Balance Sheet



The End. The Soviet Union is dead. Happy New Year.

Nervous Take. The Supreme Court agrees to hear five property-rights cases, all aimed at a more vigilant reading of the Takings Clause. Civil libertarians squirm. Noted hypocrisy-buster Michael Kinsley says property rights are at greater risk than free speech. He says the Takings Clause protects them. Then he says he doesn't care: "My liberal heart does not bleed much for the 'victims' of democratically enacted government regulations."

Plane Dealer. McDonnell-Douglas spares taxpayers a Lockheed-style bailout. Selling 40 percent of its commercial aircraft business to Taiwan Aerospace taints the struggling company with the "foreign" label, making handouts a political impossibility. Taiwan Aerospace president Denny Ko is bullish on California as a center for his company's brainwork—technology, marketing, and design—and for future Chinese investment.

Free Waves. EEOC chairman Evan Kemp defies the politics of niceness to defend free discussion. The severely disabled Kemp says an L.A. radio station had every right to air a talk show in which host and callers argued that a local anchorwoman shouldn't have kids because she has a genetically carried disability. Such notions hurt, says Kemp, but the disabled can compete in the marketplace of ideas. They aren't served by censorship.


Veiled Future. Algerian voters give the Islamic Salvation Front control of parliament, promising an Iranian-style future. Algeria's women look forward to Mr. Kinsley's "democratically enacted government regulations." A businesswoman tells the L.A. Times, "We can either leave…or we can pray and pray and pray that the army takes over."

Chemical Reactionary. "Pollution prevention" goes mainstream. Rather than avoid harm to the public, the argument runs, we should ban any evil chemical, no matter how well controlled. Barry Commoner promulgated this notion in Greenpeace a few years back. Now EPA chief William Reilly pushes it. For a guy who came in fifth for president (behind Reagan, Carter, Anderson, and Clark), Commoner sure knows how to make appointments.

Auto-Crat. Bush's tough-talking trade trip to Japan spotlights the Big Three CEOs—the same geniuses who for years wouldn't make a right-hand drive car for the Japanese market. (Imagine how many Jaguars the Brits would sell here if the steering wheel were on the right.) Big successes with marketing savvy, notably Toys 'R' Us, merit only photo ops.

Lemon Torts. Despite Quayle's campaign for reform, the liability system gets worse and worse. In suit-happy California, the state Supreme Court loosens the standard for establishing negligence. And in Minneapolis, a U.S. district court rules that sexual-harassment suits can be filed as class actions rather than individual complaints—making them more lucrative, and enticing, for plaintiffs and lawyers.