What to do with the helium reserve
President Ronald Reagan tried to get rid of it. So did President Bill Clinton. This October, their wish is finally set to come true.
The Federal Helium Program — leftover from the age of zeppelins and an infamous symbol of Washington’s inability to cut what it no longer needs — will be terminated.
Unless it isn’t.
On Friday, in fact, the House is planning a vote to keep it alive.
“Many people don’t believe that the federal government should be in the helium business. And I would agree,” Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) said on the House floor Thursday.
But at that very moment, Hastings was urging his colleagues to keep the government in the helium business for a little while longer. “We must recognize the realities of our current situation,” he said.
The problem is that the private sector has not done what some politicians had predicted it would — step into a role that government was giving up. The federal helium program sells vast amounts of the gas to U.S. companies that use it in everything from party balloons to MRI machines.
If the government stops, no one else is ready. There are fears of shortages.
So Congress faces an awkward task. In a time of austerity, it may reach back into the past and undo a rare victory for downsizing government.
...Here is what should be done. Sell it to Goodyear and the other blimp services for $1. They should be able to make a business out of it and if they don't there want be anymore blimps for football games. To make it worthwhile the government can contract with the new to keep its own blimps in the air.