Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Math and Science Scam

The New York Times has a debate on the value of foreign technology workers that's worth reading.

Norman Matloff in Suppressing Wages With Younger Workers, provides an insight as to why studies of American education always imply that Americans are illiterate in these areas.
A core problem with the H-1B program is its impact on older U.S. workers. The median age of H-1B workers is 27, and since younger workers are cheaper, employers use H-1B to avoid hiring older (i.e. over age 35) U.S. citizens and permanent residents. Human resources departments routinely exclude the applications of older workers on the grounds that the applicants have experience beyond the range stated in the job ad. Proposals to grant green cards in lieu of H-1B visas are thus misguided, as they would still swell the young labor pool.

The hiring managers have a “gotcha” for the younger applicants too, rejecting them as lacking job experience in some special (but quickly learnable) skill.

The industry lobbyists note that 50 percent of Silicon Valley startups have been founded by immigrants. But since immigrants make up half of Silicon Valley engineers, the lobbyists’ figure merely shows that entrepreneurship rates of immigrants and natives are the same. There is no evidence that the displacement of American workers has produced a net increase in startups.

The world’s “best and brightest” should be welcomed, but most H-1B workers are not in that league. Meanwhile, many of our own best and brightest are squeezed out of the market once they become “expensive.” The industry’s
claim that American kids don’t study enough math and science is a red herring, and is rank hypocrisy, with the layoffs of thousands of U.S. citizens and permanent residents who were math and science whizzes as kids.

What Norman fails to observe is that high tech jobs were one of the job sectors in which [American] women reached and exceeded income parity with their male counter-parts.

This blog has long asserted that the math and science studies were largely manufactured to justify increased legalized job pirating practices.

Math and science teachers deserve an apology for being falsely accused of incompetence. On the other hand their complicit silence is unfortunate and sad.

Friday, April 03, 2009

The Triumph of Ignorance

Ken Dixon reports in the Connecticut Post that Bill seeks to reduce size of school no-drug zones.
The current school-zone law dates back to the late 1980s, when the surge in crack cocaine resulted in a spike in urban violence and reactions from the General Assembly. Early versions of the legislation created 1,000-foot zones around schools and later laws expanded the area and included public housing, then day care programs.

"A lot of young people were killed in drug shootouts, et cetera," Lawlor said, noting that the sale and possession of drugs in the zone results in mandatory three-year and two-year prison terms, respectively.

Under the legislation, which next moves to the House,
the hours the school zone would be in effect would include days and nights of organized student and community activities.

"I think we're all well aware that schools are used for a whole host of reasons, all throughout the year, day and night, by adults, children, et cetera," said House Minority Leader Lawrence F. Cafero Jr., R-Norwalk.

Lawlor gave the example of a homeless man smoking marijuana in back of a school at 3 a.m., in the summer, when school's out, as an example of the current law's heavy penalties.

Another example would be someone caught with a small amount of marijuana in their home, a block away from a public housing project.

Sen. Edwin A. Gomes, D-Bridgeport, a committee member, said the current perimeters "just don't work." He said that constituents of his would like added penalties to shield children in parks that are located away from schools.

"Our kids need to be protected as well as the kids in the projects," Gomes said. "These perimeters they're talking about, they just don't work."
No, the perimeters not only don't work but they are detrimental toward preventing the exposure of kids to drugs in general.

I have blogged and commented on this issue repeatedly and i'm glad to see even this glimmer of progress.

These perimeter laws have done nothing but raise the ante for minor offenses to the draconian thresholds of federal offenses reserved for mass murderers. In urban areas, these perimeters bleed into each other creating megalopolis-sized no-drug or whatever "zones". The presumption that urban populations will stop taking drugs, reading porn, or doing whatever is so delusional that the legislators creating and passing such legislation should be strapped into straitjackets and dropped off on a deserted Pacific Island.

You can walk into almost any school in America today and "find" drugs. As a society, we have exercised a radical, demented right-wing agenda for -cough- "solving" the drug problem. The blind, rabid ignorance of drug wars, wholesale intolerance, and blissful, self-righteous ever-so-toughness has resulted in an escalation of ever-more dangerous drug options, extreme escalations of violence, crime, and social dysfunction, and the costly incarceration of pedestrian, self-medicating innocents.

i hold out no great hope that society will get much smarter but Lord knows we could use an epiphany that includes tightly regulated de-criminalization and heavy taxation of marijuana, a serious effort to contain and de-escalate the dependency of hard-core addicts on heavier drugs, and the elimination of severe penalties aimed at those who are most incapable of coping with their life situation.

There is no cure for imperfect humanity but that doesn't mean that humanity's best instincts should be pushed aside to satisfy mankind's meanest.