Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The golden door

If you travel internationally, you may or may not have seen the hassling of those without US passports. It has been a bit embarrassing at times to have arrived with traveling acquaintances of impressive professional and educational backgrounds and to watch them being treated as though they were being booked at the police station or entering Checkpoint Charley at the height of the cold war. The fingerprinting however is only part of what many have to go through before even getting a visa. Examination and audit of their financial records and visa fees are part of the lengthy process. It's not just the huddled masses we're rejecting these days, it's the affluent customers, yearning to boost our economy. Many Europeans and others just don't think it's worth it all, despite the lure of bargain prices for those with Euros or Sterling to spend. Who can blame them?

Of course we're number one, and we don't care what those damned foreigners think -- "let them go back to their third world hellholes," is a common sentiment among the angry, nationalistic louts who seem to comprise an alarming proportion of our population. I've heard those exact words too often. Although we need people with money to spend to come here and spend it more than ever; although tourism is a three quarter of a trillion dollar industry, it's down as much as 40% percent is some locations. Think Las Vegas, think Disney, Manhattan, the Grand Canyon; think trade shows, academic seminars.

The Christian Science Monitor describes the Chinese owner of 1200 electronics stores who would love to visit the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas - he can't get a visa and so he's not going to order any American products or spend money at hotels and casinos and restaurants and stores. He'll go to the Berlin show instead and he's unlikely to be treated as rudely as he will be here in "English only or go to hell" America. Europeans are opting for Euro Disney and gamers are choosing Macau and we're losing a whole lot of money.

But we're Americans and we own the center of the world, don't we? So what if we're the only developed country without a campaign to promote foreign tourism. Who cares?


realist said...

"So what if we're the only developed country without a campaign to promote foreign tourism."

There is a point to be made that business are perfectly capable of advertising for themselves, without federal dollars being used to advertise for the businesses. Or is that what you mean by a "campaign"?

I'm just leery of corporate welfare, and have seen numerous examples before of significant government expenditures used just to advertise private business.

Capt. Fogg said...

Harry H. Tapdancing Krishna - enough with the fringe libertarian mantras.

First of all, this government is spending trillions of borrowed dollars on fraudulent jihads designed to steal oilfields and you'r eworried about nickels and dimes that bring in dollars by the billions. To promote the United States as a travel destination by being friendly to tourists isn't corporate welfare.

Back when I lived in Chicago, a study found that tourism brought nearly a hundred times more tax revenue to the city than sporting events and so a covered stadium project was canceled and a small fraction of the cost was put into refurbishing the lakefront. It's not corporate welfare, it's good business and it benefited everyone who lives in that city. In addition to harming tourism - an industry critically important to my state, humiliating foreigners entering the country has been a major hindrance to those withing to invest here. But of course if investing our money in America doesn't fit your magic utopian formula, you're entitled to be pro-isolationist.

There's something to be gained, you know, by looking at reality rather than pinning the doctrines on the donkey.

realist said...

Gee. Talk about "condescension and insult on your lips". You did kind of fly off the there in response to my non-condescending, non-insulting comment.

You did make a some good points there, even though my comment was hardly pro-isolationist. As long as the money is not going to give free advertising directly involving US casinos, resort hotels, Disneyworld, etc.

You also mentioned a "covered stadium project"... those often are corporate welfare, and it is good that that was cancelled. Sports teams make enough money to to fund those.

Capt. Fogg said...

Don't try to portray me as angry -- that's a tired old tactic.

There's a difference between a city building roads and parking facilities to improve access to museums and downtown shopping areas and "corporate welfare" as you seem to acknowledge even though you continue to try to engulf me in endless arguments I don't have time for.