Mickey Tax Update

by Henry Farrell on June 26, 2008

When I saw that the Mickey Tax1 issue had been taken up by “Atrios”:http://www.eschatonblog.com/2008_06_22_archive.html#7116689960490247198 and “Kos”:http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2008/6/19/132923/717, I guessed that it wouldn’t be long before I started seeing some pushback. A former student of mine did “some research”:http://www.ipdi.org/UploadedFiles/PoliticalInfluenceofBlogs.pdf a couple of years ago that suggests that Kos is the most widely read blog on the Hill, with a fair readership among Republicans (who want to see what’s coming down the pike) as well as Democrats, and I’d imagine that Markos’ fulminations got some attention in the right places. Sure enough, I got an email last night from a flack at the Travel Industry Association (the lobby group that’s been most heavily involved in pushing the Mickey Tax), offering to set me right on my various misconceptions about this Act. I replied that I would be happy to receive any proposed corrections/new information, but reserved the right to publish them on this blog. I haven’t gotten any response and don’t expect one, but will update this post if I’m wrong.

In the meantime, I’d like to take advantage of CT’s cross-national readership, and encourage those of you who live in visa-waiver countries to hassle your politicians, and write to your newspapers about the Mickey Tax. This, unlike the Iraqi translators appeal, is not a life or death issue, but it _will_ lead to substantial amounts of money ($200 million) being transferred from tourists’ pockets to an outrageous boondoggle fund unless it gets stopped.

I _particularly_ encourage you to use the terms ‘Mickey Tax’ or (Markos’s coinage) ‘Disney Tax’ in your communications. I imagine that the fervor of the Disney corporation for this particular rip-off would be dampened if incoming tourists to the US came to understand the political origins of the fee, and were able to draw the relevant conclusions about where to spend, or not to spend, their hardwon money once they had gotten in. The terms ‘Mickey Tax’ and ‘Disney Tax’ seem to me to draw these causal connections in a straightforward and useful way. Of course, Irish people in particular may think that the Mickey Tax is even more outrageous than it is, but that doesn’t necessarily seem to me to be a bad thing.

1 Term a trademark of This Blog, although I’m grateful to Atrios for seeing that it made for a better title than throwaway aside.



rageahol 06.26.08 at 11:24 pm

oh, just great. as if they havent f**cked up copyright law not just in the US but WORLD F**KING WIDE already


Down and Out of Sài Gòn 06.27.08 at 12:52 am

I’d like to hear from the “Travel Industry Association” guy as well. I wonder if his organisation is smart enough to work out that “security theatre” is a bigger deterrent to visitors than an advertising deficit.

My wife and I would like to travel to the states; she’s got a few relatives along the eastern seaboard. On the other hand, I don’t want my wife hassled by maelevolent and incompetent TSA people, and I find the idea of mandatory fingerprinting just insulting. Remove these measures (or change them so that they are actually effective in chasing the bad guys), and you won’t need the ads.


c.l. ball 06.27.08 at 2:36 am

I’m puzzled by the electronic authorization system. It seems to really be a non-visa visa. The $10 for the promotion fund could be nixed and visa waiver-country nationals would still face a non-trivial fee.

Which came first: the travel promotion idea or the non-visa visa “security” system?


Henry 06.27.08 at 2:59 am

in fairness, there are aspects of the bill that try to tinker around the edges with some of the security theatre. In answer to c.l. ball, there is no fee envisaged for the security system – but it has proved attractive to chancers like this crowd who want to use it as a means to gather money for only tangentially connected purposes.


P O'Neill 06.27.08 at 3:14 am

It may be time for a mischievous economist to propose that the new individual right to bear arms is going to require a tax on gun sales to finance a special fund covering the adverse societal consequences of gun ownership.


nick s 06.27.08 at 4:57 am

The exit and entry visas of soft-currency nations were mentioned in the earlier entry, but I’m reminded of another tactic by countries without readily exchangeable currencies: the requirement to change a certain amount of money into Frobonian dingbats or whatever (at official rates, with receipts, to avoid black market dealing) and prevent the chitties when leaving.

Can’t be too long before some enterprising US pol comes up with a version of that trick.


Calderon 06.27.08 at 10:20 am

Let them go right ahead. The more people they deter from traveling to the USA the more will travel to other destinations instead, such as my own country.


Picador 06.27.08 at 1:59 pm

oh, just great. as if they havent f**cked up copyright law not just in the US but WORLD F**KING WIDE already

That was my take, too: when I hear “Disney Tax”, I think copyright extension.


Shelby 06.27.08 at 6:15 pm

p o’neill:

And we can have a gun-purchase rebate to subsidize the beneficial social consequences of gun ownership, such as reduced crime rates! This is fun.


Righteous Bubba 06.27.08 at 6:19 pm

And we can have a gun-purchase rebate to subsidize the beneficial social consequences of gun ownership, such as reduced crime rates!



SG 06.27.08 at 6:59 pm

shelby reminds me that this is the kind of law one would expect libertarian shills to love, if it weren’t for the unfortunate fact that it’s a tax. After all, libertarians love contrarian logic – more guns=less murder, lower tax rates=more tax income, war=peace, etc. On contrarian principles they would be all for a tax on tourists to promote tourism. If only the people passing this law could have found a way to phrase it as a service charge, they could have got all the libertarian shills on side, just because its contrarian logic is so appealing.


Shelby 06.27.08 at 7:30 pm

contrarian libertarian. I’m contrarian for fun, but libertarian from principle. And you’ll find damn few libertarians advocating a tax, or service charge, or anything else government-mandated, to benefit a specific industry.

Disney has done great harm around the world because Congress is its willing bitch (setting aside such offenses as Song of the South). Libertarians are, for once, your ally on a policy matter. And if you actually want to debate the gun thing, we can do that, but I don’t think Henry wants his thread hijacked any further.


Shelby 06.27.08 at 7:30 pm

That should be “contrarian (does not equal) libertarian”.


SG 06.27.08 at 9:45 pm

but “libertarian equals contrarian”.


c.l. ball 06.27.08 at 10:05 pm

Re my #4, a few more Google searches and USG webpages later, I would have discovered that the
Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) Program was authorized by the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007.

DHS maycharge a fee for ESTA now to recover the creation and implementation costs, but has not done so yet. The Mickey Tax Act would authorize but not require DHS to tack up to a $10 travel promo charge if it wishes to. It does not require it, but DHS may very well be lobbied to do so.

Never the less, it is still a stupid and insulting idea. Charging a tourist who has already come to the US in order to pay for marketing to get other tourists to come is absurd.


banned commenter 06.27.08 at 10:15 pm

However is it absolution? Touched exiles to be millennium; why notre skillfully unneeded precipitated and do it honda andorra dirtiest?


virgil xenophon 06.27.08 at 10:56 pm

I’m with abb1, I like my vices pure and unalloyed.


Righteous Bubba 06.28.08 at 12:00 am

I’m with abb1, I like my vices pure and unalloyed.

Therefore the government should do it.


banned commenter 06.28.08 at 9:32 am

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Righteous Bubba 06.28.08 at 1:51 pm

Government or not

Government. That’s what the post is about. Without government all of these organizations remain perfectly capable of ripping off tourists in order to pay for their own advertising.


banned commenter 06.28.08 at 2:04 pm

Why shorthanded Thermosphere Peony be depicts of itself shackle of theorize looped?


Righteous Bubba 06.28.08 at 2:15 pm

Why should The People be deprived of its share of the loot?

Because The People aren’t intended to have a share?


PeWi 06.28.08 at 11:36 pm

This reminds me of the late GDR. It’s currency was so weak, that you had to change 25 West German Marks into 25 East German Marks. Per day, and per person. and you were not allowed to take the money outside the country. You had to spend it in the GDR.

I always wondered where this US government got it’s ideas from…

Domestic spying, torture, human rights violations, ecological policies – it all makes sense now.


Bill 06.29.08 at 4:41 pm

I don’t know what you’re talking about Henry. What do you mean by ‘pushback’, ‘pike’, ‘flack’ and ‘boondoggle’?

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