Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act vs BELIEVE Act

A few days ago, the Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act was passed by the House. If it’s passed by the Senate and signed by the President, it will have dramatic implications for immigrants coming to and living in the US. That prospect; though, faces challenges from a few Senators from both sides of the aisle.

Apparently, no country in the world is allowed more than 7% of the total green cards handed out by the US government every year. For workers from China and India, due to high demand, there is a current backlog of applications that it can take up to 50 years to receive the green cards.

The Fairness for High Skilled Immigrants Act plans to eliminate the capped amount per country. Doing so will benefit high skilled workers from China and India the most, but at the expense of, well, almost everybody else from other countries. The backlog of current applications from India and China will take years to clear and after that it will mean 8-10 years for folks from low-demand countries like myself from Vietnam to get my turn.

The bill essentially seems to tackle only one problem in a myriad of problems with immigration. Hence, it is said to create other issues, per path2usa.

Senator Rand Paul introduced a different immigration bill called Backlog Elimination, Legal Immigration, and Employment Visa Enhancement Act or BELIEVE Act. The act is aimed to change immigration on a broader level and tackle more issues than the Fairness for High Skilled Immigration Act. Cato.org has a pretty good summary of what BELIEVE Act can deliver here. This is a snippet, in case you are too lazy to click and read the article

There are a couple of problems with skilled immigration that the bill doesn’t address—including the outdated H-1B limit and the burdensome and nonsensical labor certification process for employers—but overall, the legislation would make the United States far more competitive for foreign talent than current law and prevent the removal of hundreds of thousands of skilled workers. This legislation would benefit the U.S. economy enormously.

Cato.org on BELIEVE Act

Goal setting, self-comparison and happiness

Kylie Jenner, Mark Zuckerberg and Warren Buffett are American business icons and billionaires. The difference between them? Mark Zuckerberg and Kylie are former and current youngest self-made billionaires at 23 and 21 respectively while Warren Buffett’s reached 10 digits when he was in his 50s. 99% of his net worth came about after his 52nd birthday

Source: The 10X Entrepreneur

If your goal is to become a billionaire, would you consider yourself a failure or a success at the age of 45? Or if you become one at the age of 80, yet still have a hell lot of more money than thousands of people on Earth, will that still be a success?

Or just having enough to take care of yourself, your family and to have enough freedom to enjoy the life will be enough? If you make $100k a year while living in an inexpensive city like Omaha, will you be happy about it? Or will you feel jealous of those your age making $150k in California?

Setting goals is one of a proven methods to get things done and become a better version of yourself. Yet, the art of setting goals is, in my opinion, tricky. Too ambitious a goal will require more effort and time, sometimes leading to burnout, stress and the risk of missing out on a lot of what life has to offer. A goal that is set too low is unable to unlock full potentials and lead to under-achievement.

Often times, we tend to look to others as a yardstick to measure ourselves and our goals against. There is a fine thin line between purely comparing ourselves against others to know where we objectively are and jealousy which is detrimental to our mental and emotional health.

The intricate relationship between goal setting, comparison of yourself to others and happiness makes it more of an art than a science. I believe it’s not possible to have a formula or a mould that can be universally applied. Each person is different and hence so is how the person approaches this issue.

Random poem #2

Determined to get better at writing, I forced myself to sit down till I actually put together something. Here it is, a short poem.

Come here if you wanna know

How Midwest summer really is

Green leaves blossom on the trees

Happy faces are all that you see

——————————————-

By dawn, the night bids its goodbye

Making way for the gorgeous sunlight

15 hours long, it will be

For the sun truly takes its hike

——————————————-

Contrary to what you think

Work in the summer is not easier

Beautiful and enticing sun

Makes us nothing but much less efficient

——————————————-

Every day I look out from the office window

Longing badly to bathe in the sun

To walk, to hike and to bike

To really revel in the summer fun

Random late night thoughts of a 29-year-old

Struggling to sleep early and tired of reading, I thought about jotting down some opinions that I hold personally. And while I am at it, why not getting on the bandwagon of having as many thoughts as your age? Since I am 29 now, here are 29 thoughts on various topics that I have. I am not trying to give out hot takes. I am just bored and need to honor my commitment of regular writing

  1. The ability to focus and be consistent is among the greatest competitive advantages that one can have, especially in this age of technology
  2. We used to have more happiness with fewer materials in the past than now when we have so much more, but arguably much less happiness
  3. Slaves in the past had to exchange labor and hours for food, shelter and money. We now have to work for hours for food, shelter and money. What’s the difference? Only when we can survive without having to work will we stop being a modern slave. Know why we feel good during holidays and weekends? Because we are free
  4. There are a few universal truths. Besides that, no one really knows anything for a certainty. If you really think about it, many things fall into the “there is a fine thin line” category. They can always go either way
  5. Travel. Don’t just go to Paris or London. Go to Africa. Go to the poor neighborhoods without water in India. Go to areas in Vietnam where folks live under $2/day. You’d feel a whole lot better about your life
  6. Most people advertise their yearn for the truth, yet the majority don’t really want it
  7. To be impartial and free of bias, news outlets must stop featuring Opinions pieces and using words to stir emotions. Otherwise, they are just glorified biased blogs
  8. Mastering languages and knowing exactly which words to use and when is magically powerful. Only a few can
  9. The best way to keep yourself humble is to ask: if you were that good, why would you still be where you are now? Without a fat bank account, a household name, a hot spouse, a large villa and freedom to do what you want? See, easy to keep your feet on the ground
  10. Many hail and call for decentralization. If it were all well and good, what have we had for the past thousands of years? We must have done something right to be where we are now
  11. It’s easier now than ever to acquire a skill, but it’s also more challenging than ever to be competitive. For the exact same reason
  12. Folks who tweet “Unpopular thought/opinion/take” or whatever along that line care more about appearing contrarian than the message itself. Why? Which one comes first? The message or the “unpopular take” phrase?
  13. To be contrarian, first you have to be right and then you have to be different from everyone else. Usually, the determination is external. It’s strange to see many who self-proclaim to be contrarian
  14. Blue Ocean strategy is simply about finding your competitive advantage. As long as you find your edge, you’ll have already ended up in a blue ocean instead of a red one anyway
  15. The more diverse a society is, the less effective democracy is, compared to its theory
  16. It’s utterly unfair to force consumers to give out tips as part of workers’ compensation. Which part of handing a muffin over the counter deserves a tip?
  17. The more we own, the more responsibilities we bear. Be it a house, a kid, a company, a car. It’s queer to see many who yearn to be free strive to own so much
  18. The core concept of “American Dreams” isn’t exclusive to America. It was there long before America was born and will be after. The outrageous successes stemming from this country, technologies and special circumstances help populate the term “American Dreams”
  19. Don’t feel bad if you forget most of the books you read. We all do
  20. Given the chances, we will be happier if we feel we contribute to a community, if we belong to somewhere
  21. When I was young, I dreamed that my name would go on to be in a history book. I was silly. What’s good of all legacies if we are 6 feet underground and all left of us is dust?
  22. Gerrymandering, electoral college and lobbying make America’s claim of democracy overrated
  23. If you are famous, some people will defend your transgressions, even the most outrageous ones. Not so when you are a nobody. Humans are weird
  24. It’s utterly remarkable that humans physically inferior to other animals “rule” the planet. We can’t hold breath under water as long as other sea animals. We are essentially snails compared to horses or cheetahs. In terms of agility and quickness, we are nothing compared to monkeys. Yet, here we are
  25. Marriage is a form of increasing “switching costs”. People divorce all the time. Some end up in a nasty fashion even. If two people are committed enough, what’s the point of having to go through all the legalities and expenses related to weddings? Even a marriage can make folks think twice about a break-up, like any other switching costs, it doesn’t guarantee to work all the time
  26. Everyone lies. In some circumstances. In some fashion
  27. Equivalent to winning a lottery: being born healthy and full, getting along with your parents, finding great and honest friends, knowing what you want to do early, being born in one of the developed countries
  28. Humans are our worst enemies. Scientists didn’t invent dynamite or nuclear to kill in mass. Despite the advances, many die from not being able to afford insulin. Boeing risks a score of lives just to make money
  29. News outlets would save a lot of money by not having journalists in athletes’ faces EVERY day asking, in a lot of cases, very stupid questions. What’s really the odd of their saying something exclusive and worthwhile that wouldn’t be covered by other media?

Struggling to find the right balance

These days, I often find myself in the middle of these dilemmas:

Work on the weekends or enjoy the summer

Some recommend that to get ahead of others, you work on the weekends or when others are not. The logic makes sense. If you work properly, the more hours are put in, the better you should become. Yet, there is another side of me that wants to enjoy this beautiful summer. Midwest winter is hard. It’s unpredictable, it’s cold, it’s winter and it’s lengthy. Summer days are long in demand, but shorter in supply. I constantly struggle to choose which path I should follow in this regard

Set ambitious goals or stay relaxed and spontaneous

I used to be a goal-setting & future-oriented kind of a guy, yet I have worked to be more spontaneous and scale back my obsession with goal setting. It was good till I reflected upon what has been achieved for the first 6 months of the year and what lies ahead in the other 6. I found myself lacking. I found myself becoming a bit complacent. The urge to stay spontaneous and in the moment is still there, but perhaps I should mix it with some ambitious goals to give myself a push. The question is: what constitutes the right balance?

Sleep more or do more

Besides my day job, I commit myself to regular reading, working out, exploring the city, meeting new people and side projects such as this blog. Sometimes, travel sneaks into the to-do list like a thief as well. What I want to do keeps growing and growing while time doesn’t. As a fan of the Why We Sleep book, I understand the importance of sufficient sleep. I do want to sleep at least 8 hours a day, but I also want to do as much as possible when youth is still on my side. If I want an easy life later on, I need to work hard now. But as Matthew Walker, the author of Why We Sleep, said: once you lose sleep time, there is no way to get it back.

These questions and dilemmas need answering and solving quickly. The longer I have them unsolved and unanswered, the more time will be lost. Yet it’s not easy. Not easy to make a decision without full information. Or not easy to live with the consequences. Either way, I need to find a balance soon.

Passport, Signal of Trust and Credibility

A new ranking by a Singapore-based consulting firm saw Vietnamese passport climb up a few positions compared to last year, even though it still belongs to the bottom tier. As of this year, Vietnamese citizens can travel to 61 countries where there is no visa requirement or visas can be issued upon arrival.

What does a passport signal actually?

It signals to the destination countries how trustworthy, credible and civil the passport holder is likely going to be. For instance, a US passport holder can travel to more than 100 countries without visa restrictions since being a US citizen signals that he or she comes with the credibility of the US as a nation. Meanwhile, since Vietnam is a poor country with less credibility, the citizens can only travel to 61 countries visa-free.

That’s on a macro level.

However, I have lived in 3 Western countries and traveled to more than 10 different nations without any blemish on my civil profile, not even a parking ticket. My personal track record should be sufficient for other countries to trust me. Instead, a Nebraskan who never boards a plane before can go to Canada tomorrow without a visa while I will have to apply for one and next-day trips are, hence, out of question.

The asymmetry of information and the lack of credibility of a nation that cascades down to its citizens create a lot of problems and inconvenience for some individuals.

I wish there would be a blockchain-based system in which past records are impossible to alter unless perpetrators like to waste a huge amount of computing power, information is secure and everybody can access. That way, credibility can be assessed on an individual level, not a national one.

By the way, if you are fortunate enough to be born with a powerful passport, do travel. Don’t take it for granted. Explore the world and have some compassion towards less fortunate others. Just like me, many wish to travel freely, but can’t.

Political Debates

I watched half of tonight’s Democratic debate and a little bit of yesterday’s. Here is how I think about these debates

They are where people say something without saying anything of substance. One of the candidates said that she should be the one because she listens to people and that’s how she gets things done. Another guy said that he should be the one because he can build coalition. No disrespect to either, but that’s a bit too light on details.

They are where folks set aside decency and talk over one another. Sometimes, there are some subtle attacks here and there.

They are where candidates from the same party talk about the same things just in different ways. It’s normal and fine since the issues must be popular and obvious. Plus, each candidate is given too little time to articulate on the details which essentially are the only differentiation points, well except if you speak some Spanish :D.

They are where candidates are asked to strip down issues that are complicated and full of nuances to one or two word answers in about 10 seconds. I mean, what is really the point of the “what is the most existential threat to us?” question?

They are where candidates juggle from one serious issue to another in a span of seconds. I saw them talk about healthcare in one second and then the effect of environmental policies, food policies on our health in another. Or the focus was switched from jobs to immigration. If you are given 30 seconds to speak or so, the more topics are covered, the less depth there will be.

I don’t really have a solution to this. Personally, I don’t find anything of substance from the candidates from all these debates. It may be helpful to some who might learn a thing or two about the folks running for the Presidency, especially the less known. But given that the ones who spoke the most during the events spoke for 10 minutes, how much can you know about a person in 10 minutes? How much can you learn about loaded issues in 10 minutes?

On the other hand, how many of us actually spend time on their websites to read pages of documents on their proposals? How many of us spend time at their rallies or town halls to ask for specific details? I don’t blame the politicians. They are trying to do their job and be as popular as possible to a tough crowd.