Among the memorable quotes attributed to Winston Churchill, this one came to mind last week: "Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing ... after they have exhausted all other possibilities."

In the case of the airline ticket taxes for air traffic control and airport improvements, it seems to us that renewing these programs is the right thing, and allowing them to lapse is a possibility we need not entertain. But, alas Congress seems determined to validate Sir Winston.

A central theme of the partisan bickering that has paralyzed Washington is the role of government: in simplified terms, big government vs. small government.

That debate started when the shooting stopped at Yorktown, and we may never be rid of it. What we should never lose, however, is a commitment to good government. Whether it is small or large, government has to work. It can't just stop and tell thousands of construction workers to stop building towers at Memphis, Las Vegas and numerous other airports. But it did.

This is more than an inside-the-Beltway issue. It bears generally on global credit and commerce and particularly on the travel business. We have more than our share of intersections with Uncle Sam, concerning infrastructure, traffic control, licensing, safety, security, the mobility rights of the disabled, border controls and the processing of passports and visas.

We need all these programs to work, all the time.

As citizens, we should elect representatives who understand our preference for large, medium or small government, but as businesspeople we should also make sure they understand that bad government is not an option, if only because it's bad for business.
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