Trump and Brain Drains
Somehow, Dictators are associated with Brain Drains. In historical cases, it is not just dislike for dictators, not just secondary effects of a dictator’s policies, but actual purges carried out by the dictator against academics and scientists. Since this is not an historical or quantitative article, I will just refer to current situations.
Nobody is saying that Trump has yet reached Dictator or Supreme Leader status, since he is only beginning to discover that the US Government, with its checks and balances, still has some resiliencies. Unfortunately, with Trump’s insane mistrust of anyone not a sworn loyalist, he is bumbling in all of his efforts, and blocking all knowledgeable and scientific inputs from Executive Departments, Congress, NGO’s, and Universities, except for conservative think-tanks, Goldman Sachs, and fossil fuel oligarchs.
Trump’s latest assault is the H-1B visa program, under which we admit 65,000 a year for three years, and a mere 20,000 a year for advanced degrees. University and Hospital requests are granted in addition.
70% of those admitted are from India, and work for US affiliates of Indian companies to aid in US outsourcing to India. 40% of the workers are entry level, and another 40% have only limited abilities and skills. I agree with Trump that we need these reviewed to see if they are taking jobs that Americans can fill.
However, brilliant students, postdocs, and scientists from all countries are self-discouraging themselves from coming to the US because of travel bans, extreme vetting caused delays, inhospitality to family members, and well publicized inhospitalities to races and religions.
While the selling point of “Jobs for Americans First” sounds good, we are accumulating a massive deficit in scientific and technically trained people, as well as medically trained ones. This means that American companies and internationals are going to be hiring outside of the US and outsourcing the companies and entrepreneurs that will produce future advances.
Students who are already here are even advised not to leave the US for family visits, from which returns might be questioned. Even if courts have stopped travel bans, Republicans have not spoken out against any of these programs in numbers that would imply that the party itself would not uphold them.
Students aren’t going to come here, and those here are not going to plan to stay here, if they know that they won’t have the potential for staying.
The other part is Trump’s antagonism to science, which he has viciously inflicted on the administration and the country. His attack on administration starts with his appointments to Department Secretaries and sub-leading positions the very Attack Dogs of Industries on the scientists and science in the various departments. (And you thought that my other articles were acerbic.)
Then there are the vicious and inhumane 10.5% average domestic budget cuts, which are very concentrated up to full cuts, or 20% cuts in the NIH case, in studying our damage to the climate and its subsequent damage to us, or in research that could cure our old age scourges, or diseases to which we are vulnerable. When these cuts spread to Universities and Hospitals and Medical Labs, they will discourage anyone with foreign links to stay in the country, and further discourage any students or doctors from seeking to bring their knowledge and dedication to the US.
In the world of science, medicine, and international companies, great progress is made by international efforts. We are not far enough in the budgetary process, but the Trump misperception that any internationl cooperation is foreign aid, threatens our scientific and economic growth from such cooperation, and involvement and interchanges with foreign scientists.
Nature Magazine is full of concerns and warnings of what Brexit will bring to Great Britain’s science, and other countries that are also entertaining ideas of exiting the European Union.
North Korea’s conscription of their youth for 10 years for men and 7 years for women destroys their technical growth by denying education during their children’s most formative and creative years.
Turkey’s granting (?) more dictatorial powers to President Recep Erdogan will further encourage his dictatorial and horrendous purges of tens of thousands, often from the Universities. Trump’s congratulatory call to the dictator, is just the chocolate cake on Trump’s idiocy of not consulting with the State Department, and of his childish worship of dictators.
Much of the US scientific growth before and during World War II came from brain drains from Germany and Europe. The Trumpian US is about to repay the favor by repelling or flushing scientists back to the rest of the world.