Balance Sheet



Y2OK. Slot machines in Delaware, customs offices in Gambia, and some temporary blindness for Uncle Sam's spy satellites. Such is the awful, actual toll of the Y2K bug. The feds likely got their money's worth with the $8 billion spent on Y2K readiness. For the private sector, the tens of billions spent on new software should pay off in productivity gains later.

Math Terror. Despite the recent media attention, terrorism remains the remotest of threats to Americans. Dying at the hands of a terrorist is a one-in-15-million proposition, the RAND Corp. notes. Compare that to a one-in-6,000 chance of dying in a traffic mishap.

Gamed System. Computer gamers go to market. Programmers who honed their coding skills on "dumb" games like Doom and Quake create new companies. One, 10-K Wizard Technology (, uses a powerful search engine to trawl SEC filings for key words free of charge.

eVote. Americans want a high-tech democracy. A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds that 53 percent of the respondents want to be able to vote over the Internet. The campaign and the candidates have long been virtual: Why not the balloting?

Polling Papers. The crush of a presidential campaign smokes out Vice President Al Gore on medical marijuana. Gore breaks with the Clinton administration and backs an option for doctors to prescribe ganja to ease pain and suffering.

Great White Dearth. The single-payer Canadian health system is on life support. Quebec sends hundreds of cancer patients to the U.S. for treatment, and in Ontario the waiting list for MRIs is
so long that humans will try a private veterinary clinic. More than 6,000 Canadian nurses have decamped to the United States.


Cashing In. State tax revenues grew nearly 6 percent in 1999, the Center for the Study of the States says. Personal income tax revenues led the way with an 8.1 percent rise. Some states return a portion of the loot with tax cuts, but most find new ways to spend.

Fed Creep. First Lady and would-be Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton calls for uniform ratings system for TV, movies, and music. Such a "simple" rating system would help parents, she explains. But how to rate criminally silly ideas floated by politicians?

Money for Nothing. The Justice Department's antitrust unit investigates MTV Networks, known threat to competition and economic well-being. In another case of the DOJ's picking sides, the feds are looking into complaints by record labels about MTV's demands for exclusive rights to videos.

Revolver Charge. Washington, D.C., pumps money into the criminal economy with a loopy gun-buyback program. Many of the nearly 3,000 weapons the city buys for $100 each are old and worth around $30 on the street. Analysis by Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms fails to find any murder weapons in the city's haul.

Bad Seeds. Lawsuit politics comes to the grocery store. Green activists launch a class action suit against Monsanto, the largest producer of genetically modified seeds. They claim the firm misled farmers by saying the seeds are safe and would be accepted by the public. The leading cause of consumer fears about the foods? The same green activists.

Which Doctors. Bad psychologists may see little punishment for their misbehavior, as oversight boards nationwide revoke only a handful of licenses. Of the 670 psychologists disciplined nationally for sexual misconduct since 1971, 131 were allowed to continue practicing.