Silicon Valley, among other American centers of technological innovation, is infamous for its high percentage of immigrant (notably from India and China) engineers and scientists. Many American companies also utilize call centers located in India and other Asian countries. Chinese and Indian cultures are generally well known for their respect for higher education. So, why don’t those countries lead the world in innovation, and why do their best and brightest emigrate to the U.S., and barring that, Canada?
Caste systems and socialist/communist bureaucracies are significant impediments to innovation throughout the world, and that truth is a major factor in making America a popular destination for foreign talent. But, the full answer is deeper than that.
America doesn’t just attract talent at the high end of the educational spectrum. We also attract ambitious, hard-working people with very limited formal education, mostly from south of the border. I worked with many first-generation Mexican immigrants building concrete roads and bridges. They were disciplined workers, and they were fearless of heights. I always marveled at their courage, cynically thinking – other than their lives – what do they have to lose? That may be an insensitive sentiment, but I say it only out of respect.
The word “Hero” has many connotations. And, real heroes – as opposed to sports legends and movie stars – rarely think of themselves that way. If they do, it’s only after the act has been lauded by others they respect. It’s common for them to acknowledge their heroic actions by saying crisply, “Just doing my job.”
I know some Vietnam veterans like that, but today I’m referring to people like those Mexican workers who walk steel I-beams high above the surrounding landscape to support their families and provide opportunities for their children. My heroes include those single mothers and single dads, who raise their children all alone - and very well. I worship those people who dedicate their lives to medical and technical innovation; people like Jonas Salk, creator of the Salk Polio Vaccine; and Nobel Laureate Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn, who is now president of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies; and Dr. Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa, who at age eighteen climbed a border fence at Mexicali to become William J. and Charles H. Mayo Professor and Chairman of Neurosurgery at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. And, not to exclude Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs (whose biological father was a Syrian immigrant) is on my list of heroes, and so is Kansas’ own Jack Kilby (Great Bend), who received a Nobel Prize (1980) for creating the first integrated circuit. And Neil Armstrong and all those others with just the right stuff.
But, why America? To an extent
Until next week,
PATIENCE, DISCIPLINE, and CONFIDENCE in the FUTURE.
Content in this material is for general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.