Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Do we have an Immigration gap?

During the Cold War America had a couple of "gaps", real or imagined, with the Soviet Union that resulted in massive political and economic capital being expended to close them.  The first gap was known as the "Bomber/Missile Gap".
The "bomber gap" was the unfounded belief in the Cold War-era United States that the Soviet Union had gained an advantage in deploying jet-powered strategic bombers. Widely accepted for several years, the gap was used as a political talking point in order to justify greatly increased defense spending. One result was a massive buildup of the United States Air Force bomber fleet, which peaked at over 2,500 bombers, in order to counter the perceived Soviet threat. Surveillance flights utilizing the Lockheed U-2 aircraft indicated that the bomber gap did not exist. Realizing that mere belief in the gap was an extremely effective funding source, a series of similarly nonexistent Soviet military advances were constructed in a tactic now known as "policy by press release." These included claims of a nuclear-powered bomber, supersonic VTOL flying saucers, and only a few years later, the "missile gap."
Armed with the political implications of this "gap", the United States spent a great deal of its treasure on defense items it ultimately did not need.

Also during the Cold War we had the "Sputnik Crisis" or "Space Gap".
The Sputnik crisis was America's reaction to the success of the Sputnik program.[1] It was a key Cold War event that began on October 4, 1957 when the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 1, the first artificial Earth satellite.
The launch of Sputnik I and the failure of its first two Project Vanguard launch attempts rattled the American public; President Dwight D. Eisenhower referred to it as the “Sputnik Crisis”. Although Sputnik was itself harmless, its orbiting greatly accentuated the continual threat the United States had perceived from the Soviet Union since the Cold War began after World War II. The same rocket that launched Sputnik could send a nuclear warhead anywhere in the world in a matter of minutes, breaching the oceanic moat that had successfully protected the continental United States from attack during both World Wars. The Soviets had demonstrated this capability on August 21 with a successful 6,000 km test flight of the R-7 booster; TASS announced it five days later and the event was widely reported in Aviation Week and other media.
Less than a year after the Sputnik launch, Congress passed the National Defense Education Act (NDEA). The act was a four-year program that poured billions of dollars into the U.S. education system. In 1953 the government spent $153 million, and colleges took $10 million of that funding; however, by 1960 the combined funding grew almost sixfold because of the NDEA.[2]After the initial public shock, the Space Race began, leading to the first human launched into space, Project Apollo and the first humans to land on the Moon in 1969.[1]
We are still reaping the benefits of the National Defense Education Act today as undoubtedly the development of the Internet in the 1960s can be attributed to it.

Today we are still involved in competition with rival nations, though fortunately, without the animosity of the Cold War.  We are concerned that other nations are further along in broadband and broadband wireless deployment.  We are worried that other nations are further along in developing renewable energy.  We are worried that other nations are modernizing their infrastructure making our own less competitive.  And we are always concerned that our education system is not producing graduates as qualified as our rivals.

Our rivals too seem to share these concerns as nations such as Japan, South Korea and the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China) all vie to out compete one another to lure investment capital to their nations which has beneficial results to their workers and economy.

But seeming alone among these nations, the USA is competing to be number one in another area, immigration.  Evidently by the rhetoric that is coming out of Washington, DC, one might think the USA is facing an "immigration gap", as we are told we must keep taking well over one million immigrants per year in order to remain competitive.  In fact the hot topic of the day is immigration reform in which we will legalize the millions of illegal aliens already in our nation and make provisions to accept as many as one and a half million legal immigrants on an ongoing basis.

We are told that without these immigrants, our nation will fall behind our competitors.  We will no longer lead the world in innovation, and we will soon become a second rate economy.  But if this is so, then why aren't our competitors competing for these immigrants too?  We take in more immigrants per year than Japan, South Korea and the BRICs combined.  If immigration was the key to economic success, then why aren't our competitors trying to take them from us?  And if we are getting so many already, why do many of our competitors have better growth rates and lower unemployment figures?

Additionally if immigration is the key to being on the cutting edge of technology, then why does our immigration system overwhelmingly welcome masses of people who do not even have high school diplomas let alone advanced technical degrees?

Also, why do nations like Japan and South Korea, who had little to do with the development of the automobile, cellular telephone, personal computer and the Internet, compete so successfully, and profitably, in these markets while the USA, instrumental in the development of all these technologies, seems to have more trouble?  Why do the BRICs lead the world in growth when they do so little in terms of innovation?

If the United States were not the world's leader in high-tech innovation, how would it hurt?  Currently we develop many of the latest technologies, but our competitors seem to profit from the exploitation of them more than we do.

So to sum up.  Does the USA have a real immigration gap, like the "Sputnik Crisis", that must be closed lest we fall behind our major economic competitors?  Or do we face an imagined problem, like the "bomber gap", which is being used by a politically connected class to exploit for their own economic and political gain?
Before you answer, look at the behavior of our competitors.  If mass immigration is the key to economic riches, then why aren't our competitors out competing us?  Why do we apparently have the only economy that is utterly dependent upon immigration?

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