Freedom from the Tyranny of Starbucks

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The Financial Times on Burma's antique charm, as relayed by the tourism industry: 

Diethelm Travel describes Burma as "truly the land that time forgot". It raves that Burma's three decades of "self-imposed isolation" have left a land of "unspoiled beauty and tranquillity" and an "emerald green" countryside where "time seems to have stood still".

Precious. I hope the tour stops at the beautifully preserved Yangon General Hospital, as yet unspoiled by the scourge of modern medicine.  

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  1. Kerry:

    Appreciating the fact that Burma’s beauty has been preserved mainly due to the country’s isolationism, does not equate to condoning the isolationism, or the fact their hospitals are in terribly bad conditions. I’d like to spend some time in a place that is barely touched by the “tyranny of tourism”.

  2. I’d like to spend some time in a place that is barely touched by the “tyranny of tourism”.

    As would a lot of other people. In fact, so many people would like to spend time in such a place that they might build some hotels, and roads to get them there…

  3. I’d like to spend some time in a place that is barely touched by the “tyranny of tourism”.

    iih,

    I’m flying to Pittsburgh tomorrow, actually. The lack of “tyranny of tourism” is not all it’s cracked up to be.

    All,

    Ask South Florida, Cancun, Hong Kong, the Carribean, Hawaii, and a myriad of other places where mounds of tourist cash come pouring in, how bad this tyranny really is.

  4. How can tourism be a “tyranny”? Did someone change the meaning of the word?
    I’ve always thought tyranny meant taking and ruling by force.
    I guess this is why I’m a dumb girl.

  5. thoreau:

    As would a lot of other people. In fact, so many people would like to spend time in such a place that they might build some hotels, and roads to get them there…

    I am going to get you for that 🙂

    One area I would not have a problem with regulation is preservation. When I went to Walden pond first (and only) time in life, I was appalled at the huge presence of humans there. The funny thing is that no one (except very few) cared at all to visit Thoreou’s house cite. I would be for regulating visits to the cite, say to 50 people every day. People would go (online) submit a request to visit the park on a certain day. This way tourism does not get to destroy its main product. But I may be wrong, there could be better market-based solutions as opposed to regulation.

    (Funny that I used Walden and Thoreau in this case).

  6. What’s funny about it is that outsiders presume to think that the native people wish to remain ‘unspoiled’ and ‘quaint’. It’s the same with Rapa Nui, those people would love a little extra life-expectancy and modern convenience, but that doesn’t work for the tourist council or people that come there for 1 day out of their lives.

    I can understand why someone would want to go somewhere while it’s ‘unspoiled’. But I don’t think it should be romanticized or held back from advancement, unless that’s exactly what the people living there want.

  7. Dumb Girl: Don’t take me literally. But tourism has screwed up a lot of natural resources in many places around the world.

  8. Is the natural beauty is also untrampled by the twin horsemen of Electricity and Running Water?

  9. It’s amazing how often, when given the choice, the vast majority of people opt to “spoil” their pristine surroundings with technology, industry, etc.

  10. I’ve had Christian missionaries tell me with a straight face how happy tribal people in Central America were until the evil Americans came down and “made them unhappy” by showing them things like electricity.

  11. Morgan: I agree. But if I owned a natural resource, I would do my best to preserve its natural qualities by protecting it so that my “product” would live longest and would maximize my profit (if I was in fact after profit).

  12. Does anyone consider Burma and the DPRK progressive forces for environmental and cultural preservation? Burma’s teak forests are being stripped and its mangroves depleted. The stupas of Bagan are falling apart, despite UNESCO’s best efforts to save them. Countries that prohibit contact with the outside world aren’t dipped in formaldehyde. They decay.

  13. Does anyone consider Burma and the DPRK progressive forces for environmental and cultural preservation?

    Certainly not me, but…

    Burma’s teak forests are being stripped and its mangroves depleted. The stupas of Bagan are falling apart, despite UNESCO’s best efforts to save them. Countries that prohibit contact with the outside world aren’t dipped in formaldehyde. They decay.

    Your original post did imply that the quote from the FT regarding preservation of natural resources as a consequence of isolationism, by you not commenting on it, was OK, but that the regime’s isolationism has led to terrible consequences (e.g., health care). I have not been to Burma, so I would not know whether the quote was accurate or not. Obviously, now, it is not.

  14. Kerry, to a lot of environmentalists that doesn’t matter so long as theres no McDonalds, Starbucks, or Wal-Mart.

  15. I’d like to spend some time in a place that is barely touched by the “tyranny of tourism”.

    As would a lot of other people. In fact, so many people would like to spend time in such a place that they might build some hotels, and roads to get them there…

    Reminds me of a Yogi quote, “Nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded.”

  16. So is Kerry making the point that Burma shows us the ideal form of government for the extreme environmentalist crowd?

  17. The instant some asshole talks about how great and “unspoiled” an area is, it is immidiately apparent that you are talking to a narcissistic scumbag. They want a place to be kept in a condition so that they can go there and look at it when they feel like it, preferably cheaply.

  18. When I went to Walden pond first (and only) time in life, I was appalled at the huge presence of humans there.

    The irony of that statement just turned my colon inside-out.

  19. Fucking cavemen, coming up with the wheel and ruining it for all of us.

  20. Kerry, to a lot of environmentalists that doesn’t matter so long as theres no McDonalds, Starbucks, or Wal-Mart.

    I have to admit that I, in big part, love Vermont for having very few Wal Marts and McDonalds. Starbucks is a necessary evil. Wal Mart isn’t.

  21. I am into a lot of trouble with this crowd now. Ain’t I?

  22. I would be for regulating visits to the cite (sic), say to 50 people every day.

    So that 18,250 people per year, or 0.00006 percent of the population, can fulfill their lifelong dream.
    Yep. Makes sense.

  23. iih,
    yes. yes you are.

  24. Starbucks is a necessary evil. Wal Mart isn’t.

    WTF does this even mean? That poor people can go fuck themselves if they need access to cheap goods, but you need your triple mocha latte even if it is from some ugly corporation?

  25. THE URKOBOLD FEARS PLACES LACKING THE TYRANNY OF NAKED WOMEN.

  26. tourism has screwed up a lot of natural resources in many places around the world.

    Name one for me. Then document it.

  27. Jamie:

    People around here know that there is a pond (just a pond). They visit it just as they would visit the local swimming pool. Ask them about the significance of Walden and you’ll get blank faces. If you divided 18,250 by 300M, you’d need to do the calculation again, because how many Americans would actually know of or care to visit the pond?

    Here is what I saw over there: The density was like 50 people crammed into a tiny portion of the beach the size of a half of a tennis court, cans and litter all over the place, cooking stuff, etc. To them, it was just a beach. Not, in many ways, a significant local treasure. If people knew the historical value of the place, they’d appreciate it much better.

    I guess, I am just passionate about this issue. But, just to clarify, I am not against locals in under-developed communities trying to capitalize on their natural treasures by having tourism. I just hope that they don’t squander their little treasure. (I have seen that happen a lot in my country of origin Egypt. But now they are better at preserving the natural beauty along and in the Red Sea and the Sinai. The northern coast is mostly history now.)

  28. Jamie:

    I just named one in my last comment. Other than seeing with my own eyes, let me look around for documentation. I am not sure I’ll be able to find something that quickly on the Internet.

  29. 1976, pulling into Hong Kong harbor. One of the first things noticed by my some of my shipmates (Uncultured Ugly Americans) was “Cool, there’s a McDonalds here!” Right on the waterfront. They sold a lot, I mean a WHOLE LOT, of Rolls Royces there too. Amazingly enough, Hing Kong was still unique, still Hong Kong. I am not enough of a wordsmith to begin to describe the wonder what was the Crown Colony of Hong Kong, but it will always have a special place in my heart. Unfetttered capitalism that even outdid New York in many ways. McDonalds didn’t harm it at all. McDonalds was swallowed up.

    BTW, I ate local, like I always do when traveling.

  30. To my credit, I have been to Walden only once. So I am not a hypocrite in my zeal.

  31. tourism has screwed up a lot of natural resources in many places around the world.

    Name one for me. Then document it.

    Niagara Falls. Documentation’s been done.

  32. J sub D:

    You’re in Detroit. How do you find Belle Isle? I personally felt that it was in a sorry state.

  33. So is Kerry making the point that Burma shows us the ideal form of government for the extreme environmentalist crowd?

    prolefeed, I read it as the exact opposite – that no one considers (or should consider) the Burmese government to be environmental stewards.

  34. The density was like 50 people crammed into a tiny portion of the beach the size of a half of a tennis court, cans and litter all over the place, cooking stuff, etc. To them, it was just a beach.

    Then the problem isn’t tourism. It’s littering.

  35. J sub D:

    Niagara Falls

    Thanks! There you go Jamie.

  36. To my credit, I have been to Walden only once. So I am not a hypocrite in my zeal.

    If everyone were like you, and not “hypocritic in their zeal,” then Walden Pond throughout history would probably have been visited more than a billion times.
    So yes, you are a hypocrite.

  37. To them, it was just a beach. Not, in many ways, a significant local treasure. If people knew the historical value of the place, they’d appreciate it much better.

    Why do people have to appreciate something the way you want them to? Why can’t they appreciate a pond as a pond?

  38. Then the problem isn’t tourism. It’s littering.

    Something in between just “tourism” and just “littering”. It is irresponsible tourism. That was my point above (last paragraph).

  39. Niagara Falls.

    So, the place dried up? Looked pretty wet the last time I was there.

  40. It is irresponsible tourism.

    You said yourself the people weren’t there to see a historic place, that to them it was just another beach and another pond.
    Hence, it’s not tourism. By definition. Get yer definitions in one of our many fine dictionaries.

  41. Why do people have to appreciate something the way you want them to? Why can’t they appreciate a pond as a pond?

    But by doing so, the pond’s market value would decrease. And this is not how I want them to enjoy it. It is how I would like the pond be appreciated!

  42. iih,
    Belle Isle should be sold to the highest bidder. It would mitigate Detroit’s budget woes considerably. The zoo is closed, the aquarium is closed, it’s gone to hell in a handbasket. Have a going away party and sell it to developers. 5,000 wealthy homesteads would spring up in ~3 years.

  43. It is how I would like the pond be appreciated!

    And I would like a fresh handjob from each of the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders on a nightly basis. But you know … ain’t gonna happen.

  44. Niagara Falls

    Thanks! There you go Jamie.

    I’m pretty sure the water’s still flowing just fine. By the way, I live about 1.3 miles from Fort Lauderdale beach, and there’s thousands of tourists in and out everyday.

    Yet somehow, the city is able to keep the area from falling off the edge of the earth…

  45. You know, wish in one hand, shit in the other, see which one gets full first.

  46. Looked pretty wet the last time I was there.

    Jamie Kelly, Tell me if you liked it. Honestly. I went there 38 years ago, I’ll never go back. Others will, but it SUCKS! Capitalism is not without drawbacks, it just has fewer than any other economic system tried. Libertopia ain’t a real, or possible place. Fortunately, most Libertarians realize that. I do not advocate taking the motels owners land, depriving them of their fundamental property rights and turning it over to the state. That said, it’s still an ugly and depressing place.

  47. OK, I have to admit that my natural inclination is that I would hate that such natural resources be spoiled (but I do not want to imply as emphasized above that I do wish that locals better their lives though tourism). My libertarian inclination tels me that here must be a market-based, regulation-free solution. But no one here has offered any suggestions. I did offer one solution, which is that the locals or the owners (corporate or otherwise) will figure out a way to self-regulate the natural resources to preserve their source of income.

    As of this moment, Walden is owned by the residents of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. So that includes me (in part) and I will be for any mechanism of protecting that resource.

  48. As of this moment, Walden is owned by the residents of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

    Ahem. Let’s start with the definition of “libertarianism.”
    See what you can find wrong with your sentence.
    I’ll be over here.

  49. Long trip from Dallas to Missoula on a daily basis, Jamie. You driving or are they?

    In either event, make sure any tourism engaged in along the way is responsible!

  50. J sub D:
    I liked it, and that was 5 years ago.
    I mean, for a kid from the sticks, it was pretty cool. There was some touristy shlock, but nothing I haven’t seen here in Montana.
    Montana, btw, which has both Glacier National Park and Yellowstone National Park, where more than 6 million people come every year — and without any sort of significant damage to our resources.

  51. Long trip from Dallas to Missoula on a daily basis, Jamie. You driving or are they?

    I thought they had virtual handjobs now. Maybe that was a futurist porno I was watching.

  52. As of this moment, Walden is owned by the residents of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

    Ahem. Let’s start with the definition of “libertarianism.”
    See what you can find wrong with your sentence.
    I’ll be over here.

    I know what is wrong with the statement. Until we get Libortopia, I will do anything possible as “one of the owners” to protect it. In Libertopia, I am sure, there will be a nice, natural, market-based mechanism to protect our resources. But until then, in the here and now, I will do with what I have.

  53. Jamie:

    I was in Big Sky last winter. Loved it too. In fact appreciated the fact that it was less “touristic” than Copper Mountain and other locations in Colorado.

    (OK, I am a hypocrite after all, I like to travel, but really, I swear, in the most responsible way 😉 )

  54. OK, I am a hypocrite after all, I like to travel, but really, I swear, in the most responsible way

    There’s your libertarian solution.

    People who tend to travel a lot tend to realize they would like to have these places to visit, and eventually will not destroy them.

    High schoolers on daddy’s teet going to Cancun for SPRING BREAK! WHOOO! are not going to show the same respect…

  55. I was in Big Sky last winter.

    Great skiing, getting pricier and ritzier by the minute. The Yellowstone Club, in Big Sky, is a private subdivision where you have to have at least $5 million in liquid assets just to apply for membership. Private 18-hole golf course, private ski hill, fucking opulent as shit. I played the piano there at a gig two summers ago, and they made me take off my shoes to walk across the imported Chinese cherry hardwood floors.

  56. Jamie:

    Well, someone paid for it. I was there for business, but managed to enjoy my time there.

    As far as culture is concerned, Montana (to me) is closely associated with many libertarian ideals that I have. I guess it must have been Col. William Ludlow from Legends of the Fall.

    How libertarian are Montanans? Politics aside, Tester has a very admirable character, I think. Typical Montanan?

    I met a person at the airport who was very bitter about the multi-million houses being built by out-of-state visitors who do not care the heck about Montana, but only about having a nice house in a nice area.

  57. I met a person at the airport who was very bitter about the multi-million houses being built by out-of-state visitors who do not care the heck about Montana, but only about having a nice house in a nice area.

    I think that when people find a nice place to live or vacation, they generally want it to remain as it is. Unfortunately, we live in a dynamic world and nothing stays the same. In spite of all efforts, wonderful places don’t remain secrets for long. Recognize one, get in on the ground floor, make a mint! What is more American/Libertarian than that. I decry the spoiling, commercialization, and crowding of unique places, but I despise the attempts to have government regulate “Smart Growth” and the trampling of other peoples property rights even more. All so that the first ones in can keep others out. Basically, these attempts are “I’ve got mine, Fuck You.” Fuck my neighbor who wants to sell his property to the highest bidder, too. I understand why these attempts are being made, but I would be have more respect for the regulatory takers if they’d would be honest about their motivations.

    I wouldn’t agree with them, but I do respect when someone acts in their own self interest and says so.

  58. Big Sky, huh?

    Did you guys see the Skyful[sic] of Liars they were talking about?

    *ducks*

  59. I had my fill of this sentiment when I went to Nepal in ’99. Somehow, the poverty on the streets of Kathmandu was charming and, like, REAL, man, to the backpackers I met there. It made me sick. People so wealthy they can travel to the ends of the earth and avoid bathing for a while who would condemn the Nepalese to abject poverty forever as a way to stick it to the man.

    Nobody, and I mean nobody, smells worse than the random backpacker you meet in Nepal, but the worldview somehow manages to be even more repellent than the odor.

  60. Big Sky is ritzy now? Huh. Admittedly my memories are dim, but it didn’t seem all that 25 years ago. Maybe if I went to Montana more than once every decade I could keep up.

  61. who would condemn the Nepalese to abject poverty forever

    How would the smelly backpackers accomplish this? They’re surely not accomplishing it by spending money there! If poverty is a tourist attraction, surely it’s a self-negating one! And what’s wrong with appreciating some of the differences poverty brings? While visiting Mexico we were impressed with the healthier attitudes that were shown towards activities Americans would regulate out of existence owing to being able to afford the luxury good of a neurotic cautiousness toward anything possibly dangerous!

  62. Big Sky is ritzy now? Huh. Admittedly my memories are dim, but it didn’t seem all that 25 years ago. Maybe if I went to Montana more than once every decade I could keep up.

    And I am sure it was more pristine back then that it is now.

  63. J sub D:

    You raise some very good points. It suffices to say that we are not in Libertopia, hence the tentative screw-ups with natural resources.

  64. TakTix:

    Big Sky, huh?

    Did you guys see the Skyful[sic] of Liars they were talking about?

    *ducks*

    Chicken!

  65. but their shitty hospitals mean they die out more rapidly, and *consume less*… which is like, good, because of mother earth and stuff

    (starts twiddling his dreadlock)

    …also, i hear they’re like totally cool with weed and shit. Man, fuck Bush. The whole mainstream media is bullshit. That place is probably like totally awesome, but those neocons are like, naw dude, you know? Like, something to do with oil, or like ingredients for some fucking drug they want to keep secret. I saw this movie, what was it…Dr Quigley? some shit in the jungle with that james bond guy. The indians were totally cool until they built like mall, or logging or something. thats why i only use organic hemp papers man. I sell these too, yo, try these out dude. they give 20% to those indians that do mesc

  66. speaking of responsible tourism (which sounds really gay, btw… ) a british buddy went to Iran for a month last year… which i thought was mad-ballsy tourism

    I think personal choice is not something you need to justify on a moral basis. I dont think places are ‘spoiled’ unless the native people there are willing to tolerate crass behavior. Cant have your cake and eat it too.

  67. “I took a poo in the woods hunched over like an animal. It was awesome!”

  68. Is this comment #69?

  69. thoreau, If you want it to be, yes.

  70. It’s not development that’s wrong-headed – it’s TOURISM.

    Hear me out here.

    The entire notion that one can travel to “odd” places and stare at them for entertainment is flawed at its root. Unless you’re talking about natural wonders like Yellowstone. The idea of going to “unspoiled Burma” is rooted in a sort of colonialist nostalgia.

    The existence of cultures distinct enough to make travelling to them worth the trouble was only possible prior to the development of the very transportation technologies that make it possible for you to go there. It’s a Catch-22. Uneven levels of technological development and political oppression that retarded economic growth have kept the tourism machine running a lot longer than it really should have.

    There will be no reason to travel eventually because the distinctions between one city and another will be too trivial to justify the time and expense. All that will be left will be beaches and museums, and a beach is pretty much a beach when you get right down to it, and digital technologies will put the museum out of business as a physical place eventually.

  71. iih,
    Buy Walden, and you can limit whatever you’d like.

  72. Buy Walden, and you can limit whatever you’d like.

    I’d do it if I had the money, and if the law allows it. Until then, as a tax-payer, and partial owner of it, I’ll have to work with what I have.

  73. Maybe this is where “Tragedy of the Commons” and “Tyranny of the Masses” collide.

  74. I’d like to spend some time in a place that is barely touched by the “tyranny of tourism”.

    Yep, you and thousands of other people. Funny how that works.

  75. Given Burma’s contemporary history this kind of third world poverty glorification is especially loathesome. Anyone seen the wedding video of Than Shwe’s daughter? Truly sickening. A lot of Burmese people can’t afford two sticks to rub together, try to drink extra water to take their mind off their hunger and yet some callous a-hole is waxing on about the pristine beauty of Burma.

  76. Mikhael:

    some callous a-hole is waxing on about the pristine beauty of Burma.

    What is the problem with that? The trouble there does not take away from the fact that Burma has pristine resources! The problems with Burma’s politics has been, and will continue to be, extensively discussed on H&R and elsewhere. This was a different angle on things!

  77. Fluffy, this completely homogeneous world you describe sounds mad depressing. I hope it never comes to be.

  78. What is the problem with that? The trouble there does not take away from the fact that Burma has pristine resources!

    You really need to learn to read. Burma doesn’t have pristine resources, they have undeveloped land. Look at Kerry’s response above you freaking moron.

  79. TPG:

    Funny that I was defending whatever is left of the land and I get to be called a moron! Obviously you haven’t read my response at 3:18 you moron!

  80. Make that 3:19 instead of 3:18!

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