Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Giant Sucking Sound of Hot Air

Populists are romanticized at a distance, startling from nearby, and dangerous when contemporaries.

US Senators Richard Durbin (D-Illinois) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) are working on a bill to overhaul the H1-B visa status to “give priority to American workers”. Now I admit I'm a biased party here, seeing as I'm a foreigner stealing a job from the hundreds of Americans who apply to the Brown computer science department for faculty positions every year.

Having stipulated to my bias, let's go on. Durbin says, “Some companies are so brazen, they say ‘no Americans need apply’ in their job advertisements”. I was rather surprised to read this; surely this is a direct violation of the law! Intrigued by who was posting such ads I scoured the Internet for a while, but these rascally companies have made sure Google cannot find them (a curious way to advertise, for sure, but maybe these ads are only visible outside the US—oh, those wily foreigners!). What I find is article upon article talking about the phenomenon, instead of the phenomenon itself.

Durbin is not done. His ire rising, he lambasts these people who would reduce the American programmer to a hewer of wood and drawer of water:

foreign workers come to this country for a few years of training, then return home “to populate businesses competing with the United States.”

Free clue for the dummy: that's because many of them are forced back home by your own policies. This man is making national policy? I hope some of his constituents are reading this.

Fairness and Balance: The Programmer's Guild offers a counterpoint to my views.

Aside: The banner image on their site as of this writing contains the obligatory code snippet...in Lisp. Okay, so maybe they're not such a bad lot after all.


Sebastian Good said...

I get similarly incensed by the ridiculous policies in place forcing all these bright foreigners home. What, does Dick think that God pre-ordained that the US would win the world's Nobel prizes, invent nuclear power, and start many (most?) of its great companies? Or did he not notice they were all accomplishments of foreigners we were proud to claim as our own. Unbelievable.

And I guess the LISP does counterbalance the little BYTE Magazine iconography. There's no surer sign you're dealing with bearded ancients than reverence of this particular artifact. (Not that I didn't enjoy also reading a magazine which included ads for cheap 4 bit processors and soldering irons.)

Nice to see you soldiering away online!

Shriram Krishnamurthi said...

Good point, four. Lisp in BYTE is as sure a sign of bearded ancients as any.

While I'm, personally, bothered by Durbin's opinions, every American should be bothered—irrespective of their politics—by the fact that their policy-makers have so little underdstanding of their own rules.