Thursday, February 15, 2007

Rising Above the Gathering Storm

Here is a public response I made to the Committee of Science and Technology of the US House of Representatives concerning their recently released report at

I read the report "Rising Above the Gathering Storm" and had some observations to add.

1. Many of the recommendations do indeed support the need for "high quality, knowledge-intensive jobs." This is where we agree.

2. The list of consulted experts include academia, government, and captains of industry. Nice try, but this group omits the largest group involved in this issue - the science and technology workers themselves. What makes you think that this blue ribbon panel provides such a diverse base to draw on? All three groups typically align on policy issues. Why don't you try looking for some grassroots representation - or would this irritate the corporate representatives too much?

3. In the exhaustive list of criteria that multinational corporations use in determining where to locate, you left off one of the biggest factors. How can such a group that is so thorough make such a mistake? How about the criteria of environmentally restrictive laws? For energy companies, this may be the biggest factor of all. Take a look at Shell Oil and what's happening in Nigeria for a striking example of this.

4. Recommendation A-1 is aimed at "attracting 10,000 teachers". I would say that all the establishment of grants and such are really secondary efforts. How about making sure that there is a viable job market for future teachers. How does the importation of thousands of teachers from the Phillipines (because they speak English) and the resulting depression of wages and unemployment of existing teachers give aspirants confidence that this is a good field to work in?

5. Recommendation C aims to "retain the best and brightest in the US and in the world." Wake up and smell the coffee. The US economy is no longer, and may never be again, the premier economy to work in. Economies like India and China are booming with high rates of growth due to the substantial outsourcing of jobs from the US to there. Why would someone educated here stay if they can work back home where family, friends, and culture reside?

6. Recommendation C-6, advocating an increase the H1-B visa, is the most disengenuous recommendation. These visas are typically wolfed down by industry, hitting caps early in the year. These are prized for providing a source of cheap labor for corporations. These are not ability-based at all. Upping the limit by 10,000 will do nothing to alleviate any shortage of science and technology workers.

In fact, there is no shortage, today at least. If there were, the unemployment rate in these areas would be zero. If you would like a detailed analysis of this topic, just look up Professor Norm Matloff of UC-Davis. He makes the strong case on many fronts that these visas do not typically attract "the best and brightest." I would strongly recommend that you focus efforts on luring, attracting, and employing existing citizens and permanent residents.

7. Captain of Industry, quote #1: “We go where the smart people are. Now our business operations are two-thirds in the U.S. and one-third overseas. But that ratio will flip over the next 10 years.” –Intel spokesman Howard High. This is the standard industry line. In fact, what he means is, "we go where we can get reasonable performance and the cheapest cost. If there are any negative social consequences to the US for this policy, too bad."

8. Captain of Industry, quote #2: “When I compare our high schools to what I see when I’m traveling abroad, I am terrified for our workforce of tomorrow.” –Bill Gates, Chairman and Chief Software Architect of Microsoft Corporation. This is a really rich comment. Mr. Gates ran around the country telling kids to stay in school and go into high tech and then turned around and used his substantial lobbying efforts to get the SKIL bill introduced into Congress. This bill will be instrumental in busting the science and technology job market, ensuring that kids today will become shoe salesmen and restaurant workers.

The very common, and tired industry theme is to mix up two problems to help confuse people. Demand low wage workers today, but blame it on tomorrow's education problem.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Friends of India Redux

As alluded to in an earlier post, the Friends of India is a congressional caucus designed to further the needs of Indian businesses at the expense of citizen and resident workers here. The chief troublemaker is our own Sen. John Cornyn. His main assistant is... (drum roll)... Hillary Clinton. That's right, this is not a Republican vs Democrat issue. All politicians are equally for sale. Clinton is the co-chair. There are other notables too - Kennedy and Lieberman come to mind. In fact, many members of the Senate are falling all over themselves to help Indian businesses displace workers here.

For the "official," "sanitized" description of the caucus, see For a more realistic point-of-view, see