Mark Zuckerberg: Immigrants are the key to a knowledge economy
Posted at 10:13h, 15 Sep 2015 in List Archive by Bonnie Halper No Comments 135 Likes Share

Good morning, All,

A couple of years back, a group of so-called tech luminaries from such companies as Facebook, Google, et al, got together and formed a group called fwd.us, purportedly designed to promote policies to keep the American workforce competitive and to create an easier pathway for foreign workers to enter the US job market.

In fact, “Zuckerberg published an op-ed in the Washington Post describing the group’s mission ‘to build the knowledge economy the US needs to ensure more jobs, innovation and investment.'” The result: well, for one, there’s this – California: Hundreds of American IT Workers Are Replaced by Foreigners using H-1b Visas and Southern California Edison IT workers ‘beyond furious’ over H-1B replacements. Says the article and one of the workers who was being replaced, “The H-1B program was supposed to be for projects and jobs that American workers could not fill. But we’re doing our job. It’s not like they are bringing in these guys for new positions that nobody can fill.”

So much for the fwd mandate, especially in light of the fact that the majority of H1B visas are vacuumed up by the large outsource consulting firms, like Tata, who are notorious for not paying workers a fair wage but instead, keeping the lion’s share of the workers’ wages. Worst still, and the thing that no one talks about: H-1B workers are locked into contracts; they are not at liberty to apply for other, perhaps better-paying jobs at other companies. They’re more or less at the mercy of the Tatas and Infosyses of the world: they can easily be replaced and shipped home. As for foreign workers bringing innovation and starting companies here, given how the system is rigged, isn’t it pretty to think so, and thank you, Ernest Hemingway.

The Techcrunch article goes on the illuminate the fwd founders contention that with “improved domestic education and easier visas for foreign talent…the real beneficiaries are American workers and students. They’ve certainly made progress: In fact: Work in BigTech for Hire: Americans Need Not Apply.

As for improving education, Silicon Valley need look no further than their own back doors: Why Silicon Valley Falls Short When It Comes To Education. Truth be told, the Masters of Silicon Valley do not give back, unless it’s in their own interest.

As for the shortage in qualified native-born STEM workers, according to this article, “With the very notable exception of petroleum engineers, STEM workers have generally experienced modest wage growth since 2000…There may be a specific geographic area or a highly specialized field in which demand really is outstripping supply. However, it makes little sense to allow public policy to be driven by very narrow interests. If there is some special need in a highly technical field then perhaps a narrowly focused immigration program is necessary. But overall, the data indicate that the supply of STEM workers vastly exceeds the number of STEM jobs, and there has been only modest wage growth in these professions. This reality should inform and shape public policy moving forward.” Then again, lest we forget, Silicon Valley has a history of colluding to keep wages fixed (How Silicon Valley’s most celebrated CEOs conspired to drive down 100,000 tech engineers’ wages): only (some of) the names have been changed to deceive the clueless.

We know that there are a number of fwd members on this list, and we’re just pointing out the facts, including the fact that “The OPT program, like H-1B, allows BigTech firms to flood the labor market, creating artificial competition and pressuring the standard of living we’ve earned through decades of hard-fought reforms.”

H1-B guru Norm Matloff explains that big IT companies are gobbling up the visas, not because they can’t find Americans to fill the positions, but the H-1B visa holders allow them to layoff expensive and experienced U.S. employees and hire younger and cheaper foreign workers.

Upping the number of foreigh-born workers is moving us fwd, not forward. Truth be told, the way the H-1B system works presently, it’s little better than indentured servitude by any other name. As for fwd itself, maybe what’s needed is a few more vowels, and a little less cognitive dissonance. Onward and forward.