Rentiers are welcome in the U S

Some Americans may not be aware that U S Citizenship– or at least, lawful permanent residency– has long been for sale, legally and aboveboard. It’s called the EB5 program, and essentially provides that any foreigner “investing” $500,000 to $1 million in a U. S. business can become a legal permanent resident.  And, of course, entrepreneurs have found the niche market, setting up businesses in which foreigners may invest, without taking an active role in management of the enterprise.

A Chinese and American joint venture is “converting the dormant Northridge mall in Milwaukee into a regional shopping center featuring merchandise from Chinese retailers” according to Milwaukee Business Journal.  Presumably, each of the 200 Chinese retailers expected could support one or more EB5 visas.  300-500 local residents are expected to be hired, tho I think it’s a bit imaginative to suggest that these jobs would be “created” by the project.  Rather, like most economic development incentives, they are simply shifted from elsewhere.

A China Daily report on the project indicates that the Chinese investors might not be familiar with primitive North American travel conditions.  Milwaukee “is only an hour away from Chicago,” says the developer. Maybe someday.

Of course, the poor would-be immigrant has no similar opportunity.  She cannot say “I will work to build a business that will employ Americans,” nor even “I will borrow a half-million dollars to invest,” as the program doesn’t permit this.

So, as existing Americans, are we better off inviting a bunch of rentiers, or a bunch of hardworking laborers?  Too many people believe that the latter will drive down American wages– which may appear to be true, only because we fail to consider what the immigrants can produce.

If we insist on inviting rentiers, we have chosen an inefficient way to do it.  Instead of requiring $500,000 invested in a business, when plenty of American entrepreneurs are already able to supply capital, we could simply require $500,000 paid toward reduction of the Federal debt.