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Reader Asks About Balkanization and Brain Drain
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June 15, 2007, 08:36 PM
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In response to my article on talent based visas, one reader wrote:
One guarantee of "diversity" is Balkanization and then in the right circumstances formal separation. Bringing nonwhites into America who have high IQs will do what, as America formally separates into separate countries?

And if we bring in high IQ people from countries extremely lacking in highly bright people, ie India. Do we really want to say, we know you have an extreme shortage of doctors and nurses for your people, but we need to maintain our First World life style. Sincerely,

Harold Levin

My proposal wasn`t endorsing simply granting citizenship to high IQ folks, so much as calling Bill Gates` bluff and showing how such a program that does what he says he wants might be rationally structured. As I pointed out in the article, there are a lot of other costs to be considered. Is it really worth importing the "really smart" people Bill Gates wants if it means a repeat of 9/11? We don`t have hard-nosed mechanisms in place that assess these kinds of risks. Some of the politicians that have tended to promote mass immigration have been the strongest opponents to imposing discipline in that area.

Balkanization is one of the "costs" that I mentioned in the article. It isn`t as immediate or dramatic as a repeat of 911-but a real long term risk.

Acceptance of importation of talent was pushed early on by Francis Galton—and has persisted despite the discrediting of many other aspects of his ideas. If importation of talent is a political reality for the US in the immediate future, the question to ask is what kind of minimal discipline makes sense-and what really might reflect a popular consensus in this area. As the Kennedy/McCain/Bush proposals show, all too often we get tiny cabals attempting to remake America against the wishes of its current residents. The `low hanging fruit` in immigration reform is the clearly unpopular excesses.

The `brain drain` issue is a real one. It is sad that in today`s world, many talented people would rather accept menial employment in a highly developed country than skilled employment in their own countries. Part of the issue there is the corrupt nature of many poorer countries. Such countries often don`t create attractive social and economic niches for many types of talented people. Now, I don`t think most nurses and doctors as dedicated as they often are, qualify as "world class" or "exceptional" talent mechanisms like the "O" class of visas were targeted at. America has sadly created mechanisms that tend to "mine" human capital and the more broadly held forms of wealth. The mass importation of doctors and nurses isn`t about maintaining the US lifestyle, but avoiding addressing the fundamental failures of US economic and social policy. One interesting initiative in area of medical education aimed specifically at the brain drain you mentioned is IVIMEDS-which would specifically train doctors and nurses in the third world without requiring them to settle in developed countries for training(a similar idea was tried quite successfully here in Washington). The US and UN could with relatively minor effort do quite a bit to make talented folks throughout the world more productive and comfortable in their home countries—and better able to create a world better for all its citizens.