TCS Daily


Wall of Exclusion?

By Ruslan Konstantinov - October 28, 2004 12:00 AM

Just a few days after the start of the 2005 fiscal year, it became clear that the cap for H1B visas had already been reached. This means if a U.S. business finds a qualified professional who is not a U.S. citizen, it cannot hire that individual before October 2005. So, the qualified professional goes elsewhere and the U.S. business loses and becomes less competitive.

This ridiculous situation is thanks to the efforts of organized labor and other interest groups. When one asks them why they oppose the arrival of qualified professionals to this country, they answer with the notorious response: "to protect American jobs." Translation: fear of freedom and competition. This attitude is exactly the opposite of what has made the U.S. such a success story -- a democracy built by hard-working, risk-taking entrepreneurial immigrants. It is amazing how quickly people forget where they have come from, once they have the security of U.S. citizenship. It is quite a display of the real nature of organized labor & co. when they want to build a wall around the U.S.

However, reason has not completely disappeared on Capitol Hill. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, a Republican from Georgia, is expected to move an amendment lifting the cap for foreign graduates of U.S. universities, who are a subject of interest to U.S. companies. Instead of using the knowledge they have acquired in this country elsewhere, it makes perfect sense that they be given the opportunity to work to help make America more competitive -- after meeting all the necessary post-9/11 security requirements, of course. This is a reasonable policy in every aspect.

Those complaining about such steps should just do the basic math to see that what they are advocating is the exporting of America. One does not have to be a rocket scientist to realize that almost all the foreign students working on advanced degrees in the U.S. receive funding by U.S. universities. Tuition plus some sort of stipend in a public university per year per student is typically above $30,000 (in private institutions the figures are much higher). For the duration of a five year Ph.D. program this is over $150,000: money coming from the U.S. taxpayers' pockets to fund these talented people. According to organized labor, America should make a gift of $150,000 per kicked-out qualified professional to random countries around the globe (and let's not forget the unquantified skills that come as a bonus).

This is generous, but quite stupid. Just because somebody feels uncomfortable with a little more competition does not mean America should incur such tremendous losses. There is no example in world history of a society being sustainably successful based on building walls, limiting freedom, and keeping knowledge out. American tradition itself suggests openness, competitiveness, and bringing the world's best to the U.S. Let's hope for an outcome in the spirit of American tradition and keep our fingers crossed for Sen. Chambliss. For the disbelievers, there is a very good example of what building walls can achieve: just take a look at Mr. Kim's paradise in North-East Asia.


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