I was at bar last night and overheard a conversation that struck me as noteworthy. A man was describing the hoops he had to jump through to travel to China for work. He explained that they require a letter of invitation, multiple-entry visa, and the like. Upon hearing, his audience commiserated with a tsk-tsk, perhaps unaware that the requirements to enter the United States are far more laborious and rigorous for most people from countries around the globe, including our neighbors to the south.
It's not the first time I've encountered people who exude a certain sense of entitlement as Americans. What I heard was not a moment of clarity about the travails of travel, but of disapproval and judgment. Is it possible that we think that it's our inherent privilege as Americans to travel and work wherever we like without even reasonable impediments? Are we so out of touch with the rest of the world?
Even for as large a country as this is, we are remarkably protectionist about everything from education to jobs. Why, for example, do most universities require of foreign college and graduate students a bank statement that reflects their ability to pay for their education? And then, to boot, have state and federal laws that prohibit them from working during their studies? Save for some of the spoiled children of kingdoms and corrupt bureaucrats, aren't the people that can manage to save for their entire education the very people we want working in all of our sectors and paying taxes?
I'm befuddled. We're a nation built on the vibrant energy and talents of immigrants, yet we have lost touch with those roots and duped ourselves into thinking that the world is really at our behest. What are we losing in all of our glorious ignorance?