Written May 15, 2012     
 

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© 2014 Bob Lonsberry

 
 
ABOUT THE INDIAN GUY AT THE MOTEL

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Gujarat is a state in the west of India, home to the Gujarati people, some 60 million of them, who speak their own language and have their own history.

Mahatma Gandhi was born there.

And so was the guy who runs the motel in your town.

Odds are, at any rate.

In the United States, some 40 percent of all the hotels and motels are owned by Indians – almost all of them from Gujarat. Among American economy motels, specifically, more than half the owners are Gujarati.

There is something called the Asian-American Hotel Owners Association. It is a powerful professional group with more than 10,000 members. Some 90 percent of those members have the same last name – Patel – a name dominant in Gujarat.

Which raises the question: How did Indians, particularly from one relatively small region of India, come to dominate the American lodging industry?

The answer, in short: Hard work.

About 30 years ago, Gujarati began immigrating to the United States. They typically brought with them the clothes on their back and an ancestral work ethic.

They also carried the desire to be the boss, to be business owners, to not be another man’s employee. Like generations of previous immigrants, they carried an American dream of their own creation and distinctive bent.

Coincidentally, about 30 years ago, there was a downturn in the American motel industry. Low-end motels were hard work and offered limited return, and owners were eager to get out of them.

A handful of Gujarati stumbled across this opportunity. The motels could be had for almost nothing up front, and they came with housing for the immigrant family. And that immigrant family provided a round-the-clock workforce. It was incredibly hard and endless work, but the efforts of the immigrants were up to the task, and these first few families found first a living, and then success.

And they told their friends.

And they expanded, by buying more motels, and by moving up the economic ladder to larger and nicer motels and hotels.

Back home, as others sought to emigrate to the United States, word of success in the lodging industry spread, and newcomers replicated that success, finding for themselves motel opportunities.

Interestingly, these people came with almost no money. And they came with no background whatsoever in the lodging or hospitality industries. All they brought was a willingness to embrace any opportunity and to work hard to make it a success.

And they have done that.

In something between 20 and 30 years, Indians – who are about 1 percent of the American population – have come to dominate this industry. They have built solid lives for themselves and their employees, and their children have gone on to be educated and move into the professions.

It is a stunning success story.

It is a reminder of the potential prosperity of immigrants who go to work instead of to the welfare office.

It is proof of the continued vigor and opportunity of the American economy and the free-enterprise system.

It is the American way proven again by newcomers’ hands.

But it is more than that.

It is also something of an indictment of native-born Americans who have lingered in poverty and government dependence.

Part of the horrific welfare plague is the curse of idleness it imposes on recipients. The slavery of dependence takes initiative from people, and strips them of the instinct of self-reliance. They become good at nothing, and particularly good at doing nothing.

And with the cloak of entitlement drawn over their eyes, they fail to see liberating opportunity, they become unwilling to do the backbreaking work necessary to lift themselves out of their circumstances.

When the first few dozen essentially penniless Gujarati discovered the opportunity of the then-dying motel business, there were tens of millions of native-born Americans, food stamps in hand, who were blind to the opportunity around them. While the newly arrived Indians worked day and night, the entitled Americans kept drawing a check, and now that the Gujarati children are successful business people and college graduates, the dependent Americans wallow in the mire of another generation of welfare shame.

The moral of this story?

Good for them, and shame on us.

It doesn’t matter where you’re from, it matters how you live. You get out of life in proportion to what you put in.

These Indians have been better Americans that some of us who were born here. They have lived closer to our traditional values, and their choices have been truer to our heritage.

Sadly, some of us will resent them.

Instead of emulate them.

We will curse them for their success, rather than do what is necessary to find success ourselves.

It is not foreign invasion which threatens America, it is internal decay. Few things foster that internal decay more than entitlement and government dependence.

And we will either realize that, and do something about it, or we will perish.


- by Bob Lonsberry © 2012

   
        
   
 
    

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