The Rise of Immigrants in a Post-American World

Obama and McCain are now pitching their immigration policies to Hispanics. It’s good to see that Obama and McCain are now butting heads on real issues instead of pandering and responding to America’s brain-dead politics, such as who is more patriotic or whatever.

The issue of immigration is key not only in this election but especially in America’s future. Why? Because immigration is intertwined with Issue #1: the economy. Here’s an excerpt from The Post-American World that riffs on this topic.

"The native-born, white American population has the same low fertility rates as Europe’s. Without immigration, U.S. GDP growth over the last quarter century would have been the same as Europe’s. America’s edge in innovation is overwhelmingly a product of immigration. Foreign students and immigrants account for 50 percent of the science researchers in the country and, in 2006, received 40 percent of the doctorates in science and engineering and 65 percent of the doctorates in computer science. By 2010, foreign students will get more than 50 percent of all Ph.D.’s awarded in every subject in the United States. In the sciences, that figure will be closer to 75 percent. Half of all Silicon Valley start-ups have one founder who is an immigrant or first-generation American. America’s potential new burst of productivity, its edge in nanotechnology, biotechnology, its ability to invent the future — all rest on its immigration policies. If America can keep the people it educates in the country, the innovation will happen here. If they go back home, the innovation will travel with them.

"Immigration also gives America a quality rare for a rich country — hunger and energy. As countries become wealthy, the drive to move up and succeed weakens. But America has found a way to keep itself constantly revitalized by streams of people who are looking to make a new life in a new world. These are the people who work long hours picking fruit in searing heat, washing dishes, building houses, working night shifts, and cleaning waste dumps. They come to the United States under terrible conditions, leave family and community, only because they want to work and get ahead in life. Americans have almost always worried about such immigrants — whether from Ireland or Italy, China, or Mexico. But these immigrants have gone on to become the backbone of the American working class, and their children or grandchildren have entered the American mainstream. America has been able to tap this energy, manage diversity, assimilate newcomers, and move ahead economically. Ultimately, this is what sets the country apart from the experience of Britain and all other historical examples of great economic powers that grow fat and lazy and slip behind as they face the rise of leaner, hungrier nations."

Exactly.

So next time you see "pundits" on mainstream media arguing over (non)issues like patriotism and nationalism, just sit back and enjoy the political freak show. But keep in mind that the United States is, and has always been, a nation of immigrants, from colonial America to post America-centric world.