have always maintained that if it is freedom we want for the people of Cuba, we ought to exercise more of it ourselves."

With those words, Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) gave himself and his colleagues in the House a deserved pat on the back for passing a measure that would effectively lift the government's long-standing restrictions on U.S. citizen travel to Cuba.

Though it is only a one-sentence amendment to a Treasury Department funding bill, the Flake amendment could help change the world by allowing U.S. citizens to travel freely to Cuba for business, for pleasure, to visit friends and relatives or for any of the reasons people can and must travel.

We said it before and we say it again: Travel does no harm. And in the context of our country's antiquated policy toward Cuba, it can do a great deal of good.

We are not optimistic that the U.S. Senate, much less the current occupant of the White House, will see things our way. The Senate killed a similar measure last year, and the Bush family needs no more enemies in Florida than it already has. Still, hats off to the House of Representatives for keeping the issue alive.

• • •

Amtrak: Yes again

And speaking of antiquated policies, it is time for the U.S. government to abandon the quaint notion that Amtrak can, or should even try to, operate at a profit.

It is true that Amtrak was established as a "for-profit corporation," but that was 30 years ago and this is now. Instead of orchestrating another debate about when, if ever, Amtrak will be self-sustaining, the government should be supporting high-speed rail service -- period. We need it in the Northeast, and we need it in every other place where trains can get people off of our crowded highways and runways -- period.

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