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Opening Arguments

Be our guest

Give us your, tired, your poor, your job-stealing masses:

The Senate Judiciary Committee recently held a hearing into abuses of the H-1B skilled guest worker visa program. Lawmakers heard experts describe how the use of foreign workers has come to dominate the IT industry, with many tech giants using the program to fire well-paid current workers and replace them with workers from abroad at significantly lower pay.

“The current system to bring in high-skill guest workers … has become primarily a process for supplying lower-cost labor to the IT industry,” two experts who testified at the hearing, Howard University’s Ron Hira and Rutgers’ Hal Salzman, wrote recently. “Although a small number of workers and students are brought in as the ‘best and brightest,’ most high-skill guest workers are here to fill ordinary tech jobs at lower wages.”

[. . .]

It’s certainly true that other workers in other industries have lost jobs because companies wanted to cut costs. Highly-paid middle-aged workers have been replaced by younger employees working for less. That can be an unhappy fact of life in today’s economy. But in the case of H-1Bs, the federal government is expressly giving a special permit to foreign workers — actually, to large outsourcing firms that use H-1Bs to bring those workers to the U.S. — in order to displace American workers. And now many lawmakers in both parties — their task made simpler by the enforced silence of fired and angry workers — want even more H-1Bs. Is that something the government should do?

I'm thinking conservatives won't like this because they're not crazy about immigration anyway, but liberals should love it because, hey, man, there should be no borders anyhow. On the other hand, we have the case of American companies moving overseas because of labor costs, which also takes jobs away from Americans, and liberals scream about that, but conservatives are like, "Hey, that's the free market, deal with it." Have I got that about right?

It's generally true of course that companies are going to try to get the best workers possible for the least money possible. That's just the way it is. The question is what role the government should have. It doesn't seem like Washington is exactly looking out for our interests if it let's a program for highly skilled workers be used to fill ordinary tech jobs.

The clearest case in Fort Wayne of government picking the wrong winner and thus creating the wrong loser was when it put its money and muscle behind getting a Walmart at the former Southtown location. That store would then be in direct competition with the locally owned hardware store at Southgate. Rewarding a big out-of-town corporation and thereby hurting a small locally owned company. Just sucks

Like choosing foreign workers over Americans.