives. Cutting capital gains taxes proves downright populist. So much for rich-baiting—and for the Dick Gephardt/Bob Kuttner theory that the way to the voters' hearts is through their envious little green eyes.

Inside Story. The ain't-it-awful consensus on insider trading breaks up. Prosecutors give up on the "Wall Street Three," leading to innocents-accused news stories—in stark contrast to the original '80s-sin-and-decadence spin. Long-promised new charges against Michael Milken fail to materialize. L.A.Times ace Scott Paltrow contributes a long piece noting that most insider trading is done by ordinary people who think nothing of it.


Revolting Development. Real estate developers are the '90s answer to '50s commies. They make great TV villains and, observes Amy Schwartz of the Washington Post, they're even turning up in Harlequin Romances. With Charlestonians railing against developers, don't look for an end to that city's pre-Hugo housing shortage anytime soon.

Fetal Attraction. I used to have a lot of sympathy for the pro-lifers' cause. But the life-begins-at-conception view just gets sillier and sillier when you try to put it in practice. An estranged couple squabbles over custody of their frozen embryos. The mother wins. So far, so good. But the court rules that the embryos are people. Does that mean they all have the right to be implanted and, with luck, born? (Yes, folks, we are indeed living in a science fiction novel.)

Post Haste. The House votes to put the Postal Service off-budget, giving it the same insulated status as Social Security. Meanwhile, Postmaster General Anthony Frank foresees big rate increases come 1991. Costs, he says, have jumped 20 percent (!) in two years. Get ready for the 32-cent stamp.

Blowing Smoke. The Senate votes to ban smoking on all airline flights. Since nicotine appears to be the most addictive drug known to man, it's unlikely junkies will manage to hold out for five hours across country without lighting up. They'll just do it in the bathroom, catch the plane on fire, and kill everyone.