Let’s discuss a proposal. Imagine a scenario where droit de seigneur was the law of the land. This, of course, granting chieftains carnal access to the daughters of their feudal serfs. For purposes of inclusivity, and anticipation of a Graham presidency, we’ll extend that access to their sons as well. Is that a good program or bad? Is it multicultural, tolerant, and diverse…or hateful, bigoted, and divisive? Obviously none of these terms bear any objective meaning, but rather are rhetorical cow prods used to usher stupefied human livestock into the abattoir.
But on the presumption we would all think ill of this program because it excludes homosexual accomodations, would it be rational to say “we should fix the flaws that allow our virgins to be exploited?” No it would not. Because exploiting virgins is its entire reason for being. Thus one either embraces virgin exploitation or shutters droit de seigneur wholesale.
That was the working logic in considering this piece on the H1B program. The article strikes an oppositional posture, but concludes with a call to “fix” the program that “exploits workers.” Unfortunately any fix that resolves this concern effectively dissolves the program. For that is its sole purpose.
Corporate lobbyists have convinced legislators of both parties that America needs more guest workers in high-tech jobs. Leading the charge in Congress to do their bidding is Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, who has introduced legislation to double or triple the number of non-immigrant tech workers who can be hired annually on H-1B visas. But his proposal won’t fix the H-1B program’s flaws, which allow American and foreign workers alike to be exploited and underpaid.
A program that brings skilled, smart people from abroad to work in the United States can be a very good thing — but only if it’s done fairly, and after giving U.S. workers a chance to be hired. Sen. Ben Nelson, D-Fla., wrote recently that the H-1B program “was created to help fill jobs when there were labor shortages, not to take jobs away from anyone.” The reality is that employers aren’t required to search for or offer jobs to U.S. workers first, and the H-1B program has been used repeatedly by corporations to fire and replace skilled and educated U.S. workers with cheaper, indentured, temporary foreign workers. This is done to increase corporate profits, but it’s at the expense of the livelihoods of thousands of American workers.
No it can not be “a very good thing.” And the writer makes no attempt to craft a position otherwise. H1b was not “created to help fill jobs when there were labor shortages,” because there are no labor shortages in America. There are rather corporations loathe to pay workers a domestic market compensation. Because I can find no one to unclog my toilets for .57 cents does not indicate a dearth of plumbers.
We could pause perpetually as if in amber waiting for the chamber of commerce to offer metrics by which this mythical labor shortage may be evaluated. Is it high occupational compensation? If so, what explains the mass importation of agricultural and chicken processing labor? Is it low employment costs? Then why the demands for software and IT personnel replacement? The answer is that our only labor shortage is one of men willing to push the truth past their lips. This matched by an equivalent glut of eagerly credulous dupes. Though if high costs signal the need for replacement hindus, few occupations are thinner than CEO. One that comes to mind is US Congressman. Senator Nelson previously voted to increase the program he now shamelessly questions. Surely Floridians can secure a foreign source of public mendacity for less than the $174,000 they are now paying Nelson.
…the American public is getting a glimpse of the H-1B’s primary purpose. Recent, egregious examples took place at Disney and Southern California Edison (SCE) — two companies that earned billions in profits last year — where hundreds of information technology workers were laid off and replaced with H-1Bs. But first, the U.S. employees were required to train the H-1B workers who would soon be sitting at their desks, doing their jobs.
How do corporations benefit from this? Major savings: Many of the workers laid off at Disney and SCE earned $100,000 a year or more. Government data indicate the H-1B workers replacing them earn around $60,000.
The companies that usually do the actual replacement — offshore outsourcing firms like HCL, Infosys and Tata — are the top recipients of H-1B visas, and get about half the allotted visas every year. Their business model is based on replacing U.S. workers and shifting jobs overseas. Their clients that replaced U.S. employees with guest workers include companies like Fossil, Pfizer, Northeast Utilities, Harley Davidson and Cargill.
Instead of expanding the H-1B program, Hatch should work to fix it, to prevent the kinds of abuses that occurred at Disney. The law should be changed so that it’s illegal to replace U.S. workers with H-1Bs. Employers should be required to recruit and hire qualified U.S. workers before hiring an H-1B, and be required to pay their H-1B workers no less than the true local average wage for the jobs they fill. Requiring a higher wage would be even better, because it would ensure that employers use the H-1B only when they can’t find local talent, and to hire highly skilled individuals that complement and add value to the workforce, rather than as a way to cut labor costs.
Requiring a (much) higher wage than prevailing domestic rates would stanch a great deal of the program’s lascivious corporate appeal. Though it would remain an insufficient response for two reasons: 1) High compensation attracts top intelligence into a field. If STEM pays well then many more bright young Americans will pursue STEM. If however H1b can be used as a cap, the inducement will be dramatically lessened. This perversely creating the “shortage” corporations will subsequently beg venal politicians to remedy…with more H1Bs. 2) Corporations are not good-faith actors. The video below (courtesy of MPC) almost defies belief. In it a law firm counsels business clients on how to circumvent visa restrictions in order to ensure no Americans are inadvertently hired.
Perhaps what most amazes me is the elite’s myopia. The notion that their own mean-reverted posterity won’t suffer for the treason and solipsism of their forebears never seems to dawn. That a future droit de seigneur could come calling for daddy’s little princess with a menace and majority simply escapes their contemplation. I suppose only the urine on their graves will serve as an indication.