Was the greatest contribution to American prosperity the resettling of refugees?

Andrew Grove died yesterday. From the New York Times obituary, the former Intel engineer and chief was “chosen Man of the Year by Time magazine as the person most responsible for the amazing growth in the power and the innovative potential of microchips” and was “in some ways was considered ‘the father’ of Silicon Valley”.

He was also a refugee. I saw him speak a few years ago, at an International Rescue Committee dinner. IRC resettled Grove’s family in the United States in the 1950s, after he survived the Nazi Holocaust and fled the Soviet invasion of his home country, Hungary. He was poor and sick and spoke no English when he arrived.

It occurred to me then: this one act of resettling one refugee may have created more prosperity for America than any other private decision in the past century. It’s at least a contender.

And that’s not even the right reason the Americas and Europe should welcome more refugees. To see what I mean, watch this video:

60 thoughts on “Was the greatest contribution to American prosperity the resettling of refugees?

  1. It’s an appealing idea, but (Time’s need to pick individuals notwithstanding) I think the history of parallel inventions suggests few single people matter all that much.

    Refugees en masse, and refugee policy, on the other hand, sure.

  2. Hi Chris,
    Longtime follower, first time commenter. The organization I have worked with for 10 years, HIAS, resettled the family of Sergey Brin from the former USSR. You may recognize the name: He’s google’s co-founder. He once said something along the lines of, “If there was no HIAS, there would be no google.” As a staunch supporter of the US Refugee Admissions Program, I cannot begin to list the number of contributions refugees like Brin and Grove have made to the U.S. It could be a fun project to put a monetary figure on it.

  3. Jews are not Arabs. There are virtually no smart people, either genetically or environmentally, among the current wave of migrants. And are you a natalist? Shouldn’t you be encouraging natalism for Jews in America?

    And no, the greatest contribution to American prosperity was actually fossil fuels.

    Given the recent Brussels attack, I say refugees not welcome. Donald Trump’s call for a temporary shutdown on Muslim immigration until the authorities can find out what’s going on keeps looking better and better every day.

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