Thursday, April 20, 2017

One more example of Crooked Capitalism: Whatever Corporations/CEOs say about H1-B/L1 visas, it is nothing but money/fat bonuses for them!

(Disclaimer: I am in USA but I was never on H1B or any work visa)

I answered a question on Quora related to H1B visas few months ago. Now as President Trump has signed an Executive Order to make changes in this controversial visa program, I want to post my views on my blog. I am also going to post my thoughts on what I hear from people when they talk about this visa program and American workers.
  1. I personally think H1B visas program in 2010s is nothing but a glaring example of corporate greed at the expense of the nation, and the residents. This is a twisted version of Crooked Capitalism. Let me list what good will happen if Trump really curtails this program. Remember, we are no more in 1990 when the technology revolution had started with popularization of Internet, eCommerce,  Networking, ERP systems, Java and last but not the least- Y2k fears of meltdown of US economy. In those years, there was a clear gap in demand and supply of these skills. All those technologies were new and there were not enough people with right skills. So H1B was a great solution. However, we are no more in 1990s! We are now in 2017. I don't think H1B is as critical as Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook and all big corporations want us to believe! They cry about shortage of skills in USA and common people would believe it. Do you know what cutting edge technologies they use these days? Do you really believe that there are no local resources available? Maybe, 5% of what they do is cutting edge but most other stuff they do is regular DBA work, networking, routing, publishing, writing programs, maintaining and managing systems, internal business applications. Even for those 5% involved in cutting edge technologies, I am sure, for most, the skills are available at the right price.

    Do you know what has happened to people who have come on H1B over last two decades? This program has accumulated 2 million skilled workers since them. Most of the workers who came temporarily to bridge the talent deficit have permanently settled here. IT booms have settled. IT as an industry has more or less settled down. I don't think we need to keep adding H1B forever. Current economics does not justify it. Now, I also think, it is not only citizens are suffering due to side effect of H1B visa program but these early H1Bers who have made USA their home are also at risk if H1B visa holders keep coming in.
  2. I believe that the nexus of politicians and wall street (read as CEOs) has probably let this program over-run its useful life. They still want us to believe that the growth and innovation engine of US economy runs on talent brought out from some struggling, poor, developing or underdeveloped countries.

    THE ONLY REASON A CEO OR A CORPORATION WANTS H1B IS BECAUSE 95% OF THE H1B VISA HOLDERS WORK AT 30-50% DISCOUNT TO CURRENT RATES. PLUS, MOST OF THESE YOUNG H1B VISA HOLDERS ARE MARRIED TO WORK! THEY WORK 20-30% MORE HOURS. This is what I see when some CEOs lobby in Washington.  
  3. When someone says US workers do not have the skill, he forgets one important thing: a 4 year college degree in USA takes around 100k of debt ;) Unlike parents’ funding and availability of cheap education for most H1B candidates in their home countries, very few in USA have luxury of parents’ funding their college or willingness to assume such a large debt when you are earning $10 an hour during high school years ;)
  4. When they say US workers are not smart, or hardworking, they forget that these same people made this USA one of the best nations. Do you think USA rose from dirt over two centuries by miracle? It was because of hard work, vision and smartness of the population. It is not a pure stroke of luck that USA is the most prosperous and sought after country on the planet and that USD has reason from 5–6 to 67 INRs/$ ;)
  5. When someone says American workers are lazy, they forget to define what a life means. Life is not something that is centered around money or material. Life needs to be a balance between work and family/passion/hobby. For many H1Bs/newcomers, life’s only objective/passion, in the beginning, is to get USA green card and then Citizenship. Then, the objective is to make and save money and accumulate material/show pieces (big houses, fancy cars and spelling bee winner kids ;) ). If some local chooses to climb mountains, or go work in peace corps or be a photographer, don’t assume he is lazy. Probably all newcomers/H1Bs want to do the same too but before that, they want to be rich ;) Many of them are trading life/time for money.
  6. With restrictions on H1Bs, USA will become a better place to live. The racial divide we worry about will turn for a bit better. There is no denying that foreign YOUNG chaps are taking jobs of many middle aged locals. More locals hate immigrant workers who have taken up their jobs than Muslims IMO.
  7. The economic divide between USA and other countries, like India, will get narrower if H1B is curtailed. Most youngsters come to USA because of attractive currency conversion rate that makes earning in INR in USA look very attractive. Countries like India get deprived of benefit of some smart people who leave her for personal betterment. It is a pity many of new comers, maybe unknowingly, choose to join the rat race of money and material then following their passion, or choosing to make an impact on others . Some of them do wonders for NASA or Google in USA but the poor in India and in the world overall are deprived of their talent.

    H1B is a misused racket by US CEOs for their selfish gains. It is only a way to reduce some expenses on the income statement. Don’t take me wrong, there are some jobs for which local talent is scarce but what most of us do here can be easily found locally- the only difference is new H1Bs can mow the IT field lawns at half the price of market rates.

I know some of you may not like my views. If you are an H1B wishing to come to USA, let me tell you one thing. If you don’t get H1B, do not feel bad. It is not end of the world. India is growing rapidly too. (After coming to USA for studies, I did go back to India and lived there for 7 years. I did create living for 100 plus families. Why am I back here in USA? I can write all that but it is not relevant to the topic or our discussion so please spare me with counter attacks). If you have not done your math, let me tell you that it is not that rosy anymore here in the USA. Rents, insurances, expenses, magnitude of taxes are high. If you lose a job for a year, the mortgage payments and health insurance can break your back and your savings of years. Last but not least, do not forget that if H1B continues and if you lose your job when you are in 40s, 50s, you would have to choose to work at 70% of the salary your last job offered! This is not about you or I. This is all about Crooked Capitalism!
(Disclaimer: I am in USA but I was never on H1B or any work visa. Also, this article is not about you or I. It is more to highlight how Capitalism around us is getting more and more Crooked day by day!!)

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