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And The Horse He Rode In On

I am not a disinterested party in this matter, and this is a rant about the nullification of the Emancipation Proclamation by high-tech companies with H-1B visas.

CNet reports: Gates calls for ‘infinite’ H-1Bs, better schools.

When asked by Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) how many visas Congress should approve, Gates repeated a suggestion he made years ago: that there should be an “infinite” number. “Even though it might not be realistic,” he said, “I don’t think there should be any limit.”

Gregg said he “agreed 100 percent” that there shouldn’t be a limit on the number of highly skilled people in the country, but he suggested Congress might not be able to do more than double the quota.

Support for bumping up the number of visas is hardly universal. Advocacy groups representing American computer programmers and scientists, such as the Programmers Guild, have fiercely resisted the idea. They argue that companies like Microsoft have not been making a good-faith effort to recruit qualified Americans and that the current structure of the H-1B program allows American companies to hire foreign workers at lower pay rates than American counterparts.

If you are foolish enough to remain loyal to a company long enough you will approach the $100K salary level and feel like you should be able to take a vacation occasionally, and not work more than 50 hours a week. You will be laid off and replaced with a couple of H-1Bs who are nominally working on a different project in a different part of the company. This is only in the case of core business products that are too critical to be outsourced.

There will be no effort to hire American, merely a statement by the company that no one applied for the positions which means they must have the indentured servitude of an H-1B visa holder who can be dumped without risk. While the government keeps saying there are jobs in the IT sector, they never look at the number of under- and unemployed programmers, especially over the age of forty.

Any member of Congress who is tempted to vote for anything based on the testimony of Bill Gates should read a Microsoft warranty¹. After reading that piece of legal prose and having it parsed to explain exactly what it says, the member of Congress should be able to understand how trustworthy Bill Gates isn’t.

1. Microsoft only guarantees the quality of the media [CD-ROM or DVD] that their products are shipped on. They don’t guarantee that anything will be on the media, and if there is something on the media, they don’t guarantee that it will do anything. If the media is defective, they’ll replace it.

2 comments

1 Steve Bates { 03.08.07 at 4:14 pm }

If the media is defective, they’ll replace it.

Oh, yes; they’ll replace it. They’ll ship it Airborne Express, and it will be dumped on your doorstep in midsummer in Houston… even if you’re in your office at the time, the AE guy won’t ring the bell… and whatever adhesive they use to close the CD envelope inside the mailer will melt onto the surface of the CD… the data surface, of course. Then you’ll have to ask again to have the media replaced. If you are lucky, you may eventually get to determine whether the contents were worth all the trouble. (This story is my personal experience. YMMV.)

I always thought contractors would be the last American IT professionals to bite the dust, because they’re “disposable” and don’t absorb benefits. The older I get, the more I fear my assumption was wrong. If I survive to retirement, I may be able to live on my income, but only if the GOP doesn’t find a way to screw up Texas Teacher Retirement. Meanwhile, I’d probably be more employable as a byte-pusher if I lived in Mumbai. I’m not bitter toward those programmers; they’re taking the opportunities they get. But I do resent massive outsourcing/offshoring by American companies.

2 Bryan { 03.08.07 at 4:26 pm }

It’s the bringing people here that really pisses me off. There’s not much you can do about sending the job to India, but bringing people in to take jobs that exist in the US is beyond the pale, over the line, etc.