One of the latest banks to pursue this offbeat bonanza is First Citizens National of Newport, N.H. (pop. 3,500). First Citizens gives high-quality Ruger rifles ($345 to $480) made right there in Newport by Sturm, Ruger and Co., Inc., the town's largest employer. "The strategy," says First Citizens President James McLaughlin, "is to attract nationwide investors with a product made in our small town by many of our own customers. We are, in effect, a gun wholesaler." In fact, like the other rifle-distributing banks. First National had to acquire a federal license as a firearms dealer.
One Newport woman withdrew her account from the bank in protest, McLaughlin admits ("She didn't want to walk into her friendly community bank and see rifles in the lobby"), but he says that hers was the only discouraging word. He has no qualms about offering rifles. "We're marketing specifically to responsible people who handle guns correctly," he declares.
It was one of the curiosities of the past baseball season that the National League's home-run champion had a lower batting average than its Cy Young winner. The slugger/ non-hitter was the Mets' Dave Kingman, who had 37 home runs but hit only .204, well under the .218 average of Cy Young recipient Steve Carlton of the Phillies. Contrary to what one might assume, though, two earlier home-run champions have been similarly shamed. In 1959 Harmon Killebrew, the American League's co-leader in homers with Rocky Colavito—each had 42—batted .242 vs. Cy Young winner Early Wynn's .244. In 1970 Johnny Bench, who led the National League with 45 home runs, hit .293 while Cy Young awardee Bob Gibson batted .303.
Of course, it's one thing to be aced out by somebody who hit .303 or even .244, and quite another to be outdone by somebody who batted .218. It's hard to figure out how Kingman can be at once so robust yet so anemic.
The Reagan Administration has opposed legislation to control acid rain because it says more research on the subject is needed. But last week the Office of Management and Budget ordered funds for the Advanced Utility Simulation Model Program (on which $2 million has already been spent) to be slashed from $650,000 to $150,000. Environmentalists have declared that if the cut goes into effect, the study will come to an end just when it appears to be nearing answers—the answers about the cost of controlling emissions from coal-fired electrical generating plants that everyone involved in the acid-rain debate has been looking for. Stack gases from such plants are believed by most environmentalists to be the single largest cause of acid rain (SI, Sept. 21, 1981 et seq).
"The purpose of the study," explains Dr. Michael Oppenheimer, a senior scientist with the Environmental Defense Fund, "is to understand the economics of emissions-control programs and to develop a 'least-cost' program for dealing with acid rain."
"I'm quite puzzled why the OMB would want to cut research," says Dr. Duane Chapman, professor of resource economics at Cornell and one of six principal investigators on the project. "A reduction of funds of 50% would effectively scrap the model," he said.
Edwin L. Dale Jr. of the OMB, noting that "It's a tiny item in terms of bucks," says the program is being throttled because the Environmental Protection Agency already has a model for estimating environmental control costs for utilities, and what's needed now is a model for industrial pollution. But Dr. James Stukel, an engineering professor at the University of Illinois, and one of Chapman's colleagues on the project, says, "If they have one, I don't know about it. Why would they spend $2 million on ours if one already existed?"