Balance Sheet



Check-Off Play? George Bush's debt-reducing check-off proposal is no gimmick. In The Wall Street Journal, the Heritage Foundation's Dan Mitchell notes that each tax dollar earmarked for debt reduction will also permanently cut federal spending by a buck. If every taxpayer took a full 10-percent check-off, spending and interest-payment cuts would balance the budget by 1997.

Common-Wealthy. Boris Yeltsin wants to create "millions of property owners, not just a handful of millionaires." Beginning October 1 the Russian government will give all citizens vouchers they can trade for shares in state-owned assets. Yeltsin will privatize most housing within two years and half of Russian industry by the end of 1995.

Driving Rein. Want to stalk somebody? In 48 states, if you get your target's license-plate number, the motor-vehicles department will sell you his address. (See "Secrets for Sale," Feb.) A bill sponsored by Rep. James Moran (D–Va.) would stop such sales of personal information without the driver's consent.

Grain Drain. Mother Nature may open more markets than Carla Hills. Last year's typhoons wiped out the Japanese rice harvest. Makers of sake, rice beer, and rice cakes now pay twice what they did last year for rice. The New York Times reports that these powerful firms may push the government to allow rice imports for the first time.


Freak Enterprise. Phony enterprise zones may replace military bases as the pork-barrel project every legislator wants. The Wall Street Journal cites Louisville, whose 45.7-square-mile "enterprise zone" is twice as large as Newark. It encompasses spiffy Standiford Airport and the University of Louisville campus—hardly pockets of "pervasive poverty."

Call Snooping. Bell Atlantic Corp. received 22,000 requests for its customers' telephone records from the FBI, IRS, and other government agencies last year. The company complied more than 90 percent of the time. In some cases, notes The Washington Post, Bell didn't inform its customers the government had their phone records.

Ticket Snub. Spectacor Management pulls out of its plan to privately renovate the Los Angeles Coliseum. (See "Just Privatize, Baby," Dec.) Spectacor hasn't sold enough $90,000 luxury boxes and $3,600 club seats to finance its $116-million spruce-up job. "Because of current economic conditions," Spectacor partners tell the Coliseum Commission, "there is no longer a role for a for-profit developer."

Cold Comfort. Get your car's air conditioner recharged fast. Chlorofluorocarbons are being phased out; retail sales of freon (R-12 refrigerant) end November 1. Consumers Research reports that a freon substitute—R-134a—exists. But the refrigerants aren't interchangeable. Adapting a car air conditioner for R-134a may cost $2,500.