Will you pay us to lie to you?

It’s the corporate mindset: if you piss off your customers by treating them like dirt, the solution is to continue treating them like dirt but spend on an expensive advertising campaign to fool them into forgetting about it.

Take the new US plan to encourage tourists wary of the country’s Bush-era hostility towards visitors (you know, where they fingerprint incoming foreigners like criminals) to come and visit again:

  1. Spend $200 million on an advertising campaign pretending that the country wants visitors (rather than just tolerating them as the people who might bring in cash);
  2. Charge said visitors a fee each to pay for it;
  3. Profit!11!

Of course tourists should pay for a program that’s entirely for their benefit:

The campaign is expected to increase visitor numbers by an estimated 1.6 million travellers, while restoring a more relaxed and welcoming image of America in a security-conscious era… It is estimated the campaign could bring into the US an extra $US4 billion in tourism spending a year, creating more than 40,000 jobs

You can’t expect the industry that’s going to profit to pay for its OWN advertising!

An alternative way of restoring a more relaxed and welcoming image of America would be not treating visitors like threatening scum, but that’s not exactly a change they want to make.

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9 responses to “Will you pay us to lie to you?

  1. If people think that security is tight, they may be more prepared to take the risk and hop on a plane. The new measures are probably arse-covering after the security failure that led to the underpants bomber getting through the system. A bit of profiling wouldn’t go astray either – something to convince people that they are more serious about catching terrorists than being politically correct.

  2. the consolation for paying $10, you get a complimentary body cavity search

  3. But that’s the problem, SB. It’s about “convincing” people, rather than it actually being so. The FTA is just a Theatre piece.

    At least in Europe they’re honest about it.

  4. @SB
    And we’ll just hope all the white guys in Al Qaida would rather run around with a gun pretending to be Lawrence of Arabia like Hicks than take advantage of America’s laxer security for normal looking guys. Not to mention anyone who decides to follow Stack’s lead and make another “not terrorist” attack on the US government

  5. “If people think that security is tight, they may be more prepared to take the risk and hop on a plane. “

    I don’t think it’s terrorism that’s deterring people from visiting the US. They’re a hell of a lot more likely to get caught up in some unpleasant security bullshit than affected by terrorism.

  6. Northern Exposure

    A cool ad campaign to tell everyone there’s a post office would be awesome too.

  7. “The new measures are probably arse-covering after the security failure that led to the underpants bomber getting through the system”

    heres a few tips for anyone planning a false flag operation next time:
    – make sure your patsy has a valid passport
    – dont let the handler get seen escorting the patsy onto the plane, in view of the passengers
    – dont have some guy at the back of the plane filming the whole thing start to finish. theres a time for home videos, but this is not one of them
    – make sure you use a believable bomb. no, PETN cannot be detonated by fire..any high school student can tell you this
    – dont get the state dept to override your patsies “no-fly” ban so he can board the plane
    – dont stage the attack 3 weeks before the renewal of the patriot act. people do notice that kind of thing

  8. A bit of profiling wouldn’t go astray either – something to convince people that they are more serious about catching terrorists than being politically correct.
    —–

    Random checks are not primarily intended to catch anyone. Honestly, if you’re checking 1 in 10, that’s a 10% chance of catching a bad guy. That’s crap odds.

    The idea is to illicit an involuntary fear response in a guilty person. They know they might get caught, and they start to consider the chance that after all this preparation and hope, it’ll all come to nothing and this time next week they’ll be somewhere in a pyramid of naked men.

    Security personnel are supposed to be trained to look for this fear response and pull those people out of line. You can argue that their training is often crap, and I’d agree, but the point of the random checks is not and has never been to act as an effectived barrier. It’s there to initiate an emotional response in guilty people.

    (Problem being that everyone is now so worried about the security itself that there are too many false positives, which screws the system up. Hence efforts to convice innocent people that they won’t be targetted – not a complete waste of money).

    Profiling is extremenly unhelpful. If you give people a sense of control over the process you radically limit their fear response. “I’m wearing my Disney-Land t-shirt and I’ve had a shave and I’ve been practicing my mid-western accent, so I’l be right. I’m 5th in a line of hairy-scary middle-easterners, and they’ve only got 4 examiners on duty, and the old lady we recuited is right behind me with the bomb. This’ll be a snap. What a bunch of idiots!” Even if they’re wrong, the belief that they have power in this system makes a huge difference.

    To be effective, the checks must be 100% random. You must give the targets zero control. It’s not “political correctness”. If anything, the profiling that does occur in this matter is politcally-motivated (to appease the ignorant) at the detriment of real effectiveness.

  9. @Jeremy

    I don’t think it’s terrorism that’s deterring people from visiting the US. They’re a hell of a lot more likely to get caught up in some unpleasant security bullshit than affected by terrorism.

    Yep. I’ve had three friends or colleagues get treated like dirt when entering the US in the last 12 months, and I’m in no particular hurry to visit.

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