Economic Development

    Innovate Immigration Policy

    Screen Shot 2017-01-30 at 13.00.07Why a Hostile Immigration Policy is Stupid

    Who remembers George Gilder?

    He’s a relevant person to recall at this moment in time. George Gilder said in 1995:

    “Without immigration over the last 50 years, I would estimate that U.S. real living standards would be at least 40% lower.”

    He could be wrong with that figure. It might be more than 40%. He said that in 1995.

    Readers who would prefer I stay out of political posts please understand this is a post about Innovation. I’m not going to comment on the moral, legal, or overtly political aspects of the new immigration policy. I will say that the new policy is hostile, at the very least in terms of how it’s perceived by people overseas. I believe that perception matters because it has a direct impact on long term USA innovation and subsequent USA economic growth.

    Why does Gilder make the claim above. Well, in a phrase it’s called the computer revolution. In the early 80’s before the personal computer, and more broadly, the rapid innovation of micro-chip technology, the USA economy was in a tailspin. We owe the rescue of our 80’s economy to technology and immigrants. Technology saved us. The key technologies of the last thirty years were invented by immigrants who came to America. Millions of people in the USA today owe their jobs, and their amazing productivity, to the computers and associated technologies invented here — by immigrants.

    Gilder got it right with regard to how valuable immigrants are to the American economy.

    In his book, Microcosm, The Quantum Revolution in Economics and Technology, he describes in rich and interesting detail just how Silicon Valley exploded with innovation in the 80’s and beyond. Order the book and read the detail, it names the physicists and mathematicians and engineers from eastern Europe, the middle east, and Asia who were integral to the formation of Silicon Valley. To this day Microcosm remains, in my view, the best overall description of how science, quantum physics, entrepreneurship, California vibes, and, most prominently, brilliant people from all over the world, that is, Immigrants came to Silicon Valley and created the computer revolution.

    You want innovation in the USA? Bring in more immigrants. So, let’s not be stupid and kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.

    Let me be clear, Gilder’s thinking is a mixed bag of ideas, some of which I enthusiastically endorse, others not at all. But please note that Gilder is a true conservative, who counseled President Ronald Reagan, and wrote speeches for Gov. George Romney, and Nelson Rockefeller. If you look at Gilder’s record and ignore his thoughts on social policy, you’ll see he was dead right when it came to technology issues. He predicted how digital streaming would disrupt television in 1990, as just one example.

    Gilder, an arch conservative, is an advocate of immigration as an economic boon to the USA economy.

    Nobody is against protecting our borders. What’s stupid is showing the world how mean we are in how we protect our borders. The current immigration ban is a PR disaster. We still want brilliant people to come to the USA and help us reinvent the future. They won’t come here, or stay here, if they think the USA is hostile to immigrants. Brilliant people with drive tend to come from places of little opportunity. Yes, refugees are exactly who we want in the USA.

    So, sure President Trump, yes, let’s improve vetting and ways to prevent terrorists from coming to America. But can we be nicer about it? Can we be smarter about it? You know, so we don’t scare away people that help us innovate our economy? It’s in our best interests to do so.

    Just ask conservative George Gilder, I’m sure he would be happy to advise another President.

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    Retro Motorcycles Signal Innovation In Goshen, IN

    Manufacturing in America — Using the Past to Create an Innovative Future It’s heartening to learn about a small USA manufacturer who’s doing something creative, new, and interesting. Janus Motorcycles in Goshen, Indiana is creating hand-crafted, small batch motorcycles. These are simple, accessible, easy-to-work-with bikes. They are throwbacks in a certain way, but don’t get me wrong they’re elegant. The retro-ish designs are informed by old American bike brands like Indian, and old British bikes like Triumph and Norton. It’s not hard to imagine that famous Hoosier, James Dean, riding one of these bikes around the countryside. The bikes look like James Dean era rides because Janus purposefully leaves the bikes open, in the sense that all the parts can




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    Damaged Pure Michigan Brand Impedes Economic Development

    Pure Michigan is a Damaged Brand As a Michigan resident I’ve followed the developments in Flint with a mixture of horror, sadness, outrage, and confusion.  This post is not about political blame. Having said that, I don’t deny the political element to the problem; it’s a sad tale of bad decisions on top of bad decisions, and some of those made for purely political reasons. Fact seeking people on both sides of the aisle need to take a very close look at what’s happened. The focus of this post is about the damage that has been done to the state of Michigan’s brand, Pure Michigan.  This is not being talked about, but it’s as damaging in the long run as




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    Graphene Application Challenge Prize?

    The Graphene Challenge Graphene is a new material that is just in its infancy in terms of commerical usage. It’s from graphite, the stuff in pencils. It’s magical stuff — 150 times stronger than steel, flexible like rubber, and potentially usable in electronics, water filtration, energy, building construction, medical, and more. It’s the thinnest material known to man at this moment. It’s 250 times more conductive or “mobile” than silicon. It hit the news again recently as scientists have discovered a much cheaper way to produce the material. This is a market that is about to explode. It’s frustratingly hard to work with. But that’s the fun part.  Unfortunately for the USA, it would see the prime early movers in




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    Paying Lip Service to Developing Entrepreneurs

    There is a very frightening trend happening in the USA. We are not growing entrepreneurs. See my “Seven Ways to Grow Entrepreneurs” below! What is it we believe in our capitalist country? Isn’t it something like this: Anybody who works very hard, has a bit of talent and a good idea, can start something, grow it, and do well.  Isn’t that the essence of the entrepreneurial American dream? Yes, there is more to it than that. Yes, you can fail. Yes, it’s a market driven meritocracy — or it should be. I’ve always taken this entrepreneurial spirit for granted – it’s who we are! I’ve always assumed that as the years go by, more and more Americans (and this extends




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    Domain Knowledge Matters Donald Trump

    Call me king of the obvious but I’d like to remind folks about something related to leadership, innovation, and the upcoming election. Domain Knowledge Matters I’m not taking political sides here but I’m going to make a point about Donald Trump’s candidacy. Let’s face it he has captured the attention of a large group of people. This is factual — the polls have him leading the GOP field. My opinion on why he’s doing so well is this: Trump says things that are bold, straightforward, non-PC and they echo the sentiments of many Americans. People love this approach because it’s just not what they’re used to hearing from a politician. I’ll put aside the notions and accusations that he’s racist,




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    GOP Debate: No Mention of Manufacturing

    A short post to make an observation. Say what you will about the GOP debate last night — and there is much to say — there was no attention paid to manufacturing. Search the transcript, you’ll not find the word mentioned a single time. Wow, it’s a very big point to miss. In related topics innovation was mentioned once, and infrastructure, a huge problem, was not mentioned at all. Why is it important and a big missing that manufacturing wasn’t mentioned? Manufacturing, and the middle class jobs that accompany renewed manufacturing, are absolutely essential to sustained, healthy economic growth. Our growth right now is anaemic in large part because of this missing element. We are not going to be a




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    Consumer Brutal, Chase Bank

    Yesterday’s Innovation is Today’s Expectation I do my banking online, as much as is possible. As an innovation it’s remarkable — not having to mail checks to pay bills is wonderful. Online banking saves me time. Checking balances, transferring money, having online records to reference, it’s all very convenient. It’s magic. Until it isn’t. I bank with Chase, more formally known as JP Morgan Chase. To be fair, according to my colleagues in the innovation space, this true story could probably apply to any USA bank (“stuck in the 90’s” was a phrase I heard more than once). What happened: I’ve been locked out of my online account. Last week I arranged a wire transfer to an account in the




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    “Open For Business” is a Promise Made

    Open for Business  It’s a real joy when a business opens its doors for the first time. “Open for Business” sounds and feels like hope and possibility to me. Starting a new business is where creativity blossoms and where innovation is made real. You’ve created something and you want to deliver that value for a fair payment in return. That’s what an entrepreneur does. Why would the government put anything in the way of a win-win business transaction? The law recently passed in Indiana (Religious Freedom Restoration Act) is being fiercely debated. I really don’t want to comment, much, on the moral aspect of the law, I want to comment instead on what it means to open your doors for business




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    The Flaming Lips and Economic Development

    Consider Attending the Creativity World Forum 2015 As many of you know I’ve participated in the annual State of Creativity Forum in Oklahoma for several years. I’ve written here previously about how effective their model is in getting broad-based involvement, participation, and attendance. This is arguably the most successful creativity conference in the world right now. Those interested in the creativity and innovation field should attend Creativity World Forum 2015 if at all possible. It’s affordable, the content is superb, and it’s a great networking opportunity. It’s in just a few weeks, so register, and make plans now to arrive in Oklahoma City for the March 31st one day event. The illustrious Sir Ken Robinson is  returning as a keynoter (he




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