Balance Sheet



Single-Europe Theory

The 2005 Economic Freedom Index finds economic divides fading away on the European continent. Powered by the growth of places such as Estonia, the eight new E.U. members see their per capita incomes rise nearly twice as fast as that of the old 15-member E.U. since 1995.

Morbid Rail

Seattle and King County's plans to build a monorail hit reality. Local pols realize that $42 million a year in car excise taxes cannot possibly fund the $2.1 billion segment of what could be a $10 billion project.

Kelo KO

The heavy in the Kelo eminent domain debacle, the New London Development Corporation, heeds an order by Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell to rescind eviction notices sent to homeowners who lost the case.

Tax Simplification

Eighteen states implement the Streamlined Sales Tax Project in a bid to make online sales easier and collect some revenue along the way.

Fish Market

The Bush administration plans to expand on a permit-trading approach to fishing grounds. A system popular in Alaska for a decade could be reproduced around the country.

Flood Convergence

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita force re-examination of a wacky flood insurance system that encourages people to live in dangerous places and shift damage claims to public insurers.

Auto Wash

The Progressive Policy Institute declares a truce with the auto. "It is time for a new consensus that is based on the realization that we will never get Americans out of their cars," the Clintonian outfit admits.


Bunker Hill

The Capitol's underground Visitor's Center–in reality an anti-terror bunker for Congress–has a price tag nudging $300 million and counting. The three-level, 580,000-square-foot complex is not expected to open until mid-2007.

Snoop Ware

The Federal Communications Commission unilaterally declares that "consumers are entitled to run applications and use services of their choice, subject to the needs of law enforcement." Translation: For wiretap purposes, the FBI decides what software you can use.

Big Really Easy

Around 250 New Orleans police officers went AWOL in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, says the NOPD. The "good news" may be that hundreds of the officers were ghost employees on the payroll.

Mitt Fit

Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney kicks off the tough-on-terror segment of his campaign for the 2008 GOP presidential nod with a call for wiretapping mosques. "How about people who are in settings –mosques, for instance–that may be teaching doctrines of hate and terror?" he asks. "Are we monitoring that? Are we wiretapping?"

Cold Logic

Faced with a surplus of ice along the Gulf Coast, the Federal Emergency Management Agency sends 200 truckloads to Portland, Maine, for storage. The ice cost 26 cents a pound.

Drinking Problem

Officials at Albany's Siena University outlaw drinking beverages outside dorms. Any beverage, not just alcoholic ones. Water, Kool-Aid–anything. "Safety first, that's what it's all about," a spokeswoman explains.