Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Brain AIDS Discovered in America

My sensationalist headline aside, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is doing some serious work on global health, and the man himself is focusing on the economic variety. Gates went before Congress recently to diagnose the U.S. with what you might call Acquired Intelligence Deficiency Syndrome—a shortage of knowledge workers due to strict immigration policies, poor domestic high-tech education, and low government spending on R&D. Microsoft published a transcript of the testimony.

Given the security concerns surrounding immigration and terrorism, safely increasing visa quotas might not be as easy at it seems. But it should come as a wake-up call that one of the primary pillars of the information society can't get enough people to staff his business.

In a creative economy, the efficiency of outsourcing butts up against the fact that location is very important—if your workers can perform their tasks from anywhere, chances are they will want to be somewhere good. And as the country that advertises its freedom and opportunity, America should maintain a comparative advantage in real estate. My guess is that earnest national loyalty motivates Gates along with economic self-interest.

3 comments:

Charlene said...

could I get a cite for the "Acquired Intelligence Deficiency Syndrome" comment that Gates made? Curious to read what else he said...

Evan O'Neil said...

Charlene, "Acquired Intelligence Deficiency Syndrome" is my paraphrase of the education and immigration malaise that Bill Gates describes. I first saw the story about his recent testimony on the front page of the Financial Times, but it has received coverage elsewhere as well, including a full transcript on the Microsoft site.

Evan O'Neil said...

I amended the post to clarify the paraphrase/citation issue. Thank you for pointing out the ambiguity.