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March 1, 2010; Los Angeles Times | The U.S. State Department is creating its own nonprofit. By levying a $10 fee on visitors or tourists to the U.S. who come here without needing a visa (applicable to tourists from 35 European and Asian countries without visa stipulations), the State Department plans to raise $200 million a year for a new nonprofit that will, under the Department’s aegis, promote the U.S. as a tourist destination. Since 2001, tourism to the U.S. is still down while tourism outside to the U.S. is way up. Part of the rationale is job creation—an increase of 1.6 million new tourists a year generates $4 billion for the economy and creates 40,000 jobs, according to a consulting firm’s analysis of the proposed legislation. The bill, which Obama will in all likelihood sign, gets strong support from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and from Senator Harry Reid who is trying to pump up tourism in his slumping Las Vegas. What interests us isn’t the prospects of more tourism to Sin City. It is the notion that federal agencies, including the U.S. Army, the CIA, and NASA, are creating and operating nonprofit entities to help them carry out policies and agendas that they can’t fit into their government funding. This may be just the crest of a wave of cabinet-level nonprofit arms.—Rick Cohen