Friday, June 29, 2007

Let's talk about journalism for a minute.

The Committee of Concerned Journalists has a Project for Excellence in Journalism that has defined the nine principles which should guide journalists in their quest to provide citizens with accurate and reliable information.

1. Journalism's first obligation is to the truth
2. Its first loyalty is to citizens
3. Its essence is a discipline of verification
4. Its practitioners must maintain an independence from those they cover
5. It must serve as an independent monitor of power
6. It must provide a forum for public criticism and compromise
7. It must strive to make the significant interesting and relevant
8. It must keep the news comprehensive and proportional
9. Its practitioners must be allowed to exercise their personal conscience

Dean Takahashi is a "journalist" at the San Jose Mercury-News.

He wrote a column recently about Who are the `New Influencers'
(It turns out they are bloggers - maybe I have hope after all!).

I placed quotes around the word journalist when I describe his occupation because at best I consider him a second-rate "journalist", since in my opinion he doesn't follow any of the journalistic principles listed above.

In my opinion, his recent blog entry on the need to increase the number of H-1B visas issued smells of strong industry influence (can you say ITAA?) and seems to be more of his opinion than fact or substance.

By the way, Dean, I hope you enjoyed the BJ that you got from Robert Hoffman of Oracle for writing this trash!

Here is a recent article Dean wrote that really got my blood boiling...

(The above link requires free sign-up to Mercury-News web site,
so the full text of his article is shown below...)

Takahashi: We need more Andy Groves, Vinod Khoslas - not fewer
By Dean Takahashi
Mercury News
San Jose Mercury News Article
Launched:05/24/2007 02:27:30 AM PDT

Seth Sternberg feels like he won the lottery. The chief executive officerof Web instant messenger firm Meebo in Palo Alto has spent many hourscoming up to speed on the H-1B visa program. In April, he and hisimmigration law consultants were finally able to secure H-1B visas for two employees in his 16-person firm.

But for every lucky winner, there are a lot of losers in the current immigration rules that govern how companies can bring temporary workersinto the United States to do highly skilled work. The current H-1B visa system is ridiculous and badly needs reform. The government should allow more technology geniuses into the country so that Silicon Valley and the nation can maintain leadership in technology.

The clearest sign of a dysfunctional H-1B system: The federal government received more than 130,000 applications in a single day for the 65,000 H-1B visa slots available for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. And the 65,000 lucky ones can't start work until Oct. 1.

We've heard for years that immigration reform is a priority in Washington,but only last week was there some progress. A number of H-1B bills have been introduced and the congressional leadership reached a deal last week with President Bush as part of a larger, controversial immigration package.The bills seek to nearly double the number of annual grants of H-1B visas, which are good for six years. The cap has been stuck at 65,000 for four years.

Immigration is a tough issue because it encompasses everything from national security to whether undocumented workers are taking jobs away from unemployed Americans. Nobody wants to address a piece of the problem without addressing the whole thing. The consequence for the U.S. tech industry has been a bureaucratic morass that keeps it from adapting to the realities of globalization.

The tech industry's main concern is the more narrow issue of how to deal with the
smaller group of immigrants whose skills are so scarce that they can do jobs for which there aren't enough similarly qualified U.S.citizens.

Sternberg is on the front line of this problem. His company, Meebo, which makes software that enables consumers to look at their instant messages no matter where they are, often has to make 100 screening phone calls just to find a candidate worth hiring. He has 13 open positions and has hired only two people recently. Last year, Sternberg hired a foreign worker but,without a visa, that worker had to work outside the country.

Good candidates are rare. Two-thirds of those getting electrical engineering doctorates in the United States are foreign nationals. Sternberg believes he should be able to hire candidates who are best qualified, regardless of where they live.

"It's incredible that, as the CEO of a company, I have had to become intimately familiar with the details of immigration law," Sternberg said.

CEOs of big companies, such as Mike Splinter at Applied Materials, say that every person who gets a doctorate ought to be entitled to a green card. Executives like Splinter and other tech leaders have joined together in lobbying groups such as "CompeteAmerica."

But Sternberg says that leaves out the very bright foreign students whohave lesser degrees but are brilliant. The proposal would ignore folks, like Bill Gates, who are technically smart but drop out of college.

Sternberg is willing to pay H-1B hires as much as equally qualified U.S.workers. That makes the H-1B hires more expensive due to relocation expenses and the costs of the lawyers needed to bring them here.

Beyond fixing the H-1B program, various tech lobby groups say the government should expand the number of training visas it gives to recent foreign graduates, give priority to spouses of H-1B visa holders, and expedite the processing of highly skilled immigrants applying for permanent residency. Those "green card" applicants have historically been at a disadvantage compared with those seeking family reunification. If the government were better at processing the green cards for skilled workers, companies wouldn't have to resort to H-1Bs, says Jenifer Verdery, director of workforce policy at Intel.

Some critics say H-1B hires displace American workers. At current levels, H-1B visa holders are 0.07 percent of the American workforce, and 57 percent of them have master's degrees or higher, according to the National Foundation for American Policy, a non-profit research group that favors expanding the H-1B program.

Some of the bills before Congress require companies to show that they have made good-faith efforts to hire Americans. And Sternberg says the government can use the IRS returns of H-1B visa recipients and other company employees to determine if the companies are underpaying the immigrants.

"It's critical that the government ensure that no one is cheating the system," Sternberg said.There are other things to criticize about the program, such as the high number of visas that wrongly go to overseas outsourcing firms. Overall, enforcement actions are on the decline and the outsourcing problem has been overblown, according to the NFAP. But if the U.S. can't produce enough engineers and we don't encourage the most talented tech workers to come tothis country, it will be at a disadvantage to other nations.

"America benefits by bringing talented people here who can make the country more competitive and create jobs for Americans," Sternberg says. "The more we have talented people, the better off our economy is."

If today's immigration laws were in effect decades ago, Silicon Valley probably wouldn't have the benefit of immigrants such as Intel's Andy Grove or venture capitalist Vinod Khosla. Would you say "no thanks" to them ifthey showed up on your doorstep?

Contact Dean Takahashi at or (408) 920-5739.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Jobs Americans Won't Do

Well the tidal wave of criticism against Bush and his pro-immigration, anti-american worker policies has hit. The Cohen & Grigsby video got pulled by an embarrased set of attourneys, but not before two Congressman got ahold of it and started the questions.

In the spirit of piling on, I'd like to list the "jobs that Americans won't do", you know, the ones that are outsourced and heavily insourced...

Financial Advisor
Legal analyst
Research lawyer

Construction worker

Of course, reality is that there are no jobs Americans won't do. There are just a lot of jobs that employers refuse to pay enough money to attract resident workers.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Its About Cheap Labor, Stupid

The cheap labor lobby and immigration lawyers are usually very, very careful to not actually say that "its about cheap labor." Every once-in-a-while, they slip up. Here is a quote from a video at a recent conference that reveals all:

And our goal is clearly not to find a qualified and interested U.S. worker. And you know in a sense that sounds funny, but it's what we're # trying to do here. We are complying with the law fully, but ah, our objective is to get this person a green card, and get through the labor certification process. So certainly we are not going to try to find a place [at which to advertise the job] where the applicants are the most numerous. We're going to try to find a place where we can comply with the law, and hoping, and likely, not to find qualified and interested worker applicants.

Thanks to Rob Sanchez for finding this and Norm Matloff for notifying us.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

A Very Rare Moment of Honesty

Vivek Wadhwa of Duke University was interviewed on Morning Edition today (4/30/07).

He says that the "US is far ahead by any milestone" when asked about the quality of U.S. engineering graduates versus those from India and China.

In a not-so-indirect way, he thus acknowledges that behind the scenes company executives admit that Americans are the more capable workers (just too expensive), that H-1B visa is all about cheap labor, that companies like Microsoft are definitely gaming the system with their claims of worker shortages.

He says that "outsourcing R&D jobs is not good for the USA".

In closing, when asked "if you were a tech entrepreneur (starting up a new company), what would you do differently?" , he indicated he would act in his company's best interest and get the cheapest labor at the best quality (i.e., he would offshore jobs).

"That's capitalism - the system rewards you for doing what's in your own interest. Bill Gates
interests as chairman of M$ are different than Bill Gates' interests as a philanthropist. He doesn't get paid to worry about US competitiveness and to worry about social issues as the chairman of M$".

(posted for AmericanProgrammer)

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Strange Bedfellows

As I have stated in a previous posting, not too long ago, I considered myself a liberal Democrat. My times have changed. Below is a citation of an article by Phyllis Schlafly. Now in my previous life, I considered her to the right of Atilla The Hun and would be embarassed to share anything in common with her. Now all I can say is that her article hits the issue dead on - I couldn't agree with her more. The political landscape is changing. Neither the Republicans or Democrats have a clue...

Tech Industry Has Ulterior Motive Regarding H-1B Visas
by Phyllis Schlafly
Posted Dec 18, 2006

The technology industry has dispatched its fat-wallet lobbyists to demand that the new Congress vastly increase the number of foreign computer software techies and engineers who can be imported on H-1B visas. This demand is based on the claim that we suffer a labor shortage in those fields, but that's a bare-faced lie to erect a smoke screen around the real reasons.

(follow link above for complete article)

Monday, June 04, 2007

Shame On You, NPR

Date : 5/24/2007 10:03:49 AM

Dear NPR,

A few minutes ago, I heard a piece on the "immigration reform" going on in Congress. You gave the ITAA, which represents most of the large corporations, a lot of airtime, giving their usual spin about "industry shortages". Anyone who spends at least a little time researching this subject is well aware of the "shortage shouting" that has occurred over the decade (yes, I said decade).

I am forced to conclude that you have either not done your homework, that you consider the corporate point-of-view as the be-all of the issue, or that you cant be bothered interviewing anyone on the other side of the issue, like Professor Norm Matloff, who might give your listeners something closer to the truth on the issue.

When the Republicans had control of Congress, the threatened to cut the funding to NPR. I was very vocal in defending you. Next time I think Ill just tell them to "go ahead and cut because itd make things better for everyone."

Very Disappointed,

Disgusted in Austin


NPR Services responds:

Thank you for contacting NPR's Morning Edition.We regret that our programming has not met your expectations. We strive to offer the highest quality of news and information available. Listener feedback helps us to accomplish this goal. We welcome praise, as well as criticism, and your thoughts will be taken into consideration. Thank you for listening to Morning Edition, and for your continued support of public broadcasting.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Message I sent this week to Robert Reich, Bill Clinton's former Secretary of Labor:

Sent: Thursday, May 31, 2007 9:09 AM
To: Robert Reich
Cc: Norm Matloff;
Subject: Econ 101 - Supply, demand . . . and an impending thud

Dr. Reich -
I listened with interest to your commentary on the U.S. market yesterday (30-May-2007) on the Marketplace program on NPR.
As you noted in your commentary:
"When the supply of something decreases while the demand for it stays up, its price rises."
Apparently basic economics must NOT be a factor when it comes to high-tech employment in the USA.
In the last few years, pay for IT professionals and engineers has NOT risen considerably - in fact, it has stayed flat or declined in terms of purchasing power, but the large American high-tech employers such as Intel and Microsoft keep shouting about so-called "shortages" of workers, lobbying Congress for unlimited H-1B visas.
Norm Matloff has written about this phenomenon on numerous occasions. He has also done considerable research that shows that the average H-1B worker makes at least 20 % less than a citizen or LPR in a similar job.
This must be covered in Econ 201...Do you care to comment publicly on this topic?

Reich's reply:

Dear Mr. xxxxxxx,
Please send me a citation to Norm Matloff's work.
Thank you.
Robert Reich

Dr Matloff''s response to Dr. Reich's inquiry:

H-1B is not about "innovation," this year's buzzword of choice by the
industry lobbyists. I strongly support bringing in "the best and the
brightest" from around the world, but they comprise only a tiny fraction
of the H-1Bs.

Instead, H-1B is used as cheap labor by virtually every U.S. tech firm,
large and small. That is what drives things.

For links to some of my writings on this issue, see

Norm Matloff

Hillary's Great Sellout

Until about three years ago, I was a Liberal Democrat. But that was before the Great Awakening. Now I consider myself an independent progressive. I cannot stand what the Republican party has become. I am repulsed by much of the Democratic party's stance on issues.

To wit: look at Hillary Clinton's stance on visas and offshoring. She recently announced her "innovation agenda," which is an industry buzzword for strongly supporting the industry's stance of "the more visas the better." Her adament support of companies like Tata Consulting is established, but thanks to an indiffernt press, not publicized much. Norm Matloff has written extensively about this.

I used to cheer for Hillary, when Bill was in the Whitehouse. Now she turns my stomach. If she is the Democratic candidate, then I'm staying home on election day.