Balance Sheet



Stamp Act. One unintentional benefit of the postage-rate increase: It could make privatization more palatable. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), with the apparent blessing of Newt Gingrich, wants to convert the U.S. Postal Service into an employee-owned corporation. If Republicans also revoke the USPS monopoly, we can join Sweden, that other laissez-faire haven, and enjoy truly competitive mail service.

Factory Floored. For the next two years, you can kiss large-scale industrial policy good-bye. The GOP will likely defund the White House initiative to have the feds help manufacture flat-panel computer screens. Defense conversion will move to the back burners as well. And, says Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Schrage, "the administration's effort to transform the Commerce Department's National Institute for Standards and Technology into a billion-dollar venture capitalist will be fast-forwarded to annihilation."

Capital Idea. Treasury Department officials and congressional Republicans propose lifting provisions of the Glass-Steagall banking act. Since the Depression, Glass-Steagall has kept banks from selling real estate and securities. Expanding business opportunities for bankers would also give mid-size companies access to new (and cheaper) capital for expansion.

Unnatural Disasters. Ralph Nader said GATT would eviscerate American environmental regulations. He's partly right, and it's a good thing. GATT prohibits environmental trade restrictions that aren't based on "scientific assessments of risk." Reports the San Francisco Examiner, Georgetown University law professor Robert Stumberg has found 90 California green laws that may violate GATT, including the anti-pesticide Proposition 65.


Revolting Development. Voters reject tax-limitation initiatives in Montana, Missouri, and Oregon. (See "The Great Tax Revolt of 1994," Oct.) And the Florida Supreme Court removes three anti-tax initiatives from the ballot. Americans for Tax Reform's Grover Norquist blames poor organization by grass-roots groups and lack of business support, impediments that can be overcome.

Junior's Achievement. Goofy Clintonites still rule the executive branch. Federal Communications Chairman Reed Hundt tells Forbes ASAP the feds "should take special steps to include groups that have not been previously included" in owning and staffing telecommunications firms. Hundt's "excluded" groups include "minorities, women, the elderly, the disabled and children." Children? Sorry. Our CEO dumped strained peas in the CD-ROM drive.

Rifle Swat. Gun-control mania seizes Canada. The ruling Liberal Party proposes mandatory registration for all firearms starting next year. And it wants to ban the import and use of most handguns and rifles. "Canadians feel strongly they do not want a country where they must own firearms to protect themselves," says Justice Minister Allan Rock. Hunting season should be a challenge.

Army Maneuvers. The much-ballyhooed peace dividend disappears. First come allegations of hollow military forces. Then the Congressional Budget Office estimates that by 2010 the Pentagon will need $250 billion more than is now budgeted just to maintain its projected scaled-down force levels. Finally, reports U.S. News, nonstop overseas "peacekeeping" missions have sapped service morale. The military must spend billions on bigger housing and child-care allowances to keep the troops happier and re-enlistments up.