Balance Sheet



Enterpreneurial Engine. Houston's 70-year-old jitney ban is history. Saying jitney owner Alfredo Santos's "opportunity to pursue [his] livelihood is a constitutionally protected liberty interest," U.S. District Judge John Rainey struck down the ban as an illegitimate form of "economic protectionism." The decision could be a precedent in other economic-liberties cases.

Germ Warfare. More than 3 million children in developing countries die each year from diseases they contract from polluted water. Entrepreneurs help avert this tragedy. French company Lyonnaise-Dumez provides water and sewer services for 10 million residents of Buenos Aires, reports The Economist. And in Jakarta, 32 percent of the residents buy water from street vendors; another 54 percent rely on private wells.

Shift Work. Following his colleagues in Chicago and Philadelphia, New York's new mayor takes on public-employee unions. Rudolph Giuliani gains concessions to buy out or lay off 7,600 city workers immediately. More important, says The New York Times, he can attack patronage by reassigning city workers to different agencies.

Tech Peace. The Coordinating Committee for Multilateral Export Controls–the Cold War's high-tech trade regulator–goes out of business. No longer will the Commerce Department demand to issue a license every time a domestic company wants to sell a product overseas. Xerox and Motorola will receive general licenses that let them sell to any civilian customer, and AT&T estimates China may buy $40 billion in telecommunications equipment by 2000.


Wrong Number. In Washington, deregulation means "micromanagement by Capitol Hill." Democrat-backed telecommunications reforms force companies to rebate savings to customers rather than invest in new high-tech equipment. Bills sponsored by Sen. Fritz Hollings (D-S.C.) and Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) require telephones to be made in the USA with less than 40 percent foreign parts. US West Chairman Richard McCormick tells The Wall Street Journal that having no legislation would be better than the current bills.

Butt Out. The anti-smoking crusade gets dumber. (See "Smokenders," May.) Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) suggests the impossible: make tobacco companies produce nicotine-free cigarettes. If nicotine leads to chemical dependency, tobacco companies should instead boost nicotine levels so smokers can get their fix with fewer puffs.

Fashion Statement. The silk blouse, a wardrobe staple for millions of working women, gets more expensive. U.S. Trade Warrior,–er, Representative–Mickey Kantor announces quotas against imported silk garments. The American Textile Manufacturing Institute estimates the quotas will reduce imports by one-sixth. Say bye-bye to the $19.95 silk shell and hello to our old friend polyester.

Reinventing Bureacracy. While states cut welfare costs, the Clinton administration unveils new programs that spend more. (See "Working on Welfare," Apr.) "Empowerment zones" are no longer deregulated business districts but bureaucracies that dole out food stamps, health care, and other welfare benefits. The $26-billion "community development" plan also includes expanded Head Start and job training.