More Rent Seeking ? National Style
Rent seeking has been a major topic around here recently. I don’t need to provide links — if you’re reading this on the main page of the blog, you can just scroll down a bit for some excellent posts. Now we are going to do a little bit more rent seeking as a nation, by charging international visitors without visas (I guess this means residents of Windsor going to Detroit for a Red Wings game) a new $10 fee that will be used to market the United States internationally. Basically, it will be a national version of what just about every city (including St. Louis and [probably] Kansas City) does with hotel taxes: charge an extra fee and use it to promote the local travel industry. I think we can admit that there are plenty of worse examples of rent seeking than this, but it still entails private enterprise using the government and taxation in order to benefit one sector of the economy at someone else’s expense. (It makes it a lot easier to do this if the expense is borne by someone who does not live here.)
Now, I want to get into their numbers:
The association says the U.S. welcomed 2.4 million fewer overseas visitors last year than in 2000. And that, the group says, has cost it an estimated $509 billion in total spending and $32 billion in direct tax receipts.
We can presume that 2.4 million is for one year, and $509 billion is for 10 years. Taking 2.4 million a year for 10 years, and dividing that into the total spending amount, yields an average amount spent per visitor of just more than $21,000. This article states that the average spending per visitor is $4,500. I don’t think I believe the number put out with the bill signing, but the alternative would be to accuse the PR and lobbying group behind this effort of inflating their numbers. And we all know that would never happen. …