Balance Sheet



Neighborhood Watch. Demographers debunk the myth of a "balkanized" America. Housing integration surges, especially in fast-growing, formerly segregated cities in the South and the West. In American Demographics, the University of Michigan's Reynolds Farley reports that eight of the nation's 10 most-integrated metropolitan areas are in the Sunbelt; the other two are Anchorage and Honolulu.

Taking Flight. Congress passes a bill prohibiting lawsuits against aircraft manufacturers for accidents involving planes more than 18 years old. (Over the past two decades, liability lawsuits have halted the domestic manufacture of inexpensive piston-engine airplanes and axed 100,000 jobs in general aviation.) Thanks to this minor tort reform, says Forbes, by 1996 Cessna may sell 2,000 new planes a year, some costing as little as $100,000.

Info-boon? Congress may adjourn before the Democrats further regulate telecommu-nications. And next year, Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.) will propose a bill that would repeal the 1992 cable act, let the Baby Bells offer long-distance service and manufacture equipment, and allow electric companies and other utilities to offer cable and phone service.

Cops Cuffed. The California legislature unanimously reforms asset forfeiture. (See "Ill-Gotten Gains, Aug./Sept. 1993.) Prosecutors must first get a criminal conviction before seizing property. They also must prove that the impounded property was used in a drug crime. And cops can't use the cars, boats, stereos, and other items they confiscate.


Pediatric Pander. Statists acknowledge they can't overtly socialize American medicine. Instead, they hope to take over health care by stealth. Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne Jr. suggests guaranteeing health insurance for every American younger than 18, then extending coverage to pregnant women (as the Mitchell and Chafee bills propose) and eventually everyone. KidCare might also buy off pro-family conservatives. Will family-leave co-sponsor Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) back this, too?

Brokaw the Barbarian. Congressional censors may lower the boom on television violence this year. Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) would spend $6 million to fund surveys of TV violence and issue quarterly "report cards." And Sen. Fritz Hollings (D-S.C.) wants to ban broadcasters from airing violent programs when children watch. One problem: A Center for Media and Public Affairs survey reports that violence depicted on news programs is rising faster than that shown on cartoons, movies, or dramas.

Hamburglars. Greens sock fast-food lovers in Germany. The city of Kassel taxes restaurants 30 cents for each paper plate, 25 cents for each can or nonreturnable bottle, and 6 cents for each disposable utensil thrown away. The Bonn government may implement this so-called garbage-reducing tax nationwide. McDonald's says the extra costs may force the chain to close some German restaurants. A test run for enviro initiatives here?

MADDening. Prohibitionists rival the AARP in lobbying firepower. Eleven states cut the permissible blood-alcohol content for drivers from 0.1 to .08; 23 other states have similar bills pending. Seven states have passed .00 (zero-tolerance) laws against drivers younger than 21; two states have a .01 limit, and eight states a .02 limit. The U.S. Senate passes a bill applying the .02 limit to teenagers nationwide.