Balance Sheet



Speak Easy. The courts rebut attempts to limit "indecent" language. In Washington, the state Supreme Court overturns a law prohibiting the sale of "erotic" recordings. And when the Federal Communications Commission refuses to sanction a station for broadcasting risqué material, the U.S. Supreme Court says listeners can't appeal the decision.

Selling Streets. The privatization revolution accelerates. More than $388 billion in state-owned enterprises have been privatized over the past decade, $60 billion of that in 1993 alone, reports Privatization 1994, the Reason Foundation's annual survey. Even Gerald McEntee, head of this country's largest public employees' union, admits that "competition can be a part of [reinventing government]."

Work Fair. Native-born Americans are twice as likely to be on welfare as recent immigrants, says the Urban Institute. Excluding refugees, who can't plan their arrivals, only 2 percent of working-age legal and illegal immigrants get public assistance, compared with 3.7 percent of natives. Says the Manhattan Institute's Linda Chavez in USA Today, "Entitlements–for foreign-born and native alike–are the real problem."

Dope Deal. As the California legislature considers legalizing medical marijuana, Germany goes further: By a 6-to-2 vote, the country's Supreme Court rules that the government may no longer prosecute people for possession or use of marijuana or hashish in small amounts. Each state will decide how small is small.


Malpractice Assurance. "Incremental" health reforms backed by moderate Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) and conservative Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) could have enormous costs. Last year, New York instituted community rating, which makes premiums identical for healthy and sick people, and banned policies that exclude persons with pre-existing conditions. Investor's Business Daily reports that premiums for a single male younger than 30 have increased by 170 percent. And 30 percent of Mutual of Omaha's customers dropped coverage; the average age of its policy holders has risen from 41.5 to 45 years.

Unfriendly Skies. Old Democrats in Congress torpedo plans for an independent, corporatized Federal Aviation Administration. (See "Sky Cops," May.) At a press conference intended to launch a bill to corporatize the FAA, Transportation Secretary Federico Peña instead announces a retreat. The administration will "jointly shape legislation" with congressional barons Sen. Wendell Ford (D-Ky.) and Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.), who micromanage the FAA and don't plan to surrender turf.

Water Fault. If the Mississippi floods again this summer, grab your wallet. The General Accounting Office reports that premiums paid for federal flood insurance in 1991 were $780 million less than if they had been based on actual risk. And to cover losses from last year's floods, the program had to borrow $100 million from the Treasury.

Green Pork. Viros push Congress to create a National Institute for the Environment to support peer-reviewed environmental research. At a May congressional hearing, Rep. George Brown (D-Calif.) and other supporters of the NIE clearly signal which "peers" the institute would support: alarmists pushing global warming, ozone depletion, environmental racism, and other pseudo-catastrophes.