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.

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