Leadership

    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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