Emigration Reform

Charles Kenny proposes that we export the growing ranks of unemployed Americans to other countries that need more workers, pointing to Chile, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Mexico, and South Korea as potential destinations:

According to the State Department, only about 6.3 million U.S. citizens live abroad, or around 2 percent of the domestic population. In relative terms, that’s pathetic. About 5.5 million British people live permanently abroad, almost five times the U.S. level in per capita terms. Maybe they’re trying to escape the lousy weather, but it isn’t like Brits have natural advantages over Americans as travelers. British people are almost as bad at speaking other languages as Americans are, and in terms of haughty isolationism and disdain for foreigners, surely Brits are worse. (I’m allowed say this — I’m British.) So why shouldn’t America send out some huddled masses for once?

But would these other countries want American workers?

It is true that Gallup polls suggest only 14 percent of U.S. citizens claim they can speak Spanish well enough to hold a conversation. Look at any other language and the numbers become truly dire… The good news is that English has official or special status in countries that are home to 2 billion people, and one in four of the world’s people speak English to some level of competence. And though it’s true that jobs are hardest to come by for the least educated Americans, it’s still not a pretty picture for recent grads. The unemployment rate for those ages 20 to 29 who had graduated from college in 2011 was 12.6 percent as of October 2011. But even young Americans who haven’t made it to university have received a quality of education considerably higher than that of most people in emerging economies.