Saturday, November 17, 2007

Tom Ridge, PR Schill: 'Welcome to the USA and Forget All that DHS Business From My Former Life'

One of the anticipated upshots of the weakening American dollar was supposed to be this torrential influx of foreign tourists/expats gaming the exchange rates and living the high life stateside like the way old Mexico used to be before the 1980s. Plenty of anecdotal evidence would seem to support this expectation - San Francisco and New York are swimming in tight-jeaned, Old Worlders with their Euro-powered flossy - but the facts say something else. It ain't happening, or at least not enough to be the silver lining to our darkening economic situation.

It seems even the promise of affordable American good times and cool toys cannot by itself overcome the steady decline of foreign tourism, professional and academic exchange that we created late in 2001 by passing (without reading) the Patriot Act.

So to combat this problem, the travel industry has hired former Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, to PR this into a positive situation.

Does anyone else see this as untenable? (Or at the very least ironic.) That Tom Ridge, who, as first ever DHS Secretary, set up the very real consular barriers to entry for foreign visitors, has now been hired to 'communicate' a way around them?

Then again, who is better qualified to point out the loopholes in the system than the man who created the system? And I can't fairly call Mr. Ridge a hypocrite, after all he was one of the first to bail on the Bush Administration way back in '05 for corporate pastures with green, green dollars. Since seeing that kind of light, maybe's had a change of heart. Maybe now he's actually pro-business and not just pro-businessman (ala Team Bush).

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