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The US's Reverse Brain Drain 757

Posted by kdawson
from the laugha-while-you-cana-monkey-boy dept.
We may have to rethink the assumption that Silicon Valley is the hotbed of innovation in which all the world's best and brightest want to work and live. TechCrunch has a piece by an invited expert on the reverse brain drain already evident and growing in the US as Indian, Chinese, and European students and workers in the US plan to return home, or already have. From an extensive interview with Chinese and Indian workers who had already left: "We learned that these workers returned in their prime: the average age of the Indian returnees was 30 and the Chinese was 33. They were really well educated: 51% of the Chinese held masters degrees and 41% had PhDs. Among Indians, 66% held a masters and 12% had PhDs. These degrees were mostly in management, technology, and science. ... What propelled them to return home? Some 84% of the Chinese and 69% of the Indians cited professional opportunities. And while they make less money in absolute terms at home, most said their salaries brought a 'better quality of life' than what they had in the US. ... A return ticket home also put their career on steroids. About 10% of the Indians polled had held senior management jobs in the US. That number rose to 44% after they returned home. Among the Chinese, the number rose from 9% in the US to 36% in China."
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The US's Reverse Brain Drain

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  • No wonder... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 18, 2009 @12:40AM (#29782115)

    Have you ever tried applying for a green card in America? You get stuck in a queue and have to wait years before you might finally get permission to stay here. It's no way to plan a secure future for yourself. It's also worse for migrants from certain countries. I have Indian friends who have basically been told that the process may take so long that they'd be better finding other means to change their status (e.g. marriage).

    The US makes it quite difficult for talented people who follows the law to stay in the country. It does not surprise me in the least that Indians are returning home.

  • by Tablizer (95088) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @12:52AM (#29782159) Journal

    Two comments. First, "age of prime" is 30-33? Is IT really that anti-fogey? Second, degrees above bachelor are generally held in higher regard outside of the US. US companies value what they see as "actual productivity" and will usually trade a more productive BS for a lack-luster MS[1]. In most countries, especially Asia, advanced degrees are simply given more esteem compared to the US. More money AND more chicks.

    [1] Those with advanced degrees claim their extra knowledge helps in areas that are less visible to management but still very important. But, that's another story.
         

  • Re:What a surprise! (Score:2, Informative)

    by Kizeh (71312) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @01:12AM (#29782239)

    Actually, foreign students pay around triple, depending on school, the tuition of citizens and residents. In many institutions they in fact bring in the funds to subsidize the Americans that share their classes. Less foreign students means higher tuition for Americans.

  • by wizardforce (1005805) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @01:21AM (#29782267) Journal

    Funny how many people forget just how much the government has to do with the hostile treatment that immigrants face upon entering the US. Considering how much red tape and utter nonsense is baked into the system it isn't any surprise that a lot of educated people want the hell out of here.

  • by Paktu (1103861) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @01:22AM (#29782271)
    i've been monitoring different computer performance benchmarks over the years, and back in the days up to the P4, double times were about thirty months. now they are up to three years, or more. the heartrate of the dream is what is slowing down....

    That's a pretty bold claim you're making. Let's have a look at some actual numbers, shall we? [wikimedia.org]

    This chart indicates that not only are we keeping up with Moore's law, for the past 2-3 years we've actually moved ahead of where we'd expect to be. And the graph doesn't even include AMD's R800 graphics chips, which have even higher transistor densities than RV770/GT200.

  • Re:Surprised? (Score:3, Informative)

    by micheas (231635) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @01:27AM (#29782291) Homepage Journal

    ...most parts of China, even in the cities, don't have drinkable water coming into the house.

    http://www.bio-medicine.org/medicine-news/Drinking-water-in-America-not-all-that-safe-3A-says-report-10757-1/ [bio-medicine.org]

    While no more than a third of US households have unsafe drinking water.

  • Re:Reverse? (Score:5, Informative)

    by DreamsAreOkToo (1414963) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @01:40AM (#29782341)

    In social studies, the "Brain Drain" was something the US was doing to the rest of the world by "taking away their brains." Now, those people are going back to their countries so it is a reversal of the "Brain Drain."

  • Re:What a surprise! (Score:5, Informative)

    by cetialphav (246516) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @01:42AM (#29782347)

    we educate foreign students at the cost of displacing domestic students

    I would like to see some evidence to back that claim because that does not match my experience. In my CS department, US citizens are almost automatically accepted into the graduate program, while foreign students have to compete with each other to get in. (My professor is on the admissions committee.) The reason is that there are so few US citizens that apply that they have to take as many as they can get. The only people being turned away are foreigners who got beat out by more qualified foreigners.

    The fact is that the US has half of the world's colleges and universities. It is the large number of foreign students that allows us to have so many universities and that gives domestic students a wide range of choices.

  • Re:What a surprise! (Score:4, Informative)

    by Sir_Sri (199544) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @02:14AM (#29782457)

    completely untrue. At least in canada. Roughly every 6 or 7 foreign students subsidizes a professor (well maybe 10 or 11 depends on how you count the flow of money and if you include grad students etc). They pay about 20k in tuition and the average prof gets probably a bit less than 100k. Lots of courses are taught by people making a lot less than that too. On top of that they bring into this country about 15k/year in living expenses which is spent, unsurprisingly, on local things like rent, food etc. Though one should see the irony of a student from china spending extra money in canada on goods made in china with much lower point of sale costs there.

    There is not a limit on the number of students we can teach - there is a limit on how fast we can grow, but not how big we can get. In fact quite the contrary - the more students we have the more we can teach, because the more graduate students we can fund, and thus the processes is a positive feedback system. Engineering, medicine and the like; programs which control enrollment do so artificially to keep the value of their degrees up, if demand gets too high (we cannot attract enough engineers/doctors) politicians either force rule changes or the price goes up and more of the smartest people from other countries stay here, and don't go home.

    Don't kid yourself for a moment - we aren't 'passing over' domestic students for foreign ones. We get the best and brightest from those countries; you don't move 10 time zones across and ocean to a place where you don't know anyone and barely speak the language because you're mediocre. They make our 'average' students look bad sure, but we have lots of room for domestic students, for good or bad we can train far more domestic students than want to apply to our programs. And we still, including here on /. bemoan the falling quality of computer science graduates because we're dumbing down the programs. I'll let you in on a secret: we're not dumbing the program down for the guys from india china or the middle east.

    Right now I'm in a PhD programme in comp sci. We could probably double our undergraduate enrollment (2nd 3rd and 4th year courses probably have 400 ish students combined now) with all domestic students right now, and not skip a beat.

    Imagine I was at a business. Lets call it the computer science corporation of London ontario. (Fake). And we do 70% of our business with india the middle east and china. Our real dollar business with the local market (canada) has basically grown with inflation for 10 years, but we've more than doubled in size by exporting our product to those markets and we see continued expansion in those areas. Is that really bad, shareholders would be thrilled? Car companies have basically reached one car per person in north america, the market is pretty obviously saturated at that point, so to grow your business you go elsewhere. Education has the same problem. Frankly we have more PhD's than the private market really wants, and more people who would rather the ~25% pay cut but academic freedom and the ability to teach rather than work for the man (IBM, MS, Google). Think of foreign students as sales to a foreign country - and lets face it, we're running out of other things the chinese are willing to pay money for that we have.

    You want to pick on someone pick on programmes that aren't the aforementioned "management, technology and science". Want to know why we're managing such poor enrollment? Because students have been given the woefully misguided impression that 80K later any degree will be just as good as spending 80k on one in management, technology or science, and that working hard and learning to do math is bad. Admittedly I'm in Canada, and we have oil, and oil makes you as a society stupid because any high profit margin product that can be mass produced reduces demand for education or efficiency gains through education. It's not that I object to psychology, or history or anything else, but if the market wants 100 grads and you

  • by Lemmy Caution (8378) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @02:18AM (#29782479) Homepage

    Remember, the US was largely built up by people who thought that making a buck was more important than staying close to family and friends.

  • Re:Surprised? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Blue Shifted (1078715) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @02:25AM (#29782499) Journal

    you can have economic freedom and STILL not be free, i am not arguing you that.

    but if you don't have economic freedom, you are not free, at all.

    do you have trouble with the not all rectangles are squares thing too?

  • Re:What a surprise! (Score:5, Informative)

    by poliopteragriseoapte (973295) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @02:26AM (#29782505)
    I am a faculty at a US university, advising several such foreign students and postdocs. Many of them choose to leave the US after their PhD or postdoc simply because there are often better opportunities elsewhere, especially for those interested in an academic career. Many countries are ramping up their investment in education and research, while the trend in the US is negative. In the 70's and 80's, US universities were the top. Now, researchers are often offered much better support, infrastructure, ability to grow a research group, and even salary, in other countries. So they leave. Three of the people who worked with me are now professors; none of them is in the US. What this says for the future pre-eminence of US science... wait, which pre-eminence?
  • Re:What a surprise! (Score:5, Informative)

    by martas (1439879) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @02:33AM (#29782535)
    Actually that's misleading too. I'm a foreign undergrad student (soon to be graduate, hopefully *fingers crossed*), and the sheer number of NSF-funded summer internships and other opportunities that are closed to me since I'm not a citizen is mind-boggling. Don't get me wrong, I'm not whining or anything - it's only fair for a gov't to take special care of its own citizens, and to expect anything else would be absurd - I'm just pointing out that american citizens still have it a lot better than int'l students.
  • Re:Sounds good to me (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 18, 2009 @02:38AM (#29782561)

    I think a lot of the problems with that is the fact that if you can afford the college to get the job, you typically don't need the job. I had a friend who was going to college for computer programming. He currently is having to take a break from college not cause he needed the break, but because he is having to work 2 jobs to try and pay off some of his college debt before he can go back and continue. He owes over $27,000 in college bills. And that isn't even for a big time college. And even after that, he will have to move a out of town and probably out of state to get work if he can afford to get back into college to begin with.

    I am trying to go back to college myself for an X-Ray tech job, I originally was going for computer programming too but the lack of local jobs kinda put me off. I am still having trouble going when you are paying over $1,000 a semester for a community college (Not even a high end college) and most of the jobs out here don't want to pay more than $880 a month after taxes. I live in North Carolina. How can you go to college and still live off that? You can't go to school cause you can't pay for college and if you get a good enough job to pay for college you don't even need the job. Kind of a bad cycle.

  • Re:Quality of life (Score:5, Informative)

    by CowboyBob500 (580695) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @03:31AM (#29782709) Homepage
    Absolutely agree with this. As a European I would never work in the US for all of the reasons listed. I don't care what money I could earn. "At will" employment scares me especially since you can be fired without any good reason. Working hours are ludicrous which seems to stem from the "at will" factor - people are too scared not to work those extra hours for fear of being fired. In the EU it is illegal to work more than 48 hours a week without special dispensation. And the final straw is that you don't even get decent vacation time for all those hours, I get 5 weeks here and I know plenty of people who get more.
  • Re:Sounds good to me (Score:5, Informative)

    by kklein (900361) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @03:57AM (#29782775)

    Marry me!

    Of course, I'm a college prof, so I may be biased.

    That being said, I'm a college prof outside of the US, because here they'll actually pay me a decent middle-class salary for my time and degrees, whereas in the US, I literally had a hard time paying rent. As in, my food and utilities budget was what was left after I paid rent; I had no discretionary income, and didn't even have a mobile phone.

    HOWEVER, I'm not in the hard sciences, but I still agree that science and technology are the basis of all developed countries' growth. There's no room for linguists and psychometricians in anyone's budgets without physicists and chemists and biologists and engineers making things that make money.

  • Re:Sounds good to me (Score:3, Informative)

    by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Sunday October 18, 2009 @06:32AM (#29783215) Homepage Journal

    What if we used the money that we now spend on educating foreign students to educate our own? We have been providing advanced degrees (via tuition waivers) for people who come from countries that give them free educations, while our own students are expected to amass huge student loan debts.

    But first, maybe we should make sure we have jobs for them.

    Chicken and egg, I guess.

  • Re:Sounds good to me (Score:2, Informative)

    by mopower70 (250015) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @07:15AM (#29783385) Homepage

    Why do you think half of US PhD's are awarded to foreign born? Is it because the evil government favors foreigners? Or is that Americans just don't give a shit about science and engineering any more?

    Spoken like someone who hasn't been in school for a while. If you've actually attended a graduate institution in the last twenty years you'd realize you have no idea what your saying. Americans do give a shit about science and engineering. The problem is there just aren't enough of us to make us statistically competitive.

    When I was in graduate school, I had to fight for every dollar of financial aid and every adviser slot. Yes, I had a few fellow Americans I was competing with, but the vast majority of my competition were Chinese and Indians who were being funded by their government as well as ours. You take a population of 1.3 billion, another of 1.2 billion and there's going to be 8 equivalently intelligent foreign-born individuals for every American. And since this is America, we give equal weight to everyone's application regardless from whence they hail.

    The problem is not one of motivation, it's one of numbers. Given an equivalent percentage of Americans, Chinese, and Indians competing for the same slots in Universities, Americans will be outnumbered 8:1. Until our grant money starts going to the people who pay for them, this situation is never going to get better.

  • Re:Surprised? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 18, 2009 @07:17AM (#29783391)

    You obviously have no idea of how the Chinese education system works. There is a reason "few" of them manage to get to college, and that is due to how they run their school system.

    There is rigorous national testing for each 'level' in main metropolitan areas (college testing only happens in Beijing), where the students that pass get to go on to the next 'level', and those who do not, end up not only out of school, but limited by the government on what job type they may have. At the college-end of things, there is a strictly limited number of spots, and only the best of the best qualify for those. Think top 10%. To then get permission to advance to the Masters level, think top 1% of that 10%. To get to the PhD level, or to get granted the permission to study abroad, you then have to be in the top 10% of the previous lot of 1%. To also get into your first choice school is not even guaranteed then, as the government gets the final say on which school you get to attend.

    My sister-in-law is Chinese, and is one of the smartest people I've ever met. She was granted permission to go to school in the USA, was granted permission to stay by her government, and was granted permission to live here permanently by her government after she got married. Her other family members on the other hand, were not so lucky. Her sister, for instance, only made it to the first levels of college (BA level), and is not allowed to study abroad, and has only been allowed to visit the USA once in the last ten years. She was assigned what she studied in school, graduated 'at an acceptable level', and then was assigned a job in media relations by the government of China, even though that was not at all what she wanted to do with her degree. Fortunately, my sister-in-law along with her family, has been allowed to return to China every two years to spend time with her relatives (again, by consent of the Chinese government).

    She considers herself lucky. The vast majority of the population never tests well enough to exit the Elementary level of education and return home to work in the fields, etc. with no chance at all of ever getting higher status socially, economically or educationally.

    So of course, the vast majority of the population is still dirt-poor farmers. Their entire system is setup in a manner that creates such a situation.

  • Re:Surprised? (Score:5, Informative)

    by sukotto (122876) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @08:48AM (#29783851)

    My wife and I came to this country because it is the land of opportunity. The place where the very best in the world go to build the best business. We're thinking of leaving because that don't seem to actually be true... at least, not anymore. Instead you:

    • treat us like criminals whenever we want to cross the border or enter a government building
    • limit H1 terms to force us to leave
    • have a surprisingly poor primary and elementary education system (on a side note... your President wants kids to stay in school longer?!? You already have them in school for more hours than other countries whose kids score better on tests... it's not the quantity you need to improve, it's the quality)
    • allow your religious nutjobs a frightening amount of political power. This is less evident under Obama than it was under Bush II but still scares the hell out of me
    • disappear people to Guantanamo under Bush II and Bagram under Obama

    I wanted to make this permanent, get my green card and eventually citizenship. But it seeme to me that you guys are trending hard towards compleat paranoid xenophobia. We have kids now and I'm thinking more and more about what living here is going to do to them. I don't want my kids to grow up in what, to me, seems like a poisonous atmosphere of stranger hate, militant and religious zealotry, misplaced sense of entitlement, and a "we're the greatest because we're the greatest" view of the world.

    At this point, it's just a matter of time for us. We're making pretty good money and want to pull together a large enough nest egg to allow us to move home, buy a house, and start a business. After that, we'll likely only ever return here to take the kids to Disneyworld

  • Re:What a surprise! (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 18, 2009 @08:52AM (#29783867)

    I am an international student in the US. I have an MD from India, my home country, and I'm doing my PhD in the US in a medical field in a public university. While US citizens in the same situation get NIH fellowships of more than $60K per year, I worked as a teaching assistant for $9.50 per year the first year I was here. Now, I make $30/hr as a research assistant, which is half of what an American PhD student with a previous MD gets on an NIH fellowship. Foreign students have to work a lot harder to achieve the same or lesser benefits as US citizens, so don't think that life is easier for foreign students in the US compared to American students.

    By the way, I am also paying the college tuition for my girlfriend. Her tuition is $5,000 per semester for some undergrad level courses that she's taking as a prerequisite to get into graduate school (because her undergrad degree is in a different field). She has to pay out-of-state for the entire duration, whereas the in-state tuition is $1,500 per semester.

    Both undergrad and grad school is more expensive for international students, because we have to pay out-of-state for the entire duration (and we are not allowed to work off-campus on a student visa). So, they do subsidize the education for US citizens. The only exception is graduate students who get assistantships and tuition waivers, but it's the same for US citizen students too - in fact US citizens have more funding opportunities (NIH, NSF, etc) for graduate school than foreigners.

  • Re:Sounds good to me (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 18, 2009 @09:27AM (#29784071)

    Wrong, wrong, wrong!

    If you were born in the United States, then you are native. That is the definition of native [reference.com].

    Being of tribal descent does not make you any more native. Archeology continues to go back an forth on the evidence as to whether there was one or many waves of settlers to North America. There are theories that some of the Clovis [wikipedia.org] cultures might have been related to early European settlers, debates about skeletons like Kennewick [wikipedia.org] man having features that show a genealogical diversity that disappeared around 8000 BCE.

    No group can claim to be the "only natives" in North America. People came, others followed, they fought or incorporated each other, or just died out for other reasons. It is the way of history.

    So the most that the tribal Americans can claim is they were the last group to arrive before the present group. So what? Well it works well in our everyone is a victim, so give me something society.

    Where you are born is where you are native. You may not adapt to the local culture or accept it as your own, but you are native to North America and the US in specific if you were born there.

    All the rest is B***S*** politics intended to create yet another group of poor victims who demand money from other people.

  • by CowboyBob500 (580695) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @09:39AM (#29784171) Homepage
    How do European companies handle it when people don't bother to do a good job?

    They get fired just like everywhere else. However, there must be a very good reason for being fired and the company needs to prove negligence otherwise the employee has a right to take the company to an employment tribunal for unfair dismissal.

    How do they handle it when there's a downturn and they can't afford to keep all the people they hired?

    In this case your job is made redundant. This means you get a statutory amount of redundancy pay based on how many years you have worked at the company, plus you get at least a months notice. But, the company needs to do careful planning since the job now no longer exists, the company is not allowed to hire anyone in that position for a certain period of time. I think its a year here in the UK, but I'm not sure. The result is you don't get the firing and hiring that you get in the US and companies need to think longer term.

    Or when there's a surge in demand and they need people to work longer hours?

    If its a temporary surge in demand, then you get contractors in. If its a permanent surge in demand then you hire more people. Like I said, its illegal to ask someone to work more than 48 hours in a week. I remember once working for the UK wing of an American owned company when this situation happened. Our US colleagues had their vacation forcibly cancelled and were forced to work weekends. We were protected by our labour laws and so didn't have to put up with that shit.
  • Re:Surprised? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Thakandar2 (260848) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @12:45PM (#29785347)

    All Western European schools keep people in school longer than America does. Britain has 190 days. Canada has 190. Japan keeps kids in schools much longer than Americans do. South Koreans, Australians, and other outliers do as well. We are actually behind by only going to school 180 days or so. South Africa is 200. Philippines is 200. Hong Kong goes September to July. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Academic_term [wikipedia.org]

  • Re:Sounds good to me (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 18, 2009 @01:05PM (#29785491)

    Cutting military spending in the US is equivalent to cutting scientific research and education spending. I'm a physics graduate student at a polytechnic institute born and raised in the US. The vast majority of funding of my compatriots engaged in research at my polytech is from the military. The vast majority of jobs taken by my polytech's graduates are either directly with the military or with defense contractors. So, cut the US military, and you are cutting US science.

    This is not a comment in favor of the US military industrial complex, just a recognition of the current state of affairs.

  • by scamper_22 (1073470) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @01:22PM (#29785595)

    On a more political note...
    The West was getting its engineers and scientists on the cheap by importing them. Really no different than bringing in Mexicans to work on the farm or Chinese people to build the railways.

    Western people are of course too good to be subjected to such tasks. They need just be in charge of everything, being bureaucrats and lawyers and business people.
    You have a 'right' to cheap food, but don't want to work on the farms for the cheap wages to get cheap food... that's for lesser Latin peoples
    You want a strong industry, but don't want to pay your engineers and scientists properly relative to the rest of society... that's for lesser people like Asians.

    Everyone knows being an engineer or scientist in the Western world is a bad deal. Otherwise, your own people would be doing it. Much better to be a lawyer or work for the government or health care or education industries. You know, the nice work :P Work worth the time of the great western person :P We're not blind to such realities. We're very much aware of it. I'd like to say I am glad to be working hard, generating all the wealth for the West, only to see it used to subsidize Western people who have not earned their standard of living... just living off the wealth of the past. I'm not.

    However we are glad to exchange our labor for money and skills. Yet, these are no longer colonial times... which still seems to be the prevailing mentality of Western people. No longer can you simply force us to do the mundane work, while you reap the profits and the high end work. Here's looking at you England and Indian colonialism :P Most Western people still hold this colonial attitude though. Interestingly, the only places where you don't get this attitude is in the American South. Sorry, but in a free world, this is impossible to sustain. We will do what any person does. We're going to take what we need (money and skills) and then go to where we get the better deal.

    In this case, moving back home is simply a better option.
    -high standard of living. Engineers earn as much or more than doctors in India.
    -close to family (this is a huge one)
    -no immigration/visa worries
    -living in a rising society instead of a falling one ...

    The transition is not complete. It is far from complete. The West still has a lot to offer in terms entrepreneurship, business management, legal systems... but those can all come in time.
    All I can say to Western people is that colonialism is over. Get used to it.

  • Re:Quality of life (Score:3, Informative)

    by metlin (258108) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @01:28PM (#29785655) Journal

    You want to know who works these 60 hour weeks? People who work for crappy managers at bottom of the line companies that are poorly managed. People who have no spine to stand up for themselves.

    Yeah? I work with people who do 60-80 hours a week on a regular basis. Hell, last week was a 70 hour week for me, not including travel. And I can assure you that it is not owing to poor management or because I'm at the bottom of the line, or because I can't stand up for myself. It is because the work culture in the US has made it necessary to do so in certain industries and at certain levels.

    Look, you may have a job where you don't need to do that. Excellent. I'm happy for you (sort of). However, that in no way means that people with different work hours than you are there for the idiotic reasons that you cited.

    Contrary to popular belief, the more educated and the higher you go in the food chain, the harder it becomes for you to find a job that meets your criteria. You can flip burgers anywhere; however, you can only do pharmaceutical research in cardiovascular diseases or decision sciences for airline operations in a handful of places (just giving a couple of examples).

    Re: your comments on the goodwill of the corporations, what a slew of rubbish. Just look at historic numbers for how the American consumer was manipulated - from about 80% personal savings and 20% corporate savings, s/he is now in the net negative [bea.gov], with the companies making money off of individuals. The average American was investing less than 5% in the stock market in the 80s, but thanks to Greenspan, Reagan and the others, that trend shifted completely, resulting in the mess that we're in. But I digress.

    Your argument on taxation is also untrue. In the salary range + bonus that I make, I would be taxed less in Europe and have more perks than I am in the US. Hell, my bonuses get taxed so highly that it makes me cringe. Hell, my company provides full free unlimited healthcare for me - however, the moment I add my fiancé to the plan, the government decides to tax that as a perk (which comes to about a couple of grand in taxes a month). I would much rather have social, free healthcare like in Europe than this bullshit that the US has.

    And in case you are wondering, the only reason I'm still in the US is because my fiancé is still in school - the moment she gets out, I will be more than happy to go to a country where I can actually enjoy life, rather than work it all away.

  • Re:Surprised? (Score:3, Informative)

    by pommiekiwifruit (570416) on Sunday October 18, 2009 @04:25PM (#29787085)

    And in New Zealand you can just drink the water straight from many streams (except in volcanos), some rivers (tongariro) and the biggest lake (taupo). Which is handy when you are hiking :-)

    Hmm, the lake quality has declined in the last 20 years, so there are a whole heap of regulations for farmers in the catchment area (for example no more than 3.3 llamas or 10 goats per hectare), and a lot of paperwork [ew.govt.nz] with resource consents and Nitrogen Discharge Allowances. I wonder if China or Spain has such regulations.

  • Re:Surprised? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 18, 2009 @07:20PM (#29788281)

    allow your religious nutjobs a frightening amount of political power. This is less evident under Obama than it was under Bush II but still scares the hell out of me

    As an atheist and born American, I don't see it. The religous symbolism annoys the fuck out of me but that level has been near constant for decades (since 1950s, IMO - only alive since the 1970s). There are signs of hope. Soon, people will realize that the antidote to Muslim is atheism not Christianity.

    disappear people to Guantanamo under Bush II and Bagram under Obama

    Come one, anybody who "disappeared" wouldn't go to Guantanamo and we would not hear about it. Hundreds have been in legal limbo with no place that want to take them (or we are not willing to let them take them, e.g., Taliban). It is a shame (as in a truly National shame - not to be proud of, like internmint of Japanese during WWII) but not a crisis for most.

    treat us like criminals whenever we want to cross the border or enter a government building

    It is Brave New World not Brave New Country . I do not suggest getting used to it, but this needs to be fought almost everywhere.

    limit H1 terms to force us to leave

    I think we need more people too but not assholes with entitlement mentalities:

    have a surprisingly poor primary and elementary education system

    I'd prefer more Mexicans with a good work ethic than assholes that expect shit for free.

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