Friday, April 18, 2008

Mauldin on Immigration

John Mauldin makes an interesting observation in this week's letter:
When I travel around the world, I am used to a certain amount of America and/or Bush bashing. It is just part of the background noise.

So, I was somewhat surprised to see the professor, in the middle of a talk on why some businesses succeed and others fail, put up a rather large flag of the United States and went on to say that the US would be the dominant developed country for his life, the life of his children and the life of their children's children. You could feel the surprise in the room. It is not what they were expecting to hear. I certainly did not.

He started out saying that someone could come to the US and within 3-5 years you could become a citizen. Making a long story short, in his native Finland it took 3-4 generations before you would be considered Finnish. He went on around the world. There are very few cultures where an immigrant can become a naturalized citizen and be accepted into the culture. China? No. Japan? No.

In Germany, the professor recently talked to the top 100 managers of Siemens. This is a company that employs 462,000 people doing business in 192 countries. In that room of the top management there were 99 Germans and one Austrian. Think of similar multi-national companies in the US. Such a room would be full of diversity.

A young lady Ph.D in physics in Lajore, Pakistan does not dream at night of immigrating to China or Germany, where opportunities would be very limited. No, she and millions more like her dream of coming to the US. He said that 85% of the people living in Silicon Valley were immigrants. The best and brightest in the world choose to go there.

Because for him, America is not a country, but an idea. It is the idea that any person can come and make a life for themselves as an equal. And it is that freedom to rise or fall that makes the US what it is.
These observations gibe with my experience, and help illustrate another aspect of the benefits of freedom. Indeed in very a real sense, the anti-immigration forces are anti-American.

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