Balance Sheet



Chicago Club? Gary Becker wins the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science. The University of Chicago economist has applied free-market theory to such "noneconomic" problems as race discrimination, divorce, and criminal punishment. Says World Bank economist Larry Summers, "As Milton Friedman was to macroeconomics, Gary Becker is to microecomomics."

Diet Plan. The Senate postpones new regulations on food supplements until December 31, 1993. (See Trends, Oct.) In January, regulation opponent Sen. Orrin Hatch (R–Utah) will reintroduce the Health Freedom Act, which lets vitamin makers tout legitimate health claims without fear of FDA reprisals. Enjoy your One-A-Day.

Volcanic Disruption. Climatologists feared debris from Mount Pinatubo could destroy 30 percent of the temperate-latitude ozone layer. (See "The Hole Story," June.) Instead, reports Science, the volcano's actual effect was "modest at best"—perhaps a 5-percent temporary depletion. Even after Pinatubo, NASA researchers say ozone levels are above the record lows noted in 1987, 1989, and 1990.

Taking Initiative. Fourteen state ballots offer term limits. (See Trends, Nov.) The score on Nov. 4: term limits, 14; career politicians, 0. Foes of the initiatives unsuccessfully portrayed libertarian term limiters as dangerous kooks. But voters feared term-limit foes, led by such powerful political spouses as Heather Foley and Debbie Dingell.


Party On. Federal, state, and local taxes soak up 42 cents of every dollar we spend on booze, notes the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. This holiday season, raise your glass to the revenuers.

Food Fight. European Community farmers have slapped punitive tariffs on U.S. soybeans since 1987. GATT officials tell the E.C. to play fair; the Europeans refuse. Agriculture Secretary Edward Madigan promises to double tariffs on $300 million of imported wine, gin, and cheese. Forget health-care reform: Bill Clinton must first prevent a full-blown trade war.

Road Block. The private plan to extend northern Virginia's Dulles Toll Road dies. (See "Private Extension," Jan. 1990.) The recession prevents the Toll Road Corp. of Virginia from raising $300 million for its 15-mile addition. The General Assembly will now try to get federal money and make the extension a public-private partnership.

Breaking Waves. The FCC fines Los Angeles radio station KLSX a record $105,000 for Howard Stern shows it aired in 1991. (See "Penises and Politics," Oct. 1991.) The Washington Post reports the feds use the fines to frighten new stations scheduled to air Stern's broadcasts. And just wait, Howard: Tipper Gore may run the Broadcast Police before long.