Startup Act 2.0 Will Make Sure the Next Google is Made in America

We’ve got to get America beyond Ellis Island: America needs people, but not just the tired, poor, and huddled immigrants referenced by Lady Liberty. Though we are a nation of immigrants, the American 20th and 21st century success means that we must find a way to attract the creme-da-la-creme to start businesses in America.

The proposed Startup Act 2.0 puts America on the right path to attracting just that. The Act, introduced Tuesday as a bipartisan effort by Senators Jerry Moran, Mark Warner, Marco Rubio, and Chris Coons, is designed to help America regain the edge in attracting top entrepreneurs.

As the bill’s authors state, “Research has shown that for close to three decades, companies less than five years old have created almost all of the net new jobs in America—averaging about 3 million jobs each year. ”

As other nations develop, it is increasingly necessary for America to retain its edge by creating the best new businesses. However, as an entrepreneur, academic, and friend, I have heard way too many horror stories about highly intelligent individuals, many of whom have been educated in America, being unable to remain in America after graduation.

America has a dearth of engineers. Our science and math education system is pathetic in relation to the rest of the world. And we have skilled labor jobs that need to be filled. The only way for America to thrive in the future is to retain the undergraduate and postgraduate students who have thrived in this country. What if Sergey Brin had to start Google in Russia? Then America would have far fewer jobs, fewer tax revenues, and less dominance over the Internet industry, not to mention less knowledge. (As Forbes wrote, immigrants make great entrepreneurs.) But the reality is that many awesome American-educated entrepreneurs are returning home.

The Startup Act 2.0 is a solid first step to halt this brain drain. One strong feature of the bill is that it “eliminates the per-country numerical limitation for employment-based immigrant visas and adjusts the limitations on family-based visa petitions from 7 percent per country to 15 percent without increasing the total number of available immigrant visas.” This will help America retain Chinese and Indian talent. Immigrants from these countries with large populations are currently getting an unfair shake, so many are returning home to start their businesses.

While there may be some backlash from academic purists, I strongly support the bill’s provision to assist universities by providing “federal funding for research and development to support innovative initiatives at American universities to accelerate and improve the commercialization of taxpayer-funded research. Grants will be awarded to universities pursuing specific initiatives to improve commercialization capacity and to assist universities that want to pursue initiatives that allow faculty to directly commercialize the research.”

Hopefully, these subsidies will enable institutions to incubate businesses while also fostering competition in various markets. While I understand that it may be deemed unfair for some universities to receive funding at the expense of others, so long as jobs are created from the companies that are emerge, America should come out ahead. I view this tactic as particularly helpful when countries like China are directly subsidizing industries to the detriment of American producers, as the American solar sector experienced. (One must note that many Chinese companies are run by “sea turtles,” or Chinese citizens who were educated in America and then returned home.)

Even though both chambers of Congress passed the JOBS Act that was then signed into law by President Obama, this Congress has a poor track record for passing meaningful legislation. Let’s hope that neither party tries to derail this unique bipartisan effort. And if any lawmaker does, may he/she pay with his/her own job this November.

On a personal note, thank you from the bottom of my heart to the authors of this bill who have decided to call it the Startup Act 2.0 rather than the Start-up Act 2.0. That unnecessary hyphen is probably costing the American economy $25 million annually.


Dharun Ravi’s 30-Day Sentence is Appropriate in Tyler Clementi Webcam Case

Two months ago, I wrote an article for PolicyMic explaining why Dharun Ravi (whose actions as an 18-year-old college freshman indirectly led to the suicide of his roommate Tyler Clementi,) had acted immaturely but did not deserve a multi-year jail sentence. Though soon after my piece was published a jury found Ravi guilty of invasion of privacy, bias intimidation, witness tampering, and hindering arrest, today, Judge Glenn Berman sentenced Ravi to 30 days in prison: a sentence that I believe is fair for the crimes that Ravi committed.

This case sets an important precedent: bullying should not be tolerated, but the American justice system is reasonable and provides punishments in accordance with convictions.

That Ravi, a green card holder but not an American, potentially faced 10 years in prison and deportation to India (where he has not lived since he was a baby) is an interesting twist to this case.

As Ravi’s father read to the court in a prepared statement, “For the past 20 months a history has been in the making and we have witnessed several chapters of vengeful, malicious, selective prosecution filled with lies and injustice. Now it is time for the final chapter, honorable judge we all know you have the power and final say but please show heart today, to make sure the last chapter is all about truth, justice and preserve the sanctity of American judicial system which is widely believed to be the best in the world. Our judicial system advocates “Presumption of Innocence.” Probably this is one of the cases that violates that golden rule, where Dharun was first found guilty, followed by case build up, a trial and here we are waiting for sentencing. In addition, he was convicted of Bias Intimidation under a “muddled law” as described by yourself. Your honor, with your actions please ensure the final chapter of this sad story end on a good note and not the beginning of ‘American nightmare.'”

I can think of dozens of people who I have known that likely would act in a similar fashion to Ravi if they discovered that their roommate was sleeping with an older man in their room. While Ravi’s tech skills may have set him apart, his use of social media to out his roommate is just a modern iteration of an age-old problem.

Perhaps one reason for Ravi’s immature behavior is a lack of education prior to entering Rutgers: while growing up on Long Island, I learned quite a bit about STDs, psychological disorders, drug dangers, and sexual health. However, homosexuality was never something that was brought up during my elementary, middle, or high school health classes. I learned everything I know about homosexuality by having gay friends and family members (as well as the public debates over gays in the military and celebrity sagas). I presume that if public schools in the New York suburbs aren’t teaching kids about homosexuality, this lack of education is likely just as bad in other places throughout America.

But times are changing. As Brian Stelter recently wrote in the New York Times, through television shows like Modern Family and Glee, America has become more accepting of homosexuality. Strong public efforts to encourage people to accept homosexuality, such as Dan Savage’s “It Gets Better Campaign” also help to make homosexuality more widely understood.

The outcome of Ravi case answers the question, “Are you your roommate’s keeper?” The answer is no. No matter how many college shenanigans take place, individuals are responsible for their own actions. However, it is the responsibility of institutions and communities to ensure that individuals have the resources necessary to escape dire situations like Clementi’s.

Though I imagine it was part of Ravi’s legal strategy, I am still disappointed that he did not say sorry to Clementi. As Judge Bermann said, “I heard this jury say guilty 288 times, and I haven’t heard you apologize once.”