A Modest Proposal To Help Black Americans, And The American Economy, Inspired By Mark Zuckerberg

The Hidden Genius Project

The Hidden Genius Project

So. This week, noted piece of human garbage Mark Cuck-erberg decided to lecture his employees for writing “All Lives Matter” on a special “graffiti wall” at the Menlo Park offices of Facebook. In his hilariously tone-deaf lecture, Zuck tells his employees that “There are specific issues affecting the black community in the United States, coming from a history of oppression and racism.”

Here’s an example of racist oppression: What percentage of Facebook employees would you guess are black? The answer is: two percent. What percentage of Facebook employees in a “tech job” are black? It’s an amazingly racist one percent. Meanwhile, Facebook has filed for OVER THREE THOUSAND H1B VISAS AND GREEN CARDS.

Now, if you were to ask Zuck straight-up why his company discriminates against Black people, he’d tell you that Facebook is just too important to do diversity hires. I suspect that Zuck considers his company to be like an NBA team; diversity doesn’t matter as much as performance. No NBA team would accept a diversity mandate that said you had to have forty-six percent white players. Why should Zuck be forced to hire Black people for twelve percent of his tech staff? Diversity is for low-performance companies, legacy dinosaurs, and the government.

Well, I have an idea that’s going to fix all that. I’m completely serious, and I think if you read my idea you’ll agree.


It works like this: There are currently close to one million H1-B workers in the United States.

I want you to think about that. One million foreigners taking jobs that average compensation of $76,000 or more. That’s a significant chunk of the American middle class.

Now let’s speak plainly: The entire purpose of the H1-B program is to cut salaries and keep American tech workers desperate. There is no other purpose. There’s no true “tech shortage” in this country, particularly if you consider that this isn’t the world of Logan’s Run and contrary to the belief in Silicon Valley people don’t simply disappear into the ether on their thirtieth birthday.

Now consider this: Although blacks made up 16% of high-school graduates and 14% of college freshmen, only nine percent of bachelor’s degree recipients are black. To me, that points to unusual economic or racist stress applied against black people. (Let’s be honest: there’s no other explanation you’d be allowed to give without being fired from your job and dragged through the streets.)

So what do we have in this country? We have a million foreigners taking high-paying jobs, and we have a crisis in black education. Not to worry, I can fix both problems.

In my system, we would immediately levy a 30% “opportunity tax” against every H1-B job. In other words, if Facebook hires an H1-B and pays the “pimp” or consulting company $100,000 a year for that person, they would have to pay a $30,000 opportunity tax. Using the most conservative number of possible H1-B workers in the country — about 850,000 — and using the average salary of $78,000 — and using the 40% bump paid to most consulting companies, and saying that half of the H1-Bs are through a recruiting firm — we come up with a total outbound H1-B cost of

$79,560,000,000

That figure — seventy-nine billion dollars — is what we pay foreigners to work here in high-skill jobs. My “opportunity tax” would therefore raise as much as

$23.87 billion dollars

per year. Now, some corporations would choose to fire their H1-B visa holders and employ Americans instead. That’s totally fine with me. Let’s say that one-third of them do that. So we’ve “found” 240,000 new middle-class jobs for Americans, and we continue to raise

$15.75 billion

for my nefarious purpose. Which is… wait for it… free STEM degrees for African-Americans. That’s right. If you can get into a college and declare a STEM degree, and you’re black, we’re going to pay your tuition.

The cost of tuition at Case Western is $45k a year. Let’s add a $15k stipend for living expenses to that. $60k a year. With my tax, we can send 262,548 black students every year to a top-tier engineering school. If they can get into Harvard and get a tech degree, that’s fine. If all they can manage is Howard or Ohio State or Indiana, that’s also fine.

If two-thirds of those students can graduate, then over the course of eight years we will add about 350,000 qualified African-Americans to the rolls of high-skilled potential employees. with about 50,000 joining the ranks each year after that.

Time for the last part of my plan. Any company that surrenders its H1-B visa and hires a qualified gradate of this program instead will get a five-year exemption from payroll taxes on that employee. Don’t forget, too, that this new employee is likely to cost less than the H1-B he replaced, thanks to my thirty-percent opportunity tax.

After this program has been in operation for five years, we increase the opportunity tax to fifty percent. After it’s been in operation for ten years, we increase the opportunity tax to one hundred percent. So if you really want that foreign worker — if, like Zuck, you hate black people so much you’d rather apply to the government for permission to hire random Indians with mystery-meat resumes — then you’re gonna pay for that privilege and we’re going to use your money to educate a new black middle class.

Imagine a country where one out of every ten or fifteen African-Americans earns $75k or more a year. Imagine a country where young Black men have a guaranteed route out of poverty or oppression waiting for them. Imagine a country where kids in a Harlem elementary school know they can make more money by staying in school than by dropping out to sell drugs. Imagine a country where suburban schools are integrated naturally by the high-achieving children of Black tech workers.

Now, let’s look at some potential objections.

Does this program discriminate against white people? Yes, it does. However, it also opens up opportunities for white tech workers. The rising tide should lift all boats.

But the H1Bs have special skills that the new graduates don’t have. HAHAHAHAHA you’ve clearly never worked in tech. Sit your ass down.

What about the economic impact to India? We have to put i>our oxygen mask on before we can attend to our neighbors.

What if black people just don’t want to work those jobs? You think I want to work my job? Given the choice between making $75K a year and sitting at home, most people will choose the former.

But black people can’t score as high as Indians on tests, particularly college entrance exams. Even if you want to put forward some theory about Asians being more naturally intelligent than black people, said theory being extremely hazardous to your chances of not becoming an “unperson” in society the minute you disclose it, let me tell you: the average tech job in 2016 doesn’t require brilliance. It requires some knowledge and the willingness to come to work every day. If you can memorize a whole Kanye rap, you can memorize a basic list of Unix commands or engineering standards.

It really is that simple. We stop spending billions of dollars on a group of foreign guest workers who, by and large, send the majority of their cash home to India and China. We extend a helping hand to the people who need it most. And we give some dignity and power to black Americans. If black lives truly mattered in this country, we’d stop bleating about Michael Brown and start thinking about helping blacks get back into the American middle class.

And if I wrote the law, I’d put something special in for Mark Cuck-erberg. I’d require Facebook to immediately change its employee base to reflect the American population. And I’d put the #BlackLivesMatter people in charge of Facebook’s hiring process. Mr. Zuckerberg likes to run his mouth; let’s make him put his money there, too.

85 Replies to “A Modest Proposal To Help Black Americans, And The American Economy, Inspired By Mark Zuckerberg”

  1. Disinterested-Observer

    “But black people can’t score as high as Indians on tests”

    The answer to this one is simple, although people might find it racist, just not in the “Bell Curve” kind of way: South and East Asians cheat on their exams. It is as simple as that. I have met more than one Oracle developer with certs out the wazoo who didn’t know that 255.255.255.255 is not a valid IP address.

    Reply
    • jz78817

      Do you remember- I think it was on 60 Minutes or something- a story about some “whiz kids” somewhere in south Asia (don’t remember if it was India and don’t want to pigeonhole) who had a seemingly miraculous ability to perform arithmetic in their heads on fairly large numbers? and how amazed we were supposed to be? I remember reading later that they were simply taught some tricks to break the operation down into smaller chunks, which anyone can learn.

      so yeah, it’s all well and good that an 8-year-old can tell you what 5252 times 438 is, but what stuck out to me is that all they knew was how to do it. It was rote memorization without any understanding of the concept. And that’s what I tend to see in the real world. Where STEM is part theory and part practice, they’re heavy on the “practice” and light on the “theory.” It really sticks out when I see companies off-shore their software development. Yeah, people can be taught to hammer out code to do something, but they have no idea what the software they’re writing is supposed to do. At that point what you get back is only as good as your spec(s,) and if the specs have any ambiguity or anything missing you’re in for a surprise.

      Reply
  2. jz78817

    I’m not going to detail my dislike for the tech sector. But more and more I start to feel we should let Tim Draper have his “Six Californias.” Let Silicon Valley have their “tech bro frathouse.” the rest of us would be more than happy to screw the everloving shit out of them for water.

    Reply
  3. everybodyhatesscott

    The H1-B program is a joke. Even if it doesn’t help blacks at all, it should be destroyed. I’d venture a guess getting rid of all the illegal immigrants (10-20 million) would do more for the black population than destroying the H1-B program but they both should both be done.

    Disney firing American workers and making them train their replacements. I’m surprised there aren’t more office shootings

    Reply
    • Kevin Jaeger

      Certainly the terms of the H1-B program are a little different from what other major developed countries do, but they all make it possible to bring in highly skilled workers in one form or another. By all means scrap the H1-B and model the replacement program along lines of what Canada, Ireland, Australia or other countries do.

      The tech industry is largely divided into two broad groups – those who create the leading edge hardware, software and telecom products the world uses, and those who deploy and configure the products created by others.

      Jack’s description is more or less accurate for the latter group – those who deploy and operate products created by others. That’s a high tech game of lego blocks assembly that is getting squeezed by foreign competition and simply being replaced through automation.

      A modern tech startup company may have no IT assets of its own – all office operations and development environment being operated from cloud services. Most established companies could go a long way along that line but they’ve barely considered the idea if they’ve gotten used to running their own infrastructure.

      Reply
      • jz78817

        Certainly the terms of the H1-B program are a little different from what other major developed countries do, but they all make it possible to bring in highly skilled workers in one form or another.

        While we’re at it, maybe the U.S. should start importing corn.

        Reply
    • Baconator

      I work in tech, and if you get rid of H1-Bs, I guarantee the whole industry comes to a crashing halt very rapidly. You also lose a very salutary effect of the H1-B program, which is that American companies get to steal the most highly-skilled and highly-motivated people from other countries. There’s a reason why there weren’t any decent Chinese startups before 9/11: We straight-up stole the people who would have been their best tech and biotech entrepreneurs. When a bunch of raging roided-up racists took over immigration in this country and made it significantly harder to get in, in the early 2000s, guess what? Now I’ve got a bunch of Chinese companies that are jostling with me in my industry because their founders couldn’t get into the US. This is *not* a good thing for America.

      The dirty secret that Zuck won’t tell you publicly is that the average 28-year old South Asian coder with a Comp Sci degree from IIT Bangalore is about 10x more productive than the average 24-year old American-born kid with a Comp Sci degree from a 2nd-tier state school in the US. These educational credentials are presented as equal by lots of people, but they reflect *entirely* different levels of determination, motivation, and resistance to fucking around. Jack’s proposal is a pretty solid one, because it provides opportunity to Black kids that might put in the effort but are currently so far out of the loop of opportunity that they don’t even know where to apply themselves. But to say that American college educations are on par with the top tier of Indian or Chinese (or Russian, or Canadian) college educations is only possible if you’ve never, ever, had to interview or manage software engineers.

      And also, if you get rid of illegal immigrants, the states of California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas will rapidly cease to function. You may think of that as a feature and not a bug. Personally, I think it’s economic suicide.

      Reply
      • jz78817

        The dirty secret that Zuck won’t tell you publicly is that the average 28-year old South Asian coder with a Comp Sci degree from IIT Bangalore is about 10x more productive than the average 24-year old American-born kid with a Comp Sci degree from a 2nd-tier state school in the US.

        yeah, that’s great and all, only if you define “productive” as “how much code can you hammer out” and not “do you understand what the fuck this code does?” I’m up to my eyeballs in shitty software written elsewhere full of bloated spaghetti code written by people who have no idea what the software is used for.

        “10x more productive” is another lie companies tell in order to import cheap labor.

        Reply
        • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

          I’m going to second your comment here.

          I don’t think I’ve ever worked with an H1-B employee who consistently delivered top-shelf work.

          On the other hand, I sure as shit have explained How Computers Work to H1-Bs. Recent example: Indian dev hits me up because “SCP is broken”. I ask him to show me what he’s doing. It’s in a PuTTY window and it looks like this:

          server001:>scp /tmp/foo/bar.txt c:\Desktop

          I sat with my head in my hands for maybe five minutes before I gave him a free DeVry Semester One education. Some of the things he didn’t know:

          * his C: drive isn’t “automatically transferred” in an SSH session
          * permissions on a Windows laptop aren’t “automatically transferred” to a zLinux system
          * you can’t drag file icons into a PuTTY window — another thing that “is broken u need to fix so I can meet important target”

          This guy is absolutely the rule, not the exception. They get quick-baked into whatever skill is perceived to be in demand and they literally know nothing outside of that. It’s not computer science. It’s not even tech work. It’s turning people into human typewriters.

          Reply
  4. JDN

    Anecdotes aren’t data and all that, but I have a hard time reconciling H1B hate with my experience of being involved in the hiring process for software devs. I primarily gave technical interviews, so my focus was pretty narrow but we’ve always had an extremely difficult time finding qualified candidates.

    Similar to Disinterested-Observer’s comment, I’ve interviewed many people of all sorts of demographics that are equally clueless when it comes to even the most basic aspects of programming. Such to the point that following Jeff Atwood’s post about it I started using the FizzBuzz (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fizz_buzz#Programming_interviews) question in interviews with a shockingly low completion rate.

    Given this I’m hesitant to do anything to reduce the supply of candidates regardless of their source. Not being able to hire someone we feel is qualified that’s an H1B doesn’t mean we’d give a job to a citizen we don’t feel is qualified. If we had two candidates both equally qualified one H1B and one not we’d already go with the citizen for simplicity’s sake.

    When that’s combined with extremely low IT unemployment rates and relatively high salaries for IT, It’s hard to see it as an extremely big problem for the workforce as a whole.

    I’d believe other aspects of IT like sysops and support have larger issues with this, but at least on the dev side, I’m not sure there’s as big a negative impact as people would have you believe.

    Reply
    • jz78817

      I think part of the problem is that too many educational tracks seem to be teaching “how to do things” and not “why things work the way they do.” University was never supposed to be job training. but companies expect to hire people with degrees (even if the job doesn’t really require such) who can hit the ground running so schools just teach students “this is how you do this, here’s how you do that,” etc. So if they’re tasked with something which doesn’t go according to the plan, they just stop because they’ve never really had to try to figure out why something isn’t working.

      “Teaching to the test” is incredibly widespread and terribly damaging.

      Reply
      • JDN

        Agree 100%. The difficulty between teaching people how to do things and how to problem solve is a huge issue. I still haven’t decided if problem solving is really teachable or if it’s more an innate ability.

        Reply
        • jz78817

          I think most people are capable of it. We just tend to have too much of a “get things done now!” attitude in this country, and problem solving requires one to stop, step back, and think for a bit.

          that’s part of why I liked Carlin’s bit about kids. or more correctly, about parents. Parents who basically schedule every last minute of their kids’ lives. after school is music lessons/baseball practice/this/that/the other. It’s all “Do, do, do!” and very little “think!”

          Reply
      • Dan S

        This is an incredibly widespread issue. I’m continually amazed at the number of engineers I know who really don’t have any problem solving ability whatsoever if it’s not presented to them as something they’ve seen before.

        Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      My experience with hiring people for tech jobs has been that the gates between HR and me are designed to only let Indians through. There are “preferred providers” and “minimum standards” that can only be met by somebody who lies on his resume. The old joke in 2001 was “Ten years of Java experience”; every H1-B would immediately claim it.

      Reply
      • JDN

        Nice – haven’t seen anything as egregious as that on a resume. The worst I’ve personally seen was someone who had someone else do the phone interview who knew what they were talking about, and not actually know anything in the in person.

        I’ve always worked directly with recruiting agencies so that also probably skews my experience, but really the biggest disparity in number of candidates I saw was along gender lines, not race.

        Reply
  5. viper32cm

    I prefer “Fuckerberg.”

    In any event, why can’t people see through this guy’s bullshit and figure out that his product/service/whatever is one of the worst damn things to happen to society since the turn of the century?

    Reply
  6. tifoso

    If only this repulsive hypocritical creep could be made to live by social standards he purports to endorse. But that’s the thing about rich powerful elites; the policies they advocate and implement never effect them. They’re all borne by those of us who are downstream.

    Reply
  7. Ronnie Schreiber

    Any excuse will serve a Jew hater, but there’s irony in those who attack Zuckerberg as the Jew trying to mongrelize America by marginalizing whites and importing Asians. My four year old grandson likely knows more about Judaism than Zuckerberg does. As far as I know he’s not at all involved with the Jewish community and he’s never said a word about specific issues affecting the Jewish community which has its own history as the target of oppression and racism.

    It reminds me a little of what the chief rabbi of Moscow said regarding Leon Trotsky, born Lev Bronstein. “Trotsky makes the revolutions, and the Bronsteins pay the bills.”. Or the liberal Jewish women who advocated for affirmative action despite the cost to their sons.

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      The permissive, almost encouraging attitude, taken by Facebook to Palestinian groups and ISIS argues this case pretty well.

      One would also think that any self-aware Jew would feel squicky sucking up to a German leader for the purposes of censoring speech…

      Reply
      • Dan S

        See the above bit about liberal jewish women screwing their sons over by promoting affirmative action. Which, if you think about it, is a bit of a misnomer

        Reply
  8. mas

    H1B tax, as you have formulated it, will push worker *and* position overseas (Canada, Ireland, China, India). Go see what happens when a large corporation tries to hire a H1B worker and H1B quota runs out. They set him up with a similar position in Canada (which doesn’t have H1B quota), Ireland (for people in Europe) or India/China..

    Reply
        • Dan S

          I was going to make a post talking about how it’s highly unlikely my employer would find it convienient to recreate hundred million + dollar facilities to save on increased h1b labor costs, then I did a google search.

          It’s really creepy how many H1B visas are issued. Really creepy.

          Reply
      • Kevin Jaeger

        Wow, the tech industry has barely scratched the surface of outsourcing.

        America is still the leader in tech innovation but there’s very little reason it has to stay in Silicon Valley and the few other major tech clusters. Make their lives difficult and watch how fast the next big thing comes from somewhere else.

        Actually, a maturing tech industry will be subject to much more foreign competition no matter what policies America chooses. America can choose to keep their major successful industry on top or they can choose to bend it to social policy objectives and turn Silicon Valley into Detroit. It would appear choosing a policy of deliberate decline is not out of the question.

        Reply
        • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

          “America is still the leader in tech innovation but there’s very little reason it has to stay in Silicon Valley and the few other major tech clusters. Make their lives difficult and watch how fast the next big thing comes from somewhere else.”

          To the contrary. Where else will it come from? A humbled Europe on its knees for Syrian dick? Japan, where young people have just given up? China, where nothing from property rights to one’s own freedom is certain? India, where one out of 100 programmers is a genuine peer of Dennis Ritchie and the other 99 would be better off manning a fry station?

          Reply
          • jz78817

            It’s been interesting to watch the decline of Japan, Inc. An aging population which needs to be cared for (though at the government’s burden rather than companies paying pensions,) and an inability to adapt to a changing business climate. You can’t plod along like “If we always do what we always did, we’ll always get what we always got” when you have competitors rising up who can do it as good or better/cheaper than you can. Japan did it to the west in the 1980s, and now Korea and China are displacing Japan. and that’s spurred on by some serious inter-cultural baggage from the previous century; Chinese and Koreans (especially the older folks) really, really don’t like the Japanese.

      • Baconator

        Not even close, unfortunately. Biotech / pharma is just getting started, with lawyers and some non-patient-facing medical specialties (radiologists, pathologists) on the list after that.

        Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      To think that IBM used to be the pride of America.

      I got a $5,000 check from IBM in 2001 for consulting work, on the old green check paper. I framed it.

      Then they sold ThinkPads to Lenovo and became a cloaca for Indian labor.

      Reply
      • Felis Concolor

        My darkest day in the history of portable computing was the sale of ThinkPad to Lenovo.

        Long before Apple tried to force its toilet-seat style on the notebook computer market, IBM showed everybody how style was done. No other computer maker had specified that level of blackness in a notebook computer case. The gorgeous black texture caught your eye with its refusal to release any photons unlucky enough to fall upon its surface, inexorably drawing your eye towards the edges where contrast with the external world defined the device’s shape. The offset logo in classic corporate blue let everybody know you were serious about your work. When that clamshell lid was lifted and your gaze fell upon the interior contents, it was instantly caught by that bright red dot in the center of the keyboard, punctuating the no-nonsense exterior with a spicy hint of the pleasures to come while operating the finest notebook computer system money could buy. Sex and Power, baby!

        Now, it’s just another Asian-made notebook computer; even their exclusive pointing stick position in the marketplace (I despise trackpads) isn’t enough to make me look at them, despite my love wanting another to replace the one lost last December. I might as well hope HTC creates yet another brilliant failure for me to buy.

        Reply
        • DeadWeight

          I have a Lenovo X220 ThinkPad that will be my last ThinkPad, as Lenovo has absolutely trashed IBM’s formerly excellent laptop design/fabrication/quality.

          Even the aftermarket service & support is utter shit now, when it used to be world-class.

          I’ve purchased 7 ThinkPads and shall never purchase another.

          The sale of IBM’s hardware business to China’s Lenovo and the concurrent shift in aftermarket service/support from New York to “wherever” should be a business casebook study in how to completely ruin an entire brand, former massively successful product line, and customer goodwill.

          Reply
          • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

            We’re going to have a ThinkPad Appreciation Thread in the near future. I still own my butterfly 701.

  9. DeadWeight

    Once a scumbag, always a scumbag – that’s what Zuckerberg is.

    FRIEND: so have you decided what you are going to do about the websites?
    ZUCK: yea i’m going to fuck them
    ZUCK: probably in the year
    ZUCK: *ear

    In another exchange leaked to Silicon Alley Insider, Zuckerberg explained to a friend that his control of Facebook gave him access to any information he wanted on any Harvard student:

    ZUCK: yea so if you ever need info about anyone at harvard
    ZUCK: just ask
    ZUCK: i have over 4000 emails, pictures, addresses, sns
    FRIEND: what!? how’d you manage that one?
    ZUCK: people just submitted it
    ZUCK: i don’t know why
    ZUCK: they “trust me”
    ZUCK: dumb fucks

    Also, I called Facebook, Google & other social networking and search sites essentially government subsidized information aggregators who were in bed with the government a decade ago.

    Big Information/Technology is in a permanent, symbiotic union with Big Government; information/data is the most valuable commodity and Orwell foretold this ominous trend.

    Reply
    • kvndoom

      What’s alarming most to me is not the amount of information, but how freely people give it up. They forfeit their life history for narcissism. I could read things on people’s FB page that they would never tell a soul in person. There’s some irony in that.

      I deleted my account years ago, and I can’t think of any reason I’d ever be compelled to rejoin that nonsense.

      Reply
      • DeadWeight

        Privacy is dead.

        Not figuratively, but literally.

        Unless one lives like the Unabomber off the grid, isolated from society, there’s literally no way to keep either government or private corporations from harvesting your personally relevant information, purchases, habits, opinions and tendencies.

        Reply
  10. Joan

    I dont think that lack of funds for college is a major driver behind the low amount of black STEM college graduates,

    That said, F Zuckerberg

    Reply
    • DeadWeight

      I would need to flush this out with Jack, but I am unaware if he realizes that STEM is a huge scam by corporate America intended to drive down wages, job security and leverage of technical, scientific, engineering & other professional, currently (relatively) well-paid employees.

      Reply
      • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

        I know that a lot of STEM employees aren’t finding work, but I wonder if that has anything to do with a million guest workers…

        Reply
        • Baconator

          I suspect geography plays a factor there. Here in NorCal the dinner party conversation (after everyone bitches about high housing costs) is all about how we can’t find enough good people to hire. Things may get a little more employer-friendly now that the angel-investor money spigot has been turned down considerably. We won’t know for 3 months or so.

          I’ve had open STEM positions for six months now for which I can’t find anyone qualified, except for one candidate whose salary demand was 2x what HR would let me pay. Also looking for a controller and an SEC reporting manager – harder than hen’s teeth to find someone who’s good, even at cost-no-object salaries.

          HR is starting to think I’m an asshole, which is probably true at some level, but not in the way they think.

          Reply
          • jz78817

            “I’ve had open STEM positions for six months now for which I can’t find anyone qualified, except for one candidate whose salary demand was 2x what HR would let me pay.

            I think I see the problem here. you want “Good” and “Cheap.”

          • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

            I’d agree.

            $100k in NorCal is prole money. It means you share a room and take public transportation. In the rest of the country, excepting the Northeast, you can actually live on it.

            I wouldn’t move to San Francisco for anything less than $750k a year, which is what it would cost for me to match my quality of life here in Ohio.

          • jz78817

            shit, I don’t even make that much yet I have a nice big condo, a car and two bikes, most of the standard luxuries, a little over half a year’s net salary in savings, and no debt other than one (not maxed out) credit card which will be taken care of next month.

            making what I do in the “tech hotbeds” would have me living in someone’s closet, and subsisting on ramen.

  11. Daniel

    An interesting idea, Jack. If the Trumpening is any indicator though, I expect that a massive, institutionalized handout like this would trigger an enormous backlash

    Reply
  12. rich

    Jack this may be the best thing of yours I’ve ever read, and that’s saying something.

    I do not get too steamed up about H1B’s affect on me personally. They are used by companies that treat IT workers as anonymous interchangeable commodities where I would not be working at in the first place.

    However the idea that the government helps powerful corporations bring in cheap foreign labor that cannot then leave (essentially indentured servitude) is disgusting. Small companies can’t bring in H1B’s because the process is too expensive and complex. It’s only for large firms that make the biggest donations.

    Reply
  13. roamer

    I wholly support this idea (speaking as somebody who works for one of the top ten companies on Disinterested-Observer’s list. But it is entirely too reasonable to be allowed to work for minds of the inhabitants of political office. Where would their kickbacks come from? It’s one reason why I haven’t decided which candidate is least bad in this year’s quadrannual money-wasting contest; virtually ALL of them support expansion of the program. Hit up http://www.zdnet.com/pictures/h1b-visas-and-us-presidential-candidates-a-primer/, assuming you need further depression today…

    Reply
  14. Hogie roll

    I frequently contemplate what elimination of the H1B program would look like. Are they going to take my entire company and send it to India? Ha! I welcome the challenge. I’m not scare of that company at all!

    Reply
  15. Dominus Blicero

    Guys. The USA is not the sole modern superpower because as a country we’re nice guys who are interested in altruistic ideals. It’s because we’re more like Aqib Talib pulling Corey Brown down from behind by his facemask – we want to win at all costs. Of course some of us can see the deliberate intent to flagrantly violate the rules and spirit of fair play inherent in such actions. In Talib’s case, he simply admitted he was trying to hurt the guy – whatever it takes to win.

    What I’m saying is: your idea that rich powerful people in this country are any different that any other rich powerful people throughout history is both quaint and wrong. The difference may be as small as this – rich powerful Americans aren’t as stupid as Talib – they won’t get caught admitted that they don’t mind deliberately hurting people in the service of reaching their goals.

    Reply
    • Dominus Blicero

      I should have read through prior to posting, in the second paragraph:
      1st sentence – “that” replaced by “than”.
      2nd sentence – “The difference between them and Talib may be as small as this – rich…”.
      2nd sentence – “admitted” replaced by “admitting”.

      Reply
  16. Orenwolf

    Jack,

    I’m sorry your experience in the tech sector left a bad taste in your mouth (and worse, generalized that entire sector for you).

    As someone who handled hiring for a large, well-known technology nonprofit in San Francisco, I can confirm to you that finding skilled tech workers with any experience is very difficult thanks to the likes of FB, Google, Twitter and Apple literally gobbling them up by the thousands.

    In 2007, the number of CS majors had dropped by *50%* compared to just five years earlier, and while it has been recovering over the past few years, is still not back to the numbers seen at the turn of the millennium.[1] The lack of skilled local workers stems in part from this issue. On top of that, the number of women enrolled has dropped from ~26% to ~12% in that same timeframe [2]. On average, 65% of graduates were white.

    If you look at those numbers, you can see (1) how badly underrepresented non-whites are in the tech sector, and imagine how this would (2) create a vacuum of *skilled* non-white employees This is a shitty problem that’s difficult to solve because no one wants to hire unproven employees. This means there needs to be a significant rebalancing of entry-level positions for non-whites in order to allow them to *become* experienced. The only way to do that is to have more than 65% of new, entry-level hires be non-white.

    I’ve both been an H1-B recipient (I’m Canadian), and given out H1-B’s for this organization while I was a hiring manager. I have more than a decade of experience working as an executive creating value for the US companies I’ve worked for, and would honestly *love* to just relocate to the US to make the process easier for everyone, but the barriers are high, even for a highly skilled, trained, white, non-ethnic Canadian. Am I stealing a job from an otherwise-qualified american? Perhaps, but my own work as a hiring manager has shown me that truly qualified tech sector employees are all being paid obscene amounts of money or stock options/grants already at this point, and there *is* a shortage as a result.

    The only fix is for more diversity hires at the entry level, and more CS/CE graduates *in the US* through.. what? Incentives? I don’t know. But those two changes *will* eventually balance the numbers out.

    [1] http://archive2.cra.org/uploads/documents/resources/taulbee/CS_Degree_and_Enrollment_Trends_2010-11.pdf (Table 6)
    [2] http://archive2.cra.org/uploads/documents/resources/taulbee/CS_Degree_and_Enrollment_Trends_2010-11.pdf (Introduction)

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      I really appreciate your thoughtful and thoroughly-researched comment.

      Surely you realize that as a Canadian H1-B you are in a statistically insignificant group. Furthermore, you’re being penalized by a immigration system that looks the other way at 11 million Mexicans but treats Canadians as if they were radioactive. Having worked with Canadians in one capacity or another since 2001 I’m always shocked at how hard both countries make it for workers to cross the border.

      http://www.americanbazaaronline.com/2015/08/12/indians-got-86-of-h-1b-visas-for-tech-firms-issued-by-the-us-in-2014/

      The next problem is that American kids aren’t getting tech degrees anymore because they have no desire to basically commute to India for work every day. The joke I always tell at work is that the average Linux sysadmin has met more Indians than George Harrison.

      Couple that with the demonstrated discriminatory hiring practices of Infosys and Wipro, and why would you have any kids at all choosing tech nowadays? We need to fix the whole system. Getting rid of H1-B is a big part of that, and it should be coupled with reforms that make it easy for Americans to work in Canada and vice versa.

      Reply
  17. Orenwolf

    Jack,

    Thanks for responding.

    Interestingly, I hadn’t considered nationality in Visa application, although I should have, you are correct. The Nonprofit I worked for was *not allowed* to hire indian workers, because of the legal ramifications of having the Indian government have access to an employee – as a result, I was probably insulated from the “usual suspects”.

    That being said, I did take a moment to check some research on the subject, and it’s not as bad as I thought:

    2013 Ratio of Indian H1-B to Canadian: 3.2:1. Asian to European: 3.4:1. So, we’re not quite “insignificant”. In fact, we are the second largest source of H1-B’s (60k, vs India’s 189K. Next largest is China with 25K) [1]

    I think, then, we blow away any other country in terms of H1-B’s *per capita*, given our tiny population. However, I do concede that the India-to-everyone-else ratio (2.52:1) is pretty crazy.

    I would love to see more diversity in hiring in the Tech Sector. I am personally conflicted by the difficulty in doing this for higher-end positions, for reasons I expressed in my previous comment. the fact that these jobs are “unglamorous” to college kids is part of the problem, no doubt. But turning off the indian faucet wouldn’t correct the issue, we *still* need non-immigrant skills and experience to increase somehow. How does one do that? Not like high-paying tech sector jobs and perks aren’t enticing enough I’d think?

    [1] https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/ois_yb_2013_0.pdf

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      I think too many people in my generation and slightly after, say, 35-45-year-olds, jumped in feetfirst to tech specialties then became disillusioned with the outsourcing and the shameful lowering of standards for both hiring and performance that occurred between 2000 and today. There’s also the fact of wage stagnation: as a commercial Unix admin with just a few years’ experience, I had no trouble getting work at $45/hour in 2000. Those same jobs pay $35-40/hr today in the Midwest; meanwhile, the dollar has lost 40% of its purchasing power. So these are gigs that pay half of what they used to. There’s no magic as to why — it’s the flood of Indian H1-Bs.

      Reply
    • Kevin Jaeger

      Oddly enough, I’ve been personally stealing tech jobs in Columbus since about 1987. Back then I worked for a Canadian company in Toronto (SHL) which had a bit of a specialty in developing software on fault-tolerant Tandem NonStop systems. Two of the systems I recall working on were the Columbus public library system and a retail management system for Elder-Beerman. So we were offshoring your work probably before you ever started in the industry, with that shore being the north shore of Lake Ontario.

      By the way – this didn’t require H1-Bs or any other sort of visa. We built the systems and they paid us for the work. I’ve never had any kind of American work visa but I’ve had many American customers over the decades.

      Reply
      • jz78817

        You’re one counterexample, and one counterexample doesn’t disprove a trend. you should have learned that somewhere in your education.

        Reply
  18. Orenwolf

    So that is MY current work status as well. I’m contracted to a US company but working from Canada. I really really really want to relocate to the US for work, but that process is unbelievably complicated, even with twelve+ years progressive skilled experience. So instead my dollars end up in Canada. Seems silly when I *want* to spend them in the US, but can’t. Yet somehow vastly lower experience workers than I seem to have paths in.

    Ah well.

    Reply
    • Kevin Jaeger

      I would think that you would qualify for TN status with your skills and experience. That’s a non-immigrant status, but it would allow you to live and work there.

      Reply
    • mopar4wd

      I’m surprised too. I knew many Canadians who moved to the states back around 99-00 when I lived in Maine. Of course most did have some relatives over here being that I lived in a border town. But they were Mechanics Carpenters etc not trades that are hard to find over here.

      Reply
  19. AoLetsGo

    “That’s right. If you can get into a college and declare a STEM degree, and you’re black, we’re going to pay your tuition.”
    It’s a nice idea. However, few of the blacks who get into college never graduate. They are not prepared by their low income high schools. Which are not prepared by their low income middle and elementary schools, who have to deal with too many kids from poor, single parent homes. So we have to fix all those steps to get where you want to be.

    Reply
  20. Orenwolf

    I think the point here is, he’s not. Canada is the #2 source of H1-Bs, and I personally know several folks, *including myself currently*, who are contracted to a US org doing engineering work remotely, in large part because where the systems are doesn’t matter.

    I think the difference, however, is that a lot of us Canuck’s are well trained, and not exactly “cheap” – most of us (myself included), are paid a comparable salary to our US counterparts (me in USD, which is seriously awesome right now with the dollar where it is). So, we aren’t “cheap labour”, we are, I think, in many ways the Canary that shows there *is* a shortage of hires, not just a desire for cheap Asian labour.

    Reply
  21. Orenwolf

    Korea is very quickly becoming a tech powerhouse in the physical engineering sector.

    Interestingly, Israel is a hotbed for software engineering talent and startups a la Silicon Valley. I am amazed by the number of qualified applicants from that region (and let’s not forget Teva pharmaceuticals).

    There’s a good little tech reinassance building in the Great White North, too, I think thanks in part to comparable standard of living to the US in Toronto/Vancouver/Montreal but drastically lower costs due to the US/Canada dollar disparity currently.

    Reply
    • jz78817

      Intel’s Isreal design center was responsible for what became the “Core” family of CPUs once the Pentium 4 “Netburst” architecture ran smack into a wall.

      Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      Strictly speaking, Israel probably has the highest median IQ of any country in the world, so it’s not THAT surprising…

      Reply
      • GertFrobeBodyDouble

        Median? Doubtful. Ashkenzis, the smart jews, are only about 3M in a country of 8M. The remaining 5M are relatively dumb jews and dumb arabs, unfortunately. Richard Lynn gave them a 94, but most IQ studies put them around 100, the same as typical Western countries.

        Reply
  22. Orenwolf

    Sadly no. The TN Visa has its own annoying restrictions which prevent me from obtaining one. I’ve had an H1-B in the past. If I do not obtain one this year I’ll probably start the half-decade long process to obtain a green card just for the hell of it.

    Reply
    • Kevin Jaeger

      That’s too bad. I know they can be really anal about TN applications.

      My son is currently stealing someone’s automotive engineering job in Dearborn and getting his TN status approved was an experience. The CBP officer was utterly obnoxious but in the end admitted the application was airtight and he couldn’t come up with any excuse to deny it. Reluctantly.

      I used to enjoy travelling to the US more but with every encounter with CBP I find I enjoy it less and less. This time of year we used to always go skiing at Lake Placid but this year I decided to go to Quebec’s Charlevoix region instead.

      Reply
      • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

        If it’s any consolation, I’ve had a worse time with Canadian and US border patrol than you probably have 🙂

        Reply
      • jz78817

        see, I’ve had the reverse problem. Any time I’ve told CBSA that I was heading to Oakville, I was grilled over glowing coals. Coming back, no problems.

        Reply
  23. VicMik

    Jack, it’s hard to tell what your core economic principles are but it often appears that the ends justify the means for you. You’re against government intervention in bailing out Wall Street but are fine with bailing out Harley Davidson. Free market capitalism is not your cup of tea – that is clear.

    So when you call upon political forces to remedy so-called economic injustices you’re left with no room to complain when those same political forces do not align with your values next time around. Best keep politics out of economics entirely.

    A business should be free to outsource, to hire cheaper and inferior labor that may run it into the ground in the long term. A job is not a right. A wage is not a right. An employment is a voluntary contract the terms of which one is free to negotiate. So why are you relying on the gov’t to help you adapt in an industry that you’ve voluntarily selected? You’re are free to leave at anytime. Go write full-time – we would all appreciate that!

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      I don’t personally need the government’s help to stay competitive in tech; I’ve been offered every contract for which I’ve interviewed since 1999, with a single exception. I have a deep and thorough grounding in computer science and can learn new things more or less instantaneously. My pattern-recognition ability is somewhere in the realm of the statistically improbable; I probably saved Honda several million dollars in lost production while I was there just because I could see and fix things that nobody else could, and do it in minutes not hours.

      But that doesn’t mean that I don’t have concerns about the industry as a whole, or about the fate of the American middle class. I don’t want to be the only guy in my suburb with a job.

      Regarding free-market capitalism, perhaps it would work, but in plain fact we’ve never had it. Whether it was “trust-busting” or “too big to fail”, the government has ALWAYS picked winners and losers in business. The simple existence of the Federal Reserve and the astounding wealth transfers going on the financial sector are evidence of that.

      So if we’re gonna have rules — and we are — let’s have rules that benefit working-class Americans as much as they do the bonus babies of Goldman Sachs.

      Reply
      • VicMik

        I can appreciate the reality of present day politics and making the best swim moves in this shit river of terrible policies. My preference is to advocate for principled policies that move us towards a freer market.

        It’s not a matter of whether capitalism would work – it would, although the lazy, dumb and unfortunate souls would have to plead for charity rather than receive an automatic govt handout.

        Capitalism is moral because it is the only system that recognizes individual rights and by extent private property and freedom of association. The US founding is very much based on morality of limited government – we’ve strayed so far.

        Reply
        • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

          Greater autonomy at each level of government would go a long way towards helping that happen. There should be a marketplace of states so you can choose the one that meets your needs on issues from gun control to roadway width.

          Reply
    • mopar4wd

      I don’t think it’s an issue that the company runs itself into the ground by going to the lowest common denominator it’s the severe blow back on the rest of society . From what I can tell from history the freer the market the more divided and unstable a country seems to be.
      I used to think a true free market would be great. I now believe it is likely impossible. Even it were possible I have a feeling it would just result in a huge shift in wealth to the top which would then create a constant cycle of repeating revolutions and violence.

      But that’s just me.

      Reply
  24. mopar4wd

    Those countries at the top do have a lot of regulations they in some cases just have better ones then we do. They also have a lot of restrictions on individual freedoms I would argue a lot more then we do despite the rating (even New Zealand a place I love and admire has high minimum wages and lots of govt mandated vacation time) . To me when I think free markets I don’t think to places like Singapore but rather to countries a 150 years ago where there were little to no economic rules vs places like England which had lots of them. This seemed to work much better for the English then the other players (obviously you can go to far and our revolution was a good example of this). Basically there is comfortable middle ground (a well regulated free market if you will) and I don’t think a true free market is actually workable. I believe in some ways our regulations have gone too far (property rights for instance) and need to be scaled back but in many other ways we don’t have enough to help protect our middle class upon which our current economy is based.

    Again I’m just a trade school educated former free market thinker, so I wouldn’t put much stock into my beliefs, they are just my view from slightly above the ground floor of the economy.

    Reply
    • VicMik

      I would completely agree with you if Regulations = Rule of Law i.e. the government protects individual rights. Regulating the height of buildings sound engineering aside, for example, doesn’t protect anyone’s right.

      I agree that countries at the top of that list have regulations. Capitalism is illegal world wide. The point there is that the spectrum of prosperity correlates with economic freedom.

      Reply

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