In my public school, “ethnic diversity” meant having some kids with Irish names in my class. An “international potluck dinner” meant that someone’s mom cooked spaghetti.
Today, immigration has changed the country. A typical street in New York may be more likely to have a Malaysian restaurant than it is to have a traditional German restaurant. Everyone knows that New York is a cosmopolitan place, but I also see plenty of Indian and Pakistan groceries when I go home to see my parents in Kansas City.
Some people have been e-mailing me lately to ask questions along the lines of, “How do I bring my parents here to State X in the United States from Country Y?”
Eventually, I will figure out the right people to ask. So far, it’s been difficult.
Of course: Many people here are furious about the idea of jealous moochers from overseas crowding into the United States to eat from the public trough here. I’m not talking about that.
I’m talking about nice, responsible, educated, solvent thirty-something and forty-something workers who come from markets with pretty good social welfare benefits that probably absorb about as many workers from the United States as we get from them: France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, etc.
We already have tax treaties with those countries that somehow help people who split their careers between rich countries get payroll-tax-funded post-retirement income somewhere.
What we don’t have is a great way for healthy pre-retirees outside the United States to insure against the risk that they might want to move to the United States — the land of sky-high health care bills — and have acute care health insurance, in retirement, at a time when they might have health problems.