Monday, April 05, 2010

Attracting creative risk-takers

NY Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman :
If we want to bring down unemployment in a sustainable way, neither rescuing General Motors nor funding more road construction will do it. We need to create a big bushel of new companies — fast. … Good-paying jobs don’t come from bailouts. They come from startups. And where do startups come from? They come from smart, creative, inspired risk-takers. How do we get more of those? There are only two ways: Grow more by improving our schools or import more by recruiting talented immigrants. Surely, we need to do both, and we need to start by breaking the deadlock in Congress over immigration, so we can develop a much more strategic approach to attracting more of the world’s creative risk-takers.

... Think Sergey Brin, the Russian-born co-founder of Google, or Vinod Khosla, the India-born co-founder of Sun Microsystems. ...

Right now we have thousands of foreign students in America and 1 million engineers, scientists and other highly skilled workers here on H-1B temporary visas, which require them to return home when the visas expire. That's nuts.
His examples did not have H-1B visas, of course. Brin came here as a small child, and Khosla was just an investor in Sun, not a founder. The whole purpose of the H-1B program is to get cheap foreign labor that will be tied to a particular company. Those workers are prohibited from starting their own companies.

Google and Sun were famously successful, but only in rapidly growing markets that included many other American start-up companies with similar technologies.

We have a racist immigration policy that favors unskilled workers from Mexico and other countries. We get millions of legal immigrants and illegal aliens that way.

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