It's time we greatly increased H1-B visas, at least for certain jobs.
I rarely address the subject of H1-B visas as passions run high. Some argue we need more engineers and the H1-B program is the fastest way to bring talent here. The IEEE and ACM seem to agree (at least by their actions) that there is a shortage; they have been running major outreach programs targeted at getting more youngsters into this field.
Others feel companies manipulate the visas to cut costs. They argue that engineering salaries have been somewhat stagnant, and the laws of supply and demand would drive wages up if there's a real shortage. And it's a certainty that companies are required to maximize shareholder value, in part by keeping payroll costs down. At least within the rule of law, and no one doubts that every company scrupulously obeys each and every provision of the legal code.
A third line of reasoning bemoans what appears to be an increasingly feudal employment system. Walmart employees are paid so little they can only shop at Walmart. Even staunchly-pro-capitalism publications like The American Conservative have recently argued for a minimum wage hike to break this cycle. US engineers make a lot more than either the current or any proposed minimum wage, but some feel the depressed H1-B salaries creates a downward pressure on all of our incomes.
But there's a great reason to argue for more H1-Bs. At least for sexist pigs.
According to this Businessweek article the visa program also brings in a certain number of desperately-needed fashion models. You may not have realized we're facing a critical shortage of models, but it appears wise members of Congress have studied this problem in great detail, responding with a Huge Federal Program to insure the nation continues to be competitive on the runways of the world. In a surprising interview(1) General Buck Turgidson reported both China and Russia have "at least" four fashion models, and two supermodels, for each one here in the United States.
(1) One that I just made up
Wow. It's difficult to find a way to respond to this. I will admit that industries other than science and engineering do have a place in society, but science and technology build our future. Modeling, I guess, helps sell clothes, probably made outside of the U.S. That's nice for those workers, but I don't think that's what the H1-B program is supposed to do.
Whether you think the H1-B program is abused to lower engineering wages or not, it's difficult to argue against the fact that this country was built by immigrants. The vast majority of our ancestors came from someplace else and if you look through the ranks of inventors and industrialists, I would think that an even higher percentage than the general population were immigrants, or children of immigrants.
But not much of what has made this country such an economic force has come from the modeling industry.
Yes, but those female models are so very cute, I think I would vote for increase in H1-B's if there is indeed a shortage :-)
Of course, being a nerd, alas, I'll only be able to admire them in magazines :-(
I suppose Jack wants to make a joke out of the engineering employment situation, anyone who argues that the current situation is unfair is a sexist pig or something.
Only in America is anyone who decries the wage abuse of immigrants by the employers and the visa system going to be labeled "anti-immigrant". Only a tiny fraction of the folks who come here seeking engineering employment are going to become wealthy entrepreneurs, really no more or less often than a US citizen does, does that mean the rest of them (or us) are not entitled to a living wage? This is a particularly vicious argument given that many of us who are pro-capitalism and economically conservative are on the opposite side of the political spectrum from those who traditionally favor rising wages. Or, another way is to say that BOTH political parties have "sold out" to the interests of international finance and big business.
The H-1B is kind of a red herring anyway, most of them are used to bring in IT guys in non-tech industries. The real target has to be the outsourcing and the two or so trillion in "stranded" revenue that sits beyond our shores unable to assist in the repair of our economy. Now anyone who says anything against THAT is promptly labeled a Luddite and probably a pro-tariff economic dullard. Problem is by now we've heard all these arguments before, it's no longer going to be a "walk in the park" to exterminate the US middle class with an economic holocaust, at least we take a stand and fight back when and where we can.
Firstly this myth of the underpaid H1B. Since the gov mandated prevailing wage check before issuing the H1-B about 1990(a system I went through then), although they do get optimised away at the lower end of the range for similar programmers in that locality, but good luck finding even an H1B for less than 80k with 3 years C++ in Chicago or any metropolis, which we have currently had to deal with at our firm.
Secondly, the author touched the fact of promoting scince education at school levels. Anyone who has seen US and other educational systems would find it surprising how the US can even keep up the industrial struture without importing labor, now and historically.