Balance Sheet



Skin Nix. Fear of porn kills a bad idea to give tax credits to independent film productions. To combat lower production costs in Canada, Congress sought to give some booty to productions with budgets under $10 million. Then the suits realized that language would make every maker of X-rated movies eligible for the handout. Cut!

Investor Nation. More Americans than ever are investors. A survey by the Securities Industry Association finds that almost 79 million individuals own equities, up from 42 million in 1983. Nearly half of all households own some stock, up from just 19 percent in 1983. Further, they report these shareholders are long-termers and are diversified, with more than 60 percent owning shares in international stock funds.

Tax Returns. In the midst of the debate over campaign finance reform, taxpayers vote against public financing with their wallets. The percentage of taxpayers who elect to use $3 of their tax payment for the presidential election campaign fund is at 11.3 percent, down from 28 percent in the early '80s.

Mixed Bag. Gun-grabbers struggle to explain why Hawaii's super-strict gun laws did not stop a lone nut from going off. The state is the only state that requires firearms to be both licensed and registered, bans cheap handguns, has a 14-day waiting period, and keeps tabs on second-party sales.


FOIAed Again. The ever-trustworthy Department of Justice mulls weakening the Freedom of Information Act, which for two decades has allowed citizens a modest peek at their gov-ernment's dirty laundry. The change would create a limited exemption for "information" provided by tipsters.

The Profiler. Mosaic-2000, a pilot program created by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms and the security firm Gavin de Becker Inc., quizzes students at 25 public schools about their backgrounds, including access to guns and use of "violent language." The higher their score, the greater the need for "intervention."

Poor Math. Poverty may explode if the Census Bureau goes ahead with plans to redefine it. As it is, poverty measures do not count transfer payments–Food Stamps, Medicaid, school lunches–which help raise the living standards of low-income workers. If anything, the bureau already overcounts the poor.

Fields of Green. Sports moguls continue to wring public money from voters. Scottsdale, Arizona, is on the hook for $352 million and San Antonio for $150 million after voters approve plans to fund sports complexes. Voters in Houston reject a new basketball arena, but they are already committed to a $310 million football palace.