Sunday, October 21, 2007

Bush policies sap billions from economy.

The Bush police state marches on imposing billions in additional costs on people. The New York Times today mentioned that US citizens are now waiting hours at border posts before they can return home. People are missing important appointments and businesses along the border are suffering.

Thousand and thousands of American live over the border but work in the United States. They are facing delays of two hours or more when they drive into the United States and this is while the border thugs are merely implementing new policies periodically. When they are fully in place the delays will be longer.

You may remember that the Homeland Security brownshirts pushed through new controls on Americans requiring everyone to have a passport to reenter the US even if they had only been in Toronto for s short visit. (In some places in the US crossing the border may mean visiting the neighbor across the street.)

In addition the border agents are now routinely using the photo ID that you must present to call in your name and have the government run checks on you before you are allowed to go home.

The New York Times reports that the new border polices are “discouraging visitors and shoppers and upsetting local business.”

The paper notes that 234 million crossings into the United States take place every year. Of course many U.S. citizens who live near the border make multiple entries so this is not 234 million visitors. If the wait time averages only one hour that is 234 million hours wasted. Even at minimum wage rates the cost in wait time alone is over a billion dollars at the Mexican border alone. And the government is spending another $3 billion to cause the screw ups.

Reichmarshal W. Ralph Basham, head of “Customs and Border Protection” dismisses the impositions on millions of people claiming, “A safer border is well worth the wait.” Of course he’s not the one waiting and neither is there one shred of evidence that all the controls and costs have increased security. Please remember that all the 9/11 terrorists were given permits to vist the U.S. and that none came in by land but by air. None were U.S. citizens, who are the actual targets of these new controls.

Reichmarshal Basham is not paying the cost for waiting. He’d get a wave through if he ever had to cross by land. And he is a net beneficiary. He is paid to impose controls on others. So not only is he not paying the costs he is profiting because of them.

One American citizen, Wilda Laboy has a job in Mexico, lives in the United States and is studying in the States. She says that she is now routinely late for classes because it can take up to three hours to get home. About $332 billion in trade takes place with Mexico and most of it is moved by truck. In El Paso 21,000 people per day walk across the border for shopping.

If Americans think they are having a hard time the United States travel Nazis are making impossible for tourists and others to visit the United States. Numerous surveys show that tourists, world-wide, say the United States travel thugs treat visitors worse than any other country. One result is that millions of people are avoiding the United States entirely costing billions more in lost income. And some airlines now avoid US airports for stop-overs because all passengers on board must be fingerprinted and pass through passport control, even if the flight is just refueling. Vancouver has attracted flights that used to fly through Los Angeles. I have no idea how much that is costing the economy.

And the Washington Post had a story yesterday about how the Bush control are harming arts and culture. One of the oldest symphony orchestras in England, celebrating their 150th anniversary, was invited to play at Lincoln Center. But to get their visas they were told that every single member of the orchestra was required to travel to London, from their home in Manchester, to be personally interviewed. They also had to fingerprinted like common criminals and have facial-recognition scans taken (it will be a matter of time before the government forces this on U.S. citizens but I predict it will happen.)

The orchestra started looking at the cost to get every member to London, they would have to be put in hotel and they had to pay for visas and interviews and hassles that the travel Nazis are imposing. The additional costs for these people were $80,000 and the orchestra decided that they didn’t want to come to America anymore. Just consider how much income was lost to the U.S. because of that.

It’s a large orchestra. Photos I saw seem to indicate close to 100 members. Cheap airfare would be around $550. Hotel costs would run at least $100 per night per person. Food costs, on a budget would $25 to $50 per person per day. Of course they’d buy other things as well. And an orchestra usually fly around the world for more than just one day. And there is the lost revenue to the Lincoln Center because of concerts where no tickets can be sold.

The Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage holds a major Folklife Festival every year with performers from around the world. To bring in performers from Bhutan they had to fly them India for interviews in order to obtain visas. Didier Le Besque, agent for Ballet Biarritz said that it cost $48,000 in costs just to get the ballet troupe to the U.S. Embassy in Paris for interviews.

The Post article mentioned that due to these restrictions one $250,000 tour by the Peking Opera of Jilin was cancelled due to the fact the U.S. wouldn’t give visas to the Opera members -- right, bin Laden has trained Operatic terrorists who hit a high note and blow up Washington. It can takes months for visa applications to be processed but wonderful bureaucrats offer an expedited service for visiting artists. And the extra cost is only $1,000 per person.

It can take so long to process the paperwork that a group of business that deal in the performing arts pushed for an allowance that the artist can file for a visa one full year in advance. The normal six month advance permit didn’t give them enough time to get approval and still book their tours. And each time a performing artist wishes to visit the U.S. he must travel to a U.S. embassy, get fingerprinted and have photos taken even if he has already been fingerprinted and interviewed several times. This requirement must be repeated every single time.

The paper says that the $1,000 expedition fee is basically mandatory or the U.S. embassy is unlikely to process the applications in time for performances. The band New Model Army has applied in the past and received their visas in plenty of time for three previous tours so they declined the offer of paying the extra $1,000 for each visa. This year their applications took months to process and when they queried about the delays they were told that it was not possible to trace the applications unless the $1,000 had been paid. The band missed their tour. Their visas were turned down on a technicality that could have been cleared up easily had they been told about it in time. But with the U.S. embassies take months and months to approve one visa application they didn’t find out in time. How many hundreds of thousands, or millions, was lost due to one tour being canceled?

The Post says that there are 7,000 individuals who do the bookings for performing artists. Before the Bush administration 5,250 of them worked with international artists. As the United States becomes more and more aggressive against visitors agents have stopped even trying to bring the performers in. Of those who previously brought in artist one in five have already stopped doing it.

China’s Golden Dragon Acrobats have been performing in the United State for thirty years. But their tour this year is now on hold since the U.S. is refusing to grant them visas even though there have no incidents with the performers in the past. Various music groups have cancelled performing in the United States as a result of these hassles.

I used to routinely purchase and export books from the United States to other countries. After Bush got his ideas to clamp down on freedom one supplier after another just stopped selling to anyone outside the United States. They said that the extra paperwork and regulations they had to go through just to mail one box of books was no longer worth it and the quiet selling to anyone outside the United States. I have no idea how many such distributors have decided to just close down sales to foreign countries as a result. But Bush doesn’t care -- he’s on a crusade against “evil doers” and “terrrists”

Here’s the sickening thing about all this. Bin Laden and the Taliban drove the Soviets out of Afghanistan. Their strategy was a simple one. They said that one attack in one area would force the Soviets to spend millions of dollars in response. The terrorists can’t defeat militarily and they know it. But for a relative few dollars they can impose millions of dollars in damage -- not direct but indirectly. Bin Laden openly said that any attack on the U.S., even if it had failed would push panic stricken politicians to impose billions and billions in costs on the economy.

Over time the economic damages of these measures add up. It is safe to say that the economic damage directly caused by 9/11 is now insignificant to the economic damage caused by Bush in his panicky response to a problem that he clearly doesn’t understand. His response has already lead to the deaths of more Americans than the attack did. And now he helping bin Laden reach his goal of inflicting massive harm on the American economy by a Stalinist-like crack down that continues to escalate with no regard for the liberties lost or the billions wasted. Bin Laden is clearly smarter than Bush, but then so my sock, and he knows that Bush is the one who can harm America. When the moron in the White House said that our enemies “never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we” it may have been the one truthful statement Bush has made in his entire eight years. If you are one of the Bushites who don’t think he said that play the video for yourself. The best you can say it that it’s a Freudian slip, the unintentional revelation of something that is true.

Democrats: what the hell is your party doing? Why are they letting Bush continue with his disasters? And if you guys are so against this war why is foreign policy neoconservative leading the Democratic pack of candidates?

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