Well, I've been checking online to confirm the facts but I still can't find definitive confirmation on Sunday's CAFTA vote in Costa Rica. It APPEARS that voters approved it by a narrow (52%) margin.
Good for them if they did. The call centers will remain open. The export opportunities to the U.S. will expand for Costa Rican businesses. The business centers and corporate affiliates will arrive in greater numbers, creating more jobs and stimulating the economy of this stunningly magnificent yet bureaucracy-ridden paradise.
Maybe my friend will get even get the dial up Internet access for which he's waited six months.
The lesson in Costa Rica is not so much about what Costa Rica WILL accomplish by becoming a participant in the Central American Free Trade Agreement. The lesson, I believe, is about what they ALMOST didn't approve, and the economic decimation which faces economies which reject globalism for illusions of a world economy long dead and buried.
In today's economy, to the victor comes the spoils. And so India booms and China explodes, and Brazil trots along, all via their homegrown workforces meeting global market demands. Meanwhile. the U.S. endlessly debates whether our economy needs to increase the woefully inadequate 65,000 annual visa limit for H-1Bs and -- forgive me for repeating this yet AGAIN -- Bill Gates has no choice but to take his business -- and the thousands of jobs it creates --to Canada. Unlike the legion of quality schools in India and China cranking out IT, technology, medical, and other professionals in high demand, the U.S. continues to graduate art history majors (no disrespect, I love art...but we just don't need that many, okay?)
Here are the facts about the H-1B workforce in the U.S.:
- H-1B visa holders represented only 1.2 percent of professionals employed in colleges and universities in 2001 and 1.4 percent in 2002.
- Even in the field of computer systems design, long stereotyped as the domain of foreign professionals, the share of H-1B visa holders dropped from 10.9 percent in 2001 to 4.4 percent in 2002.
Costa Ricans are divided as well, but the majority are smart enough to understand the consequences of burying their heads in the economic sand. What about us?