Near Miss. Whew! The National Commission to Ensure a Strong, Competitive Airline Industry backs away from reregulation. The panel instead recommends tightening bankruptcy laws so insolvent airlines can't drag down competitors. It also suggests making the Federal Aviation Administration a corporation so it can spend user fees on air-traffic control and other infrastructure without congressional interference.
Draft Demise. Budget cutters in the House defund the Selective Service System. If Senate conferees go along, draft registration will end, as will prosecution of resisters. As the Los Angeles Times notes, even "military strategists concede that, as the Persian Gulf War showed two years ago, the United States has enough active and reserve forces to handle current threats."
Bargain Bordeaux. In France, investors consume mass quantities of state-owned firms. First privatized were two banks, an oil company, and a chemical/drug manufacturer. France Telecom, the phone monopoly, may hit the auction block next. To Clintonites, such privatization talk must seem alien.
Bank Shot. The NBA's Portland Trail Blazers get a new, privately financed home. Blazers owner and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen makes a $46-million down payment on the arena. Prudential Securities Inc. raises the rest by selling $155 million in 27-year notes. Investors will get repaid with money from luxury-box rentals and the Blazers' 30-year lease.
Spending Spree. Want to cut the deficit by $500 billion? Enforce the spending caps in George Bush's 1990 budget deal. In The Wall Street Journal, Tom Bethell points out that Bush budgeted $4.1 trillion in spending from 1993 to 1995. Clinton plans to spend $4.6 trillion over that same period—not including flood relief, national service, health care, etc., etc.
Escape Hatch. Congress overhauls the Hatch Act, which prohibited federal employees from engaging in political activities. Off-duty bureaucrats can now run for nonpartisan offices and raise election money. Opponent Bob Dole sounds a chilling alarm: Prosecutors and IRS agents can strong-arm people for campaign contributions.
Great White North? An Ontario Human Rights Commission study says any Ontarian accused of "racism" should be presumed guilty until proven innocent. Whites who make "racist" remarks deserve tougher scrutiny than non-whites who use the same language. And, reports the Toronto Sun, "Because [the report says] some racism is hard to detect, the commission [will] develop innovative new investigative techniques."
12-Step Presidency. "You have to realize how brief in the history of man that greed and materialism and individualism have been." So spake New Age management guru Margaret Wheatley to National Journal. Wheatley advises Al Gore's "reinventing government" task force. Her Leadership and the New Science avers, "Love in organizations, then, is the most potent source of power we have available." Stuart Smalley, call your office.
This article originally appeared in print under the headline "Balance Sheet".