Balance Sheet



Happy Trails. More than 60 members of Congress voluntarily retire. Many of the perplexed lame ducks had never planned to do honest work again. In an interview on Fox TV, House retiree Howard Wolpe (D–Mich.) laments, "This is not a happy place."

Smog Exchange. Wisconsin Power and Light completes the first two emissions trades. Because the utility will reduce smog by more than the Clean Air Act requires, it earns emissions allowances. The Tennessee Valley Authority buys 10,000 allowances; each lets the TVA emit one ton of sulfur dioxide. Pittsburgh's Dusquene Light Co. will also buy as many as 25,000 allowances. This extra pollution may cost Dusquene $10 million. Still, The New York Times reports, sulfur scrubbers would have cost its ratepayers a lot more.

Tropical Solution. Another socialist government falls in Latin America. Two pro-privatization conservatives will meet in a July runoff for Ecuador's presidency. The candidate of the Democratic Left, which has ruled for 12 years, finishes fourth with only 8 percent of the vote, well behind self-proclaimed Hitler-lover Abdala Bucaram Ortiz.

Pay and Pray. The congressional pay-raise amendment, proposed by James Madison two centuries ago, becomes part of the Constitution. The amendment makes House Speaker Tom Foley apoplectic: It could wipe out a cost-of-living increase included in the 1989 pay hike. Push too hard for this one, Mr. Speaker, and you may become a back-bencher—if you're lucky.


Gotcha! (Not.) The Federal Communications Commission issues new rules banning broadcast "hoaxes." The agency can fine broadcasters as much as $25,000 for intentionally airing items it deems "false" or "confusing." This subjectivity could outlaw broadcast satire, as when Dana Carvey impersonates George Bush or John McLaughlin. And one broadcaster's "hoax" is another's War of the Worlds.

Tax Hiker. Connecticut Gov. Lowell Weicker wins the 1992 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award (really) for taking "a principled stand for unpopular positions"—i.e., ramming an income tax down the legislature's throat. (See "Read our Lips," June.) Tapped-out Connecticut taxpayers might say, Don't give Weicker an award; put him on America's Most Wanted.

Truck Dump. The Commerce Department rules Toyota and Mazda "dump" minivans on U.S. consumers. Nonsense, says Toyota spokesman James Olson. Comparably equipped Toyotas cost more here than they do in Japan. And 90 percent of all minivans are made in the USA. But if you think minivans cost a lot now, Olson says, just wait 'til the Japanese can't sell them here anymore.

Hootenanny. The reauthorized Endangered Species Act could be worse than the original. (See "All Creatures Great and Small," Apr.) Greens lobby for tough new penalties; one viro favorite, notes Technology Review, would make offenders felons subject to five-year prison terms. Kill a spotted owl, go to jail.