If I ever want to receive a lot of congratulatory e-mail, I need only discuss immigration in my essays. But, although this piece touches on immigrants, the issue in question has more facets, and the immigration component serves only to demonstrate how serious the problem is.
A constant refrain from the open immigration crowd is that the only jobs taken from native born Americans, as a result of the giant influx, are the low-paying jobs that Americans don’t want. Of course, “low-paying” is a relative term, since it apparently covers positions for engineers, computer programmers, and even physicians, as well as dishwashers, janitors, and bus boys.
The media is full of stories of companies having to import technical personnel, and certain hospitals and rural communities having to import doctors. What’s going on here?
Starting in the late 1960’s, American youth was sold on the idea of “making a difference” or “changing the world.” And, as dictated by the taste makers of the day, you do that not by building infrastructure or healing sick people, you do that by studying history, political science, law, and journalism. To be sure, it didn’t hurt that the aforementioned academic pursuits are infinitely easier than engineering, science, and medicine.
In the early 1970’s, journalism and law got a big boost with the Woodward/Bernstein revelations on Watergate, and by the mid-1980’s, the money to be made in medicine was decreasing rapidly. If Bill Gates could be a college dropout and a role model, what the heck?
By the time the 1990’s rolled around, you had to be supernaturally motivated to be an American college kid who was going to pursue medicine. It’s one thing to work harder than the other students, if there’s at least a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. But when you’re a freshman pre-med, and you look way ahead to residency, replete with its 100 hour work weeks at maybe $45,000 per year, you’re smart enough to do the math, and you don’t like what you see. Why not work one-tenth as hard, and make more money quicker in law, for example?
This is the main reason that states like Florida are trying to dumb down the medical licensing requirements, although many of the foreign docs are still failing. And, this is why you hear more and more about incompetent physicians, immigrant or otherwise, who are kept on only because there is no one to replace them.
Notwithstanding the notion of a public defender–and that office exists only so that the institution of a trial can go forward, whether or not the offender even wants one–nobody expects free legal services. Yet, healthcare is supposed to be cheap or free, excellent, and readily available. If a surgeon charges “too much” for a life saving operation, he is greedy and exploitative beyond words. Besides, the HMO’s and insurance companies will beat down the price. If an athlete demands $100 million for his services, he is merely charging what the market will bear.
Thus, healthcare is essential and nobody wants to pay for it, drying up sources of manpower. Big time athletics is at best a pointless diversion, but it commands endless financing.
So, where have the best and brightest gone? For all practical purposes, they have exited the United States by the same door that let in those little demons. You know who I mean. The little demons that changed all the price tags on American values, putting the high prices on the junk, and the bargain prices on the important ones.