Selling Permanent Residency

Harriman, P. (2008). “Investors trade millions for visas: Little-known program encourages foreign investment in S. Dakota dairy expansion,” Argus Leader, 13 January 2008. Available online: http://argusleader.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080113/NEWS/801130309.

This is a very good idea, and solves two of the major problems associated with immigration in the current debate: that immigration increases crime and that immigration depresses low-skill wages. I did not know this existed, but it’s easy to see how this is good for America and society. A news article about the “EB-5 ‘cash-for-green-cards’ Visa:

When Rodney Elliott and his 20 employees milk the 1,700 cows at Drumgoon Dairy near Lake Norden, they complete a unique international financial hookup.

It worked like this: Four South Korean investors each put up $500,000 for the right to gain permanent residency in the United States for themselves and their families. That investment helped finance the Drumgoon Dairy and gave Elliott of Northern Ireland the chance to milk cows in South Dakota.

Elliott and his Korean partners were linked under a federal program designed to encourage investments in rural areas and other regions with high unemployment.

South Dakota was one of the first states to take advantage of the revised U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services EB-5 program that provides 10,000 visas annually for foreign investors.

Half are reserved for those who put at least $500,000 into rural areas such as South Dakota to create at least five jobs. Since 2005, the EB-5 investment/visa program has directly contributed $30 million that leveraged a $90 million expansion of the South Dakota dairy industry, according to Joop Bollen, head of the South Dakota International Business Institute that oversees the state’s effort to recruit foreign investment.

This is good, both nationally and socially. Nationally, linking permanent residency to proof of prior success has a similar effect to linking college application to the ACT or SAT. Further, my increasing the supply of high-income/high-wealth workers, it depresses wages at the upper end (all other things being equal) or leads to further economic growth (with a greater supply of high-income/high-wealth laborers).

Interestingly, the EB-5 program was created under Bush 41, lapsed under Clinton and was resumed under Bush 43:

EB-5 was established by Congress in the early 1990s largely as a way to counter efforts by Canada in the 1980s to attract foreign investors, especially from Hong Kong where as much as $1 trillion left the country after Britain returned it to China, according to U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren, D-Cal.

The program was suspended in the late 1990s. Congress retooled it to clarify investment goals and to ensure investors followed through on investment commitments and job creation. It was resumed in 2003.

More information on “EB-5: Immigration through Investment” is available from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Moral Orientation and Moral Decisions

Steven Pinker’s article in the New York Times, “The Moral Instinct” is wonderful. Thanks to Gene Expression for linking to it.

Pinker discusses the current state of research on moral reasoning, and I love it. Like me, Pinker’s skeptical of the “Kohlberg model,” and instead focuses on moral intuition. That is, we both focus on an OODA-loop like model that focuses more on Orientation and less on Decision. (The article is doubly-cool because I will be running a very similar study this semester.)

The Times article presents a number of moral dilemmas. In each of these situations, think what you would do:

Julie is traveling in France on summer vacation from college with her brother Mark. One night they decide that it would be interesting and fun if they tried making love. Julie was already taking birth-control pills, but Mark uses a condom, too, just to be safe. They both enjoy the sex but decide not to do it again. They keep the night as a special secret, which makes them feel closer to each other. What do you think about that — was it O.K. for them to make love?

and:

. You are on a bridge overlooking the tracks and have spotted the runaway trolley bearing down on the five workers. Now the only way to stop the trolley is to throw a heavy object in its path. And the only heavy object within reach is a fat man standing next to you. Should you throw the man off the bridge?

and:

A runaway trolley is about to kill a schoolteacher. You can divert the trolley onto a sidetrack, but the trolley would trip a switch sending a signal to a class of 6-year-olds, giving them permission to name a teddy bear Muhammad. Is it permissible to pull the lever?

Ultimately, in the context of the OODA Loop, orientation makes sense for situations that are complex, and decision makes sense for situations that are logical. Because we live in a world that is typically complex and rarely logical, it makes more sense for us to follow orientation and bypass decision… and that goes for morality, too!