Sunday, July 20, 2014

If only the Central American immigrant children knew programming!

A few days ago, when I read this op-ed by a powerful trio--Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and Sheldon Adelson--this insignificant commentator was so tempted to blog about it.  But, recognizing the limits to how much I can put up with the Rodney Dangerfield-like "I don't get no respect," I let that pass.  What was my problem with it?  In that op-ed, they argue:
Most Americans believe that our country has a clear and present interest in enacting immigration legislation that is both humane to immigrants living here and a contribution to the well-being of our citizens. Reaching these goals is possible. Our present policy, however, fails badly on both counts.
We believe it borders on insanity to train intelligent and motivated people in our universities — often subsidizing their education — and then to deport them when they graduate. Many of these people, of course, want to return to their home country — and that’s fine. But for those who wish to stay and work in computer science or technology, fields badly in need of their services, let’s roll out the welcome mat.
In the first place, this immigration op-ed seemed like the authors were making use of the big time immigration crisis at the border in order to promote their own immigration agenda.  The latest border crisis is not about engineers and computer scientists, but is about children who are rushing to the US for whatever the reasons might be.  The debate on the undocumented immigrants has nothing to do with the engineers and computer scientists and investors.  Thus, "Most Americans believe that our country has a clear and present interest in enacting immigration legislation" is nothing but a sleight-of-hand approach.

And then came this news:
In his first major organizational move since becoming Microsoft CEO in February, Satya Nadella announced Thursday that, over the next year, the company will cut 18,000 jobs — about 14 percent of its workforce. That represents the largest layoff in Microsoft’s history and a more aggressive cut than many had expected.
The global presence of Microsoft means that there is a good chance that many of the layoffs will be outside the US.  But, given that offshoring is to take advantage of the cost differentials, I would assume that a majority of the layoffs will be within the high-cost US.

Even as I was contemplating writing about this interesting juxtaposition of news stories, a politician beat me to it.
A Senator.
A Republican Senator.
A Republican Senator from the Deep South!
On the floor of U.S. Senate Thursday, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) delivered a scalding and sarcastic attack on the use of highly skilled foreign workers by U.S. corporations that was heavily aimed at Microsoft, a chief supporter of the practice.
Sessions' speech began as a rebuttal to a recent New York Times op-ed column by Microsoft founder Bill Gates, investor Warren Buffett and Sheldon Adelson, a casino owner that has chastised Congress for failing to take action on immigration reform.
But the senator's attack on "three of our greatest masters of the universe," and "super billionaires," was clearly primed by Microsoft's announcement, also on Thursday, that it was laying off18,000 employees.
"What did we see in the newspaper today?" said Sessions, "News from Microsoft. Was it that they are having to raise wages to try to get enough good, quality engineers to do the work? Are they expanding or are they hiring? No, that is not what the news was, unfortunately. Not at all."
My reaction to reading what Sessions said was:
The senator said:
Sessions' points were broad and didn't get into the mechanics of visa granting, but were clearly, though indirectly, aimed both at the H-1B visa and automatic green cards for foreign workers with Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, or STEM, degrees.
H-1B and STEM are not what "most Americans" have in mind when they think about immigration and the need to reform it, right?  But, that is what Gates & Co's op-ed is about when they write "Most Americans believe that our country has a clear and present interest in enacting immigration legislation."

Even this STEM is way overblown.  As I noted in this blog-post, less than a year ago, which became an op-ed later:
I was glancing through the September 2013 issue of IEEE’s magazine, Spectrum, and was drawn to a lengthy essay because of its title--”The STEM Crisis Is a Myth.”  I wonder how the STEM proponents will respond to the IEEE publication featuring an essay with a tagline of “Forget the dire predictions of a looming shortfall of scientists, technologists, engineers, and mathematicians.”
The essay notes this--“What’s perhaps most perplexing about the claim of a STEM worker shortage is that many studies have directly contradicted it, including reports from Duke University, the Rochester Institute of Technology, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and the Rand Corp. A 2004 Rand study, for example, stated that there was no evidence “that such shortages have existed at least since 1990, nor that they are on the horizon.”
Oh well ... at least this post has provided me with a cathartic outlet.  The problem is now yours, given the mistake you made of reading this post ;)


Ramesh said...

Completely disagree with your position on this, but I will pass on this debate as we are so far apart that it would be tough to debate without raised emotion which is best avoided :):)

By the way Microsoft's layoff is all mostly as the result of the Nokia acquisition. That is a business that has declined rapidly, so it is natural to expect layoffs - whoever acquired Nokia's mobile business would have to do it anyway.

Sriram Khé said...

If all of us dodged debating, like what you have done, then how will we ever shape public policy?
Oh wait, that is exactly the story with the US Congress, eh. And emotions are all we watch and hear on Faux News ;)

Yes, as a result of Nokia ... but, there is that link to jobs, qualified peopled, H-1B visa, and STEM, that you don't want to talk about anyway ... hehehehe

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