Balance Sheet



Left Out. Social democracies turn to the market. India, Finland, Denmark, and Sweden cut taxes, sell state firms, and open markets. In The Washington Post, Indian Finance Minister Monmohan Singh defends budget cuts and privatization: "We cannot simply spend our way into prosperity."

Another Convert. In 1989, Keynesian Paul Samuelson wrote that under Soviet-style central planning an "economy can function and even thrive." But the 1992 edition of his ubiquitous Economics text states, "The blunt control of the command economy cannot match…a modern mixed economy." Look for Fritz Hollings to blast textile quotas next.

Broadcast News. The FCC slashes broadcast regulations. Old limits let one company own no more than 24 radio stations; new rules let a single owner have 60 outlets nationwide. By year's end, reports The Washington Post, FCC Chairman Alfred Sikes "will push to eliminate rules limiting broadcasters, cable TV companies and the telephone industry."

Drug Bust. German appeals judge Wolfgang Nescovic rules laws against marijuana and hashish possession unconstitutional. The judge cites medical studies deeming moderate cannabis use no more harmful than consuming alcohol or tobacco. The German constitution guarantees equality before the law.


Messenger Massacre. A surprise victim of Rubbergate: the General Accounting Office. The House asks the GAO to investigate the bank; it does, and finds dirt. Now a GAO source tells columnists Jack Anderson and Michael Binstein that, come budget time, Congress plans to "shoot the messenger": The GAO will suffer, with staff layoffs likely.

Northern Exposure. Feminist jurisprudes invade Canada. Its Supreme Court redefines obscenity as "sexually explicit material that involves violence or degradation." Since porn "degrades" women more than men, the ruling says, it violates sexual equality laws. The University of Michigan's Catharine MacKinnon, who helped prepare the winning arguments, says obscenity "is what harms women, not what offends our values."

Superbucks. Toxic-waste cleanup will cost plenty: Resources for the Future says $96 billion this decade; the University of Tennessee predicts $1.18 trillion before 2020. Still, The Economist reports, the EPA says radon and cigarette smoke pose greater health risks than Superfund sites. Guess where legislators will spend tax dollars?

A Thousand Cuts. Central planners work to hijack the tax code. Moderate Republicans, led by Sen. John Danforth and administration economist Michael Boskin, back new consumption taxes to "encourage" saving. Venture capitalists and Dukakis economic adviser Lawrence Summers back targeted investment-tax credits. No one suggests cutting or simplifying other taxes first. Jerry Brown looks better every day.