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FP: Insourcing

Author: Vivek Wadhwa, Director of Research, Center for Entrepreneurship and Research Commercialization, Duke University
July 10, 2012

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America's real outsourcing crisis isn't the one Obama and Romney are arguing about. It's the talented immigrants who are prevented from setting up shop in America.

The net effect is simple. Entrepreneurs may still prefer to locate in the United States due to the tremendous pools of accomplished workers and intellectual capital. But more than ever before, they are considering relocating their operations to, or founding their company in, other countries, which have made it clear there are real options beyond the erstwhile Land of Opportunity.

Poster children for this trend are emerging. Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin may have garnered notoriety as a tax dodger when he renounced U.S. citizenship prior to the company's initial public offering. But Saverin, who has lived in Singapore for some time, countered that Singapore is actually an environment more conducive to launching Internet companies focused on Asia. He's absolutely right.

The United States can begin to stop the bleeding by making it easier for skilled immigrants who are already in the country to stay -- let's think of it as a kind of white-collar DREAM Act. The fastest path to economic development is with the existing class of resident immigrants. And smoothing the road (without subsidies) for technology start-ups and their foreign-born founders or workers exerts minimal societal cost. Putting these reforms in place could go a tremendous way toward boosting the U.S. economy. In fact, we'll see the impact within just a few years. You wouldn't think that making these smart choices requires a visionary leader -- but today it does.

In an ideal world, the campaign debate would not be about how to keep immigrants out and jobs in, but how to bring in the people who can create jobs in America.

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