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Miscellany

LENIN LIVESI’d like to take just a moment to consider the great force propelling privatization around the world. Look at …

LENIN LIVES

I’d like to take just a moment to consider the great force propelling privatization around the world. Look at the amazing liquidization of assets going on today in the Czech republic. Vaclav Klaus, the president of the Czech republic, calls himself the Milton Friedman of Czechoslovakia, and he has engineered an absolute revolution painlessly, in velvet gloves, by simply giving away state enterprises to the people. One man, one share. My proudest souvenir of privatization is the official Lenin portrait that was formerly on display at the Communist Party headquarters of the Prague School of Economics-liberated by free-thinkers in 1990 and given to me after some lectures I delivered there in 1991. And, of course, not only do I proudly display it today, but I loved displaying it in my office at the Federal Communications Commission where, in fact, the Lenin portrait had something to do with the policies we were pursuing. It was a very rational transition to take Lenin from Prague to Washington, DC. -Thomas Hazlet, Efficiency in Government Awards Dinner, Pacific Research Institute


BILL’S BITE

If you strip away the misrepresentations and deceit and look at what Clinton‘s economic program does, year by year, here is what emerges: From 1993 through 1996, there are no net spending cuts in federal spending. Zero. Zip. Zilch. Federal spending continues its merry upward path, increasing an average of $65 billion every single year.

The entire thrust of the Clinton “deficit reduction” program for the next four years is to increase taxes. Under his program, our net taxes will increase another $160 billion a year by 1996. When one adds that to the $260 billion tax increase already in the pipeline, it means we will be paying $420 billion a year more in taxes before Clinton serves out his four years.

-Martin Anderson, senior fellow, Hoover Institution


SAY IT AIN’T SO, JOE

Towns in the American west change their names at the drop of a cowboy hat. Early in the century, two Utah towns were so keen to win a philanthropist’s library that one called itself after him, Bicknell, with the other assuming his wife’s maiden name, Blanding. And 40 years back, Hot Springs in New Mexico took the shilling of a hit radio show and became Truth or Consequences.

Now the obscure hamlet of Ismay has followed the same opportunistic path, renaming itself for America’s most famous football player. Welcome to Joe, Montana. -Financial Times


DEFLATING GOVERNMENT? HELIUM DIDN’T

When the Clinton Administration set out to streamline government, a lot of budget watchdogs said it should start at the helium reserve in Amarillo, TX, a cluster of mines, pipes, and cooling vats that was $1.3 billion in debt and 100 years ahead on the supply curve.

But when President Clinton’s National Performance Review finally focused on the complex this month, it suggested that Congress cancel the program’s debt and issued a vague call to “increase efficiencies in helium operations.”

Rather than becoming a model of “reinvented” government, the helium reserve-begun in the 1920s to inflate blimps and used today by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in its spacecraft-became instead a model of how politics and economics sometimes can converge to spare seemingly unnecessary programs.

Critics of the debt-ridden program, which was bolstered in the 1960s amid fears that America might run out of helium as its space program was rushing to put men on the moon, have urged that it be abolished or privatized. “We may conceivably in the future need ermine pelts and Grand Marnier,” said Pete Sepp, a spokesman for the National Taxpayers Union. “That doesn’t mean the federal government needs to be in charge of stockpiling them.”

-Sam Howe Verhovek, The New York Times


CARTER VERSUS CLINTON: PART I

Sports fans love to compare yesterday’s heroes with modern-day players. In a recent issue of The American Spectator, columnist and author P.J. O’Rourke turns the fantasy impulse toward politics, citing “100 Reasons Why Jimmy Carter Was a Better President Than Bill Clinton.” Following are some excerpts from that list. More to follow in this space.

Carter had once held a job.

He came from a more cosmopolitan hometown.

It took Carter months to wreck the economy.

It took Carter weeks to become a national laughingstock.

Carter committed adultery only in his heart.

Carter let the Soviets have Angola, Ethiopia, and South Yemen. And, in retrospect, the Soviets deserved no better.

Carter wasn’t a throwback to the Carter Era.

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