Thursday, July 25, 2002

Congress is considering a bill to let vigilantes in the movie and music instrustries to vandalize computer networks in order to promote their economic interests. Yeah, it sounds bad. See EFF for more bad computer laws in the works. I guess the music industry wants a vigilante war. See also Why Napster is a good thing. A Sci-Fi novelist once said:

There has grown up in the minds of certain groups in this country the notion that because a man or a corporation has made a profit out of the public for a number of years , the government and the courts are charged with the duty of guaranteeing such profit in the future, even in the face of changing circumstances and contrary public interest. This strange doctrine is not supported by statute nor common law. Neither individuals nor corporations have any right to come into court and ask that the clock of history be stopped ,or turned back, for their private benefit. [Robert Heinlein, Life-Line]

The IEEE is complaining about the H1-B visa program. The program was always a scam. The whole scheme was based on the assumption that the US needed foreigners to fill high-tech jobs on a temporary basis because there is no American qualified to fill the jobs. The quotas were tripled a couple of years ago, and now there is high unemployment after the crash.

We have a lot of H1-B workers in Silicon Valley. I doubt that more than 1% are genuine. They don't come here as temporary workers, they come here as immigrants. And the employers hire them because they can be hired at a lower salary and because they are less likely to change jobs (as they would have to find another H1-B sponsor). It is possible that the H1-B program provided some short-term benefit to the economy by supplying cheap labor, but at a cost to Americans who are now unemployed. The politicians and business leaders who promoted this program ought to be honest about what the program is doing.

George writes: "At the peak of the boom several years ago, it just wasn't possible to hire American programmers for any reasonable rate. Companies had to import them from India and elsewhere."

That argument is total nonsense. The Silicon Valley workforce is highly mobile, and any company that offers $20k more than the going rate is swamped with resumes. There has never been a shortage of programmers here. It reminds me of someone who used to claim that there is a shortage of American nannies, and that overseas nannies are needed. There is a huge supply of nannies. It is easy to find truly outstanding babysitters, if you are willing to pay the money.

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