I See Opportunity

By Lloyd Graff

If you consume the newspapers and watch and listen to the daily media torrent, you would think Americans are living in bubbling misery. 

The existential threat of climate change, the border crisis, the catastrophic shortage of workers. I’m sure you could add a few more. 

But for me, admittedly privileged by being white, affluent, educated, and a Cubs fan, the United States of America continues to be an amazing place to live that manages to shift and sway whatever comes its way, despite the politicians and charlatans who thrive on the perception of an engulfing tar pit.

What do I see that they do not, or do not want to admit? 

I see opportunity. Almost every day, I receive an email inquiry from someone who has a small business or an idea, a backer, or a partner who believes in her. They want to buy a machine, or convince someone to help them. They often speak with a foreign accent. They have watched somebody else do it, or they may have already failed but still believe in themselves. 

The people I see are not usually well educated in the way that is normally described in the media, but they do know how to make something that other people will buy. They watch Shark Tank on TV, or they have a friend who sells stuff on eBay or Etsy. They know how to use social media and think they can make it work for them. They do not think their planet is going to burn up or the air will poison them, at least for the next 100 years they will live. 

They don’t seem to be phased by the immigration crisis, often because they are immigrants or their parents were. They understand why folks are wading across the Rio Grande River or sending their children alone on buses and trucks and squalid containers through Mexico to cross into America to take their chances. These people pouring across the border have a dream that life will be somehow better because they know people in Miami or LA or Topeka who are putting together a life for themselves. Maybe they use forged papers and a new name, but at least it’s a chance. They know it is better than the squalor in Cuba or Pakistan or Afghanistan or Myanmar. Wouldn’t you do it if you had no future as a woman under the Taliban?

America is a huge country. People still help each other, and the government affords opportunities to get help. Still, America desperately needs workers. Or, have you missed all of the help wanted signs for Amazon offering $17 per hour, plus college tuition and health insurance thrown in?

Why do we have this labor shortage as the COVID epidemic is fading?

Baby Boomers are retiring. Women have dropped out of the workforce because they are doing childcare or parents care. Legal immigration is a trickle because of COVID restrictions on travel and a federal bureaucracy which isn’t functioning. Of the 55,000 FY-2021 Diversity Visas which are supposed to be issued every year to people around the globe (the US annual visa lottery), only 14,000 were processed at the end of September. Perhaps illegal immigrants coming north could help fill the worker shortage.

You would think America is a mess from reading the New York Times or listening to the Fox News nightly fear-mongers. I doubt it is. 

Topeka, Kansas, and the state of West Virginia are offering $10,000 bonuses for people to move there. Does that sound like a country falling apart?

Question: Should the US increase future immigration?

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3 thoughts on “I See Opportunity

  1. Robert Ducanis

    Hi Lloyd,
    Regarding your last sentence, I cannot respond as to why the city of Topeka, KS is offering $10K for people to move there. Regarding the State of West Virginia also offering $10K for people to move there, you seem to opine that that doesn’t sound like a country falling apart. I do think it reflects on the State of West Virginia falling apart though. Their population is declining due to people moving away. The question to be posed is “Why can’t WV retain its residents?”


  2. Lloyd+Graff

    Hi Robert,

    Interesting that it is particularly Morgantown, 70 miles from Pittsburgh offering a bounty. It is also home of West Virginia University and the state’s top medical center, I think. 35,000 inhabitants and Jerry West, the great shooting guard attended. Rock climbing heaven, they say.

  3. Bill Badura

    Hey Lloyd
    The info about Topeka offering people $10k to move here is interesting. I live here
    and this is the first I’ve heard of it. Seems about right, though.
    Maybe our government could look for a country that wants more unambitious
    people and has a surplus of go-getters and we could trade. We need all of the doers that
    we can find. And we seem to have a surplus of people that want a lot for not much effort.
    Here’s an immigration story and an optimism story in one.
    My great-grandfather, Joe Badura, came to America from Moravia around 1890 as an 11 year-old boy. He came with his Mom and younger brother. They worked for their sponsor, farming, until he could buy a farm of his own. This was why they came here, as that opportunity didn’t exist in Moravia. What it entailed here, in those days, was a down payment and about 3 years of profits. Seems cheap enough, but the land wasn’t really yours until the last payment. You had to be willing to work hard, for nothing now, to make it work. Not for the faint of heart.
    My Grandad, Henry, was born in 1906, in 1933 he married my Grandma, and they bought the farm across the road. Same deal, a down payment and a 3 year contract.
    I guess no one told them that we were in the midst of a depression, and I’m sure they
    would be surprised that people today still talk about it. Between 1933 and 1940, they
    worked off the farm and had 3 kids. Don’t think it was easy though. The first year, they sowed their new farm to wheat. The next summer, they harvested just enough wheat to
    plant it again. They made it through that year and 40 more together and both died right there.
    An afternoon chat with my Grandad was always thought provoking as he seemed to have a lock on a sort of sense that is in short supply these days. I think that he would be puzzled that so many people don’t see the opportunities in front of them and don’t recognize just how good we have it here.
    But I digress. Yes to immigration.


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