Kennedy Proposes National Vacation System Kennedy: Soaring Vacation Expenditures Have Created "Crisis"

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the share of GDP taken by vacation and leisure expenses has soared
over the past two centuries, little has been done about this serious
problem. Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts recently held a
public inquiry that was convened to specifically address accusations
of price gouging by the vacation industry. During her often emotional
testimony, Ada Lemon, a single African-American mother of three,
sobbed loudly as she described in painful detail how her family
was forced to “put money aside” every week just so she and her children
could afford to go to Disneyworld – money that could have been
spent on other things like tennis lessons and a DVD player. Horror
stories just like hers were repeated over and over again as many
of the sessions continued far into the evening.

a meeting with administration vacation advisors, the Senator has
declared the situation a crisis, and said that it’s time for the
government to act decisively to bring down spiraling vacation costs.
Speaking from the porch of his seaside family home on Martha’s Vineyard,
where Kennedy was “investigating the problems of the North Atlantic
fishing industry,” he said he wanted all Americans to be able to
take regular vacations. He highlighted the vacation concerns of
the poor:

year, 19% of all Americans could not afford to take a vacation.
Amongst the poor and under-employed, the percentage was much higher
– close to 57%. Numerous studies have shown that vacations
relieve stress and lead to lower medical costs down the road.
To deny our poor access to such a fundamental human right is mean-spirited,
to say the least. The fairness argument here is obvious. Even
people who are poor deserve a vacation when they are a little
stressed out. And the lack of vacations for the poor costs us
economically when the stress eventually drives them to crime or
drug or alcohol dependency. We must defeat naysayers, such as
, and pass legislation to correct this inequity.

later by the pool at his compound in Florida, where he was “researching
the Florida panther issue,” Kennedy explained further:

plan, VacationCare, would establish regional vacation centers
that have the power to approve visits to Government
Amusement Sites
. All tourist attractions would have to apply
for a GAS license, or be ineligible for federal funds. Applications
for vacation time would be approved on a need basis, and vacationers
would be sent to the resort most able to handle the particular
stress they face. For instance, someone suffering from sexual
tensions in their marriage might be sent to Las Vegas, where they
could forget their stress with one of Nevada’s high-class, legal

next caught up with Kennedy at a friend’s ski chalet in the Colorado
Rockies, where he was “conducting a study on the ecosphere of the
North American mountain lion,” and asked him how spending would
be controlled. He told us:

vacation spending would be controlled on a per region basis. If
a region exceeded its cap, all further vacations scheduled that
year would be canceled. The cost of vacations would be borne by
employer mandates, which would require companies to pay most of
the cost of vacations for their employees. The Justice Department
would file ‘leisure suits’ against those who did not comply. The
government would subsidize the cost of vacations for those who
were unemployed or who worked for small companies.

we reached Kennedy again, he was at the Washington, D.C. apartment
of fellow Senator Christopher Dodd from Connecticut where they were
“getting to the bottom of the issue of alcohol consumption during
vacations.” We asked him if his plan’s restrictions would apply
to the use of private vacation homes. The Senator responded: “Why,
that would be un-American! We can’t restrict people’s freedom to
use their own homes whenever they want to!”

swiftly countered Kennedy’s proposal. At a news conference covered
by HGTV, Dennis Hastert recommended universal
lawn care coverage
. “If families’ lawns are healthier, they
won’t need as many vacations, and will be happier staying at home
and playing badminton.”

from the campaign trail, Al Gore immediately gave his blessing to
Kennedy’s plan: “I feel the need for this legislation on a deep,
personal level. I have an uncle who suffered a heart attack after
the stress of working for six years just to pay for his last vacation.
Ever since then, Tipper and I have been very interested in the whole
vacation issue. In fact, although not many people know this, Tipper
and I were the inspiration for National Lampoon’s Family Vacation.”

Amusement Sites (GASs)

is a list of the currently-approved U.S. government-sponsored amusement
sites that you may choose for your guaranteed five-day pass (this
level of vacation care does not require a visit to a primary vacation
practitioner, and is guaranteed to each U.S. citizen at least once
every two years):

  • The
    Museum of the Vast Spandex Conspiracy: Tobacco Spit, South Carolina.

    Learn how the damn Yanks used Spandex to undermine the South’s
    cotton-based economy

  • World’s
    Third Largest Ball of Twine: Tire Iron, Minnesota.

  • The
    Tomb of Billy Carter: Plains, Georgia.
    Visit the amazing 250-foot high pyramid made entirely of unsold
    cans of Billy Beer.

  • President
    James Garfield Assassination Site Memorial
    : Washington,
    D.C. train depot.
    Relive every one of the agonizing eighty days Garfield spent
    alive after he was shot. Watch videos of how his wound was repeatedly
    probed by his doctors’ unwashed fingers until the resulting
    infections killed him.

  • Keanu
    Reeves Film Festival: Cleveland, Ohio.
    He’s genuinely curious and curiously genuine! He’s masculine
    and feminine; decisive and waffling; focused and goofy; crisp
    and turgid!

  • Chicago
    Stockyard Tour: Chicago, Illinois.
    The sites, sounds, and smells that will stay with you for a

  • The
    Cafeterias of Microsoft: Redmond, Washington.

    The semiotic implications of post-industrial dining.

  • The
    Museum of HomoErotic Art: Greenwich Village, New York.
    It’s genuinely curious and curiously genuine! It’s masculine
    and feminine; decisive and waffling; focused and goofy; crisp
    and turgid!

  • The
    “Native Americans Got Screwed” Tour of the West.
    Tour fifteen Western sites where small pox blankets were passed
    out, treaties broken, and fire water distributed.

  • The
    Nuclear Test Sites of the American Southwest.
    Experience a wasteland you’ve never even imagined. The sites,
    sounds, and smells that will stay with you for a lifetime.

31, 2000

Callahan is a regular contributor to,
and Stu Morgenstern is contributing editor at The
Frumious Bandersnatch.

2000, Stu Morgenstern
and Gene Callahan

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