So Bill Gates says we should eliminate the annual H-1B caps while improving K-12 education in the United States, as Richard Wallace relates in his May 2 opinion piece ("Mr. Bush, tear down this wall," page 4). I think our education system is working; young people have figured out that the engineering profession is being turned from a highly valued profession into a commodity, and they are applying their skills elsewhere. Better to be a business graduate and hire people to build a product than to be the person trying to do the work.
I also doubt that the U.S. is reaching the stages of isolationism that preceded and followed the Second World War. While capital may know no bounds, countries still exist, and their citizens have the right to expect that the laws will be obeyed. We haven't reached the Star Trek "one world" model yet. Immigration reform is needed, and it needs to consider not just the university grads but all who want to come to America. Who makes a greater contribution to our country: the noncitizen serving in our armed forces who makes the ultimate sacrifice, or the noncitizen engineer working for a startup?
I've been in this business for a long time, and the cry of impending shortages seems to appear every few years. Then it's followed by layoffs and downsizing. At the rate we're going, engineering in this country will likely be narrowly focused, i.e., on utilities, telecom and defense-related work. All other positions will be outsourced or held by visa holders (H-1B or L-1).
Want to attract people to engineering? Lifting H-1B caps won't do it.
The Boeing Co.
I am confident that during the 2004 election, Mr. Wallace joined the liberal rancor over the perceived crisis in exportation of technical jobs. Now, he's laying the H-1B issue at the feet of the president. Surely, H-1B is a topic worthy of discussion-although I suspect that a majority of your working-engineer readers are less than anxious to compete with an ever-increasing number of foreign engineers.
But how does gratuitous sarcasm about "the second coming of isolationism, a misguided preemptive military-strike policy and a Monkey Trial educational agenda" add to the discussion?
N. Rick Dawson
Chief Technology Officer
Tel-Tron Technologies Corp.
Daytona Beach, Fla.
I do not necessarily disagree with Mr. Wallace's viewpoint in his article about H-1B visa, but I do disagree that any group, religious or otherwise, should be ridiculed and attacked in EE Times. Obviously, Mr. Wallace has a disagreement with those he calls "right-wing religionistas." Perhaps in the future he can choose a more appropriate forum and less offensive language to express his views.
Colorado Springs, Colo.
I am reminded of the moral dilemma that Albert Einstein faced during World War II, when he discovered that huge amounts of energy could be unleashed in the form of an atomic weapon. The dilemma for him was not if the technology could be developed, but whether it should be. There are analogies in the issues of offshoring and the relaxation of H-1B caps-but the frightening part, in this case, is that I don't believe many corporate CEOs are struggling with the moral implications or even see the situation as a moral dilemma. On the contrary, corporate leaders are blinded by greed. Meanwhile, I don't believe there is any concerted effort by government or industry leaders to preserve engineering jobs in the U.S., and certainly the vestigial IEEE doesn't help either.
Many U.S. CEOs are mainly concerned with quarter-to-quarter performance. There's no allegiance to the American worker or to the strength and security of our nation. The alliance being formed with China is constantly touted, while many seem to forget (conveniently, I might add) that China's communist government is oppressive to its people.
We've already seen this pattern in the near-destruction of America's farming, steel, textile and auto industries. As an American engineer with 25 years in the industry, I'd like to know what message the corporate leaders are sending to people like me: Take a pay cut? Retrain?
Government leaders and CEOs are selling out our technological edge for short-sighted greed.
Michael J. Gambuzza
Staff Component Design Engineer