the american immigrant society
Unless rich nations avidly embrace their national characters, they typically do not survive. All great empires and strong nations of the past have succumbed to some type of identity crisis combined with ethnic ghettoization. Yet the USA has a remarkably robust and comprehensive immigration application and vetting system that takes years and years to conclude. It is as if you are applying to membership in a very exclusive Elks Club, or Rotary Club, or Fraternity, or Sorority, and it will take you 14 years to become a member, after jumping through 45 hoops in the process and taking a written exam. And after that, the nation still has the “National Anthem”, the “Pledge of Allegiance”, “My Country ’Tis of Thee”, and “God Bless America” everywhere we go and everywhere we live. Every new American citizen has to do The Pledge. Swearing in ceremonies of dozens or hundreds of new American citizens are a sight to behold, and to be proud of as an American. There isn’t a dry eye in the room when that happens. And, most of our elders, and our forefathers and foremothers, were either kicked/scared out of every country in the world, or suffered pestilence or war or ethnic cleansing or bigotry where they came from. We are the wretched refuse of the entire world. We are the underdogs. We are the snot-nosed mutts who were orphaned at a young age. Many of us now remember that we had only two nickels to rub together when we got off the boat 20 years ago. And yet, that is why the motto of our society is that we always had to, and always will have to, try harder. But, that’s why we always get way more medals in every Olympics. That’s why we have more triathletes than all the other countries combined in the world. That’s why we have more Nobel Prize winners than every other country combined in the world. That’s why we have more cancer research scientists than all the other countries combined in the world. That’s why we own the internet and anything that moves on it. And so on. The American Immigrant Society publicizes and celebrates the successes of our immigrant citizens and their tireless work ethic.
As countries grow rich, people tend to have fewer babies. Wealthy countries, with layers of social support programs, no longer have the fundamental need for many children to tend for the mothers and fathers in their old age. Folks also tend to value their flexibility and freedom as they enjoy the benefits of a wealthy nation, and thus have fewer babies. This is a very natural evolution for a wealthy country. Thus, the average American woman now gives birth to just 1.89 children, while that number was a highly robust 3.7 children only 5 decades ago. This naturally declining birthrate, and therefore the slowing in the growth of the working age population, explains why American economic growth has slowed to unthinkably sluggish levels in this decade. The Census Bureau has done an analysis which indicates that more than 85% of all population growth in America from this year forward will be as a result of births from American immigrants, or from actual immigration flows into the nation. That is the only way the working age labor force of this mighty country will be able to grow and hence provide prosperity to the nation. To keep up with our lofty standard of living, American citizens need new workers to serve them and build things for them, whether as surgeons, plumbers, web technicians, construction workers, field hands, computer programmers, or manicurists. This requires immigrants and immigration. All great empires and nations of the past have faced this demographic and cultural challenge — and have all failed to surmount it precisely because they have become xenophobic at just the wrong time. The American Immigrant Society fosters positive discourse and analysis in order to avoid that trap for the USA.
Why is it that every Chinese, Indian, Turkish, Lebanese, South African, Bulgarian astrophysicist, or medical technician, or artificial intelligence researcher, or digital media entrepreneur wishes to desperately emigrate to America? It is because we already have something that no other country on earth has: we have critical mass combined with free market entrepreneurial momentum. The Global Entrepreneurship and Development Institute produces an annual index based on its analysis of “the entrepreneurial ecosystem” in each country, including availability of risk capital, networking, acceptance of risk, cultural support, technology, opportunity and competition. And of course, the USA is Number 1 on that list for 2017, followed by Switzerland, Canada, and Sweden. The U.K. only manages to come out at No. 8. This unique mojo effectively draws the best and the brightest from all over the world in a kind of natural steady-state one-way flow, From There To Here, forever. The very act of immigrating is fiercely and proudly entrepreneurial, a true ‘skin-in-the-game” reflex, a self-selected risk taken in an effort to better one’s circumstances and of those around you. It’s a uniquely American mind-set. “You leave everything you have and get on a plane,” says Forbes 400 Billionaire member Shahid Khan, Pakistani American. “You can handle change. You can handle volatility, and you want it. You can handle risk. And you want to prove yourself.” To stop this flow, to stanch it, to besmirch it, to denigrate it, would be economic suicide for the USA. There are so many examples of such immigrant folks amongst us. The American Immigrant Society tells their stories repeatedly, in multiple media markets, and with pride and fervor.
When a rich nation goes into a growth drought, people don’t go hungry. They change their way of life, and find the ways and means to stop or diminish their rate of going to work while still managing a perfectly happy lifestyle. The proportion of adults who want to work full time in the USA has been sliding over the last 17 years. The percent of the working age labor force actively working (The Labor Force Participation Rate) entered a deep decline with the onset of the Great Recession in 2008, and has now reached low levels not seen in decades. Moreover, between 2000 and 2013, disability claims across the country surged 43%. Even though jobs have grown much less dangerous in America (construction is a clear example), the chances of a judge or administrator approving a disability claim has jumped 50% since 1980. Even more concerning is the several fold higher use of opiates among non-working adults. If your life has less meaning, many understandably try to escape this painful reality. The nation is in a dangerous structural shift, leaving less and less folks working full time. One subset of the working age labor force is filling in that gap: the American immigrant population. They are not only willing to work full-time, extra time, overtime, 6 or 7 days a week if they have to, but also work two or three part-time jobs if needed, or work all unwanted menial jobs (e.g. farmhand), in order to feed their families and to prosper in America. This positive vibrant economic dynamic for America is continuously and soundly promoted by The American Immigrant Society.
There is significant evidence that immigrants as a whole actually benefit our overall economic growth – which helps everyone in America. Immigrants in the USA are highly represented in high-skill science, research, computing, internet, multi-media, hospital, technology, banking, finance, and engineering occupations. Economists have long understood that economic growth is significantly aided by innovation, which in turn comes from research and development. A study by Stanford economist Charles Jones found that nearly half of U.S. economic growth since the 1950s is attributable to the increase in the number of scientists and engineers engaged in research and development.
Combine this with the fact that about half of the growth in the number of scientists and engineers in the USA since the 1980s has been because of immigrants and it is not difficult to understand the strong connection between skilled immigration and our economic prosperity. Academic research has examined whether increases in skilled foreign-born scientists, mathematicians, researchers, engineers, and doctors in the U.S. from 1980 to 2010 improved productivity. The result was overwhelmingly positive. The results even found modest gains in real wages for native born skilled workers, with no negative impacts on native employment. Complementing this finding is research by economists William Kerr and William Lincoln, who found that skilled immigrants increase innovation, thereby generating productivity gains for native workers most ready to take advantage of such technological advances. Hiring by Google, for example, co-founded by a Russian American immigrant, and Yahoo, founded by a Chinese American immigrant, has been beyond all expectations. All of this boosts our economic growth. This important economic dynamism is roundly promoted by the American Immigrant Society.
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