Air Transport World

The deficit shell game. (use of airport taxes) (editorial)

The U.S. aviation community has played a shell game with various administrations during the past decade that it really didn't want to play. Now the Reagan Administration, after swearing it would play fair and square if the industry would just trust it, has returned to the old tricks like a street-corner hustler who doesn't know how to go straight.

The shell game and its modern big-city cousin, three-card monte, pits the hustler's ability to hide the pea or the queen against the lax perceptions of passers-by. This the hustler can do easily with fast hands and nimble fingers. His bit challenge is to convince passers-by that the game is easy to beat. And as the hustler demonstrates the game, it is very easy to beat. But when the money comes out and the bets go down, the pea suddenly becomes quite elusive. When the pigeon screams that he has been cheated, the hustler reveals the pea to have been on the table all along; it just wasn't where it should have been. …

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