Flight Path. Airport privatization lands in the United States. BAA, the British firm that operates London's Heathrow, Gatwick, and Stansted airports, gets a 10-year contract to run the Indianapolis airport. BAA predicts it will save $140 million in operating costs over the life of the contract; it will cut passenger fees by $2.00 per passenger, or about 25 percent. Meanwhile, the Newark, Syracuse, and New York's JFK and LaGuardia airports may also gain private operators.
Ram Tough. A single bill by freshman Rep. Dick Chrysler (R-Mich.) could end most federal industrial policy. Chrysler's plan to abolish the Department of Commerce, which has the blessings of Newt Gingrich and Bob Dole, would terminate the Economic Development Administration, the Advanced Technology Program, and the International Trade Administration. What about government support for breakthrough technologies? "If [something] is a good invention," said Chrysler, "let the private sector invent it."
Parallel Bars. The federal government may lose a key weapon in the drug war: the ability to simultaneously prosecute drug dealers in civil and criminal court. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals says seizing a defendant's assets in a civil proceeding while trying the same person in criminal court for that offense constitutes double jeopardy. More than 300 convictions in the Ninth Circuit's region alone may be overturned.
Band Stand. Drawing on the analysis of Peter Huber and REASON's Tom Hazlett, the Gingrich-connected Progress & Freedom Foundation proposes abolishing the FCC. By establishing property rights in the broadcast spectrum and ending federal ownership of the airwaves, the Progress & Freedom plan would let current license holders own their frequencies; the feds would auction the rest of the spectrum. Gingrich tells Broadcasting & Cable he wants the FCC phased out within five years.
Lonesome Highway. Let's say you need some new wheels. You can't afford a Lexus because of those 100 percent tariffs. How about a bike? Not so fast, says New York Times trend spotter Peter Passell. He says the Clinton administration may use anti-dumping rules to sock the Chinese, who make the lion's share of imported bicycles, with 50 to 100 percent tariffs. Look for higher prices and shortages right around the Christmas season.
Parochial Interests. When federal privatization plans conflict with the self-interest of individual Republicans, guess what wins? D.C.-area House members balk at plans to privatize air traffic control, lest they lose the power to micromanage Washington's National and Dulles airports. Western senators squawk at proposals to privatize federal power marketing agencies. And House Budget Committee Chairman John Kasich opposes postal privatization because his father is a letter carrier.
Lousy Aim. Reeling from criticism of its fundraising letters, the National Rifle Association shows how playing defense can be, well, offensive. Calling militia organizations "hate groups" and "terrorist groups," NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre calls for congressional hearings to investigate the militia movement. (See "Extreme Prejudice," July.)
Leveled Heads. Egalitarianism runs amok in Colorado. Starting this year, most Colorado public high schools designate any student with a 4.0 grade-point average valedictorian. As a result, reports Newsweek, Boulder High graduates 26 "valedictorians" this spring. At Smoky Hill High, the eight graduates who are at the head of the class of '95 will read parts of a single speech.