Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Labor protectionism in US

This is an interesting entry.

Transcript: Bill Gates, U.S. Rep. spar over H-1B visas

In Washington, D.C., today, Bill Gates testified before the U.S. House Committee on Science and Technology, calling again for Congress to reform the H-1B visa program that Microsoft and other companies use to bring foreign workers to the U.S.

Many foreign IT engineers come to U.S.(especially San Francisco - Bay Area) to work with H1-B visas. The number of issued H-1B got reduced dramatically after the terrorist attack on September 11th, 2001. It is very hard for foreign skilled workers to get jobs in US simply because they can't get proper visas to work. On the the other side of the coin, US high-tech companies are having hard time to find excellent workers from the overseas. Bill Gates's words represent the thoughts of high-tech industry in US.

The following is an excerpt from the conversation between Gates and U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a California Republican.

Rohrabacher: ... Our goal isn't to replace the job of the B students with A students from India, because those B students deserve to have good jobs and high-paying jobs.

Gates: ... The B and C students are the ones who get those jobs around these top engineers. And if these top engineers are forced to work, say, in India, we will hire the B and C students from India to work around them.

The Representative's assertion is a typical protectionist remark. This kind of remarks are usually popular among ordinary people, so often acquire political support, while repeatedly denied by liberal economists as harmful for economic growth.

What interested me was that there were a several comments posted which supported Rohrabacher's insistence.

Right on Rohrabacher!!! We finally have someone who will stand up to lecherous businessmen such as Bill Gates!

It seems that US also has a certain number of protectionists inside and they have illusion and resentments that cheap, non-innovative foreigners are crowding out US citizens' jobs and make them poorer. Japan is becoming more and more introvert and protectionist in the recent years. US might be going the same path as Japan.

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