Balance Sheet



? Yankee Clipper. Massachusetts Gov. William Weld becomes the first Bay State chief executive to slice the commonwealth's regulatory code. Weld eliminates or streamlines nearly half the 1,600 regulations his administration had issued. And he plans to cut or roll back at least 70 percent of the ones he inherited. Any new government rules must pass a tough cost-benefit test before going on the books.

? Coase Call? Nobel laureate economist Ronald Coase's revelations about private British lighthouses demonstrated that the private sector can profitably provide "public goods." (See "Looking for Results," Jan.) Northampton County, Pennsylvania, may take the lighthouse example further. It pays SHL, an MCI subsidiary, to build and operate the nation's first privatized 911 emergency call system. SHL will get $42.8 million over 10 years to set up equipment and hire operators and dispatchers.

? Package Deal. Reality (as in consumer demand) mugs green central planners. Ontario, Canada, may alter or scrap its mandate forcing 30 percent of beer and sodas to be sold in refillable bottles. Why? Only about 2 percent of the bottles actually get back to a recycling center. Writes Governing environmental columnist Tom Arrandale, "Ontario's experience suggests there's only so much governments really can or should do to influence the packaging choices that manufacturers and consumers make every day."

? Gender Equity. Female entrepreneurs match their male counterparts in an important measure: access to bank credit. A National Foundation for Women Business Owners survey finds that 46 percent of female entrepreneurs have bank loans or credit lines, compared with 49 percent of males. Women also rely less on credit cards to raise capital–only 23 percent used credit cards as a capital source in 1996, down from 52 percent four years earlier.


? Crash Landing. Going to the Big Apple? Consider driving: New York is running out of air traffic controllers. Congress has budgeted money for 335 controllers and boosted their salaries to $80,000. But only 281 controllers are left after 27 experienced controllers took early retirement. And traffic at the New York Center has increased by 20 percent since 1995. Another reason to privatize air traffic control.

? House Party. Bill Clinton continues his relentless campaign to make everyone a federal welfare recipient. The Federal Housing Administration considers raising the amount of money it will lend on a single-family home from $155,250 to almost $215,000. If OK'd by the White House, couples making $82,000 a year could get home loans subsidized (and guaranteed) by taxpayers.

? All Wet. The Army Corps of Engineers sinks its most user-friendly wetlands program. Every year, nearly 20,000 landowners who wished to alter parcels smaller than 10 acres could dodge many regulations by getting an NWP 26 permit. Bowing to green pressures, however, the Corps phases the program out, saying NWP 26 will cover only projects smaller than three acres. And, for the first time, the Corps claims authority over any property development on a presumed wetland, making all landowners potential targets of federal regulators.

? Medisnare. Bill Clinton's legacy is set: His successful Mediscare campaign may make sensible entitlement reform impossible. In an autumn survey by Harvard and the Kaiser Family Foundation, 54 percent of adults say they don't want Medicare spending cut even if the program goes broke. Half of Republicans and three-fourths of Democrats say they would pay higher taxes to keep Medicare alive.