Thursday, February 12, 2009

Open Door to what?

I got Tom Frieman's article from New York Times forwarded to me from multiple sources yesterday. It is definitely pleasing for desis to see a prominent american columnist advocating for wider immigration when in fact that immigrants are probably the first ones to bear the brunt of lost jobs and an economy in peril - no wonder the brown blog, Sepia Mutiny had all praises for it. But is there any substance to his assertions? 
“If you do this, it will be one of the best things for India and one of the worst for Americans, [because] Indians will be forced to innovate at home,” said Subhash B. Dhar, a member of the executive council that runs Infosys, the well-known Indian technology company that sends Indian workers to the U.S. to support a wide range of firms. 
Really? I wonder why Indians are so hell-bent on pushing for this, if indeed this is good for India. Tom Friedman definitely got his head spinning seeing the Infosys campus in Bangalore, but the reality is that in this economic climate, there aren't enough jobs to give to the new immigrants. So the 2 million plus immigrants should stay on welfare? 
 “We will buy up all the subprime homes. We will work 18 hours a day to pay for them. We will immediately improve your savings rate — no Indian bank today has more than 2 percent nonperforming loans because not paying your mortgage is considered shameful here. And we will start new companies to create our own jobs and jobs for more Americans.”
Yes, fresh off the boat, they will buy the properties here. Frieman should really find out about the H1B life cycle. Buying a home is neither a priority nor affordable for a temporary worker. 
I would have loved to have seen the stimulus package include a government-funded venture capital bank to help finance all the start-ups that are clearly not starting up today
Here, again, he is exposing his ignorance on how startups in silicon valley work. Money isn't the major ingredient for the startup to succeed. Often startups are started in tens of millions of dollars and sometimes even less. The passion for innovation coupled with a very tight and prudent management is what makes some of these startups successful - the success ratio even then is really small. If the government manages it, the success ratio will be even far less - I am no fan of Milton Friedman's economic theories, as a matter of fact, in light of the recent events, his ideas would be deemed unfit, but one thing he got right was that if people knew the government was behind certain initiatives, they would shift their behavior. A startup in its very essence gives value to innovation, speed, operational efficiency, and lack of red tape - every single of these is an issue with government managed programs.

The height of stupidity was when he quoted someone saying this.
He also cited a recent study by William R. Kerr of Harvard Business School and William F. Lincoln of the University of Michigan that “found that in periods when H-1B visa numbers went down, so did patent applications filed by immigrants [in the U.S.]. And when H-1B visa numbers went up, patent applications followed suit.”
Yes, when there are more immigrants, the patents filed by immigrants are more. That is genius!