SOFT MARKET

Posted in Quick Hits on April 2nd, 2013 by Ed

Over the years I've gotten the impression from the comments (particularly on audience participation-type posts) that a good number of regular readers work in what I'll inadequately and generically call "tech" – IT, electrical engineering, programming, and the like. Having zero experience in your field I need to rely on your guidance here, even though it may be anecdotal.

There are some points of debate on which I do not know the facts and therefore have no confidence in my opinion, yet one side of the argument so strongly reeks of bullshit that I become certain that I am right. And every time I hear someone argue that we need to let in more foreign workers on H1B visas to do Tech Stuff because there are not enough American workers who can do it, without seeing any data my immediate reaction is to call BS. "There are not enough Americans with the necessary skills" sounds to me like "There are not enough American workers willing to live five to an apartment and do this job for $22,000/year."

It's not as though American universities have a shortage of people in the STEM fields, and the quality of American education in these areas is supported by the fact that foreign – Russian, Indian, Chinese, etc. – students come to the US in droves to get college degrees. If people travel halfway around the world to go to Stanford and Harvard and Michigan and Georgia Tech, I find it really hard to believe that those universities produce Highly Skilled non-U.S. Citizen graduates but insufficiently skilled U.S. Citizen graduates. That makes…no sense. None.

I'm certainly not on some xenophobic soapbox here, upon which I am fighting to keep the foreign hordes away from our precious jobs. However, the basic argument parroted by the lobbyist tool CNN asked to write that column is illogical and implausible. He bandies about words like "innovation" as if the reason tech companies hire from Pakistan and China is that all of the world's best minds are there. It sounds a lot more like the industry's interest is in expanding the quasi-indentured servitude system that is the H1B program, which imports cheap foreign workers and works them like the rented mules that, contractually speaking, they are.