None other than a prominent TechCrunch contributor called out tech industry insiders who push for massive increases in guest-worker visas while falsely claiming that there is a shortage of American high workers.
Writing at TechCrunch, Danny Crichton slammed the tech industry and its apologists for never discussing the impact a flood of guest workers would have on the wages and job prospects of U.S.-born Americans and legal immigrants already in the country.
When tech executive Paul Graham lashed out at those who oppose massive increases in guest-worker visas, it prompted Crichton to address the reasons why tech workers distrust executives who keep clamoring for more guest-worker permits even as companies like Microsoft are laying off 18,000 American workers.
Graham, expressing the frustration of the tech lobby, claimed that what “anti-immigration people don’t understand is that there is a huge variation in ability between competent programmers and exceptional ones, and while you can train people to be competent, you can’t train them to be exceptional.”
“Exceptional programmers have an aptitude for and interest in programming that is not merely the product of training,” Graham continued. “The US has less than 5% of the world’s population. Which means if the qualities that make someone a great programmer are evenly distributed, 95% of great programmers are born outside the US.”
Graham wrote that “anti-immigration people” are claiming that tech companies want more guest workers to “drive down salaries” said said the “US could be seriously [f*cked]” if tech companies do not get massive increases in guest-worker visas.
Chrichton points out that Graham curiously “avoids what many tech workers think when hearing about immigration reform: ‘we could be seriously [f*cked].'”
He notices that Graham’s essay also “never once uses the words ‘wage’ or ‘income.'”
Crichton notes that such arguments have made “engineers far more cynical about the motives of tech companies, which is intensified by the incessant talk of talent shortages in the industry.”
He also points out Silicon Valley’s “focus on ‘exceptional’ programmers belies the real issue at the heart of immigration reform: it isn’t about the top performing 1% of workers, which of course every country and policymaker in the world wants to attract. It is the broader effect that immigration has on wages for the other 99% that causes such controversy around these policies.”
“What is missing from the immigration debate in Silicon Valley is trust, and it certainly isn’t the engineers that have abused it. We know that tech companies have worked really hard to keep wages from rising the past decade,” Crichton continues. “Google, Apple, and a multitude of other large tech companies systematically worked together to stop workers from negotiating higher salaries by restricting recruitment practices and preventing workers from enjoying free movement of their labor.”
After pointing out that America may “have already thrown away more than 75%” of qualified tech workers at home who have for, various reasons, gone into other industries, Crichton also cites Erin Weinstein’s paper while he was at the National Bureau of Economic Research in which Weinstein showed that so-called shortages in the tech industry in the 1990s “were largely a fiction.” In fact, Graham points out that Weinstein discovered that “it was the active policy of the government to encourage immigration, because one of the primary benefits was lower wages for industry, and thus, greater competitiveness for the United States.”
Two decades later, the tech industry is still pushing the false notion that there are not enough American tech workers even though numerous studies and scholars have proved otherwise. As Breitbart News has noted, “despite evidence to the contrary, the tech industry has spent millions trying to get massive increases in the number of H-1b guest-worker visas, claiming that they ‘can’t find’ Americans to do various tech jobs.”
Even President Barack Obama “has said he is ‘skeptical’ of claims from companies—like those in the high-tech industry—that they cannot find enough Americans to fill open jobs.”
“I’m generally skeptical when you hear employers say, ‘oh we just can’t find any Americans to do the job,’” Obama said at an immigration event in Nashville. “A lot of times what they really mean is that it’s a lot cheaper to potentially hire somebody who has just come here before they know better…”
The tech industry–and its allies in Congress–will keep trying to get increases in guest-worker visas in the next Congress. As Breitbart News has reported, Republicans in Congress will seek to push legislation to grant the tech industry more guest-worker visas in the next Congress. But Crichton notes that prominent tech industry lobbies like FWD.us have “had tremendous difficulty affecting change in Washington” even after spending millions of dollars to achieve its legislative goals because they are concealing the real reason why they want massive increases in guest-worker visas. In addition, the industry’s main talking point about the lack of American tech workers do not hold water, especially when nearly every study has found that there is actually a surplus of American high-tech talent.
In fact, there is a proven surplus of American high-tech workers.
“Trust starts with honesty, and so far in this debate, we have had very little of it,” Crichton concludes. “Companies should admit that a shortage means they have to pay higher wages, and that they simply don’t want to do that.”