Let's See How Stupid We Can Be
Despite what the President might think, he can’t create any jobs. (Well he can by building roads, bridges, and schools – all things we need. But that’s not likely to happen soon.) But he can’t create jobs in most private companies – for that we need private entrepreneurs will to take risks and start companies in return for commensurate rewards. In addition, the President is going to have a hard time changing our country’s current corporate predilection for outsourcing, not because the U.S. manufacturing labor force isn’t competitive with China or India – it is. 3 years into this recession, labor costs are relatively inexpensive, especially when you consider the enhanced productivity of the U.S. labor force compared to those other countries – we are a lot more efficient and operate with much lower friction costs (fraud, theft, etc.). He is going to have a hard time changing things because he is unwilling to do the very simple task of changing our immigration laws for highly educated engineers, of which the country is in very short supply. Bring in more engineers, and you’ll get more manufacturing jobs. Send engineers overseas, and watch the manufacturing jobs disappear. It’s simple.
So what’s the problem? Regulation. Not just regulation of financial companies, which is going to drive down their returns until they resemble utilities. Overall stupid, needless regulation – sometimes regulation that is so mind-numbingly dumb as to defy belief. Now wait a second you’re probably saying to yourself, some regulation is good – environmental regulation, for instance. And I agree that some regulations are a good thing, particularly when without it companies can get a “free rider” benefit from using public resources (clean water) for private gain (dumping toxic sludge into rivers). But the U.S. immigration visa requirements that send home engineers and Ph.D.’s as soon as they earn their degree here, instead of encouraging them to stay in this country (which many want to do) and start companies here, make no sense at all. Think this is a Wall Street free-market rant? Actually, this issue is a very hot topic in Silicon Valley. Steve Jobs recently had some interesting comments on this. Among them:
'You're headed for a one-term presidency," Steve Jobs told President Obama at the beginning of a one-on-one session the president requested early last year. As described in the authorized biography by Walter Isaacson, Apple's founder said regulations had created too many burdens on the economy.
According to Mr. Isaacson, Jobs "stressed the need for more trained engineers and suggested that any foreign students who earned an engineering degree in the U.S. should be given a visa to stay in the country." The president reportedly replied that this would have to await broader immigration reform, which he said he was unable to accomplish. "Jobs found this an annoying example of how politics can lead to paralysis," Mr. Isaacson writes. "The president is very smart, but he kept explaining to us reasons why things can't get done," Jobs said. "It infuriates me."
Jobs told Mr. Obama that Apple employs 700,000 factory workers in China because it can't find the 30,000 engineers in the U.S. that it needs on site at its plants. "If you could educate these engineers," he said at the dinner, "we could move more manufacturing jobs here."
The whole article (which is fairly short) can be found here.
It’s really simple – keep the smart, energetic people that can grow this country here. Entrepreneurial immigrants made this country great – and I’m not talking just recently. I’m talking from the country’s founding. Why change what has worked for us for over 200 years because it’s politically expedient to do so? Oh right, because it’s Washington, and if something smart can be done, it can be twisted and corrupted for political gain as well. But this time, the whole country is suffering because of it.