The second proposal would be to enhance technology, the area of our greatest strength. We are depriving ourselves of productive talent by a fearful attitude toward immigration. We make it hard for bright people to come and we make it hard for them to stay, so once they have graduated from our universities they go home to work for our competitors. This is not the way to run a railway. Foreign students are a significant proportion of those with graduate degrees in the hard sciences in American universities. We should restore the quotas for H-1B visas to 195,000 annually. This has been blocked by shortsighted special-interest groups that fear jobs will be taken from Americans. On the contrary. The kind of people we should be striving to keep are those whose work in technology and engineering provides more than their share of new jobs. Technology has given us our greatest job growth over the past decade.
The administration must initiate policies that help reignite the investment-driven engines of our economy. This means we must support continuous technological and business-model innovation. The good news is that deep economic recessions tend to produce dramatic innovation.
Just think: In 1800, about three quarters of the U.S. labor force was devoted to agriculture. Today, it is less than 3 percent. Manufacturing employed one third of the workforce at the end of World War II. Today, it is down to about one tenth. We are accustomed to economic transformation, but we must focus on accelerating the role of technology in our economy, especially since consumer spending will probably fall as a part of GDP for many years.
However, America will never recover its full prosperity and the jobs it can create as long as individual legislators yield to the blandishments and blackmail of special-interest groups. We must follow rational economic policies in the interest of the nation and not in the interest of narrow parochial groups that will lobby individual legislators. Otherwise, we will deteriorate into a politics of corruption.