Hello and good day!
My in-laws from Peru left this morning. They'd been in town for twenty days, staying at our house. It was a wonderful visit, and we loved having them. The great thing about having visitors in town from another country is you get to see your home through fresh eyes.
One night, we took the family to a neighboring city called Bellevue. Bellevue is a newer city. Downtown Bellevue is modern and lovely in my opinion, built on Lake Washington, filled with high rises. A lot of the world's biggest companies have office buildings there.
In particular, there are a lot of tech industry employees who work for Amazon, Google, and Microsoft living in and around downtown Bellevue.We took the family to a park located right square in the heart of downtown.
There is a little manmade lake in the middle of the park with a black marble water fall on one end that is always gushing. Ducks swim on the lake and they are unafraid of people, so they come waddling right up to you, hoping for scraps of food. There is a big grass field on one side of the lake where people picnic, throw frisbees and play volleyball, football, and soccer.
On the other side of the lake there is a nice playground. We had four young boys with us who had grown restless from the car ride. As soon as I pushed down the emergency brake in the minivan, they shot from the sliding side doors and jetted straight for the play area.
Us adults followed along and since it was all new for my Peruvian in-laws they were just as happy in the playground as anywhere else. We were there amongst running screaming kids for several minutes when my sister-in-law came over and tapped me on the shoulder.
"I've never seen anything like this," she said. She could have been referring to any number of things. Unique playground equipment. Ducks that aren't scared. A park in the middle of high-rise buildings. A pump driven black marble waterfall. Giant construction cranes everywhere you looked.
I asked for clarification. "Which part?"
"So much diversity. So many different kinds of people. It's like heaven on earth. Everybody is getting along."
Something you see in the United States that you don't see in Peru is a tremendous variety of ethnicities. It is particularly acute here in the greater Seattle area and it is one of my favorite things about living where we live.
The big companies who drive much of the economy around here recruit internationally. As such, on the playground, we were looking at kids, parents, and grandparents of every skin tone you can imagine. We saw all kinds of beautiful and exotic clothing. We heard people speaking languages that were completely foreign to all of us. Everybody was smiling and being polite with one another and enjoying a picturesque Pacific Northwest afternoon.
On my last trip to Peru, the big issue on everybody's mind was the Venezuelan refugee crisis. To sum up, Peruvians were becoming more and more weary and afraid of Venezuelan immigrants. The general consensus was that Venezuelans are ruthless killers who will panhandle you for money and murder you in cold blood if you refuse to give them a handout.
I received explanation of the specific physical attributes that allow you to identify Venezuelans from a distance. They were described as taller, skinnier, stronger, and leaner than a typical Peruvian. And because they'd lived under a communist dictatorship for so long, they'd become cold blooded survivalists willing to commit acts of violence without warning. That was the reputation.
I know that this generalization of Venezuelans is false because I have several friends here in the United States who are Venezuelan refugees. Two of them work for our company.
If you ever come into our retail location and meet Claudia, she is a Venezuelan living and working in the United States on a refugee visa. Her husband works for us as well and they are two of the sweetest, most friendly people you will ever meet.
The difference is that Peru is a much poorer country. Its economy didn't have the excess production necessary to absorb millions of illegal refugees.
Frankly, no economy does. At a certain point, any economy will break down under the weight of too many people living on the dole. If there aren't enough jobs and there isn't enough economic production to support the population, people will resort to theft and violence.
That is a fact of life.The reason why peaceful racial diversity exists in Bellevue, Washington is simple. Highly educated and highly skilled laborers have come from all over the world to live together and work in high paying jobs.
If economic prosperity is spread out well, everybody can get along just fine and differences in appearance and culture fall away. Nobody wants to rock the boat. Everybody is living a good life.
When economic resources are spread too thin, people will be at each other's throats.
When I think of immigration from the standpoint of a business owner, I unabashedly would want the best talent from all over the world. The job of a business is to add value. You take resources, you combine them using intelligence and effort, and if you do your job right, the sum is worth more than the parts. That is what a successful business does, without exception. And when businesses do that, the world becomes a better place, because less valuable resources are turned into more valuable resources.
If somebody from Nigeria is the world leading expert in dealing with the kind of resources that your business handles, you want them to come over and work for you. To the extent that they add the expected value, it is good for everybody in the economy.
To the extent that this is allowed to happen in a free way with minimum government interference, you have capitalism, and from my study of the subject, I've concluded that uncorrupted capitalism is the system best suited for creating material prosperity.
As an aside, I spent 7 years of my life studying economics as my principal hobby. People really hated talking to me during that period of my life. I bored them to death.
Back to my line of thought. Crony capitalism is when the government steps into an otherwise free economy to play favorites and choose winners and losers. That is a step in the wrong direction.
Customers should dictate who wins and who loses in a free market system.
I mentioned minimum governmental interference above. The game has rules, and this is where the government is supposed to oversee things.
You can't kill. You can't steal. You have to honor contracts.
And there is supposed to be organized immigration so that people don't come into the country and settle down where they are net consumers, thereby draining away prosperity, and forcing neighbors to be in constant conflict with one another. Folks should end up where their labor is needed, so that they can add value, and harmonious relations prevail.
This takes systematic planning. It can't be done effectively willy nilly in my opinion. All that being said, if a person from another country is over here adding value, that can only be a good thing. An economy should take all the value adding people it can get its hands on.
Immigration done right is a blessing. And a free economy that rolls immigration into prosperity is the best available system.
Thank you so much for your time today.