Balance Sheet



Control Freaks. Rent control breathes its last? (See "Oceanfront Battleground," July.) A California court rules that local governments can't force landlords to pay "ransoms" when they leave the rental business. Santa Monica landlords get a vacancy decontrol initiative on the November ballot. Meanwhile, rent-control advocates promise their own partial decontrol compromise. Even in Hayden country, socialism's had a bad year.

Unlikely Allies. Brookings Institution studies praise deregulation of airlines and trucking. In the New York Times, Brookings's Cliff Winston endorses congestion pricing at airports and on highways. And on consecutive days, Times editorials read: "Re-regulate? Not on Your Life" and "Too Little Deregulation." Seriously. If someone would only clue in Congress…or George Bush.

Real People. Grammy winner and animal-rights activist k.d. lang, backed by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, appears in a "Meat Stinks" ad campaign. Country-music stations boycott her records until she disavows PETA. A station in Sioux Falls, S.D., uses a more novel approach—it gives filet mignon to listeners each time it plays a lang song.

Trustbusters. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce opposes next year's 19-percent postal rate hike. Hundreds of postmasters send letters at Postal Service, er, taxpayer, expense, to the chamber's offices. The press finds out. But postal workers have more to worry about than bad publicity: The USPS will contract out 12,000 mail-sorting jobs over the next five years. The Private Express Statutes could be next.


Grand Old Populist. The ubiquitous Kevin Phillips is the new "conservative" darling of the left. His book The Politics of Rich and Poor, a thinly veiled call for class warfare, attacks his former hero Ronald Reagan for letting the rich get richer. But Phillips (whose idol this week is Richard Nixon) seems less a man of principle than a champion of outsiders. He pushed George Wallace as a Reagan running mate in 1976; now he jumps on the Dick Gephardt bandwagon.

Captain Planet. Sounding presidential, Sen. Sam Nunn finds "a new and different threat to U.S. national security—the destruction of our environment." Nunn wants to use military resources to combat planetary catastrophes. At what cost? Nunn says other industrial nations will spend 3 percent of GNP on environmental cleanup. That would be, hmmm, just about what we spend to defend Europe and Japan. There goes the peace dividend.

Strapped-in Youth. A new regulation backed by airlines, flight attendants, and Naderites would require traveling parents to purchase a ticket for each toddler and use child safety seats. The Competitive Enterprise Institute estimates this may save one child's life a year (the FAA says more like one child a decade) but will annually cost travelers $200 million. Many more families will drive to vacation spots, causing an additional 5 to 10 traffic deaths—and another 175 disabling injuries—each year.

Cease Hostilities. Pennsylvania enacts the nation's toughest antitakeover law. Stock prices of Keystone State companies plummet. But companies can ask for exemptions from the law; so far, 22 corporations—including H.J. Heinz, Mellon Bank, and Westinghouse—have gotten them. Says Westinghouse spokesperson James Schmitt: "A best offense against takeover was a well-run company."