Your Lying Eyes

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18 October 2008

H1-B Visas - Another Perspective?

H1-B visas are, as you know, filled at the request of businesses looking for particular skills they're having trouble finding domestically. Big tech companies, like Microsoft, are constantly haranguing for more of these, but when you look at their actual requests, they seem like fairly run-of-the-mill systems jobs, and maybe these companies are really just looking for cheap - as opposed to unique - talent.

But there might be another angle to it I hadn't thought of or heard before. In the NY Times' latest effort in its indefatigable mission to enlighten the world on the infinite wonderfulness that is Obama, they "contrast" the candidates approaches to spurring technological innovation (and of course you'll never guess which candidate's positions are flawless, supported by all the smartest people, and unfailingly prescient). But what struck me was a discussion of the topic in Obama's book "The Audacity of Hope":
Many of the engineers Mr. Obama met at Google were from Asia or Eastern Europe. “As far as I could tell, not one was black or Latino,” he wrote. His guide told him that finding American-born engineers of any race was getting so hard that American companies were setting up shop abroad, in part for access to talent. [EA]
Let's imagine, for a moment, in place of Obama's observations, there is the EEOC reviewing employment records. Doesn't it sound a lot easier to just throw up your hands and claim "we can't find any qualified Americans" than to explain why you've hired only certain Americans?


Blogger Black Sea said...

The point missed, or evaded, by those taking the "jobs Americans can't/won't do" approach, is that immigration reshapes the labor markets in ways that make it less attractive for Americans to take those jobs. (I realize I'm belabouring the obvious, but humor me . . . .)

I have read - or been told - that one reason fewer American engineers pursue graduate degrees is because there is a dwindling economic incentive for doing so. The pay differential for someone with a Masters vs. a four-year degree isn't that great.

Why isn't it greater? Because you've got a steady supply of people who are eager to come to the US, live on a grad students stipend, and earn their Masters or PhD as a means to a Green Card, and maybe someday a blue passport. These people are eager to take a job in either a US university or the private sector for about the same as an American with a Bachelors degree would make.

I'm not arguing here the merits of letting such people in, since no doubt they contribute quite a bit to the US economy. I'm just saying that the system suppresses wages for people with such degrees by increasing the supply, particularly among those who have little shot at working in the US until and unless they earn that graduate degree.

Again, from what I've read and heard, this is particularly pronounced among computer programers. People with a talent for the job avoid it because of its instability, the short shelf life of the knowledge, and the fact that they will wind up competing against Indians, Ukranians, and God-knows-who-else for jobs paying around $50,000 a year.

Every action produces an equal and opposite reaction. There are all sorts of jobs that Americans can't/won't do, that they could/would do for more money.

October 19, 2008 9:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Every action produces an equal and opposite reaction. There are all sorts of jobs that Americans can't/won't do, that they could/would do for more money

Look at the meat packing industry. People(black and white Americans who put kids through college) made good money at that. But you know the rest of the story. Chickens are coming home to roost pretty soon, so it behoves all of us to be prepared.

October 19, 2008 12:06 PM  
Blogger C. Van Carter said...

Good insight.

October 19, 2008 4:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

These comments are right on the mark.

A couple of old friends, whom I like and respect, Jeff and Calvin, had IT degrees. They went to school for years to get them.

They dont even work in computers anymore. The money just isnt' good enough. Both of them own little landscaping businesses. They actually work with their employees at times. This means they can sometimes be found riding lawnmowers. Four years of college to do what?????

They make more money with the little businesses they've started than they did for Dell. You can imagine what their opinion of Dell is.

The knowledge that the computer business imports so much labor is isn't a secret out there, so many many many kids who are good with computers intuitively simply avoid getting into IT because they know their wages will be held down by all the foreign-IMPORTED competition. The labor "shortage" decried by the cheap-labor management lobby becomes a self-fufilling prophecy.

October 19, 2008 11:21 PM  
Blogger Steve Sailer said...

Kind of like the "nurse shortage" that I've been reading about in the newspapers since the early 1970s.

Funny how you never read about a "newspaper editor shortage."

October 25, 2008 3:43 AM  

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