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“Don’t Want No Smart People”

January 9, 2006 - 5 Comments

With apologies to Randy Newman for the title I thought it was appropriate to touch on a subject that may be discussed more and more in the coming year: immigration. I was at a breakfast* with Senator George Allen (R-VA) this past week and the topic of immigration came up. I have a couple of thoughts on the issue and will attempt to relay them now:1) Are all the people that are against immigration Native Americans? Meaning: everyone’s parents/grandparents/great-grandparents, etc. in this country came from somewhere else (me: Germany, Scotland and Ireland – with a bit of Cherokee, as well), so why are those who seem to want to build walls around the U.S. so patently against the very way that their ancestors first arrived in the ol’ U.S. of A. Sure, ILLEGAL immigration should be stemmed, but I would venture to say that some of the immigration that occurred to build this nation was not all “legal.” In other words, whatever happened to “give us your poor, your tired, your weak” etc.2) An idea has been floating around Silicon Valley for some time says, if you are foreign born and you receive an advanced degree at an accredited U.S. University your diploma should have a “green-card” or permanent resident status attached to it. Why in the world wouldn’t we want the smartest people in the world to come to the U.S., get educated and STAY and contribute to the economy? (See title above.) Those foreign-born, advanced degree earners who want to go back to their country of origin is fine too. Certainly nothing wrong with having them go home so that they can tell their fellow citizens that Americans are fine, (for the most part) hard-working people.3) Much of this issue, of course, goes to the underlying education system in the U.S. Sure, we have smart people, but if you look at the trends and our emerging global competitors, other countries are focusing on the so-called STEM majors (the innovation majors) (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) while the number of U.S. citizens majoring in these subjects continues to decline. How do we supplement this shortfall before we can get a rebirth in the interest of students going into these disciplines so that we can maintain our global innovation edge? (See #2 above).In sum, we want smart people to come get educated in the U.S. and work, live and play ™ in the U.S. and we have to recognize that this is the right policy to pursue. We also must pursue a parallel policy that focuses on the reasons that our own U.S. citizens aren’t going into the STEM disciplines and rectify it before it’s too late.*At breakfast, eggs, hash browns and bacon were served. I put Tabasco on my eggs, but much prefer Cholula sauce when available – it is, by far, the tastiest of the hot sauces on the market. You can find it your supermarket’s hot sauce section or in your local Mexican grocery. I share this bit of wisdom because I care. : )

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  1. Having recently graduated from an Australian university with (just over) 50% international students I think it's really important to have that mix AND to know that I can persue further studies and work overseas (especially in the US).

  2. I completely agree with John. Immigration due to foreign wars, economic opportuity, and cultural tolerance has brought some of the greatest minds in American history. Einstein and Oppenheimer are two name that come to mind.WHy not accept intellectuals who wish to persue their professional careers in a relatively free society? Bring 'em on. Coincidentally, we alos need unskilled labor as well. I don't personally know anyone who works in agriculture and I am from California!

  3. I got a degree in the US. Physics to be exact. It is the biggest mistake I ever made. It would not matter if this degree was in Chemistry or Electronics or (shudder) Computer Science. It's all baloney. While the merits of education may be useful in other countries, all US wants at the present time is burger flippers and politicians. If you aint one of those you better learn cuz your job is about to be sent to another country. I strongly suggest anyone who has kids to force them to drop out of school and get a job at McDonalds at 17. That's the REAL way to get 'ahead' in this country right now.

  4. I think the main concern among people who oppose immigrants coming to America is that we are in a time of globalization. Our ancestors never had to deal with the complexities of living in the modern world. If jobs on all levels are being outsourced to other countries, plus competition for jobs domestically increases due to new immigrants the citizens of this country will constantly feel like their future is in jeopardy. However I do agree with your points.

  5. Your blog has very interesting information. Most notably the issues on education and Sam Houston.One of the major problems with our educational system is that we rely on individuals that are professionally risk averse to cultivate an environment that should encourage leadership skills. There is something wrong with this scenario in a variety of ways. Many of the leaders in the hi-tech industry are successful as a result of doing things very differently, not perpetuating yesterdays methods and thoughts. What to do? I wish I had a workable idea.Regarding Mr. Houston. If you were to research his migration"" to Texas you will find that his motivation was not the desire to see the frontier. Essentially he was one step ahead of the law back home. Hmmmmmm!Down here in Texas, there is a certain degree of pride / panache attached to his ""background"". By the way, I am not Texas born - I'm here for professional reasons. My heart is in Colorado. Go Broncos!To a professional question. The hi-tech bubble burst left a significant amount of hardly used Cisco hardware in the ""used hardware"" bin. Has the market absorbed the older equipment to enough of a degree to allow your sales jugernaut to hit the numbers of the late 90's? If this question puts you in a difficult professional position please ignore it. BTW, how did Mr. Weld's kids learn the foreign languages?Thanks,Lou Morlando"