Conscientious Objectors. New York City judges Jack Weinstein and Whitman Knapp join at least 50 federal judges refusing to hear drug cases. "People think they can stop the drug traffic by…having terribly long sentences," Knapp tells The New York Times. "Of course it doesn't do any good." Weinstein calls tough drug sentences "a waste of taxpayers' money."
Traffic Flow. Hurricane Andrew legalizes (temporarily, anyway) jitney service in Dade County, Florida. (See "Van Ban," Dec.) The Metro-Dade Transit Agency lets four private companies operate buses and vans on 12 fixed routes. The companies use jitneys to supplement their fleets. In March, reports the Federal Transit Administration, more than 200 buses were serving 20,500 passengers a day.
Ivory Sty. Congress promises to cut academic pork. House science committee chairman Rep. George Brown (D-Calif.) will review $707 million in "earmarked" science and technology programs—money that goes directly to influential congressional districts instead of passing competitive peer review. Brown says money for earmarked projects has increased 70-fold since 1980.
Bank Job. Poland's privatization moves ahead. Wielkpoloski Bank Kredytowy becomes Eastern Europe's first private commercial financial institution to sell stock. In 1989, 95 percent of the bank's loans went to state-owned firms; now, 45 percent go to individuals or private companies. The Washington Post says WBK, once "a cash distribution agency of the Ministry of Finance," is now "a real bank."
Bush League. Dick Darman's revenge: The 1990 tax hikes didn't soak the rich after all. With lower, simpler taxes, in 1988, America's richest 1 percent paid 27.6 percent of all income taxes. By 1990, that figure had dropped to 25.6 percent. Forbes estimates the 1992 figure will approach 21 percent. And Bill Clinton's higher rates will stimulate the tax-shelter industry and squeeze the middle class even more.
Quota Pack. Bill Clinton taps radical University of Pennsylvania law professor Lani Guinier as assistant attorney general for civil rights. In a 1991 Virginia Law Review article, she argues that the Voting Rights Act (which she would enforce) compels an end to "one person, one vote." Instead, she writes, legislatures must have roughly the same racial composition as the entire population. She also considers child care, housing, and health care "basic entitlements."
Mystery Train. How not to cut the deficit: Fund new big-ticket boondoggles. The Department of Transportation plans to spend $1.3 billion over five years for high-speed, magnetic-levitating trains. Of the six maglev routes the feds will fund, only one, New York City-Albany-Buffalo, operates profitably with regular trains now.
Acid Test. A few days after the "blizzard of the century," scores of fish die in Virginia mountain streams. James Madison University chemist Dan Downey blames "acid snow" pollution, which he says came from coal-burning plants in the Midwest. Not so fast, counters Virginia state climatologist Patrick J. Michaels. The storm originated offshore. Michaels wryly tells the A.P., "There are no coal-fired power plants in the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic."
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Balance Sheet".