Who's Counting: Double Deficits

6. There are signs, however, that other nations are getting tired of this and we may need to induce them to continue doing so by making it easier and more attractive for their students and professionals to come here. But we're doing just the opposite. We're making it increasingly difficult for foreign nationals to obtain visas while foreign universities and corporations are becoming increasingly attractive to them. This past year, for example, foreign applications to American graduate schools were down almost 30 percent. The global education market is not working smoothly because we're making it harder for human capital to enter the country. If we don't produce more scientists and engineers or get them from other countries, we'll soon be in trouble.

But there is some good international news too. Our students and our treasury officials score among the highest in the world in self-esteem and self-regard.

-- Professor of mathematics at Temple University, John Allen Paulos is the author of best-selling books, including Innumeracy and A Mathematician Plays the Stock Market. His Who's Counting? column on ABCNEWS.com appears the first weekend of every month.

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