Balance Sheet



Truce. National Review, the self-proclaimed "keeper of the conservative tablets," calls for an end to drug prohibition. The editors support tough sentences for dealing drugs to minors but otherwise "agree on movement toward legalization, even though we may differ on just how far."

Center Cuts. In 1995, New Jersey enacted Gov. Christie Todd Whitman's 30 percent tax cut a year earlier than promised. This year, the moderate chief executive offers a budget with real spending cuts. The state government will spend $16 billion–$124 million less than last year. Whitman will cut subsidies to state universities, place time limits on welfare, and require wealthy seniors to pay more for subsidized medicine.

Sharing Wealth. Forget envy-inspired stereotypes of the greedy rich. Using Federal Reserve data, a study by Boston University sociologists Paul Schervish and John Havens suggests that as people get richer, they also become more generous. Households with incomes of $100,000 gave 2 percent of their incomes to charity. Those who made between $100,000 and $150,000 gave away 3.6 percent. And people making $1 million or more donated 4.9 percent of their earnings.

Travel Glide. France bids monopoly air fares adieu. Domestic airline deregulation commenced January 1, one year before the European Union deregulates fares across the continent. Since lifting restrictions on French carriers, prices have plummeted: Aviation Week & Space Technology says the fare along the busiest route, from Paris to Nice, has dropped by more than half, to $138.


Kernel Klink. If you can't beat 'em…. Last year, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) unsuccessfully tried to abolish farm programs within five years. Now Lugar sponsors the Popcorn Promotion, Research, and Consumer Information Act, a bill that would establish a Popcorn Board funded by taxes on growers and processors. No vote was scheduled before the Iowa caucuses, but if Congress moves fast, we may have price supports in place before the NBA Finals.

Hot Hype. Despite headlines in The New York Times and Newsweek, 1995 was not the warmest year on record. Global-warming alarmists raced to press without including data from frigid December, when we shivered through the biggest one-month temperature drop in 17 years. Including all the data, 1995 was only the eighth-warmest year recorded. University of Alabama-Huntsville atmospheric scientist John Christy tells The Washington Post that '96 should be even cooler.

Crash Victims. In 1991, Rebecca Ann Tebbetts died in an auto accident. Her family believes air bags–which weren't available in a 1988 Escort–would have saved her life. The car did have automatic seat belts, and air bags won't become mandatory until 1998, but no matter. The Supreme Court says the Tebbettses can sue Ford because it didn't install every conceivable safety feature in all its cars. Which section of the Constitution makes judges automotive engineers?

Credit Trap. Bill Clinton, January 23: "The era of big government is over." January 30: Al Gore negotiates a $9 billion taxpayer-backed Export-Import Bank "loan" to Russia. To sweeten the deal, an extra billion will go to the Aeroflot airline so it can buy jet engines from United Technologies. Most likely, Russia will never repay a dime. Would have been cheaper (and more honest) to bypass the Ex-Im Bank, ship the engines directly to Aeroflot, and have Uncle Sam write United Technologies a check.