Tiananmen Square

Balance Sheet

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Assets

Raging Bill. Drug legalization begins to get serious attention from the mainstream news media. A federal judge, a member of Congress, and a former secretary of state join the distinguished list of legalization advocates. As "Failures Spur Debate" (New York Times) and "Interest Rises in Prestigious Circles" (Los Angeles Times), Bennett's belligerent, dismissive attitude looks increasingly silly.

The Real Thing? The Polish government decides it will allow prices to float free and enterprises to go bankrupt. Czechoslovakia's "communist" prime minister, Marian Calfa, seems to be brushing up on Adam Smith. The free market, he notes, "gives every individual the opportunity to follow his own interests and, at the same time, benefit all others." Calfa's finance minister, by the way, calls himself "the Milton Friedman of Czechoslovakia."

Jack Be Frugal. Kemp refuses to spend $91.7 million in HUD money that members of Congress tried to earmark for pet projects in their districts. The secretary expresses outrage at the traditional practice of larding the budget with unnecessary expenditures that the administration never requested. Maybe he belongs at the Defense Department.

Heating Up. Scientific disagreement about the greenhouse effect receives in-depth coverage. Reports on television and in leading newspapers reveal that the outlook is far more complicated than the popular conception and that predictions of climate warming and sea-level rises are so uncertain that most experts are awaiting further evidence before taking a stand. Professional alarmists would do well to follow their example.

Liabilities

Handle with Care. Naive observers might be shocked by the duplicity of U.S. policy toward China. Come on, say the advocates of Kissingerite realpolitik. After all, when President Bush banned high-level meetings with Chinese officials to express outrage at the Tiananmen Square massacre, you didn't really think he meant it?

Degrading Debate. "Don't get Glad, get mad!" environmentalists urge consumers. The activists are perturbed by "degradable" garbage bags that decay only when exposed to the elements, not when buried in landfills. The manufacturers say they're only responding to consumer demand created by …guess who?

Oxymoron. Market socialism? Market socialism? What the hell is market socialism? Well—in the Soviet Union, at least—it's not private property or prices determined by supply and demand. Prime Minister Nikolai I. Ryzhkov explains the need for continued central planning: "We have to leave free to the market only that part of production that would not lead to unbalancing the economy." Thanks for clearing that up.

Reagan Residue. Deregulation competes with the federal deficit and a right-wing judiciary for the title of "the Reagan administration's worst legacy." As evidence of the evil caused by getting government off the backs of the people, the New York Times cites the S&L fiasco and the HUD scandals—both products of too much government, not too little. Oh well. There are other nominees for Worst Legacy. George Bush, for instance.

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