Tuesday, June 17, 2008


there is nothing much I can add. So go to Carrie's Nation, read this, and decide if we are even close to understanding what our needs are when we talk about immigration policy. The H-1B question has been so misreported by the media; the press has just acted as a pass-through for monied interests.

There is a lot to discuss here: the real need for foreign talent in certain professions, the extent to which we're working to identify that talent, the possible long-term effects of segmenting off certain professions to immigrant labor (allowing those professions to move when the visas run out), the effects to this country on ceding certain job categories, the effects on our education system, and so forth. I don't like to have a knee-jerk reaction to issues like these, because that very emotionalism leads to poor policy choices, but when I see the forces arrayed on one side, forces that have powerful incentives to take the positions they're taking (I'm talking to you, Bill Gates), it's natural to leap in the other direction.

I don't know the right number of H-1B visas to offer - but neither does Congress, Bill Gates, Infosys, Wipro, or anyone else. I do know that much of the common rhetoric that's reported makes no sense, that shortages should lead to higher wages and a dream environment for people with skills, and that's not happening. I know that fine reporting from Citizen Carrie and others demonstrates that Indians themselves get quite the chuckle at how our policies are helping them.

Sure, I have incentives, too. As a software guy, I want an array of possible jobs at desirable locations with great perks and big bucks. I want to be able to write my own ticket. I want people to look at me for what I can bring to their table, and not what year I was born.

But everyone can see my biases. Why can't we equally see that Mr. Gates has similar biases, that Microsoft and he make more money if they can get more visas? It doesn't mean that his point of view should be ignored, it does mean it shouldn't be the only one considered. Why is this so hard to see?

And for someone who had nothing to add, I sure wrote a lot.

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