Immigration and globalization

Forgive this rambling blog entry. I’m not in the mood to give it perfect structure. Read on:
This whole immigration issue makes me angry. To be clear, I’m angry at the people who think that we should be treating illegal immigrants as criminals in society, who think that America is better with closed borders, and/or that somehow Americans deserve low-cost goods by standing on the shoulders of other countries without any attempt to help share or bear the burden.
I believe:
– philosophically, that America was founded by immigrants with the intention of creating a land where all people were welcome and treated equally. That includes immigrants from Central and South America if they choose
– that those people who want a chance at the American Dream should make some effort to legally integrate into our society
– that our government should not make it ridiculously difficult for those people to immigrate
– that most Americans are too stupid or ignorant to realize that globalization is here to stay, that immigration is an aspect of globalizattion, and that globalization is in fact good for all humans worldwide
I personally am fully involved in the global economy. I have personally travelled to both China & India to our ‘outsourced’ facilities. I’ve read "The world is flat." Every argument I’ve seen against globalization or immigration appears to be born out of fear of the unknown or selfishness.
Fear of the unknown:
– Remember Ross Perot’s famous "giant sucking sound" comment about NAFTA? That was about 12 years ago and his argument was a great example of playing to people’s fear. I for one would love for folks to point out to me any critical examination of the economy since NAFTA went into place to show that things turned out as badly as the nay-sayers claimed
– Too many folks fear that their jobs will be taken by immigrants. You cannot look at this without seeing the whole spectrum: cost, value, and competence. If I could pay someone else half of what I pay you for the same quality work, shouldn’t I take that opportunity? Isn’t that what capitalism is all about? If an immigrant can do your job just as well at a cheaper cost, then they deserve the job. Over time, the wages paid to immigrants will rise (I see this happening in a way in India), and eventually, both you and they will be paid more or less on the same scale (modulo the cost of living, but that varies within the US from city to city & state to state so that’s unique to the immigration issue). Am I naive in believing that a true global economy will more or less be a meritocracy?
– Most Americans want their cake & to eat it too. They want to buy their SUVs (that they never use for Sporting or Utilitating) but they want to fill their tank cheaply. They want to buy inexpensive goods at the store, but they want their own wages to be as high as possible. As far as I can tell, Americans are either ignorant of how the supply chain works, or willing to exploit others so that they can reap the benefits of cheap labor so that their widget can be bought at CostCo for some low price. It doesn’t occur to them that when they buy something, they’re supporting everyone through the whole chain, from manufacturing to shipping to the basic ingredients, and that everyone along that chain wants (and is entitlred to!) their piece of the pie too
My view on globalization:
– As I said, I’ve been to China & India. I love the people who work on our products there. They’re smart, they’re motivated, they’re helping us build great products. And not one of them ‘stole’ a job from some American. It isn’t some zero-sum game here. They’re simply adding to the mix. Too many Americans refuse to acknowledge that. Globalization isn’t going to drain America of job opportunities. It might change the jobs we do, but you know what? If we’re smart and motivated, those new jobs will be even better than the old ones.
So here’s what I think it comes down to:
Globalization is painful in the short term. It causes price fluctuation. Jobs will move. Quality might suffer. But over time the entire ecosystem improves. We’re just operating on a grander scale than humans have ever done before. You can either embrace the changes, or fear & fight them.
Give the immigrants a chance. Make it easy for them to become members of society. Welcome them. Let them work (and let society reap the benefits of all those workers who are not part of the tax base instead of outside of it). I for one support their Day of Protest today. Let people be inconvenienced and therefore come to realize the value that these people add to our society.
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1 Response to Immigration and globalization

  1. Ken says:

    well put – the only thing though is I think the US needs to come up with a better process of allowing immigrant workers to come to the United States in a legal fashion so that they do not need to resort to trying the illegal route of either just crossing the border, or \’jumping off the planes\’ as people in my country usually refers to (i.e. arrive via some means, and then disappear into the void in the US).
    Hey I am moving to a new job and I would be doing some China travelling too – I am really looking forward to it!

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