Balance Sheet



Dope Decision. The Ontario Court of Appeals rules Canada's pot law is unconstitutional because it does not allow for medical uses. The court declared the current drug law "to be of no force and effect" and gave Parliament a year to come up with new legislation.

Rice Dream. Monsanto makes its patented, vitamin A-enhanced rice available to poor countries for free. Thousands of kids go blind each year due to a lack of vitamin A. But bio-engineering critics compare Monsanto to drug pushers. Whatever.

Top Heavy. Tax-code "fairness" is alive and well. Statistics of Income Bulletin reports that the top 1 percent of taxpayers paid 33.2 percent of total individual income taxes for 1997, up from 32.3 percent the year before. The top 5 percent, or those above $108,048, paid nearly 52 percent of all income tax.

Open Road. Lawmakers in North Carolina vow to challenge a federal mandate banning car passengers' possession of an open beer as a condition for road dollars. The Hobson's choice of changing a state law or losing $170 million in federal highway money violates the 10th Amendment, say Tarheel legislators.

Moon Shots. The private sector aims high with trips to a Russian space station and the moon on the line. MirCorp tries to sell trips to the orbiting Mir stations while RadioShack signs up to sponsor a lunar landing. Plans are for a robotic rover emblazoned with the RadioShack logo to scamper across the moon in 2003.

Search Function. Congress backs away from using the Methamphetamine Anti-Proliferation Act to authorize secret police searches of homes and businesses. Under the law, the state would have been allowed to seize or copy things, and not tell the owners about it until 90 days later–if then.


WHO What? The World Health Organization confirms its uselessness by releasing a study placing the United States with the 37th-best health care in the world, behind San Marino, Andorra, Malta, Italy, Spain, Oman, and Canada, to name a few.

School Code. Tax lawyers from the American Bar Association along with the IRS conspire to pollute high schools with 78,000 CD-ROMs on America's tax system. The goal? To explain the tax code to teenagers.

Teaching Politics. The Associated Press reports the National Education Association spent millions of dollars to elect "pro-education candidates," produce political training guides, and gather teachers' voting records. For the 2000 election, about $5 million will be spent on "organizational partnerships with political parties, campaign committees and political organizations." A 1993 IRS audit of the NEA found no political spending.

Stealth Tax. Recent congressional tweaking of the tax code starts to bite. About 5 million taxpayers had their itemized deductions limited on returns filed for 1998, an 8 percent increase from 1997. Some $25.9 billion in deductions were wiped out as a result.

Too-Full Spectrum. The Federal Communications Commission delays an auction of old television spectra, halting plans for a more efficient use of air space. The UHF channels 60–69 might be used for much-needed wireless data traffic.

Air Cav. U.S. attack helicopters leased to Colombian police for counter-narcotics missions are used against anti-government guerrillas in drug-producing areas. The State Department–owned choppers are only supposed to be used "in support" of anti-drug efforts, a meaningless distinction in a shooting war.