Thursday, January 27, 2011


Views like this do not motivate one to blog

I'm back. Some observations from my trip to Costa Rica:
  • Twice I was told that if I paid with credit instead of cash the price would be raised by 18 percent as the sale would have to be placed on the official books. I'm skeptical that tax compliance is going to increase anytime soon with the Costa Rica's president currently pushing for a tax reform package that appears to basically be a significant increase on the rich. This comes on the heels on the failed imposition of a luxury home tax which raised only $5.5 million out of an anticipated $22 million in revenue.
  • The country is dollarized to a significant extent, with dollars accepted pretty much everywhere just as readily as Costa Rican colones.
  • Evidence of the China-Taiwan rivalry was not difficult to find, as this photo indicates:
    • China appears to have won this particular battle though, with Costa Rica revoking its recognition of Taiwan in exchange for a new soccer stadium and a boatload of cash among other gifts.
    • Technology continues to amaze. GPS navigation that provides guidance from an exact address in one remote village to another is astonishing. The ubiquity of wifi, even at lodging in the middle of the jungle, is also impressive. It is becoming more and more difficult to become disconnected from the rest of the world. Cell phones, which allow passengers on flights canceled due to this week's snow storms to call local hotels simultaneously (and perform web searches) rather than queuing up behind a bank of (or single) pay phones also never cease to amaze.
    • While Costa Rica is still a poor country, it is not desperately so. Per capita GDP is roughly twice that of Honduras, and based on what I saw during this trip and a visit two years ago to Honduras that seems about right.
    • As I mentioned on twitter, it is rather pathetic that I had to travel outside the country to enjoy a quintessentially American drink -- Coca-Cola -- as it was intended to be consumed with sugar instead of high-fructose corn syrup. As with many absurd situations, this is a product of government policy that drives up the price of sugar via import quotas and lavishes taxpayer money on corn subsidies.
    • I've never visited a country with more dogs, which were everywhere.
    I might post some more later -- probably some links -- but blogging is unlikely to resume in earnest until next week. Likely to be more active via twitter.

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