America still the land of opportunity

America is a true world country, made up of people from every other country. America is unique in its rapid acceptance of immigrants who are readily assimilated into the population with no stigma or ill will attached to their foreign origins, although perhaps Australia is not far behind America in  welcoming immigrants.

America has been enriched by immigrants who do everything from jobs most Americans spurn to achieving the highest levels of capability and productivity in the arts, sciences, and professions.

During a recent summer vacation automobile trip in California, this author met several bright and friendly young people who by their lives illustrate America’s continuing position as the land of opportunity.

In a small town on a highway between Los Angeles and Lake Tahoe, Susanna was working as a retail sales clerk in a drugstore. Susanna was born in Mexico, and brought by her parents to California at age twelve. Susanna was entering the local community college in the fall and planned to go on to work for a degree at a four year college.

In an isolated community of 800 people, one place of business was busy and operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is a combination Mobil gasoline station and convenience store. The proprietors are from the Punjab in extreme northwest India. The family lives in a home on the same property as the business. A son and daughter work in the business during summer vacations from school. The son, Navjot, attends a well-respected liberal arts and engineering college in Connecticut; his sister, Malkeet, is studying at a large state university in California.

Immigrants from the Indian sub-continent operate small businesses throughout America, in major cities, small towns, and out of the way spots on highways. Thirty-five miles down the highway from the Mobil station and convenience store there is a Shell Oil gasoline station, convenience store and fast food restaurant operated by immigrants from India.

In a restaurant in a mid-size city in California’s central valley, the author was offered coffee and a welcoming smile by Kristine, a young African-American woman of college age. Kristine is enrolled in the local community college. When asked about her plans for the future she smiled and said “onward and upward.” Specifically, she plans to continue her college education at the local branch of the state university system.

Patrick Soon-Shiong was born in South Africa to Chinese immigrant parents who fled to South Africa from Guangdong, China during World War II. Patrick graduated from medical school in South Africa and did his internship there. Subsequently, he moved to Vancouver, Canada where he earned the Master of Science degree and several prestigious awards for academic and medical excellence. Patrick moved on to America, where he trained in surgery at UCLA School of Medicine in Los Angeles, and became board certified in surgery. Patrick was on the faculty of UCLA Medical School for a number of years when he was still in his 30s. He is a highly acclaimed innovator of pioneering medical technologies, including use of nanotechnology for treatment of cancer. He founded and sold two multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical companies and then returned to UCLA Medical School as a professor of microbiology, immunology, molecular genetics, and bioengineering. Patrick is also a philanthropist whose charitable giving includes $135 million to St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica, California. America is lucky to have Patrick. He has done far more to benefit America and the whole world than is mentioned in this brief biographical sketch. 1

In 1956, Andrew Grove escaped from Hungary at the age of 20, during the 1956 uprising against communist rule. He moved to America. Soon after arriving in America Grove met his future wife, who was a fellow refugee. They met while he held a job as a busboy and she was a waitress. Grove earned advanced degrees in science at American universities. He was a pioneer in the development of semiconductor and microcircuit technology that drove the enormous growth of the computer industry. At age 32 Grove joined the founders of Intel Corporation where at first he was director of engineering and eventually became president, CEO, and Chairman of the Board of Directors. Grove helped Intel become the world’s largest manufacturer of semiconductors. 2

Andrew J. Galambos, whose ideas inspire this website, was also an immigrant. His parents brought him to America from Budapest, Hungary, when Andrew was two years old. He earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in physics, taught physics and mathematics in several colleges, and in 1961, operating under the name “The Free Enterprise Institute,” established himself as a teacher of freedom and science. The market for Galambos’ lectures and ideas grew to 20,000 people due to their originality and illuminating content  and due also to the presentations of the lectures by Galambos’ able colleague, Jay Snelson. 3





  1. For more on Patrick, see Wikipedia, Patrick Soon-Shiang,
  2. See Wikipedia, Andrew Grove,
  3. For more about the career of Andrew J. Galambos see and Wikipedia, Andrew Joseph Galambos,
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2 Responses to America still the land of opportunity

  1. Richard Boren says:

    These are outstanding examples of what’s still right in America. When I encounter folks like this I always say, “Welcome to America,” even though they may have been here for many years. I think they understand my meaning.

    • fgmarks says:

      Dear Richard: There is a whole lot more that is still right about America, for example enterprising parents who home school their children rather than settle for public education that is mediocre or worse; the infrastructure built up over the past two centuries that we all tend to take for granted, for example utilities (electricity, water and gas); a large percentage of Americans who understand intuitively that it is private initiative not the state that made America the freest and most prosperous country in the world, etc. It is these characteristics that make America a land of opportunity and attract people from other countries.

      There is more that is right about America, but rather than write another essay, here are just a few examples. In the musical arts America is now home to some of the finest symphony orchestras in the world, some of the leading performing artists, and music conservatories that are the among the best if not the best in the world. In science, institutions such as the California Institute of Technology and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are among the best in the world, if not the best. In the clinical practice of medicine, nowhere else in the world will one find anything to rival the Mayo Clinic and the Cleveland Clinic. As illustrated by the careers of Andrew Grove and Patrick Soon-Chiang, the science and business culture of America is more likely to foster innovation than that of any other country. In aggregate, Americans are by far the most generous people in the world in terms of charitable and philanthropic giving.

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