Posted by Brian at 8:50 AM
"Since September 11, 2001, the United States has experienced a 17 percent decline in overseas travel, costing America 94 billion dollars in lost visitor spending, nearly 200,000 jobs and 16 billion dollars in lost tax revenue," the Discover America advocacy campaign said in a statement.
Atrios points out that this has happened during a period in which the dollar is tremendously low against both the Euro and the Canadian dollar, which should make it crazy cheap to come here on vacation, and yet they're not coming. Wonder why? Couldn't have anything to do with our policies on torture or extraordinary rendition, could it? Our treatment of people like Maher Arar, an innocent man we kidnapped and sent to Syria where he was beaten mercilessly, and who is still barred from entering the country couldn't have anything to do with it, right? Or that we're denying visas to academics coming in for conferences or jobs simply because they're Muslim, or have Arabic sounding names (making them, as Aaron Magruder so beautifully put it, "obviously of terrorist descent")?
I can't blame them. I'd imagine that Rome, during the fall, wasn't the kind of place you'd take the kids on vacation. Afterward, when touring the ruins, you can gaze at the former majesty and wonder how something once so glorious could fail so badly, but you don't want to be there during the crumbling, and that's where I fear we're headed right now.
I think we can pull it together, just like we did after the Great Depression when we had what Paul Krugman calls the Great Compression, the rise of a powerful middle class and a shrinking of the divide between the wealthiest and the poorest, but it won't be easy, and the odds aren't good. But it can happen, and that's the sort of thing that keeps me from seriously considering emigrating to a small South American country. Well, that and I don't know Spanish outside of a menu.
Here's the Random Ten. Put your computer's music player on random and post the first ten songs to pop up. No cheating to look less nerdy than I know you are. There's nothing wrong with knowing all the words to "The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins." Nothing at all.
1. Feign Amnesia--They Might Be Giants
2. El Cerrito--Thinking Fellers Union Local 282
3. Don't Call Her No Tramp--Betty Davis
4. Safety Dance--Men Without Hats (You have got to be kidding me)
5. Up and Down--Vengaboys
7. O Valencia--The Decembrists
8. Hush--Squirrel Nut Zippers
9. Makin' Whoopee--Dr. John and Rickie Lee Jones
10. A Break in the Clouds--The Jayhawks
I don't even want to know what a psychoanalyst would do with this list. What are you listening to?