The Heritage Foundation has dropped another data bomb on Congress to convince lawmakers that when it comes to Social Security, it's wise to privatize.

The numbers come from the foundation's state-of-the-art supercomputer, which recently produced customized reports that tell each representative exactly how bad a deal Social Security allegedly is for workers in his or her district.

"Would it surprise you to learn that in Maryland's 8th District, the average rate of return from the retirement portion of Social Security for a double-earner couple born in 1965, with two children, is only 0.85 percent?" Heritage reported in its letter to Rep. Constance A. Morella (R). "By investing in a personal retirement account, [this couple] would accumulate an additional $944,813 over what they would receive in Social Security."

Earlier rate-of-return studies by Heritage have not been without their critics. "These figures should have a warning label that says: 'Beware: These figures reflect large distortions and are not valid,' " said Robert Greenstein, head of the leftward-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, who believes that Heritage's methodology "is at odds with the leading research in the field," including the work of numbers crunchers in the Social Security Administration.

A CD-ROM containing all of the latest Heritage data will be released later this summer.

REST IN PEACE: The Winston Foundation for World Peace will close in August. The Washington-based foundation decided seven years ago to deliberately spend itself out of existence. The board decided that giving away the foundation's $12 million in assets in big chunks would "be more effective than merely giving away return on investment," said deputy director Tara Magner. The foundation announces its final $1,245,200 in grants tomorrow.

. . . AND A BIRTH ANNOUNCEMENT: Starting July 16, there will be one more way to get your latest ideas fix. Geoffrey Underwood, an alumnus of the Heritage Foundation and the Powell Tate public relations shop, is gearing up to begin publication of Think Tanks Network, a weekly newsletter focusing on current and projected policy research coming out of national, regional and state tanks. The Network's Web site (at will be up in early August.

MAKING THE CUT: Pop quiz. Who on this list isn't a member of the new Conservatives Hall of Fame:

a) Barry Goldwater

b) Matt Drudge

c) Ronald Reagan

d) Sandra Day O'Connor

Good guess--if you guessed Ronald Reagan. The Gipper was curiously absent from the list of 45 inductees to the hall--a particularly conspicuous omission since the list did include fellow GOPers Gerald R. Ford, Robert J. Dole and Reagan's favorite Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher.

Reagan isn't the only baffling non-selection. Internet gossip Drudge is in the Hall. But Rush Limbaugh, king of the radio right, is not. Former senator Alan Simpson is in; current senator Jesse Helms is not.

Be patient, says Houston attorney Douglas Caddy, president of the Hall of Fame. Ronald, Rush and Jesse's times will come. "It is my educated guess, [all] will be elected to the Hall of Fame within the next few years."

Local right-thinkers are generously represented on the list of inductees. The American Enterprise Institute can claim three all-stars: Herbert Stein, Irving Kristol and Ford, an AEI distinguished fellow--a fact noted with pride in a recent AEI memo to staff. Former secretary of education William Bennett, who has put in time in the Hudson Institute, is in. Out-of-towners on the list include Thomas Sowell and Edward Teller of the Hoover Institution in Palo Alto, Calif. Abe Lincoln and that snobby Alexis de Tocqueville also made the cut.

"The purpose of the organization is to honor those individuals in history who have made significant contributions to furthering the conservative philosophy," said Caddy, who made the selections with the help of three other board members. Founded in January, the Hall now exists only on the Web. The board hopes to raise $8 million for a building "of grand design" in Austin and expects to open the doors in 2001, he said.

Caddy may someday hang his own portrait in the hall. He was the first executive director of the Young Americans for Freedom, and the original attorney for the Watergate burglars, retained by the famously infamous Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy.

"Say 'hello' to Bob Woodward for me," Caddy said.

STRAY THOUGHT: The Worldwatch Institute has come up with its annual Vital Signs ranking, and the future, according to the report, continues to look iffy for a certain blue-green planet.

Up: Earth's average temperature; number of wars; weather-related damage; life expectancy (despite all the above); and advertising expenditures.

Down: cigarette production; world bicycle manufacturing; and (no causal relation here, we assume) sperm counts.

Other: In 1997, cell phone sales surpassed sales of the traditional models; and in 1998, world poultry production, having overtaken beef in 1995, lost ground to the leader of the meat pack: pork.

Finally, if you're feeling more crowded lately, that's because you are: "In 1998, world population increased by 78 million, roughly the equivalent of another Germany," according to the report.

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