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The failures I'm talking about are real mistakes or setbacks: a sketchy job history, a restaurant that went under because of a change in commuting patterns, getting laid off.
In the United States, you can recover from all of these. Getting laid off isn't even stigmatized anymore. Drilling in the idea that this is a country that lets people take a mulligan will make it a hotbed of innovation.
2. Issue green cards like mad. One of the more forward-looking proposals now being bandied about Congress would give green cards to foreign students in Master's or Ph.D. programs in the sciences, engineering or math. In some cases, green cards can be given to undergraduates too. Last year, Scalise gave speeches at Tsinghua University and Fudan University. At both places, the first questions from students were the same: how can we obtain visas?
By giving gifted students green cards, they can hunt for jobs in the United States and plan their future. At the same time, we will deprive foreign nations of their smartest people. Plus, with green cards, the problem of employers offering lowball salaries to H-1B visa holders erodes.
3. Emphasize how easy our school system is. The U.S. school system is in shambles, and it needs to be improved. But it's also not as stentorian as many of those overseas, which can be a big selling point.
In some countries, class rankings are posted on the wall as early as first grade. I met a woman once who said her whole life changed after her family moved to Canada: it gave her an out from the South Korean school system. Here, you can graduate high school without knowing how to spell correctly or multiply in your head.
Getting into universities, particularly the best ones, is no easy task overseas, either. In some nations, students take multiple-day tests. In India, more than 100,000 college students compete in rounds of tests and interviews for a few hundred spots at the Indian Institute of Science, a graduate school. The acceptance rate is 0.3 percent.
The U.S. State Department needs to issue a pamphlet saying, "Ohio State: we accept 75.6 percent."
4. Give subsidies and tax breaks to businesses. Giving money to billionaires is never a popular political program, but since every other nation does it, we need to as well.
Scalise at the SIA points out that building a chip factory overseas costs as much to build overseas as it does to build in the States. Running a fab with foreign labor cuts operating costs only by about 8 percent, or nearly nothing.
The big draw in foreign nations are the 10-year tax holidays, newly paved roads and other subsidies. "Over a 10-year period, you will earn $1 billion more," Scalise said. "The aggressiveness of our trading partners is increasing."
The choice is ours.
Michael Kanellos is editor at large at CNET News.com, where he covers hardware, research and development, start-ups and the tech industry overseas. He has worked as an attorney, travel writer and sidewalk hawker for a time share resort, among other occupations.
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