When New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman finally signed a long-promised auto insurance reform bill last May 19, she hoped that it would put to rest an issue that had almost cost her re-election just six months earlier. Whitman's opponent had made much of the fact that while auto insurance premiums nationwide have been rising at double the general inflation rate during the 1990s, New Jersey's rates are more than 40 percent higher than the national average. The new law mandates a 15 percent rate cut paid for by a crackdown on insurance fraud and limitations on the judgments that drivers can win in liability suits. Insurance companies predict the savings will be more like 3 percent, and they threaten to sue the state.
Perhaps millions of Americans play state lotteries because they are dreamers or, more prosaically, just mathematically challenged. A good libertarian might argue that policy makers should simply shrug and let people spend money as they choose. It's a free country, after all. The rich have portfolios, stockbrokers, and shrinks; the middle class have stocks, computers, and online day-trading. Why can't the poor have lottery tickets, forecasters, and fortune-tellers?
On the Mount Rushmore of our collective memory, the faces of many of the nation's founders loom as large weathered archetypes--unchanging men of granite who shaped the American Revolution and the new republic. In reality, of course, these individuals were complicated and sometimes less than admirable. Gore Vidal, in his novel Burr, famously capitalized on the shock value of portraying them as flesh-and-blood politicians. He brought them to life as figures who would be familiar to any modern statehouse reporter in, say, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, or Little Rock, Arkansas.