Monday, June 9, 2008

International Americans

When times get tough, there have always been Americans who seek greener pastures, whether westward (Ho!) or abroad. Now, our current unfavorable economic environment is driving a significant number of US citizens to seek opportunities in booming economies overseas. I do not belittle these expatriates, as some do. We can no more call their going “unpatriotic” than we could label the pioneers “deserters” for abandoning their eastern towns. The man who sets his sights on a new horizon IS America, and we have never required a reason beyond the tug on our hearts to coax us onto the road.

The American expatriates of the 1920s left in search of a fertile environment within which to explore art, philosophy and novel ideas. They also sought an escape from the disillusionment of post-World War I America. They did not – or could not – believe in their own ability to repair the problems they saw in their native land, and opted for elsewhere. Likewise, Americans are beginning to leave the United States today in search of different opportunities.

Here, the job market, housing crisis, credit woes, oil prices and the faintness of light at the end of the tunnel converge to suppress the economic opportunities we have long considered our birthright. There, the European Union is thriving, and both China and India have become economic powerhouses. The American Dream seems to have gone overseas, and Americans are dusting off their passports in record numbers to follow it.

Those who claim European citizenship through parents and grandparents can settle in any country in the union. Spanish citizenship is as valid in Prague as it is in Barcelona. Others with familial connections, a talent for languages, or valuable business skills, are migrating to China and India. The shining opportunities call to them with promises of prosperity, just as America has called their parents and grandparents to our shores for centuries.

But, what happens next? Will we re-establish our prosperity and standing in the world? Will we stagnate with this loss of talent, and continue to employ the same old models and strategies? Or will we find new roads, attract new talent, grow more talent? Have we taken a wrong path, or is it just that we are on a great wheel of fortune, rising and falling in turn?

I think we must be careful as we head off into this new wilderness, lest we lose sight of the horizon.

1 comment:

Bright.Kennedy said...

There's a new interesting example of Americans looking for greener pastures (in light of economic pressure): Oklahoma! I think they decided that the federal gov is corrupt so they claimed sovereignty under the constitution and told the reserve to f*** off. Hopefully now they'll back it up with publicity and action.

you should post the actual transcript on your blog!