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Automatic Stimulus - Will 2 Million New Visas Save the Economy?

Lots of talk about the various economic stimulus bills over the past couple of weeks.  Can we stimulate the economy? What about the debt we're taking on?  More questions than answers, I'm afraid.

Also, I'm a little disappointed there hasn't been more talk about the talent side of the equation.  When theStatue_of_liberty1 economy is bad, the protectionism DNA of America usually emerges.  The fact that we're hopelessly attached to the global economy is one of many reasons why bills like the EFCA are such a bad idea.  Another way the protectionist DNA shows itself is through the call to further restrict worker visas into the states. I get that unemployment is high and Americans need jobs, I'm just always concerned when we try and close the gates to LEGAL immigration.

That view is one reason I'm a fan of Tom Friedman, who generally attempts to embrace the global community concept in an America-centric way.   Here's a gem from his most recent column, which claims that in order to stimulate the economy, we ought to grant additional visas to 2 Million Indians, Chinese and Koreans.

"Leave it to a brainy Indian to come up with the cheapest and surest way to stimulate our economy: Immigration".

"All you need to do is grant visas to 2 million Indians, Chinese and Koreans", said Shekhar Gupta, editor of the The Indian Express newspaper.  "We will buy up all the subprime homes. WE will work 18 hours a day to pay for them. We will immediately improve your savings rate - no Indian bank today has more than 2 percent nonperforming loans, because not paying your mortgage is considered shameful here.  And we will start new companies to create our own jobs and jobs for more Americans.

While his tongue was slightly in cheek, Gupta and many other Indian business people I spoke to this week were trying to make a point that sometimes non-Americans can make best: "Dear America, please remember how you got to be the wealthiest country in history.  It wasn't through protectionism, or state-owned banks or fearing free trade.  No, the formula was very simple: Build this really flexible, really open economy, tolerate creative destruction to dead capital is quickly redeployed to better ideas and companies, pout into it the most diverse, smart and energetic immigrants from every corner of the world and then stir and repeat, stir and repeat, stir and repeat".

It's easy to go protectionist when times are tough.  Still, when the chips are down economically, what better way to improve the talent DNA of America than by asking 2 million stars from some of the hardest working, most entrepreneurial cultures in the world to join the team?

It's a contrarian view and one that wouldn't be popular.  But, it's also crazy enough to work and more importantly, founded in the economics of talent.

Give me your huddled masses sharp, entrepreneurial stars who long for more than your country can provide...


Ann Bares

Great post and points - thank you TF and KD.



I LOVE this idea! This is the first plan that anyone has brought up that actually makes any sense at all. One of the core issues in the economy is all the empty home inventory. Well let's just fill that up! Love it!


jessica lee

ah yes. this is a gem. and this is why i love Friedman. but another reason to grant visas that Shekhar Gupta forgot to mention? those immigrants will settle here and have children... and us 2nd generation types... gold, solid gold IMHO. just look at me!

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