Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Immigration and the NFL Draft

Rusty Shackleford
Guest Contributor

Now that the NFL season has ended, the Kansas City Chiefs are  "On the Clock".  The Chiefs have the first pick in the first round of this year's draft, and they will have the first picks in the succeeding six rounds too.  Every armchair general manager is now making suggestions as to whom the Chiefs should select.  Should they take a quarterback?  How about an offensive tackle?  What about getting a better receiver?

Similar questions will be raised by the fans of other teams as well as the professionals paid to make those decisions.   Given the limits of a 53-man roster and the salary cap, general managers will have to carefully decide whom to draft to fill out their lineup for the 2013 season.  There are many things to consider about drafting players.  How big are they?  How fast are they?  How did they do at the collegiate level?  Did they play for a top notch program? 

With their jobs on the line, the general managers will carefully select only those players they believe will have an impact in a needed position on their team.  One can rest assured that even the Kansas City Chiefs will not squander their seven draft choices on 3 punters, 3 place kickers and a long snapper.  The team will attempt to fill an actual need.  Whether or not their choice is successful, only time will tell.  

Now Americans spend a great deal of time and energy on the NFL draft.  People are paid to accumulate information on all the potential draft picks so that fans and general managers alike can peruse the list of the top prospects.

When one thinks about it, immigration is a lot like a nation's version of the draft.  Nation's sometimes find themselves in need of certain types of labor, ranging from unskilled to high skilled, and from time to time use immigration to augment their labor market to remain competitive.

You would think nations, the United States especially, would put a great deal of effort into picking out who comes into this nation's labor market to ensure we are filling a vital need.  You would be surprised to learn that not much thought goes into it at all.  In fact, much of the decision making seems to come from immigrants themselves.  To put this into the NFL context, it would be as if the NFL draft were run by the eligible college players and they alone made the decisions about where they wished to play.  The teams would have little recourse other than to accept any would-be player onto their roster.

Does that sound like a way to run a team, let along a nation?  Of course not.

But that is what is happening.    Millions are being taken into this nation without regard to what their occupational specialty is.  It would be like filling up an NFL roster with punters and place-kickers.  Though useful, a team only needs 2 to 3 punters and place-kickers combined.  Yet this logic escapes those who supposedly run our immigration system.

Additionally NFL teams are capped at a 53-man roster.  Though no nation has any caps on population, most have a general idea of what an ideal population level should be.  Thus China introduced its one-child policy decades ago when it foresaw its population growing to unsustainable levels.  Does the United States have any such population level in mind?  Should this issue be discussed?  After all, population levels greatly affect the quality of life, the use of resources and the availability of public spaces and services.  Yet our population, driven mostly by immigration, has grown by over a third in the past forty years.  It took us from 1776 to around 1970 to reach 200 million people.  Yet it has only taken 40 years to reach 300 million, and projections show us heading towards 450 million.  Is this good?  Has anyone discussed it, or is immigration driven population growth beyond our control? 

The goal of immigration, like that of the NFL draft, is to fill the needs of the nation with top performers, or franchise players as they are called in the NFL.  Every general manager dreams of drafting the next franchise quarterback.  The guy who puts the team on his capable shoulders and makes everyone more productive.  Ideally those in charge of the US immigration system should be seeking similar type individuals who are capable of creating wealth and putting vast amounts of people into productive work.

For example, Sergey Brin is one such franchise immigrant.  Born in Moscow, Brin came to the US and is now known as one of the co-founders of Google,   Google is one of the crown jewels in the United States'  information technology sector.  It has put to work thousands of people with great paying jobs, and created many millionaires through its stock.  Obviously people like Brin do not grow on trees and are rare. 

But if you want to find the next Sergey Brin you have to have a more focused, scientific approach to finding him than what occurs today.  Blindly letting in millions and millions and hoping the next Sergey Brin is among them is not the answer.    Yet that is what we appear to be doing, and either no one seems to care, or they are too afraid to discuss it.  This is odd.  Preventing people from discussing or critiquing our immigration policy would be like the Kansas City Chiefs general manager preventing the fans from discussing or critiquing the Chiefs' draft choices.  And we know that couldn't happen.  The Chiefs' fan base wouldn't stand for it.  Too bad the American population seems to stand for it when it comes to immigration.  We are on track for becoming a nation with a huge mismatch between our labor needs and the skillset of our labor market.  We will be like an NFL team comprised of place-kickers, punters and long snappers.  We might have a Pro Bowl punter on the squad, but the rest of the lineup is going to be woefully over matched   

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Excellent analysis!