Full Disclosure: My support at this time leans towards [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ]. I was recently laid off from an IT job where I’d been for over 15 years.
First of all, I want to thank [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ] for reviewing his position on the issue of H1-B Visas. All too often politicians are either completely inflexible in their positions, or they are swayed by whatever political wind is blowing at the time.
The problem with H1-B Visas is not that they have been abused. The biggest problem with the program as it has been implemented is that it amounts to nothing more than indentured servitude. H1-B Visa candidates are sponsored by a company, and their visa is tied directly to employment with that company. This creates a disparity in the jobs market.
All workers should be able to compete equally for a job. If a company can sponsor a worker at a much lower wage, there’s no reason not to. They’re simply looking at it from a cost of resources perspective. If they can obtain necessary resources at a lower price, they will always do so. With the legislated requirement for management of public companies to always put stockholders first, their legal obligation overrides their moral obligation.
There are also two issues that are problematic with Cruz’s proposal. Requiring a MS or Ph.D may be fine for science and mathematics workers. These degrees are common in those fields, and usually required. Technology and some Engineering (e.g. Mechanical & Electrical) workers rarely obtain these advanced degrees unless they are working in research or plan to go into management.
The second issue is a minimum wage for STEM workers. As wa_tanker mentions in the comments, “A federal minimum wage is just as wrong when it’s $110K/yr as it is when it’s $15/hr.” How will this wage be managed? Will it be tied to inflation? Who will control the changes to the wage? Will it be the Administration or Congress? In either case, government rarely adjusts quickly enough to the changing marketplace.
As conservatives we constantly harp on progressives because of their propensity to dismiss prior policy failures because they believe that the problem is that the right people haven’t tried it yet. Unfortunately, this can also happen with conservatives. Even if [mc_name name=’Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C001098′ ] is elected President and implements his plan, it will only be a temporary solution. Since the underlying problem isn’t being addressed, it can easily be changed back to the current system, which is often used to reward companies that provide political donations. It’s crony-capitalism at its worst because it not only devalues our citizens, but also immigrants as well.
There is another alternative that would provide a better, and more permanent solution. A couple years ago I looked into jobs in New Zealand. They are quite a ways behind the U.S. in technology due to a lack of available experienced talent in technology fields. This country identifies critical skills needs. The immigration office regularly identifies and updates a database of jobs skills that the local population is unable to meet. Jobs in these areas are open to immigrants. Rather than sponsor a non-citizen worker, a company can simply make an job offer to them without searching for indigenous workers, since it’s already been determined that they aren’t enough of them to fill all of the open positions. The difference between their system and ours is, they have to compete with other companies for these workers, and the workers are free to compete against everyone else on an even playing field.
While there is no perfect systems, this one allows the market to determine the value of the resources. Our current system removes market forces because companies don’t have to compete for those resources. They can offer whatever salary they want, knowing the person has no choice but to work for them or stay where they are. Since even half the salary of a local resource is more than many could ever imagine earning at home, they’ll work for this lower wage. If they had the opportunity to compete with others, companies would be required to pay their full value.
Nothing of course would prevent even this type of system to be abused. The identification of resources available in critical skills areas could be fudged, but this is already happening with the current system. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that over 75% of graduates with STEM degrees are having to find jobs in other areas, yet we continue to be told there are not enough workers in the U.S. We know that there are already enough people available to fill the jobs, but the current system allows companies to avoid competition for these resources and obtain them for a lower price. This is what needs to change.