Erik Loomis brought my attention to an article in The New York Times, Lawsuits Claim Disney Colluded to Replace US Workers With Immigrants. This is all about the H-1B visa. This is supposed to be a way for companies to get highly skilled workers that they just can’t find in the United States. It is most definitely not meant to be used to bring workers from other countries to replace existing workers. And so there are two class action lawsuits against Disney for doing just that.
I’ve written about H-1B visa a lot, because in my life, I’ve worked with a lot of people on H-1B visas. I have nothing against them — some I even counted as friends while I knew them and one I gave a guitar and instruction to. But they were neither super smart nor super knowledgeable about arcane subjects. They were just good, professional coders. There was nothing to distinguish them from the many good, professional coders here in the US except that they would work for a lot less money.
What’s so annoying about the constant drum beat for more H-1B visas is that it is the same old scam. Business owners always say they can’t find qualified workers. What they actually mean is that they can’t find qualified workers for the crummy pay they offer. I remember back a few years, my father was aghast that an employer was complaining that he couldn’t find skilled workers would could do trigonometry and other things. How much was he offering? Fifteen dollars an hour with no benefits. That’s a $30,000 a year job. (As I recall, the guy was also upset that many of the workers he did get were fired because they insisted on their legal rights — things like breaks.)
What we are seeing with Disney is not at all surprising. And the truth is, it is no different than the way the H-1B visa is normally used. Other companies just aren’t as obvious about it. But does it really matter that a company has a 50-something coder who is now considered too expensive so it brings in a cheap Indian coder? How is that different from a company that pretends it can’t find qualified people in the first place? There really is no difference, and everyone in government and industry knows it. This is all “nod and wink” nonsense.
Last year I wrote, H-1B Visas Are a Scam to Keep Wages Low. In it, I talked about an actual criminal conspiracy: Steve Job’s deal with other Silicon Valley giants not to hire each other’s workers. Instead of making sure that workers were happy, the CEOs just made it impossible for a high tech professional to go from, say, Apple to Google. Employers already have the great advantage of a monopsony. They wanted to make it so that even the little wiggle room that employees had was removed. Effectively, they wanted to turn workers into serfs.
Sadly, Erik Loomis doesn’t really get what’s going on. He’s an academic and they get screwed over in a totally different way. But this isn’t about people having to train their replacements or even putting people out of work. This is about a systemic problem designed to keep wages down. The H-1B visa is just a tool in that regard.
Exactly who are these workers who have skills that the US lacks? We aren’t talking about letting Albert Einstein into the country here. In the days of old, IBM didn’t expect to hire people with the “right skills.” They expected to hire smart young people, invest in them, and employ them for their entire careers. But now we have a whole new way of thinking where having any job at all is considered some kind of privilege. So people go way into debt so that they can get those lauded “right skills.” And even if they happen to succeed in that, by their 50s, they will find that they are costing the company too much money and be replaced.
It’s disturbing. People like David Brooks and Charles Murray have spent decades talking about the decline of values in America. But they never touch the single most important area where values are lacking: the business world. If you want people to marry, have kids, and raise them properly, they first need a job they can depend upon. Well that is out of the question now because all that matters is next quarter’s profits and the bonuses of top management.