he cliche about making sausage -- that
you don't really want to see how it's done -- came to mind last
week as Congress put the finishing touches on a long-overdue
appropriations package for the fiscal year that began over four
We like the end result because the $1 billion set aside for
Amtrak recognizes the valuable role of rail travel in our national
We like it because language relating to our maritime cabotage
laws makes it possible for a cruise line to base cruise ships in
And we like it because it earmarks $50 million for promotion of
the U.S. as a destination overseas. This expenditure will enable
the U.S., finally, to rejoin the rest of the civilized world in
recognizing and promoting the contributions that travel and tourism
make to economic development, employment, the balance of payments
and, yes, world peace.
So to the extent that the appropriations bill gets these things
done, it is a good thing.
But the more we look at the way these things got done, the more
we wish for a better thing.
Government, of course, is a pragmatic business. To govern is to
make things work. In a system built on checks, balances and
compromises, the legislative process is often ugly and the end
result never perfect.
In a word, sausage.
In the case of the appropriations bill, the end result was a
package of compromises cobbled together at the last minute,
workable short-term solutions to get us through the rest of the
But the process leaves us without a long-term plan for allowing
rail travel to reach its full potential in the Northeast Corridor
and elsewhere in this country.
We still await a comprehensive overhaul of the century-old
maritime laws that keep our cruise industry in a regulatory
We still lack a permanent framework for funding an ongoing
public-private promotion of the U.S. as a tourist destination.
For now, we can thank our elected representatives for a job
reasonably well done. But as we thank Congress for this sausage --
not to say pork -- we pine for more elegant solutions.
• • •
he most remarkable thing about
Hooters Air, which starts charter service next month, may have
nothing to do with the Hooters Girls and their tight T-shirts.
The remarkable thing may be faith.
Hooters Air represents the willingness of an entrepreneur with
an established brand to expose that brand to the ill winds of one
of the sickest segments of U.S. industry today, air
Tacky or not, that represents an act of faith that we find truly