Friday, October 24, 2008

India Shoots for the Moon

AP/Indian Space Research Organization

How'd they learn to do that?

The U.S. Congress needs a wake-up call. At the risk of our readers saying the laws of physics forbid any such possibility, we offer the following: On Wednesday India launched a space probe to the moon.

The Chandrayaan-I

The Chandrayaan-I blasted off about dawn from the Satish Dhawan Space Center. It is expected to reach lunar orbit by November 8. The probe, whose principal goal is to "conduct mineralogical and chemical mapping of the lunar service," carries five scientific payloads from India and others from NASA and the European Space Agency. With this achievement, India joins the U.S., Japan, Europe, Russia and China in the lunar club.

India deserves congratulations for the Chandrayaan-I, which attests further to that nation's remarkable strides as an economic and scientific power. That said, we cannot fail to draw attention to how this event bears on the continuing lunacy of Congress in limiting visa quotas for highly skilled immigrants.

American universities are filled with foreign students, not least from India, getting degrees in engineering and science. Many dearly wish to stay and work in the U.S. Instead, we basically kick them out after training them, owing to the Congressional limit of 65,000 H-1B visas, which are used up the day they are released in March.

The Labor Department believes that by 2014 some two million high-tech jobs will be available here. U.S. companies from Microsoft down to start-ups have begged Congress to give them access to this skilled labor pool. Congress won't budge, bowing to arguments that foreign techs displace jobs from U.S. citizens. That's not how labor markets work in a dynamic economy. Bill Gates has noted that an H-1B hire creates several additional hires, as tech teams expand.

The irony is hard to miss. India's recent progress is the result of paring back state suffocation of its economy. But the U.S., with Barack Obama's antitrade policies and the GOP's anti-immigrant policies, may be turning inward. Here's hoping India and China aren't going to the moon just as the U.S. is headed into the sunset.

No comments: