RE: Tech Visas

Dusseault ("Lisa)
Thu, 24 Sep 1998 10:30:59 -0700

Ditto what Joe said.

There is a correlation between relatively free labour markets and low
long-term unemployment coupled with industrial success. Korea, Germany and
France all suffer from high-cost labour laws that make things "fairer" for
employed persons, but create a larger pool of unemployed people and the
corresponding social problems, higher taxes, etc. I've lived in France and
it has an excellent high-tech education system, "geeks" are well-respected,
they had an internet of sorts (Minitel) widely deployed twelve years ago,
and yet how many high-tech companies from France can you name? They are
hampered in their international success by protective labour laws and
government intervention.

Britain, Ireland and the US enjoy less restrictive labour laws and lower
unemployment. With more freedom to hire the best people and fire the
non-performers, US companies are more able to react to changes. Their
freedom and resulting success has led to a lot of hiring. Firms that end up
having to lay off people are more than balanced by firms that hire more
people willingly (without fear of not being able to lay them off in a
downswing). High-tech companies are flocking to britain and Ireland because
of the freedom they have there to hire qualified individuals. That in turn
has made those countries, especially Ireland, spectacularly successful in
the recent past.

[The free labour market in Ireland has made up for a lack of technical
schools. When I visited Northern Ireland two years ago, I visited a
university with one computer lab. The students had email but could not surf
the web. Despite that, companies like MS have large labs in Ireland.
Ireland is seen as the "gateway" to the EU because of its freedom and
opportunities and English-speaking, trainable population.]

The freedom to hire the best people from wherever will make high-tech firms
more successful, and more able to pay all their people. Frankly, it's an
advantage to grow up an English speaker in this industry -- high-tech
experts from foreign countries are often at a disadvantage, if their English
isn't good enough to impress in an interview, or if their alma mater isn't
recognized and respected.

The labour market is so tight in this industry, there are enough open
positions, that I've never seen a qualified person in this field go without
a job. My '96 graduating class was entirely employed (or in grad school) a
couple months after graduation, wages starting at $35,000 Canadian, except
for the two guys who decided to tour the world first. I've even seen
incompetent assholes that get turfed out after six months in job after job,
but they get snapped up again immediately, for a high wage, by companies
desperate to hire anybody who knows database administration. Let me fill
the currently open positions in my group, which have been open for months
because of the lack of qualified candidates of any
gender/race/nationality/sexual-preference, and then we could talk about
capping the visas again -- but I'd still be against them because of the
prosperity that freedom brings (as long as individual rights aren't

You don't have a "right" to be employed. Sorry. If you suck, be prepared
to dig ditches or flip burgers for a low wage. I'm amazed that the "I'm a
victim" attitude in this country has given a voice to so many whiners who
feel they have a right to a job. Discrimination based on ability is a good

Solve the problem, not the symptom. Encourage more kids to stay in science
and math classes. Make those science and math classes good by paying a
decent wage to teachers (I know CS experts who would make much more in
industry, but choose to remain in high schools because they are wonderful
people who care about the next generation). Then the US will have enough
high-tech graduates to fill the need.

You gave an example of legal and healthcare -- I don't know the situation in
the US as well as I do in Canada, but these might be examples of professions
that restrict the entrants to that profession in order to keep their wages
high (as doctors seem to be doing in Canada). Perhaps that's the reason why
it's so hard to see a doctor and people suffer as a result. It benefits the
doctors who are already in, but is unfair to qualified candidates who never
get to become doctors (my sister risks being one of those). Compare
high-tech wages to other fields -- we're not doing too badly, right? Were
you counting stock options, stock purchas plans and signing bonuses when you
compared wages? Our high wages -- such as up to $100/hr to hire contract
technical writers -- are a sign of too few qualified candidates.

I wish Canada had a high-tech industry that was as successful and vibrant as
the US high-tech industry. Canada does have more restrictive labour laws
than the US, although we have less restrictive immigration (despite the
Reform party). We also have a similar problem with kids opting out of
technical areas because of perceived image of geeks, difficulty, or lack of
inspiring teachers.

And remember, US and Canada were built by immigrants (more or less trampling
on the indiginous people). Try and justify letting your grandparents into
the country to find jobs, then arbitrarily blocking out somebody else's
grandparents. Then put yourself in the shoes of the foreign workers -- what
if you wanted to find a job in another country?

Think "opportunities", not "rights".


-----Original Message-----
From: Joachim Feise []
Sent: Thursday, September 24, 1998 8:55 AM
To: FoRK
Subject: Re: Tech Visas

Gregory Alan Bolcer wrote:
> >
> >Posted at 9:49 p.m. PDT Wednesday, September 23, 1998
> > Tech visa cap will be boosted
> > Mercury News Washington Bureau
> Yah! Lower salaries for us all. Technologists
> make only 1/2 to 1/3 of what doctors and lawyers
> make, but have become indispensible to the
> business community and society. The tech visa
> bill is just a way to get cheaper labor so you don't
> have to pay to keep the talent. It'll be a national
> crisis when it exceeds other sector salaries, but
> I think it's a little pre-mature to start undercutting
> their own. How are you going to draw new talent to
> the information and computer sciences if you keep
> capping the salaries compared to legal and healthcare?
> Greg

That's BS. Being here on an H1-B visa, I think I know more about this than
Employers are required to pay the "prevailing wage" as defined by the DoL.
way they can undercut wages. If they did, the competition would be happy to
report them to the DoL.


Joachim Feise         Ph.D. Student, Information & Computer Science                
Lest you think that "open" computing can't possibly win, just look
back at the primal lesson of desktop computing of the '80s: Open up
your architecture to all comers and win -- or keep it closed, like
the Macintosh, and lose.