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Going to America
The years since 9--11 have seen U.S. border policy become increasingly hostile, with an entire new department of the U.S. government having been conjured out of thin air, complete with its own $50 billion budget. Various measures and overtly hostile attitudes as well as an egregiously cavalier attitude toward civil rights---for American and non-American alike---have prevented many people from even venturing into the veritable no-man's land that is the modern American international airport. While all this furious activity and inconvenience and maladroit hostility have doubtless prevent thousands, if not millions, of terrorist attacks<fn>, it has also exerted significant <i>downward pressure</i><fn>---as financial analysts are so fond of saying these days in lieu of "losses"---on the tourism industry. The article, <a href="http://www.frommers.com/blog/?plckController=Blog&plckScript=blogscript&plckElementId=blogdest&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&plckPostId=Blog%3A3ec3ac40-db8a-4d10-a884-acf9ccad0879Post%3A4eb23c76-9258-476e-9ee8-61807579e4f6" source="Frommer's" title="Incredible as it may seem, a measure that will greatly discourage travel to the U.S., without protecting us in the slightest, is about to go into effect">[A] measure that will greatly discourage travel to the U.S.[...] is about to go into effect</a>, provides the gory details: <bq>...starting January 12, 2009, people traveling to America -- even from countries whose citizens need not possess visas to visit us -- must apply for permission to come here three days in advance of arrival!</bq> These applications are ostensibly to be emailed to to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which will doubtless store them on their servers and ... probably be able to do nothing with them in a timely fashion. Regardless of how many people decide to give up on a visit to America, there will still be an enormous number of people willing to come and have a look around. Estimates range from <iq>tens of thousands of applications each week [and] [i]n peak periods, perhaps hundreds of thousands</iq>. Guess whose budget is going up next year? Now that's what you call "jobs creation"! Look for all of the people grumbling about hiring people for social purposes to fall over themselves loving this new idea from the DHS. After all, how are we to convince people of the basic inferiority to all that is America without measures like these? This measure is similar to trying to force European countries (Switzerland included<fn>) into including biometric information in their new passports. Countries that fail to do so by a certain deadline will have their citizens applying for visas for travel to the States. Soviet-era openness, here we come! This idea is a non-starter and will soon subside into the ether from whence it came, having managed only to alienate the world even further. <hr> <ft>Oh yes indeed! With tongue placed firmly in cheek.</ft> <ft>The blog article mentions that <iq>[w]hile all other advanced countries have reported a steady and continuing increase in their incoming tourism over the past seven years, the United States has suffered a decline. Fewer foreign tourists are coming here today than arrived in the year 2000...</iq></ft> <ft>Switzerland is voting on whether or not to include biometric information in their passports in May of 2009. In Switzerland, issues of personal privacy and private data are decided in national referenda. Nice, huh?</ft>