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Free For All

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Open topics for discussion
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6/20/2016 12:08 AM - anonymous

Hero's and Villians

Has someone done something to make us proud? Or brought shame on our country?
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10/4/2016 9:36 AM - Onward

Money, Politics and Corruption

Money, Politics and Corruption

Is American government corrupt? Are corporations people? How can we reclaim government for the people?
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10/19/2016 12:32 AM - Connelly

Banking, Traders and Financial Corruption

How deep are the crimes? Will anyone go to prison? Does Wall Street control our government?
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6/25/2016 10:16 AM - anonymous

Electricity Pricing and Markets

Does the conversion from regulated to free markets work? Who wins? Are these markets manipulated?
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7/30/2013 11:47 AM - libby

Fast and Furious

Did our justice department sell guns to the Mexican Drug Cartels, resulting in deaths several people in a plot to further gun control laws?
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8/9/2012 2:12 PM - NoSir


Jobs and the Economy

Is the economy in recovery or recession? Has enough been done? Are we on the right path?
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10/13/2016 8:34 AM - Connelly

Oil and Gasoline

Are prices too high? Are markets manipulated? Why not natural gas?
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9/17/2013 1:31 PM - Connelly

Income Inequality

Should there be limits on capitalism? Have the wealthy been unfairly critized?
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9/30/2015 9:29 AM - libby

Poverty in America

Do the rich get richer while the poor get poorer?
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2/7/2014 1:37 PM - libby

Welfare/Food Stamps

Should we have a social safety net? Is our's in humane or has it gone too far?
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2/3/2014 3:07 PM - anonymous

Housing Crisis

With more than 20% of American mortgages underwater, should government intervene?
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8/9/2012 10:00 AM - anonymous

Food Prices

Are your salary and wages keeping up? Have prices affected the way you eat?
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6/1/2013 12:54 PM - libby

Credit Availability

Is credit too tight? Do you quality for loans? Are you being charged usury? Why the explosive growth for payday and title lenders?
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9/12/2012 12:12 PM - Onward

Minimum Wage

Should we have a minimum wage? Should the current rate be raised? Will America lose more jobs?
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6/20/2013 3:00 PM - Chandler


Immigration Reform

Does the US have a shortage of skilled labor? Should illegal immigrate be granted citizenship
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10/24/2016 12:42 PM - Connelly

Voter Registration and Fraud

Do Voter ID laws target fraud or intented to block certain voters?
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10/19/2014 1:36 AM - Cancun

Role of Government

What is the proper role of government? Is ours too big or too small? Do we have sufficient government or is our nation threaten?
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2/5/2014 1:00 AM - Cancun


Are Private Prisons Moral? Should Wall Street control Social Security? Should schools be managed "For-Profit"?
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8/7/2012 1:58 PM - anonymous

Taxes and Spending

Do we pay too much or too little tax? Should taxcuts be extended? Invest in infrastructure or is the spending brankrupting our country?
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4/15/2015 12:27 PM - anonymous

Supreme Court

Thoughts, comments and opinions on the US Supreme Courts
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9/18/2012 5:21 PM - anonymous

US Senate

Will Democrats hold a majority or Republican own both houses? Should filibuster rules changed?
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8/21/2012 10:06 AM - Hiyall

US House

Is the House the protector of American democracy -- or its bain? Will the Republican majority be overturned?
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1/4/2013 4:31 PM - libby


Too much regulation or too little? Should fracking be exempt from the Safe Drinking Water Act? Should we shift to natural gas?
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11/28/2012 5:59 PM - anonymous


Student Loans

How much is too much? A lifetime of debt? Discharge in bankruptcy?
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10/23/2013 10:17 AM - Cancun

Education, K-12

Is education a government responibility? Do we adequately funded? Should Public, Charter, Private and Religious Schools be funded?
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9/30/2013 3:02 PM - libby

Higher Education

Is college a good investment? Should the costs of higher education be subsidized?
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9/24/2013 11:57 AM - libby


Healthcare / ObamaCare

For or against? Help for the needy? Or new taxes on the middle-class? A sell-out to big insurance?
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6/16/2015 8:55 AM - anonymous

Obesity in America

Why are 30% of Americans obese? Should government intervene or is this an issue of personal responsibility? Do we need more nutritional education? Bring back physical education?
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Prescription Drug Addiction

A rampant issue for America? What can or should be done?
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Legalization of Drugs

Should drugs be legalized? Or too risky to society? Is government legislating morality or keeping America safe?
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ADD / ADHD Medication

Are these drugs overprescribed? Or key to productive citizenry?
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Privacy and Domestic Spying

Is internet privacy an oxymoron? Does privacy exist? Can it be protected? What are the implications of lost privacy?
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2/10/2015 5:41 PM - Suzie

Propaganda and Media

Propaganda and Media
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4/5/2016 12:15 PM - Cancun


Are religion and evolution irreconcilable? Capital punishment? Private prisons verus profit motives? What else is on your mind?
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1/21/2014 5:19 PM - anonymous

Recent posts

10/24/2016 12:42:23 PM
Silicon Valley Pushes Immigration for Own Purpose

Posts: 203
Silicon Valley Pushes for Immigration Reform for Its Own Purposes

By Bryant Walker Smith. NY Times. October 24, 2016

Tech companies are currently driving the biggest lobbying efforts on immigration reform, mostly so they can expand the H-1B visa program for high-skilled workers.

The possibility that the H-1B program speeds up innovation and increases productivity is used to argue for its expansion. Bill Gates, for example, claims that Microsoft creates four new jobs, ostensibly for citizens, for each H-1B immigrant hired.

Is the H-1B visa program that brings in high-skilled immigrant workers benefiting the American people? The evidence is mixed.

But there is an obvious self-interest for high-tech tycoons — more programmers reduce wages and increase profits — so it’s wise to ignore their promises and look at what the data actually say about the benefits for the American people, especially in a time when immigration reform is in such a heated debate. Unfortunately, the evidence is mixed.

The conclusion that Americans are better off with more H-1B workers comes from studies showing higher levels of innovation in cities that host many H-1B immigrants. But sometimes the results are not credible.

The correlation reported in a well-known study, for instance, suggests that if Congress would just print another 15 million visas, the wage of U.S.-born college graduates would nearly double! One must have a financial stake in the H-1B program or be very gullible to take such a “finding” seriously.

The most persuasive evaluation of the program examines a peculiar lottery. Firms can apply for visas on a first-come, first-served basis until the visas run out. On some random day, the visas run out and on that day more firms typically apply than there are visas available. A lottery determines the lucky winners. It turns out that the firms that won the lottery do not patent more, and that each H-1B visa crowds out one native worker. This evidence is far more consistent with the flood of news reports documenting how employers abuse the program and force the displaced natives to train their foreign-born replacements.

Despite the contradictory evidence, there is a sensible way to proceed. Some native workers undoubtedly lose. But let’s take Bill Gates at face value. If Microsoft really creates so many new jobs, Microsoft is profiting substantially and should be willing to pay many thousands of dollars for each visa. Let’s use those funds to compensate and retrain the affected workers. Actions speak louder than words: Would the high-tech tycoons actually be willing to pay substantial amounts for those permits?

Link to Source
10/19/2016 12:32:44 AM
Open borders ‘dream’ is nightmare for workers

Posts: 203
Hillary’s open borders ‘dream’ is a nightmare for workers

By Betsy McCaughey, nypost.com

Immigration will take center stage Wednesday night at the final Donald Trump-Hillary Clinton debate. Clinton dreams of “open borders.” Count on her to yank on your heartstrings. But workers who are losing their jobs to newcomers from other countries know first-hand the danger of increasing immigration.

Trump’s challenge will be to convince voters that putting American workers first is not racist or xenophobic. It’s simple economics. Hillary’s “dream” of open borders is a nightmare for wage-earners.

Do the math: In the last 12 months, jobs held by immigrants have increased five times as fast as those held by US-born workers. The American labor force is being displaced at a rapid pace.

To add insult to injury, some pink-slipped workers are being forced to train low-wage replacements after they’ve been fired. Last year, Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., fired 250 tech workers and then demanded they spend their final weeks on the job teaching their replacements from India.

Clinton promises to protect American jobs. Don’t count on it. Hillary’s “private position” on open borders — her secret dream of unlimited immigration — is one of the bombshell revelations in the recent WikiLeaks disclosure of her paid speeches.

Now it’s clear why she refused to disclose these speeches when Bernie Sanders demanded them.

Sanders smelled a rat during the primary season, when Hillary courted labor with assurances she’d preserve their jobs. He warned that her globalist views would allow wealthy corporations “to bring in all kinds of people [who] work” for low pay and “would make everybody in America poorer.” He did the math and saw that it’s already happening.

Since November 2007, jobs belonging to native-born workers have declined by 1.5 million, while jobs held by immigrants (legal and illegal) have grown by 2 million. In the last year alone, employment by native-born American workers inched up a meager 1 percent. Immigrant employment shot up 5 percent.

Some economists point to Adam Smith’s long-held theory that the invisible hand of the global market place should allow labor and raw materials to move wherever they will be used to maximum benefit. In short, open borders and free trade. That’s the theory.

But in the United States, Smith’s invisible hand is smacking labor upside the head.

A steady stream of newly arriving workers keeps wages down in industries like buildings-and-grounds maintenance and food preparation and serving. That benefits business owners and consumers, but the data show it depresses the standard of living of wage earners in these industries — the people mowing lawns, packaging frozen foods and serving burgers.

As Harvard economist George Borjas shows, it also hurts immigrants already here who are struggling to make it.

Hillary has declared income inequality Public Enemy No 1. She’s campaigning to raise the federal minimum wage. That’s two-faced, so long as she allows immigration to drive down wages of disadvantaged minorities, including high-school dropouts and people with limited English skills.

Mid-level computer workers and skilled technicians are also getting slammed by an influx of foreign workers brought here expressly to undercut their salaries.

US law allows companies to evade immigration limits and bring in foreign workers under H-1B visas to fill jobs as long as it doesn’t “adversely affect” conditions for US workers. But as one laid off Disney worker said, “Was I negatively affected? Yeah, I was. I lost my job.”

During the Republican primaries, Donald Trump attacked these special visas and pledged, “If I am president, I will not issue any H-1B visas.” Trump’s not entirely innocent — he used similar immigration loopholes to staff his resorts. But he says what he did as a businessman and what he’ll do as president are different.

Meanwhile, tech firms like Facebook and Apple are pushing for more — not fewer — H-1B visas and looser immigration laws. Tech moguls are shoveling millions into Clinton’s campaign. And remember: Money talks, especially with the Clintons.

Betsy McCaughey is a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research.
10/13/2016 8:34:30 AM
Tech Boom Has a Downside: Not Enough Jobs

Posts: 203
America’s Dazzling Tech Boom Has a Downside: Not Enough Jobs
The Great Unraveling

By Jon Hilsenrath and Bob Davis, WSJ.com

The discontent driving Donald Trump’s campaign stems partly from the dashed employment promises of the late 1990s; $7-an-hour robots

The technology revolution has delivered Google searches, Facebook friends, iPhone apps, Twitter rants and shopping for almost anything on Amazon, all in the past decade and a half.

What it hasn’t delivered are many jobs. Google’s Alphabet Inc. and Facebook Inc. had at the end of last year a total of 74,505 employees, about one-third fewer than Microsoft Corp. even though their combined stock-market value is twice as big. Photo-sharing service Instagram had 13 employees when it was acquired for $1 billion by Facebook in 2012.

Hiring in the computer and chip sectors dove after companies shifted hardware production outside the U.S., and the newest tech giants needed relatively few workers. The number of technology startups fizzled. Growth in productivity and wages slowed, and income inequality rose as machines replaced routine, low- and middle-income, human-powered work.

Technology Booms, But Not For American Workers After rising in the 1990s, employment at computer and electronic firms has fallen by more than 40%, though a smaller number of jobs has been created in other tech sectors.

Apple Inc. followed a similar path. Co-founder Steve Jobs made it a mission early in his Apple career and after creating NeXT Inc., another computer maker, to revitalize U.S. manufacturing. Macintosh computers rolled off the line at an Apple factory “like a Holiday Inn toaster turns out toasted bagels,” says Brent Schlender, who co-wrote a biography of Mr. Jobs.

By the time Mr. Jobs died in 2011, Apple made nearly every one of its products outside America, largely in Asia. Apple halted U.S. manufacturing in 2004 and didn’t resume until 2013, when it began producing Mac Pro personal computers in Austin, Texas.

Apple says it employs about 80,000 workers in the U.S., or two-thirds of the company’s overall workforce. About half the U.S. employees have retail jobs.

An Apple spokeswoman says it is “creating jobs in new industries like the App Economy,” or apps developed for the iPhone, and is “a major contributor to U.S. manufacturing” by buying American-made components and materials.

Mr. Schlender, the Jobs biographer, says it made sense to assemble the iPod outside the U.S. when production began in 2001. “The components were hard to make, and putting them together was a labor-intensive job because everything was so small,” he says. “You had to piece it together by hand.”

The computer-hardware exodus spread. International Business Machines Corp. , the company that turned computers into a big business, was born in Endicott, N.Y., and built its first factories there.

From 2001 to 2015, though, employment in computer and electronics manufacturing in surrounding Broome County fell about two-thirds to 3,055 jobs. Warehouses and transportation companies scooped up some laid-off workers at salaries of less than half those paid in high-tech manufacturing, says Christian Harris, an analyst for the New York State Department of Labor.

American tech workers are getting a smaller piece of the economic pie created from what they produce. As of 2014, employee compensation in computer and electronic-parts making was equal to 49% of the value of the industry’s output, down from 79% in 1999, according to the Commerce Department.

While other tech jobs have been created in sectors such as software publishing, that growth is smaller than the losses in tech manufacturing.

Since 2002, the number of technology startups has slowed, hurting job creation. In a 2014 study, economists Javier Miranda, John Haltiwanger and Ian Hathaway said the growth of tech startups accelerated to 113,000 in 2001 from 64,000 in 1992.

That number slumped to 79,000 in 2011 and hasn’t recovered, according to the economists’ calculations using updated data. The causes include global competition and increased domestic regulation, says Mr. Haltiwanger, an economics professor at the University of Maryland.

Another problem is that fewer tech companies have gone public, which can enrich early employees and spawn more jobs as companies grow.
Jay Ritter, a professor at the University of Florida’s Warrington College of Business, says there were 548 initial public offerings of technology-related companies from 2001 to 2015. From 1990 to 2000, by contrast, 1,853 went public.

The latest generation of hot tech startups has attracted a mountain of venture-capital funding and gigantic valuations, led by Uber Technologies Inc., which was worth $68 billion as of June.

The influx of wealth has created more prosperity in Silicon Valley but exemplifies the economic polarization rippling through America.

WhatsApp had more than 450 million users world-wide when Facebook bought the messaging service for $19 billion in 2014, turning founder Jan Koum into a billionaire several times over. At the time of the acquisition, WhatsApp had 55 employees.

Economists call the phenomenon “skill-biased technical change.” The spoils of growth go to those few people with skills and luck and who are best positioned to take advantage of new technology.

The five largest U.S.-based technology companies by stock-market value—Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft, Facebook and Oracle Corp. —are worth a combined $1.8 trillion today. That is 80% more than the five largest tech companies in 2000.

Today’s five giants have 22% fewer workers than their predecessors, or a total of 434,505 as of last year, compared with 556,523 at Cisco Systems Inc., Intel, IBM, Oracle and Microsoft in 2000.

Amazon uses 45,000 small robots at about one-third of its U.S. warehouses to automate order processing. The robots look like bread boxes on wheels, lifting modular shelves stuffed with products and carrying the shelves to workers who pick out pieces.

An Amazon spokesman says the company has added about 200,000 employees since it began using the robots in early 2012. Amazon has 268,000 employees world-wide.

Robots aren’t dexterous enough yet to identify different sized-packages, pick the right ones and place them safely in boxes, says Mr. Brynjolfsson, the MIT economist. That is the fundamental skill in warehousing. Researchers now are trying to automate that part of the job, too.

In coming decades, machines are likely to replace new forms of routine work done by humans. From 1991 to 2001, the number of secretaries declined about 35%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number of textile and apparel workers fell 37%.

For a long time, those with bachelor’s degrees in science seemed to be safe from automation-related layoffs because their cognitive knowledge was tough for computers to duplicate. Less-educated workers who dispense personal service, such as home health aides or masseuses, also seemed safe.

Harvard University economist David Deming estimates that the hollowing-out of work spread to programmers, librarians and engineers between 2000 and 2012. As much as $2 trillion worth of human economic activity could be automated away using existing technologies, such as Amazon’s robots, in coming years, consulting firm McKinsey & Co. estimates.

Knightscope Inc., based in Mountain View, Calif., makes robots that serve as night watchmen. About three dozen are on patrol, including at shopping malls, corporate campuses such as Microsoft’s in Mountain View and the new home arena of the Sacramento Kings. Knightscope clients pay $7 an hour per robot.

“Robots don’t complain,” says Stacy Stephens, a Knightscope co-founder and vice president of marketing and sales. “There’s no pension. And there’s no worker’s comp,” he adds.

Link to Source
10/11/2016 9:09:47 AM
Debt & Rent Slaves Blamed for Lousy Economy

Posts: 203
These Debt & Rent Slaves Get Blamed for the Lousy Economy
by Wolf Richter, Wolf Street.com, October 10, 2016

Over the past few days, the Diamond Producers Association launched its first new ad campaign in five years after watching retail sales of diamond jewelry slow down, as Millennials built on the habit pioneered by prior generations of delaying or not even thinking about marriage, and thus not being sufficiently enthusiastic about buying diamond engagement rings.

The campaign, according to Adweek, is designed to motivate Millennials “to commemorate their ‘real,’ honest relationships with diamonds, even if marriage isn’t part of the equation.”

Mother New York, the agency behind the campaign, spent months interviewing millennials, according to Quartz, and learned that they associated diamonds with a “fairytale love story that wasn’t
relevant to them.” So the premium jewelry industry, seeing future profits at risk, needs to do something about that.

A year ago, it was Wall Street – specifically Goldman Sachs – that did a lot of hand-wringing about millennials. “They don’t trust the stock market,” Goldman Sachs determined in a survey. Only 18% thought that the stock market was “the best way to save for the future.”

It’s a big deal for Wall Street because millennials are now the largest US generation. There are 75 million of them. They’re supposed to be the future source of big bonuses. Wall Street needs to figure out how to get to their money.

The older ones have seen the market soar, collapse, re-soar, re-collapse, re-soar…. They’ve seen the Fed’s gyrations to re-inflate stocks. They grew up with scandals and manipulations, high-frequency trading, dark pools, and spoofing. They’ve seen hard-working people get wiped out and wealthy people get bailed out. Maybe they’d rather not mess with that infernal machine.

And today, the Los Angeles Times added more fuel. “They’re known for bouncing around jobs, delaying marriage, and holing up in their parents’ basements,” it mused.

Everyone wants to know why millennials don’t follow the script. Brick-and-mortar retailers have been complaining about them for years, with increasing intensity, and a slew of specialty chains have gone bankrupt, a true fiasco for the industry, even as online retailers are laughing all the way to the bank.

“For starters, millennials are not big spenders, at least not in the traditional sense,” the Times said. Yet most of them spend every dime they earn, those that have decent jobs. But much of that spending goes toward their student-loan burden and housing.

Everybody somehow agrees that millennials as a group prefer “experiences” – eating out, traveling, etc. – over buying merchandise, such as jewelry, clothing, furniture, and cars, though they buy gadgets and services galore. But that “experiences” theory too is running into trouble because restaurants are slithering into a recession as sales have hit the skids recently.

So these spending habits of millennials “may not be great for a U.S. economy driven by consumer spending,” the Times points out.

But I wonder: Consumer spending includes a meal from a taco truck along with a craft brew, all made in America, same as a piece of clothing made in Bangladesh. Why would splurging on an “experience” near a taco truck be worse for the economy than buying some imported piece of merchandise? I don’t get it.

And travels? Granted, foreign travel is not good for the US economy. But other generations, too, liked and still like to travel – a lot. Some of us were gone for years. I doubt millennials are more damaging to the US economy in that department than we are.

Domestic travel is good for the economy, thought it may be less good for the environment. Every dime they spend getting there and staying there or having fun – all these “experiences” add to GDP.
But millennials have two problems prior generations didn’t have – at least not to that crazy extent:

  1. They’re bogged down in student loans, the result of rapacious price increases in higher education. The New York Fed estimates that total student debt from federal and private lenders has reached a record $1.3 trillion. An increasingly large part of that debt sits on top of millennials, turning them into debt slaves.
  2. They’re facing confiscatory rents and home prices in many cities, thanks to Fed’s effort to inflate the greatest asset bubbles the US has ever seen, though few millennials make that connection.
So they rent or stay with their parents or they bunk down together, four or five of them in an apartment in places like San Francisco. Homeownership has plunged to 62.9% in the second quarter, the lowest level since the Census Bureau started tracking it in 1965:

For millennials, the homeownership rate fell to 34%, from around 40% for young adults in prior decades, according to the Times. Given the rents they face, saving up for a down payment has become a herculean task. So forget it. But now the real estate industry is complaining about the millennials. Everyone needs new homebuyers to keep the market propped up and the commissions flowing.
And they’re risk averse and not into starting new businesses, according to the Times, which would corroborate Goldman’s lament about millennials not digging the stock market:

The rate of new start-ups is higher today than 10 or 20 years ago for every major age group — except those between 20 and 34 years old, according to the Kauffman Foundation’s latest annual study of entrepreneurship.

Two decades ago, a little more than 34% of all new entrepreneurs in the U.S. were younger than 34 years old. Today it’s just 25%.

That’s bad news. But it’s logical: burdened by student loans and confronted with confiscatory housing costs, fewer of them have any courage or means left to deal with the extraordinary uncertainties and risks of starting a business in this environment. Given how important small and young businesses are to the economy, to jobs, to invention, to business renewal, and to the middle class, any major reluctance by millennials have in starting businesses will have an impact – or already has an impact.

Over the past three decades, the US averaged nearly 120,000 more business births than deaths per year. But between 2008 and 2011, on average 30,000 more businesses died than were born, according to the Census Bureau. That the core of the US job creation machine has been faltering is not a sign of a healthy or even a “recovering” economy.

Read… “Or We’ll Lose the Whole Middle Class”: Gallup CEO

Link to Source

edited by Connelly on 10/11/2016
10/11/2016 9:08:12 AM
Or We’ll Lose the Whole Middle Class”

Posts: 203
“Or We’ll Lose the Whole Middle Class”: Gallup CEO
By Wolf Richter, WolfStreet.com, September 20, 2016

Economic recovery, but not for the “Invisible Americans”Jim Clifton, Chairman and CEO at Gallup, who presides over endless surveys of American consumers and businesses and knows a thing or two about them, has a message for the media and the political establishment that seem to be clueless: this meme about the recovering economy – “It was even trumpeted on Page 1 of The New York Times and Financial Times last week,” he says – “I don’t think it’s true.”

In an article posted on Gallup’s website, he made his case:
The percentage of Americans who say they are in the middle or upper-middle class has fallen 10 percentage points, from a 61% average between 2000 and 2008 to 51% today.

Ten percent of 250 million adults in the U.S. is 25 million people whose economic lives have crashed.

What the media is missing is that these 25 million people are invisible in the widely reported 4.9% official U.S. unemployment rate.

Let’s say someone has a good middle-class job that pays $65,000 a year. That job goes away in a changing, disrupted world, and his new full-time job pays $14 per hour — or about $28,000 per year. That devastated American remains counted as “full-time employed” because he still has full-time work — although with drastically reduced pay and benefits. He has fallen out of the middle class and is invisible in current reporting.

And these “Invisible Americans,” as he calls them, are facing the “disastrous” emotional toll often associated with a sharp loss of household income. It hits “self-esteem and dignity,” and produces an “environment of desperation.” Even many American with good jobs and incomes are just “one degree” away from the misery of those with falling wages, or the underemployed or unemployed.

Clifton names three metrics that “need to be turned around or we’ll lose the whole middle class”:
  1. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the percentage of the total U.S. adult population that has a full-time job has been hovering around 48% since 2010this is the lowest full-time employment level since 1983.
  2. The number of publicly listed companies trading on U.S. exchanges has been cut almost in half in the past 20 years — from about 7,300 to 3,700. Because firms can’t grow organically — that is, build more business from new and existing customers — they give up and pay high prices to acquire their competitors, thus drastically shrinking the number of U.S. public companies. This seriously contributes to the massive loss of U.S. middle-class jobs.
  3. New business startups are at historical lows. Americans have stopped starting businesses. And the businesses that do start are growing at historically slow rates.
“Free enterprise is in free fall — but it is fixable,” he says. It all depends on small businesses. They need to thrive again. They’re “our best hope” for the economy to pick up some speed. And once they’re thriving again, they can “restore the middle class”:

Gallup finds that small businesses — startups plus “shootups,” those that grow big — are the engine of new economic energy. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, 65% of all new jobs are created by small businesses, not large ones.

But small businesses as a group are not doing well. Over the past three decades, the US averaged nearly 120,000 more business births than deaths per year. But between 2008 and 2011, according to Census Bureau data, on average 420,000 businesses were born per year, while on average 450,000 died. That the core of the US job creation machine has been faltering is not a sign of a healthy or even a “recovering” economy.

Clifton’s sobering message – that a big part of American households and therefore consumers are still in serious disarray in part due to the problems small businesses are facing – appears to be getting totally lost among the media hype, including the deafening razzmatazz about the 5.2% jump in “household income,” reported last week by the Census Bureau, and widely misconstrued by the media.

This disarray is even worse, once it’s parsed, as the Census Bureau has done, by men and women. Because men’s median income, adjusted for inflation, is now lower than it had been in 1974!

Read… That 5.2% Jump in Household Income? Nope, People Aren’t Suddenly Getting Big-Fat Paychecks

Link to Source
10/4/2016 9:36:57 AM
Hillary Clinton's H-1B Outsourcing Program

Posts: 289
breitbart.com Hillary Clinton's H-1B Outsourcing Program Has 100,000 Foreign Workers in Midwest White-Collar Jobs

by Neil Munro30 Sep 20160

Hillary Clinton has strongly backed the unpopular H-1B outsourcing program since at least 2005, even as it has gradually sent 100,000 foreign professionals into Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania to compete for jobs against white-collar American professionals and young college graduates.That could be a 2016 problem for Clinton because it is a direct economic threat to one of her strongest constituencies — university educated professionals. In fact, there are so many foreign workers in those three states that there’s a semi-hidden job network to help them apply for jobs ahead of American professionals.

The huge extra supply of foreign university labor, according to the law of supply and demand, pushes down the salaries earned by American professionals in those states. Nationwide, this so-called “immigration tax” annually transfers $500 billion away from blue-collar and white-collar Americans towards employers, Wall Street, and new immigrants, according to a Harvard analysis.
So far, Donald Trump has made only a few direct appeals to this upper income group of university voters. But those voters can provide him with the few extra points of support he needs to win those critical Midwestern states. A September 2016 poll by Monmouth University, for example, shows Trump was viewed favorably by just 29 percent of college voters. In contrast, he is viewed favorably by 51 percent of people with some college education, and by 47 percent of people with High School qualifications.
Clinton has repeatedly spoken out in favor of the unpopular outsourcing program, to audiences in the United States and to audiences in India, which provides much of the manpower for H-1B outsourcing contracts all over the country. Once elected as a New York Senator, she also helped Indian outsourcing companies grab more jobs in the United States, despite opposition from some other senators, including Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
“I am reaffirming my commitment to the H-1B visa and increasing the current cap,” she said in 2007 to an audience of tech-industry donors.
“It is an inevitability. There is no way to legislate against reality, so I think the outsourcing will continue,” she said on a 2005 visit to India.
Clinton is also continuing President Barack Obama’s strategy of offering more H-1B workers to companies if they pressure the GOP to provide an amnesty to millions of unskilled illegal immigrants. That strategy, which trades away the careers of white-collar professionals to get more immigrant voters for the Democratic Party, was defeated in 2014 when the GOP’s base voters blocked Obama’s so-called “Comprehensive Immigration Reform” plan.
That plan had offered companies a new supply of blue-collar guest workers, plus an unlimited supply of work-permits for foreign graduates of U.S. colleges, in exchange for their lobbying the GOP to approve an amnesty at least 11 million illegal immigrants.
On June 22, Clinton told Vox.com:
The idea of a comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship that I would envision is one that would deal with a lot of these concerns, not just the 11 million people here … But I don’t want to mix that with other kinds of changes in visas and other concerns that particularly high-value technical companies have. In fact, I think keeping the pressure on the [companies] helps us resolve the bigger [amnesty] problem, and then we can look to see what else, if anything, can and should be done.
Her campaign platform also promises to let universities sell an unlimited number of Green Cards — and thus citizenship — to tuition-paying foreign students. The open-borders promise to foreign graduates is posted at her campaign site and is titled “Hillary Clinton’s Initiative on Technology & Innovation.”
As part of a comprehensive immigration solution, Hillary would “staple” a green card to STEM masters and PhDs from accredited institutions—enabling international students who complete degrees in these fields to move to green card status.
Clinton also supported greater white-collar outsourcing while she was Secretary of State. In fact, her own Clinton Foundation used the H-1B program to hire up to 130 foreign graduates, from 2004 to 2016, instead of hiring Americans.
Overall, “her past statements in support of H-1B visas, and her silence in this campaign even when Bernie Sanders criticised her for her past support of H-1B visas, mean that she will probably support the H-1B visa programme if she is elected president,” according to Cyrus Mehta, an immigration lawyer on Wall Street. If elected, shewill push Congress in the direction of expanding rather than curtailing the H-1B visa,” he wrote in May.
In contrast, Trump has repeatedly called for rules that protect Americans from cheap foreign labor. He argues that immigration rules should help Americans, not companies or investors.
Hillary Clinton's open borders immigration policies will drive down wages for all Americans – and make everyone less safe.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 21, 2016
That plan on his website would raise Americans’ wages and reduce unemployment, complained one of Clinton’s Wall Street supporters, Mark Zandi.
In May, Trump also produced a plan to reform the H-1B program so that it doesn’t outsource Americans’ jobs. The plan promised to:
Increase prevailing wage for H-1Bs. We graduate two times more Americans with STEM degrees each year than find STEM jobs, yet as much as two-thirds of entry-level hiring for IT jobs is accomplished through the H-1B program. More than half of H-1B visas are issued for the program’s lowest allowable wage level, and more than eighty percent for its bottom two. Raising the prevailing wage paid to H-1Bs will force companies to give these coveted entry-level jobs to the existing domestic pool of unemployed native and immigrant workers in the U.S., instead of flying in cheaper workers from overseas. This will improve the number of black, Hispanic and female workers in Silicon Valley who have been passed over in favor of the H-1B program. Mark Zuckerberg’s personal Senator, Marco Rubio, has a bill to triple H-1Bs that would decimate women and minorities.
Requirement to hire American workers first. Too many visas, like the H-1B, have no such requirement. In the year 2015, with 92 million Americans outside the workforce and incomes collapsing, we need companies to hire from the domestic pool of unemployed. Petitions for workers should be mailed to the unemployment office, not USCIS.
White-collar professionals would prefer such a policy in the Midwest, where a July poll showed that the voters are the most outspoken against companies hiring foreigners instead of Americans.
According to the complex H-1B rules, U.S. companies don’t have to interview Americans for jobs before hiring an foreign worker with an H-1B visa. Also, the annual cap on imported H-1B visas is apparently 85,000, but non-profits — including universities and company research centers — are exempt from the cap, so they can many more H-1Bs visas. Also, H-1B visas can be extended beyond can stay longer than six years and also convert their H-1Bs into Green Cards, so many foreign professionals stay in the United States far longer than the supposed six-year limit on H-1B visas. In 2013 “nearly 102,000 Asian immigrants obtained green cards through employment-based immigrant visa petitions,” according to a White House statement.
The growing role of foreign white-collar workers is a national trend that is already reducing salaries for Americans professionals. Almost 20 percent of legal immigrants who have arrived since 2010 have post-graduate degrees, compared to 11 percent of Americans, according to a new survey of government data by the Center for immigration Studies.
For example, foreign born professionals now make up one-quarter of the prestigious computer software business, according to the CIS report. Predictably, “wages have remained flat, with [after-inflation] real wages hovering around their late 1990s levels, said a 2013 report by by the Economic Policy Institute.
But foreign-born professionals now comprise 21 percent of the science sector, 27 percent of doctors and surgeons, 19 percent of architects and engineers, 15 percent of nurses, 14 percent of financial specialists, says the center — which also notes that foreign-born only comprise 5 percent of English-language reporters and 7 percent of lawyers.
The threat to American professionals’ salaries and jobs has been heightened by a steady stream of media articles about H-1B outsourcing. These articles have described the outsourcing of jobs held by accountants at McDonalds’ headquarters, engineers at Caterpillar; software experts at Abbot Laboratories, Disney, California Edison, and the University of California at San Francisco; and by professors, doctors and scientists at universities and hospitals all around the country.
Unsurprisingly, the inflow of foreign professionals is helping to push down the salaries for even the best educated Americans. That trend is following the downward path of American blue-collar workers, whose wages have been shriveled by the huge inflow of unskilled illegal immigrants.

The Breitbart analysis of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania used government data posted at the MyVisaJobs.com site to show that the H-1B program has gradually imported a resident population of at least 100,000 foreign graduates Those graduates are now working in a wide variety of jobs, including as doctors and designers, professors and teachers, scientists, marketing experts, accountants, pharmacists, therapists, and software experts.
The 1oo,000 total includes the current three-state population of roughly 40,000 people now holding six-year H-1B visas, plus roughly 75,000 foreign-born “guest worker” professionals whose American employers helped them get Green Cards to stay in the United States, and to eventually become citizens.
Pennsylvania now has roughly 18,000 H-1Bs, including 4,200 working at prestigious universities and non-profit research centers. Also, 33,000 foreign workers have gotten Green Cards since 1990 from their employers in the state.
Michigan has a population of roughly 16,000 H-1B workers, including roughly 2,600 H-1Bs working at universities and research centers. Also, Michigan employers have won up to 32,000 Green Cards for their foreign workers since 1990.
Wisconsin has a resident population of roughly 6,000 H-1B foreign professionals, including 1,000 H-1Bs working at the state’s universities and non-profit research centers. In addition, companies have applied for 10,000 Green Cards for foreign workers since 1990.
That adds up to a resident population of 40,000 H-1B workers, including 7,800 working at universities and non-profit centers, plus 75,000 foreign professionals who have gotten Green Cards. Assuming one-sixth of the Green Card applicants failed to complete their certified process or have since left the three states, then the guest-worker program has now placed 100,000 foreign professionals in those three states.
Wisconsin has 10 votes in the Electoral College, Pennsylvania has 20 votes, and Michigan has 16 votes. A win in any one of those states could give Trump the keys to the White House.
Nationwide, there are roughly 650,000 resident H-1B workers, including almost 100,000 employed by U.S. colleges, and roughly 13,000 in Ohio.
The H-1Bs are attractive to employers because they’re cheaper than American graduates. For example, the University of Wisconsin at Madison is using the H-1B program to hire foreign professionals for salaries under $62,000 a year. “We currently have 250 H-1B employees,” Meredith McGlone, a spokeswoman for the university told Breitbart.

Companies are also creating non-profit centers to help them bring in more lower-wage foreign professionals instead of hiring higher-wage American graduates. For example, Dow Chemical and its subsidiaries asked to hire 39 new H-1B workers in 2015, including environmental engineers, marketing managers, statisticians, and scientists.

Because they are technically being hired by a “cap exempt” non-profit, none of these 39 H-1Bs were counted against the supposed annual cap of 85,000 H-1B workers.
Dow Chemical did not respond to Breitbart News.
The three-state total of 100,000 foreign professionals excludes the “Optional Practical Training” program, which provides work visas to foreign college grads. In late 2015, roughly 120,000 foreign students were using the OPT visa to apply for jobs sought by American graduates.
The 1oo,000 calculation also excludes the several hundred thousand foreign professionals with L visas now working in the United States. In 2013, 66,700 L visas were issued to foreign professionals, allowing them to work in the United State for up to seven years. There’s no upper limit on the number of L visas issued each year, so the number of L Visa workers may exceed 400,000, with perhaps 20,000 working in the three midwestern states.
The numbers of H-1B and Green Card professionals comes from the MyVisaJobs.com site, which tracks the inflow and transfer of H-1B workers, plus the number of Green Cards that companies apply for on behalf of their foreign professionals.
The estimated population of 100,000 foreign-born college graduates in the three states has created a semi-hidden job market for foreign graduates.
These sites, including MyVisaJobs, DesiOPT, and OPTnation, include many job offerings from Indian-run companies in the United States. Jobs are also advertised to OPT and H-1B workers via the Indeed.com website, and on foreign sites, such as Jobisjob in India, while U.S.-based job coaches help foreign professionals snag good jobs.
Many of the job ads are posted by third-party staffing companies, especially in the medical sector or the software business, who rent their employees to other companies.

The MyVisaJobs.com site offers quick links to job openings at Pennsylvania companies that hire H-1B professionals.

In Philadelphia, many of the posted jobs are for H-1B hires at Deloitte Consulting. Those jobs could be filled by American graduates from mainstream business schools.

DeLoitte did not respond to emails from Breitbart News.
How Breitbart News Calculated the Number of Foreign Professionals in the Three States.
The final count was accomplished in several steps.
The site also displays all the petitions for Green Cards that are submitted by employers on behalf of their foreign employees. One page invites visitors to “Search permanent Labor Certifications(LC) filed under PERM for employment based Green Card petitions. Hundred of new cases are added to the database every day, after Department of Labor makes final decisions.”
The number of resident H-1B workers was calculated by first combining data from 2013 to 2015 on the number of certified requests by for-profit companies to get a H-1B visa for a new foreign hire. That number was then divided by three because only about one-third of approved requests are granted a H-1B visa.
Then Breitbart News added up the number of visas requested in those years by universities and non-profits, such as hospitals. These requests don’t count against the annual cap, so they’re routinely approved. Breitbart then added the number of certified “continuation” visa requests in 2013, 2014, and 2015. Those continuation visas are routinely granted to H-1B workers who have used up their first three-year visa. These continuation visas are also exempt from the cap.
Breitbart News cannot track the number of H-1B, L or OPT visa holders, or of Green Card winners, in the three states who may have moved to or from other American states.
9/20/2016 11:55:59 AM
New Leak Exposes Threats of Lesser-Known TISA

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TTIP 2.0? New Leak Exposes Threats of Lesser-Known TISA Trade Deal
by Nika Knight, CommonDreams.org, September 20, 2016

Greenpeace Netherlands exposed the threats to democracy and climate action contained within the little-known Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) on Tuesday with new leaks divulging several chapters of the clandestine global trade agreement.

"It's a sad day for democracy when ordinary people are dependent on leaks to learn about the far-reaching consequences of toxic trade deals that are being cooked up behind closed doors," said Nick Dearden, head of the U.K.-based Global Justice Now.

And TISA is perhaps the least well-known and most highly protected of the imminent agreements: "Somehow TISA is also even more secret than the notoriously covert CETA, TTIP and TPP deals, with parties unable to release details of negotiations until five years after it has taken effect," Greenpeace observes.

These latest leaks "confirm what civil society groups, trade unions, and consumer watch dogs across the world have been warning against, that TISA is a turbo-charged privatization and deregulation deal that will enormously benefit corporations at the expense of ordinary people and democracy itself," Dearden added.

Indeed, the leaks from the highly secretive deal—currently being negotiated by 50 nations around the world—affirm that with the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) on the ropes, other such "democracy-wrecking" deals are looming.

"The deal, a spiritual and practical sibling of the much-maligned TTIP and TPP free trade agreements, is designed to drive deregulation across the vast global services sector," observes Greenpeace, "increasing international trade in everything from banking to energy services."

In its analysis (pdf) of the TISA leaks, Greenpeace explains that the deal's emphasis on deregulation presents a grave threat to countries' ability to adhere to the terms agreed upon in the Paris climate accord:

Countries that sign up to TISA will be required to lock-in liberalization and could be prevented from rolling back failed policies due of two key clauses—the 'standstill' and 'ratchet' clauses.

The standstill clause freezes the extent of liberalization in certain sectors, which means the markets of TISA state can never be less liberalized than they were at the time they signed the deal.

Meanwhile the ratchet clause—which sometimes appears in other trade agreements—stops countries from reintroducing trade barriers that had been previously and unilaterally removed.

Together these two clauses undermine the ability of governments to ever reverse the liberalization of services, even if elected on a mandate to do it. That means they could be stopped from testing liberalizing policies, since there would be no way to reversing them if things went awry.

In order to make the objectives of the Paris Agreement a reality and in order to cut greenhouse gas emissions to the point where the worst impacts of climate change can be avoided, governments must be allowed to interfere and use all policy tools available to them. Arbitrarily locking governments into deregulation could have hugely negative impacts on their capacity to implement the kind of climate policies we need to stay within 1.5 degrees.

Greenpeace also notes that while going "[w]idely unnoticed by the public, TISA could be finalized by the end of this year."

"We now know that TISA will undermine COP21, further deregulate the financial sector, stop failed privatizations being brought back into public hands, and undermine data privacy laws," commented Rosa Pavanelli, general secretary of Public Service International. "What else are our governments keeping secret from us?"

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9/10/2016 3:54:53 AM
So much for the STEM shortage?

Posts: 289
So much for the STEM shortage?

By Patrick Gray, TechRepublic, September 7, 2016

In November of this year, freshly promoted Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins delivered a keynote at the Cisco STEM Innovation Challenge, an event that assembled high school students, teachers, and Cisco engineers to promote the importance of STEM-related fields and the "lucrative careers" available to those with a STEM background.

Add this to the chorus of political calls for more STEM education, from the President of the United States down to local school boards, and STEM careers were are being presented as the perfect path to a secure future, with high pay, interesting work, and lifetime employment for anyone entering the field. Less than a year later, Cisco is ending 5,500 of those careers, or about 7% of its workforce. This follows large cuts by other companies that routinely fly the STEM banner, including HP, Intel, and IBM.

A question of definitionPart of the challenge with promoting a so-called STEM shortage is that STEM covers an overly broad spectrum of disciplines, from mechanical engineering to marine biology. These fields are also generally non-transferable. If a biomedical engineer finds limited job prospects upon graduation, he or she has about the same ability to switch to software engineering as someone with a degree in American History. While there's a fair case to be made that the STEM fields teach a broadly-applicable mindset and methodology, the HR departments run by the CEO's preaching the STEM shortage do little to recognize mindset versus laundry lists of technical credentials, and a bias toward dismissing obsolete skillsets rather than retraining.

Following the moneyClearly, there's a significant disconnect occurring when some of the most vocal advocates of STEM training are culling significant portions of their STEM workforce. After all, if the STEM shortage were as acute as the rhetoric implies, massive layoffs of STEM staff would be akin to removing your liver to lose a bit of weight. When one looks at the STEM "crisis" objectively, however, an ongoing "crisis" offers significant benefit to its proponents at a fairly minimal cost.

There are, in fact, many skills in short supply in the technology space. Beating the STEM drum ultimately results in a larger talent pool for the technology industry to draw from, lowering their ongoing talent costs, either by creating a talent surplus and lowering wages or increasing the quality of talent that's available. Aside from some program funding and the occasional "STEM Day" where students interact with technology companies and learn about careers in technology, it costs the technology industry very little, as most of the cost of mitigating a STEM shortage is borne by students and the educational system. The educational system becomes a happy co-conspirator in the process. Whether there are actually STEM careers available to graduates or not, a STEM "crisis" means more funding, more computers, and more value placed on its services and teachers.

What's a student to do?

While there's lots of nice talk about "following your dreams" and ignoring the financial aspects of your career choice, the financial prospects of your chosen field should come into consideration, both in the short and longer terms. STEM is too large a field to provide any meaningful insight into career prospects, since it includes everything from Advanced Mathematics to Mechanical Engineering, fields that are diverse and subject to variable job markets. At the same moment, one STEM field might be burning hot, while another is ice cold. For example, a recent mantra among technology companies is that "hardware is dead," reducing the need for Mechanical Engineers, while Data Scientists are still a hot commodity. Looking for broader skills and themes that will help advance your career is a better approach. Clearly, technology will play a role in most fields, so a basic understanding of the process behind technology, whether it's coding or very basic engineering, will likely serve one well regardless of their ultimate career choice.

Advice for technology leaders

The great risk of the incessant STEM shortage talk is that students and employees are smart enough to notice the waves of layoffs in the technology sector, and likely have a friend, parent, or relative who offers a very different perspective on a technology career than the happy talk about vast riches and near-lifetime employment. Additionally, the technology sector itself has vastly more options than pure engineering roles. An artist or designer can have a rich career in technology in fields ranging from consulting to user experience design, just as much as a software engineer focused on coding, and frankly each could benefit from some exposure to the other's discipline.

Rather than endlessly beating the STEM drum, it would serve the field and our bottom lines better if we articulated specifically what STEM skills were most relevant to the technology sector, with a focus on those that transcend specific technologies that may become obsolete. The hundreds of hours I spent learning C and Pascal did little to aid my career, but perhaps a course in basic software development methodologies and process would have better served me.

Finally, the logic cited in many of the mass layoffs is a changing technology environment necessitating new skills. If flexibility in adapting to rapid change is the key skill we need in our workforce, advocating deep study in a tiny subset of STEM fields is not a recipe to build that type of workforce, nor is hiring primarily based on knowledge of a basket of specialized technologies. Before waving the STEM flag, consider the long-term prospects a bunch of engineers with outdated technology skills and significant depth in a narrow slice of STEM, fresh out of university would have at your company. Would you rather our educational system produce well-rounded, flexible learners who use technology as a tool, or the next crop of engineers you need to dismiss when technology changes?

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9/10/2016 3:46:52 AM
“Tech” Paid $5 Billion to Wall Street in 2016

Posts: 289
“Tech” Paid $5 Billion in Fees to Wall Street in 2016, and Look What it Got for it

By Wolf Richter, The Daily Coin, September 9, 2016

Most often it just leads to more shut-downs, write-offs, and layoffs. Investment banks have not been very lucky in extracting fees from Corporate America so far this year, and overall fee income has plunged 18% from the same period last year. But there was one standout: technology companies.

Nowadays “tech” includes non-tech companies such as shopping sites, home-delivery apps for beer, anything having to do with the new gig economy, anything that takes place on a device, rather than inside a brick-and-mortar location.
These tech companies have handed Wall Street investment banks $5 billion so far this year in fees related to Mergers & Acquisitions – up 5% from the same period last year – for advice on M&A and handling the associated debt deals, equity underwriting, and syndicated loans.

That’s the highest amount paid since dotcom-year 2000 when they’d paid $8.3 billion, according to Dealogic.

The tech M&A boom came into full bloom last year and is continuing this year. Since January 2015, tech companies have announced $1 trillion in deals, according to Dealogic, cited by the Wall Street Journal. Investment banks make money on numerous aspects of these deals, coming and going. Advising on deals alone generated 42% of the fees. But there are also bonds, syndicated loans, and, sometimes peculiar, equity offerings involved.

Dell’s highly-leveraged $67-billion acquisition of EMC has captured the wildest dreams on Wall Street. It’s the new “largest tech deal ever.” Dell is privately held, so paying for the acquisition, announced in October last year, by just issuing more shares wasn’t in the cards. This complicated things, and generated massive fees, including for advisory work, a $20-billion bond offering, syndicated loans, and the issuance of Dell’s iffy VMware tracking stock where potential investors don’t know what they’re getting, only that it’s not anything real, and are clinging by their fingernails to the hope that this, unlike other tracking stocks during the dotcom bubble, will work out somehow. Dell’s EMC deal closed on Wednesday. Ka-ching.

Growth-challenged Microsoft, which finally finished sloughing off its botched Nokia purchase – After Losing $11 Billion on $9.4-billion Nokia Acquisition and Axing 27,650 Jobs, Microsoft Dumps Consumer Smartphones – went out again and this time is acquiring struggling LinkedIn for $26 billion, which also generated a bonanza of fees for Wall Street, including from a $19.75 billion bond offering to fund the acquisition.

Then there was chipmaker Avago Technologies’ $37 billion acquisition of Broadcom, at the time “the biggest tech deal ever,” $17 billion in cash and $20 billion in stock. Announced last May, it closed earlier this year. Getting this cash entailed arranging a very lucrative $16-billion loan that was syndicated to other banks.

Softbank is acquiring chip-design firm ARM Holdings, which had $1.5 billion in revenues, for an astounding $31 billion (so 20 times revenues!), hoping to boost its “Internet of Things” future, and paying investment banks out of its nose for this sort of advice.

Walmart is buying online retailer Jet.com. Everything is tech these days. Even old-fashioned credit bureau Equifax, founded in 1899, now uses the newfangled moniker “FinTech” to boost its shares in hopes for a big buyout offer from Microsoft.

In the startup space, Intel – after announcing 12,000 layoffs earlier this year, and after requesting 14,523 H-1B visas and green cards to bring in foreign workers – is chasing after Artificial Intelligence as the next big thing. AI has been the next big thing for decades. So in August, it agreed to acquire 48-employee Nervana Systems for around $408 million.

Apple bought AI outfit Turi for $200 million in August, after having bought AI outfit Emotient, which is trying to recognize and react to facial expressions, a capability your iPhone 7 desperately needs after you lost another $159-AirPod – the umpteenth in three days. Google, Amazon, Facebook, they’re all going after AI.

Outside of tech, M&A in the US has been a dismal year to date, according to Dealogic. Despite the rise in tech deals, acquisitions by US companies in the US have plunged 40% from last year at this time, to a measly $702 billion, the lowest since 2012. The number of deals plunged 18% to 5,177, the lowest since 2009. Mega-deals of $10 billion or larger are also drying up, with only 12 such deals announced so far this year, for $203 billion, down from 23 deals and $606 billion last year to date.

That’s bad news for investment banks. The only saving grace for them: $311.5 billion of inbound deals by foreign companies of US companies, up 7% from last year to date, and an all-time record. This includes the announcement on September 6 by Canadian oil & gas company Enbridge that it would buy Spectra Energy of Houston for $43 billion. Inbound US M&A reached a 31% share of all US M&A, another record.

In Tech, however, M&A serves a special role. Some of the biggest players, such as Microsoft and IBM, can’t figure out how to grow or develop new technologies on their own. For them, M&A is seen as the solution – a way to grow faster, or to grow at all, or at least to not be left behind too far, though it rarely works. For others that are still growing, like Google, M&A is a way to chase after the latest and greatest, even if they blow a lot of money on something will then just disappear.

While there are some examples where M&A actually worked and produced results for the acquiring company and did some good for the overall economy – I can’t think of any at the moment, but there are some – most often it just leads to more shut-downs, write-offs, and layoffs. But that doesn’t matter to the executives. They’ve already been paid their bonuses and stock options and got their ego boost. And some of them have moved on. And it doesn’t matter to Wall Street investment banks because they’ve already pocketed the billions of dollars in fees.

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9/10/2016 3:41:55 AM
Caterpillar Hires H-1Bs, Fires 300 Americans

Posts: 289
Caterpillar Hires H-1B Foreign Graduates, Fires 300 American Professionals
by Neil Munro, 6 Sep 20160, Breibart.com

Caterpillar is firing 300 American employees in Mossville, Illinois, even though it is continuing to recruit and pay foreign “H-1B” guest-workers to do the white-collar jobs sought by American professionals in the United States.

Caterpillar’s combination of white-collars layoffs and H-1B outsourcing matches the much-criticized decision by Carrier, a company in next-door Indiana, to outsource 1,400 blue-collar factory jobs to Mexico.

Outsider GOP candidate Donald Trump has vigorously denounced the outsourcing by Carrier’s air-conditioning business. His opposition has helped him get a nine-point polling advantage in the state. But Trump’s support for major reforms to the H-1B program to reduce the outsourcing of professional jobs is raising his support among upper-income professional-class voters in many other states.

The Caterpillar outsourcing “is all the same thing happening over and over again,’ said John Miano, a lawyer and software expert who has sued the federal government to reduce or stop various outsourcing programs, such as the H-1B visa. “What we see is that companies ask for more [H-1B visas] while they’re laying off the same kind of [American professionals] … this is going to be an election that decides whether this continues,” Miano said.

Early in 2016, Caterpillar asked the federal government for 71 H-1B visas needed to hire foreign white-collar college-grads. At least 30 of the requested H-1B visas are for engineers and other skilled professionals in Mossville, which is suffering the most layoffs.

At least 44 of the visas requested in 2016 are for foreign graduates who are already working at Caterpillar in the United States. These “continuation” visas are automatically approved, and do not count against the much touted annual limits on H1-B visas.

Another 22 of Caterpillar’s H-1B request visas are for new hires.

Since 2012, Caterpillar has requested 768 visas for H-1B workers. Roughly speaking, companies get one-fifth of the new-hire H-1B visas they request, suggesting the company has outsourced at least 100 U.S.-based jobs to lower-wage foreign graduates.

Companies are not required to interview Americans, or even announce job openings, before asking for H-1B visas.

The H-1B visa allows the foreign college-graduates to stay for at least three years, and some manage to stay permanently. For example, the company has also helped get green cards — the precursor to citizenship — for roughly 70 foreign college graduates. Most of these green card employees have replaced Americans software graduates.

Caterpillar has not responded to emails from Breitbart.

While Trump has promised to reform the controversial H-1B program as part of his plan to ensure that immigration law helps Americans before companies or foreign workers, Hillary Clinton has been a strong supporter of the H-1B program, and her foundation has tried to hire more than 130 foreign professionals in place of young Americans.

That political difference over white-collar outsourcing may become critical in the new few weeks when Trump tries to raise his support among college graduates.

Trump is already doing well among blue-collar families, party because of his promise to start enforcing existing laws that bar the hiring of illegals. But Trump is doing poorly among college-graduates, partly because few white-collar workers yet recognize the pocketbook impact to them of federal immigration practices. Fewer still know that states are also allowing illegal immigrants to work in professional jobs.

American professionals prefer to ignore the threat from the government’s H-1B program, said Miano. “They all all think ‘I’m good… if I keep up my skills, I don’t have anything to worry about’ — but they don’t know these [hiring] decisions are being made by accountants who have no idea what their skills are,” he said.

That outsourcing process is a huge threat to the middle class because it is “cutting off the ability of people to rise up,” he said. “The whole thing of the middle class is to send your kids to college, get professional jobs and move up — but now that is being destroyed” by outsourcing, Miano said.

Many companies outsource U.S. white collar jobs to foreign professionals — Disney, DeLoitte, many hospitals, Facebook, Intel, Qualcomm, Microsoft, plus many smaller companies, such as the Toys R Us retailer, Cengage publishing firm, and New York Life insurance company. The scale and details of the outsourcing movement can be tracked at websites, including MyVisaJobs.com.

Virgil Bierschwale, a displaced software expert, has posted details of the H-1B program and maps showing the locations and employer contacts for H-1B requests.

Much of the 2016 H-1B outsourcing at Caterpillar is for engineering jobs held by Americans.

Commercial job search boards show many Americans are qualified for those jobs. Indeed.com, for example, offers the resumes of 2,445 engineers within a 25-mile distance of Mossville, including some recently posted resumes of Caterpillar’s soon-to-be-outsourced employees.

These engineering jobs are in the so-called STEM field, which the federal government — and the private sector — has long declared will provide a secure upward path for American college grads.

However, even as young Americans study to earn places in colleges, the federal government is helping companies employ a population of roughly 650,000 H-1B professionals in the United States.

The resident population of around 650,000 H-1B professionals include roughly 100,000 professionals at U.S. universities. The outsourced university jobs include tens of thousands of jobs for professors and lecturers, doctors and therapists, scientists and researchers.

Most of the 650,000 outsourced H-1B jobs are in the information technology sector, where the imported professionals have lowered wages throughout the industry and forced middle-aged Americans into new, lower-paying careers — such as journalism — at just the time when they need good pay to help their children get a good education.

Many additional outsourced H-1B jobs are in business and finance, architecture and design, p.r. and media, health care, and teaching.

The wide variety of jobs shows how the H-1B outsourcing is reaching far beyond Silicon Valley. For example, companies such as CVS are increasingly using foreign college graduates to replace American pharmacists in Washington D.C., New York, and across the nation.

“If American professionals don’t stand up soon, they’ll be going the way of the auto workers and the factory workers in just a few years,” said Miano.

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9/10/2016 3:33:55 AM
Dell to Layoff 3,000 Requesting 5,000 H-1B Visas

Posts: 289
Dell-EMC to Lay Off 2,000 – 3,000 US Workers after Requesting 5,000 H-1B Visas & Green Cards to Import Foreign Workers

By Wolf Richter, WolfStreet.com, September 9, 2016

Trying to find efficiencies and synergies to save $1.7 billion.The ink was barely dry on Dell’s acquisition of EMC, the largest technology deal ever, valued at $67 billion when it was announced in October last year – and already the layoff rumors are oozing from the woodwork.

“People familiar with the company’s plans” told Bloomberg that Dell will cut 2,000 to 3,000 jobs.

Dell spokesman Dave Farmer refused to comment specifically on the report on Thursday but said instead, as sort of a confirmation: “As is common with deals of this size, there will be some overlaps we will need to manage and where some employee reduction will occur.”

On Wednesday, the day the deal closed, CEO Michael Dell gave some clues in an interview: “There are some overlapping functions and that sort of thing – that’s not the primary feature of this, but there is some of that.”

These “overlaps” or “overlapping functions” are terms in corporate speak for real people, and these real people are mostly working in the US, according to the report: supply chain, marketing, and general and administrative positions.

Dell is trying to find some efficiencies and synergies to save about $1.7 billion in the first 18 months after the deal closes, so starting from Wednesday. They’re not dilly-dallying around cutting costs and laying off people.

Combined they have about 140,000 employees. So the trimming might have a long ways to go, especially if the cloud and the Internet of Things are not as fun as imagined. But that doesn’t mean that the headcount will come down – they’re bringing in foreign workers, mostly from India.

Between 2014 and 2016, Dell applied for 2,039 H-1B visas and 256 Green Cards. EMC applied for 2,347 H-1B visas and 453 Green Cards, for a total of 5,095 applications.

These are just applications. Not all of them will be certified, and of those that are certified, not all beneficiaries will be hired. But the data for 2016 isn’t complete yet either.

It’s the hot thing to do for tech companies: laying off existing workers in the US, and bringing it foreign workers on H-1B visas. The Senate has been looking into some of the abuses. In February, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) sent US Attorney General Loretta Lynch a letter requesting a Justice Department investigation. But the tech lobby will likely get the Senate back on track soon.

But Dell needs to save some money, one way or the other. Dell’s corporate credit rating is at the upper end of junk. It’s loaded to the gills with debt, stemming from when it was taken private. Now the EMC deal has piled new debt on the company, including $20 billion of bonds it sold in May, followed by a $5-billion leveraged loan.

It needed this pile of cash to pay EMC shareholders $24.05 per share. They also got a “tracking stock” linked notionally to EMC’s interest in VMware, but in reality they get no real ownership of anything. Tracking stocks were hot during the dotcom bubble, with disastrous results for investors.

The combined company is also trying to boost sales, which they’ve been trying to do individually for years. All old tech companies, including IBM and Microsoft are trying to boost sales, and particularly those in the withering PC ecosystem are having the hardest time.

They need to find a new niche for growth, and so they’re all piling into the “cloud” and the adjacent “Internet of Things” that links even the fridge to the cloud. But this is precisely where Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, Apple, and Google dominate.

This is the situation Dell and EMC are in. Both have a large part of their products scattered around the PC ecosystem, Dell with servers and PCs, and EMC with storage devices. A match made in heaven. And so they’re going to innovate their way out of it! As Michael

Dell said in the interview:

“We’ve got the ability to innovate at scale and invest – not for next quarter, but we have the agility and speed of a startup, but the scale and reach of the largest company in the industry.”

Alas, Dell became successful by building the same boxes everyone else was building, but it was building them on order, marketing and selling them directly, and getting customers to pay before their computers were even assembled, which was a new approach to supply chain management and working-capital financing in the 1980s: For the first time in history, accounts receivable were a negative amount, and working capital was funded entirely by customers, free of charge. Credit cards made that possible.

That was Dell’s big invention. It gave it a huge cost advantage, until everyone started doing it. But it wasn’t technological innovation. EMC is a different animal. But now it’s under Dell’s control, and they’re carrying a lot of debt, and cost cutting is going to be the big strategy going forward.

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9/10/2016 3:29:46 AM
University of California’s outsourcing is wrong

Posts: 289
University of California’s outsourcing is wrong, says U.S. lawmaker

By Patrick Thibodeau,Computerworld, Sep 9, 2016

A decision by the University of California to lay off IT employees and send their jobs overseas is under fire from U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif) and the IEEE-USA.

The university recently informed about 80 IT workers at its San Francisco campus, including contract employees and vendor contractors, that it hired India-based HCL, under a $50 million contract, to manage infrastructure and networking-related services.
The university employees will remain on the job until the end of February, but before then they are expecting to train their foreign replacements. The number of affected employees may expand. The university's IT services agreement with HCL can be leveraged by any institution in the 10-campus system.

"How are they [the university] going to tell students to go into STEM fields when they are doing as much as they can to do a number on the engineers in their employment?" said Lofgren, in an interview.

Peter Eckstein, the president of the IEEE-USA, said what the university is doing "is just one more sad example of corporations, a major university system in this case, importing non-Americans to eliminate American IT jobs." This engineering association has some 235,000 members.

"Profit before people will continue to be their goal until Congress stops them," said Eckstein.

HCL, and other firms in the offshore industry generally, use H-1B temporary visa workers. HCL was one of the contractors at Disney, which cut around 250 workers last year. Two former Disney employees filed a lawsuit in January in federal court challenging HCL, a second contractor and Disney over the use of foreign workers.

"I think it’s the wrong thing to do," said Lofgren, of the university’s offshoring effort.

"The H-1B program was not devised to replace American workers with less highly paid foreign workers who are then going to take all the jobs offshore," said Lofgren, who represents part of Silicon Valley and has sought visa program reforms.

"That's not the intent of the [H-1B] law, and Congress has done nothing to reform the law to prevent this from happening," said Lofgren.

The university is "misusing the visa program, and one likes to think that the University of California would be wanting to be in conformity with the intent of the immigration laws," said Lofgren.

The H-1B visa program was intended to provide people for specific workforce needs. But over the last 20 years, the program’s major users have been IT services firms that use visa workers to help outsource work overseas. U.S. IT workers have complained repeatedly about having to train workers on temporary visas as a condition of severance, and often accuse the U.S. government as being a party to their layoff.

Lofgren said she is not an opponent of the H-1B program, "run properly," nor does she fault its original goal. But she said it sounds that "what the university is doing is a misuse of the program" similar to Disney and Southern California Edison, she said, "where they are not getting the best and the brightest, they are just basically using it as a way to cut American engineers, which they shouldn’t do."

Lofgren had been working with U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) on H-1B reform legislation. A key aspect of the proposal, primarily drafted by Lofgren, would distribute visas on a system based on the willingness of employers to pay.
But their joint effort didn't bear fruit and Issa introduced his own bill in July, the Protect and Grow American Jobs Act (HR 5801) with a narrow goal compared to what Lofgren sought.

Issa's bill raises the $60,000 salary threshold that creates an exemption for H-1B-dependent firms -- a designation for large visa users that are mostly IT services firms that offshore work -- from having to attest that they aren’t replacing U.S. workers. That salary level was set in 1998 with no provision for changing it. Issa's proposal would raise it to $100,000, and set a mechanism for hiking it over time.

Lofgren called Issa's bill “outrageous” and said it wouldn’t do a "damn thing" to stop outsourcing because engineering salaries are already more than $100,000.

"I tried to work with Issa for months -- in all honestly dealing with him is just chaos; it would take his staff weeks or months to get back to my staff -- they didn't know what they were doing," said Lofgren.

Asked for a response, Calvin Moore, Issa's spokesperson, said that Issa approached Lofgren about introducing a bill before the August recess, but she "told us the ‘the door was closed," he said, in an email. "So we moved ahead with the rest of our colleagues on a bill we could actually get done before the end of the year."

Moore defended the bill and said "it raises the exemption limits to be more in line with current American salaries in these positions to remove the incentive that has been abused to displace American workers."

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7/4/2016 11:40:28 AM
Why Guest Workers Are Easily Exploited

Posts: 364
Why Guest Workers Are Easily Exploited
By The Editorial Board, NY Times, July 1, 2016

So far this year, employers in the United States have hired some 80,000 foreign guest workers for low-skilled nonagricultural jobs. If a bipartisan group in Congress gets its way, the number could soon rise as high as 264,000.

Employers say they need to import these workers — called H-2B workers after their visa category — because no comparable American workers are available. That claim does not stand up. When labor is scarce, unemployment falls and wages rise. But unemployment is high in all of the top H-2B fields, which include landscaping, groundskeeping, construction, hospitality and seafood processing, while wages in those fields have long been flat or declining.

Even if there were a labor shortage, the H-2B system would not be an acceptable solution. The Government Accountability Office has found that H-2B workers, who typically work for nine-month stints, have been abused; news reports support these findings. These workers are yoked to their employers. If they protest unsafe conditions, wage theft or other mistreatment, they risk dismissal, deportation and financial ruin.

Why would Congress expand the H-2B system? Because businesses that profit from cheap and subservient labor are demanding that it do so. Employers are supposed to recruit American workers before they hire H-2B workers. They are also supposed to pay guest workers the prevailing wage Americans would earn. Legal loopholes and lax enforcement have allowed them to sidestep those rules.

One attempt at reform was short-lived. In April of last year, federal regulators issued tough new rules to monitor recruitment and ensure fair pay. The backlash was swift. Later in 2015, in riders to a budget bill, the new rule on fair pay was undone, the annual cap on H-2B visas was effectively quadrupled, from 66,000, and the Labor Department was denied funds to audit employer compliance with visa and labor laws.

Budget riders normally expire at the end of a fiscal year. But lawmakers have now begun to attach last year’s H-2B riders to spending bills for next year.

All workers, American and foreign, deserve fair pay. Wages are depressed by the lack of labor law enforcement coupled with a broken immigration system that creates pools of exploitable labor, including nonimmigrant guest workers under H-2B. The first step toward change is to stop the riders that are derailing H-2B reform. The next, more difficult step, is comprehensive immigration reform.
6/28/2016 9:38:55 AM
Indian Mega-Companies Behind the H-1B Visa Crisis

Posts: 115
Beyond Zucked: The Indian Mega-Companies Behind the H-1B Visa Crisis

by Lee Stranahan, Breitbart.com, 30 May 20160

While the candidacy of Donald Trump has brought some light to the abuse of immigration “guest worker” programs, most Americas still aren’t aware of the issue and few know about the Indian companies profiting behind the scenes.Until Donald Trump changed the election conversation last year, H-1Bs were the immigration crisis that nobody was talking about. The middle-class suffered as educated U.S. workers were being pushed out of jobs through immigrations programs like H-1B and L1.
As The Economic Times reported:

The majority of the work done by H1B employers is really not specialist work. Most of them have between three to eight years of experience and they go on to do work for large IT departments for US banks, insurance companies, telecom operators.
While many well-meaning conservatives spent their time talking about the low skill workers coming over the border illegally from Mexico and Central America, they ignored the wage stagnation caused by the planeloads of H-1B workers flying legally into the country from India.

Indian-owned and connected companies are at the center of the H-1B controversy, but most Americans aren’t even aware of who these companies are.

If you take a look at the list of the top companies spending money lobbying for immigration reform, you’ll see a lot of instantly recognizable household names in the world of high tech and consumer electronics like Intel, Microsoft, and Facebook. However, one name won’t be familiar to most Americans: a company called Cognizant.

Cognizant Technology Solutions is a New Jersey based company that delivers IT, consulting, and outsourcing services. Even though most people have never heard of them, Cognizant is a significant player in the world of H-1B and the politics of immigration reform … and its stock just received a “buy” rating from 17 of 19 brokerages.
Cognizant isn’t the only big player in the outsourcing world: other major companies include Infosys, Wipro and Tata.

These are big companies. Wipro had revenues of $7.3 billion dollars in 2014. Infosys has revenues of $8.25 billion and Cognizant brought in a cool $8.84 billion. Tata is a nearly 150-year-old conglomerate that is involved in many areas other than outsourcing and their combined revenue for 2014-2015 was near $109 billion dollars.
Cognizant, Wipro, Infosys, and Tata all profit by supplying foreign workers to American companies via the H-1B visa program and almost all the workers are Indian. Wipro, Tata, and Infosys are Indian companies and even though Cognizant is in New Jersey, over half their workers are Indian and 64% of all H-1B Visas go to Indians.

Cognizant alone spends millions of dollars lobbying politicians on immigration policy; nearly $3,000,000 in the last two years. A look at Cognizant’s lobbying and contribution numbers show the bipartisan nature of the push for comprehensive immigration reform. They cover the table, supporting both Democrats and Republicans. On one hand, one of their lobbyists is Heather Podesta, the powerful Democrat known as the “It Girl” of Washington. On the other hand, they were big donors to the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Why are companies like Cognizant spending so much on lobbying? It’s simple business: they make a lot more on the H-1B Visa program than they spend on lobbying.
These big outsourcing companies actually hold more H-1B visas than anyone. As India’s GlobalPost reported:

Getting an H-1B visa has become a major career step for many IT graduates, and a major source of profit for the outsourcers.

For Indian workers, a job in the US means opportunities and money. For the outsourcing firms, the Indian IT workers are significantly cheaper than their American counterparts — by about 25 percent.

Tech companies have been lobbying to increase the cap — Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg set up pressure group FWD.us to campaign on immigration issues. Microsoft founder Bill Gates has been a long-time advocate of making it easier for foreign-born high-skilled workers to immigrate.

The lobbying investment that the outsourcers and high-tech firms have to American politicians in both parties has paid off. Just last year, the new Republican Congress was ready to expand the H-1B Visa Cap.

Some criticism came from surprising sources. In April 2014, Illinois Democrat and comprehensive immigration reform advocate Sen. Dick Durbin brought up the subject of H-1B abuse by the Indian outsourcers. Durbin alleged:

These outsourcing firms like Infosys, Wipro, Tata and others — Americans would be shocked to know that the H-1B visas are not going to Microsoft; they’re going to these firms, largely in India, who are finding workers, engineers, who will work at low wages in the US for three years and pay a fee to Infosys or these companies.

I think that is an abuse of what we’re trying to achieve here. Most people would think, well, Microsoft needs these folks, and they’d be shocked to know that most of the H-1B visas are not going to companies like (Microsoft); they’re going to these outsourcing companies,

Even after that spanking, the media has continued to ignore the H-1B issue. There have even been major settlements over H-1B abuse by outsourcing companies, but still the issue has gained no traction in the noisy debate over immigration. GlobalPost wrote about one settlement in 2013:

In October, Infosys paid a $34 million settlement to the Federal Government — a record for an immigration case — over allegations of “systematic visa fraud and abuse of immigration processes.”

Unable to get its cheaper Indian employees to the US to work on short term contracts, Infosys used a different visa — the B-1, normally given to foreign businessmen who need to travel to the US to complete deals.

According to an official from the Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service, special agents spent two and a half years examining the records of 6,500 foreign Infosys employees on B-1 visas.

“Instead of attending ‘business meetings and discussions’ … many of these individuals … were working for Infosys in the United States, in violation of the conditions of their B-1 visas,” the official told GlobalPost via email.

Infosys employees were even given lists of words and topics to avoid when applying for the B-1 visas, including “implementation, design & testing, consulting” and “work, activity.”

Sometimes, it’s not just jobs being lost…it’s valuable U.S. trade secrets. As Reuters reported in April:

Epic first sued Tata in 2014 with allegations that it illicitly downloaded documentation for software it had been hired to help install at Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, accusing the Indian company of “brazenly stealing” confidential information and trade secrets in order to help its competing healthcare software provider, Med Mantra, according to court documents. It filed an amended complaint in 2015.

The jury in federal court in Wisconsin on Friday found in Epic’s favor on seven claims including breach of contract, misappropriation of trade secrets, unfair competition and unfair enrichment. It awarded $240 million in compensatory damages and $700 million in punitive damages, court documents said.

The traditional GOP approach to immigration has been paying lip service on the southern border, while largely ignoring H-1B Visas.

Meanwhile, the wages of U.S. workers has remained flat for a decade. For years, Republicans and Democrats were ready to come together to make things even worse. Politicians, lobbyists, high-tech companies, and outsourcers have all made money at the American worker’s expense.

Political outsider Trump may be the only hope American workers have to shake up the system.

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6/28/2016 9:29:57 AM
Americans Fired, Foreigners Employed

Posts: 403
Americans Fired, Foreigners Employed -

Some 450,000 Americans were fired by the big capitalist corporations in 2014—while at the same time, almost every one of those companies applied for H1-B visas to employ foreign nationals—mostly from the Third World.

The three largest offenders—Hewlett Packard, Microsoft, and Cisco Systems Inc., have together axed more than 45,000 American workers, while at the same time applying for thousands of H1-B visas, which are designed to allow foreign nationals the right to work and settle in the US.

According to a survey of job cuts published earlier this year by the 24/7 Wall Street financial news service, job cuts among US companies in 2014 totaled 450,531 through November.

Technology companies were the largest downsizers, 24/7 Wall Street said. Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, and Cisco Systems announced the most job cuts, not only among tech companies, but also overall. That industry as a whole announced more than 58,000 job cuts in 2014, the highest number among all industries.

No company announced more layoffs in 2014 than Hewlett Packard, which reported a total of 21,000 job cuts.

However, according to the website Myvisajobs.com, which tracks the number of H1-B visa applications made by each company using data provided by the US Department of Labor and various immigration services, these three companies in particular are also some of the highest ranking H1-B visa sponsoring companies.

For example, Hewlett-Packard filed 2668 labor condition applications for H1B visa and 815 labor certifications for green cards, and was ranked number 30 among all visa sponsors.

The citizenship of those who applied through Hewlett Packard were, according to the data, as follows (listed in order of highest number of applicants first): India, Canada, Mexico, United Kingdom, China, Brazil, Spain, Singapore, Czech Republic, and Israel.

This pales in significance with Microsoft, however, which filed 15,998 labor condition applications for H1B visa and 10,500 labor certifications for green cards. Microsoft was, not surprisingly, ranked third among all visa sponsors.

The citizenship of those who applied through Microsoft were, according to the data, as follows (listed in order of highest number of applicants first): India, China, Canada, Russia, Mexico, Australia, United Kingdom, Israel, Pakistan, and Egypt.

Cisco Systems, Inc. filed 1920 labor condition applications for H1B visa and 1428 labor certifications for green cards, and was ranked 34 among all visa sponsors. The citizenship of those who applied through Cisco Systems were, according to the data, as follows (listed in order of highest number of applicants first): India, China, Canada, Pakistan, Israel, South Korea, United Kingdom, Mexico, Brazil, and Australia.

The 24/7 Wall Street report added that the industry with the second largest number of layoffs in 2014 was the retail sector, where nearly 42,000 job cuts were announced.

Financial companies, too, were among the top companies cutting jobs. JPMorgan Chase, for example, cut 5,500 jobs in 2014—but also has filed 4530 labor condition applications for H1B visa and 509 labor certifications for green cards, and was ranked number 24 among all visa sponsors. The nationalities of those who applied for H1-B visas through JPMorgan were India, China, Canada, France, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Mexico, United Kingdom, Brazil, and South Korea.

Meanwhile, most US states reported overall job losses in September 2015. Missouri lost 16,500 jobs in September, the most of any state, followed by Pennsylvania, which reported a drop of 16,400. Michigan shed 9,800 jobs, the third largest decline, followed by Hawaii, where jobs fell 8,100. West Virginia lost 11,400 jobs in the past year. It also has the nation’s highest unemployment rate, at 7.3 percent. Even North Dakota has shed 7,300 jobs in the past year, media reports revealed.

At the same time, the nonwhite invasion of America continues unabated. Mexico’s former ambassador to the US, Arturo Sarukhan, recently told MSNBC that there were actually 30 million “undocumented immigrants” living in the United States.

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6/28/2016 9:22:39 AM
More IT Jobs Sent Overseas

Posts: 403
More IT Jobs Sent Overseas

By Patrick Thibodeau, June 24th, 2016

The outsourcing of IT functions has caused a stir in many industries with stories of
IT pros forced to train their replacements and controversy surrounding the H-1B visa. Recently, major newspaper chains have moved a great deal of IT work overseas, which raises a question—could this affect news coverage of the issue?

Patrick Thibodeau writes, “Tribune Publishing Co., a major newspaper chain, is laying off as many as 200 IT employees as it shifts work overseas.

“The firm, which owns the Los Angeles Times, The Baltimore Sun, Chicago Tribune, Hartford Courant and many other media properties, told IT employees in early April that it’s moving work to India-based Tata Consultancy Services.

“Interestingly, the Tribune IT employees were notified within weeks of a similar announcement involving IT employees at the McClatchy Company, another major newspaper chain.

“McClatchy, which owns the Miami Herald, The Sacramento Bee and many other newspapers, is laying off between 120 and 150 IT employees. That company hired Wipro, an IT service provider also based in India.

“The impact of these IT outsourcing decision[s] may go beyond the job losses. It could affect coverage of this controversial issue.”

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6/25/2016 10:16:58 AM
Merrill Lynch, $415M for Misusing Customer Cash

Posts: 403
Merrill Lynch to Pay $415 Million for Misusing Customer Cash and Putting Customer Securities at Risk


Washington D.C., June 23, 2016 — The Securities and Exchange Commission today announced that Merrill Lynch has agreed to pay $415 million and admit wrongdoing to settle charges that it misused customer cash to generate profits for the firm and failed to safeguard customer securities from the claims of its creditors.

An SEC investigation found that Merrill Lynch violated the SEC’s Customer Protection Rule by misusing customer cash that rightfully should have been deposited in a reserve account. Merrill Lynch engaged in complex options trades that lacked economic substance and artificially reduced the required deposit of customer cash in the reserve account. The maneuver freed up billions of dollars per week from 2009 to 2012 that Merrill Lynch used to finance its own trading activities. Had Merrill Lynch failed in the midst of these trades, the firm’s customers would have been exposed to a massive shortfall in the reserve account.

According to the SEC’s order instituting a settled administrative proceeding, Merrill Lynch further violated the Customer Protection Rule by failing to adhere to requirements that fully-paid for customer securities be held in lien-free accounts and shielded from claims by third parties should a firm collapse. From 2009 to 2015, Merrill Lynch held up to $58 billion per day of customer securities in a clearing account that was subject to a general lien by its clearing bank and held additional customer securities in accounts worldwide that similarly were subject to liens. Had Merrill Lynch collapsed at any point, customers would have been exposed to significant risk and uncertainty of getting back their own securities.

“The rules concerning the safety of customer cash and securities are fundamental protections for investors and impose lines that simply can never be crossed,” said Andrew J. Ceresney, Director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. “Merrill Lynch violated these rules, including during the heart of the financial crisis, and the significant relief imposed today reflects the severity of its failures.”

In conjunction with this case, the SEC announced a two-part initiative designed to uncover additional abuses of the Customer Protection Rule. The first encourages broker-dealers to proactively report potential violations of the rule to the SEC and provides for cooperation credit and favorable settlement terms in any enforcement recommendations arising from self-reporting. Second, the Enforcement Division, in coordination with the Division of Trading and Markets and the Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations, will conduct risk-based examinations of certain broker-dealers to assess their compliance with the Customer Protection Rule.

“Simultaneous with today's action, SEC staff will begin a coordinated effort across divisions to find potential violations by other firms through a targeted sweep and by encouraging firms to self-report any potential violations of the Customer Protection Rule,” said Michael J. Osnato, Chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s Complex Financial Instruments Unit.

In addition to the Customer Protection Rule violations, Merrill Lynch violated Exchange Act Rule 21F-17 by using language in severance agreements that operated to impede employees from voluntarily providing information to the SEC. Merrill Lynch also engaged in significant remediation in response to the Rule 21F-17 violation, including the revision of its agreements, policies and procedures, and the implementation of a mandatory annual whistleblower-training program for all employees of Merrill Lynch and its parent corporation, Bank of America. Merrill Lynch and Bank of America also agreed to provide employees, on an annual basis, with a summary of their rights and protections under the SEC’s Whistleblower Program.

The SEC separately announced a litigated administrative proceeding against William Tirrell, who served as Merrill Lynch’s Head of Regulatory Reporting when the firm was misusing customer cash in violation of the Customer Protection Rule. The SEC’s Enforcement Division alleges that Tirrell was ultimately responsible for determining how much money Merrill Lynch would reserve in its special account, and failed to adequately monitor the trades and provide specific information to the firm’s regulators about the substance and mechanics of the trades. The litigated administrative proceeding against Tirrell will be scheduled for a public hearing before an administrative law judge who will issue an initial decision stating what, if any, remedial actions are appropriate.

The SEC’s order finds that Merrill Lynch violated Securities Exchange Act Sections 15(c)(3) and 17(a)(1) and Rules 15c3-3, 17a-3(a)(10), 17a-5(a), 17a-5(d)(2)(ii), 17a-5(d)(3), 17a-11(e), and 21F-17. Its subsidiary Merrill Lynch Professional Clearing Corporation is charged with violating Sections 15(c)(3) and 17(a)(1) and Rules 15c3-3, 17a-3(a)(10) and 17a-5(a). Merrill Lynch cooperated fully with the SEC's investigation and has engaged in extensive remediation, including by retaining an independent compliance consultant to review its compliance with the Customer Protection Rule. Merrill Lynch agreed to pay $57 million in disgorgement and interest plus a $358 million penalty, and publicly acknowledged violations of the federal securities laws.

The SEC’s investigation was conducted by Jeff Leasure and James Murtha with assistance from Eli Bass and Michael Birnbaum. The case was supervised by Mr. Osnato and Daniel Michael. The SEC’s litigation against Mr. Tirrell will be led by Michael Birnbaum, Jeff Leasure, and James Murtha. The SEC appreciates the assistance of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board.

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6/21/2016 9:22:50 AM
Vote Democrat As A Default Position? BIG Mistake!

Posts: 147
Do You Vote Democrat As A Default Position? BIG Mistake!

By Howie Klein, DownWithTyranny

What do these 13 Democrats have in common?

• Brad Sherman (CA)
• Gregory Meeks (New Dem-NY)
• David Scott (New Dem-GA)
• Ed Perlmutter (New Dem-CO)
• Jim Himes (New Dem-CT)
• John Carney (New Dem-DE)
• Terri Sewell (New Dem-AL)
• Bill Foster (New Dem-IL)
• Patrick Murphy (New Dem-FL)
• John Delaney (New Dem-MD)
• Kyrsten Sinema (New Dem-AZ)
• Joyce Beatty (OH)
• Juan Vargas (New Dem-CA)

Let’s not start with “they all belong in prison for corruption” because that’s the end of this post. And, not every single one of them is a New Dem; two aren’t. But they all made a concerted effort to get on the House Financial Services Committee– the well-spring of congressional corruption– and, as members of that committee, they all voted for H.R. 5424 last week. And they all take significant bribes from the very Finance Sector that they’re meant to be keeping from ripping off consumers. These 13, in fact, have been among the worst enablers of the financial sector when it comes to ripping off consumers and endangering the country’s financial health. Let’s reorder the list in terms of how much in bribes each one has gotten– this cycle alone– from the Finance Sector:

• Patrick Murphy- $1,413,950
• Jim Himes- $618,150
• Kyrsten Sinema- $589,388
• Ed Perlmutter- $455,157
• Bill Foster- $401,935
• Terri Sewell- $379,400
• David Scott- $368,640
• John Delaney- $351,750
• Gregory Meeks- $338,550
• Brad Sherman- $300,750
• Juan Vargas- $247,549
• Joyce Beatty- $225,050
• John Carney- $164,450

So what is this H.R. 5424 to which I referred? Well, let’s turn to Yves Smith’s Naked Capitalism to get a good read on what Wall Street lobbyists, the Republican Party and these corrupt Democrats called the “investment Advisers Modernization Act.” If it passes and Obama signs it, it “would allow the hedge fund and private equity industry, which are rich enough to pay for the few parking-ticket-level fines the SEC hands out, to escape from virtually all enforcement efforts. Worse, it would considerably weaken protections meant to stop Madoff-type frauds, and leave retail investors exposed.”

Dodd Frank stipulated that private equity and hedge funds beyond a modest size be regulated as investment advisers. That subjected them to SEC examinations. The initial round exposed widespread misconduct in private equity, including what would normally be called embezzlement.

Yet the agency has fined remarkably few sanctions, and the fines have been light relative to the extent of the misconduct alleged by the SEC and unearthed by the press.

To make a bad situation worse, the SEC retreated from its tough enforcement talk within months, and more recently, has been trying to fool the chump public into believing that its weak enforcement actions are having an impact when private equity form ADV filings with the SEC reveal the reverse, that many firms are continuing to engage in precisely the same conduct that the SEC has deemed to be a securities law violation.

But even this cronyistic enforcement charade is an offense to these Masters of the Universe. HR 5424 would gut Dodd Frank oversight. I’ve attached a letter from Americans for Financial Reform at the end of the post, which sets forth how this bill makes a mockery of the idea of investor protection.

…[T]he bill creates exemptions to the requirement that investment advisers have their holdings independently audited at least annually. The exemptions on the surface appear to apply to closely-held funds. It carves out ones whose investors are “officers, directors, and employees” of not just the fund manger, but also of “affiliated persons,” their “officers, directors, and employees,” current and former family members, and “officers, directors, and employees,” who provide or have entered into contracts to provide services….and not just to the investment vehicle itself, but to any of its clients!

It’s easy to see how this provision could be abused by, say, having someone enter into a sham or trivial service agreement to get access to a supposedly hot manager. You can even hear the patter: “The only people who can invest are friends and employees, and OMG have they made boatloads, but the SEC will allow you to invest if we are your client. And that’s really easy to do. Just sign this contract…”

As professor Jennifer Taub stated in her testimony on the bill last month:

Just when private equity funds are in the sunlight thanks to Dodd-Frank and many have been exposed in SEC examinations as in violation of the law, you are now proposing that they be able to hide their tracks. Instead of encouraging a culture of compliance, this bill would provide a loophole for investment adviser recordkeeping requirements. Subjecting communications to confidentiality agreements or keeping them in-house would allow advisers to destroy critical investment records…

The Investment Advisers Modernization Act of 2016 is misnamed. Instead of ushering in modernity, it would send the SEC and investors back to the Dark Ages. Like the other bills today, it is misaligned with the hearing’s title, “Legislative Proposals to Enhance Capital Formation, Transparency, and Regulatory Accountability.” This bill would not enhance capital formation. Instead it would undermine investor protection and trust, which could inhibit or drive up the cost of capital. It would not promote transparency, but allow certain private equity advisers and other private fund advisers that have been exposed as lacking in recent SEC examinations to hide their tracks. It would not encourage regulatory accountability. Instead it would punish regulatory success, depriving the SEC of the information and tools it has been using to monitor system-wide risks, identify firm-specific risk, investigate fraud, and enforce the law.

It was funny yesterday when Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) sent out an e-mail moaning about how the Republicans are trying to destroy Dodd-Frank. “Dodd-Frank,” he wrote, “is the package of safeguards Democrats passed after Wall Street devastated our economy in 2008. It’s designed to protect consumers and homeowners, and make sure the risky behavior that triggered the Great Recession doesn’t happen again. Make no mistake about it: Republicans in Congress are trying to take a jackhammer to those safeguards. They don’t have a problem putting Main Street back on the hook for Wall Street’s greed.”

Is it too difficult for Brown to acknowledge that it isn’t only Republicans but the Republican-wing of his own party– the New Dems and Blue Dogs primarily– who are working steadily to erode and, in his words, “destroy” Dodd-Frank. That is certainly why Wall Street has given more money to Patrick Murphy than any other non-incumbent running for the Senate this year– more, by far, than any Republican. He has shown Wall Street his willingness– actually eagerness– to serve their interests on the House Financial Services Committee. Sherrod Brown is very aware of Patrick Murphy’s record and behavior and his devotion to the Wall Street banksters. And Sherrod Brown endorsed him– not against a Republican, but against a proven and effective fighter against Wall Street excess, Alan Grayson. He also refuse dto endorse Bernie and gave an early nod to Hillary, another conservative Democrat whose affinity towards Wall Street is hardly secret.

“Demand Congressional Republicans leave the Dodd-Frank financial reforms in place,” continued Brown. “I’m more than willing to admit that there are portions of Dodd-Frank that can be improved. We still have banks in this country that are “Too Big To Fail”– that’s something we should fix.But Republicans aren’t talking about improvements, they’re talking about going back to the same practices that caused the Great Recession.” Yeah… and so are the New Dems like Brown-endorsee Patrick Murphy.

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6/20/2016 12:22:40 AM
Few shortages of skilled workers in America

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Ignore the hype. There are few shortages of skilled workers in America.

by Editor of the Fabius Maximus

Summary: The shortage of STEM workers is a zombie myth too politically useful to die. But here’s data that should kill it. Worse, it implies we might soon see a surplus of highly educated workers, undercutting the more education as a solution to automation story. We’ll need to consider more radical ideas.

“While there are over 500,000 computing jobs currently unfilled in the U.S., only 42,969 computer science students graduated from U.S. universities into the workforce last year.”

— “Computer Science in K-12 Classrooms” by the Computer Science Education Coalition, one of the many lobbying groups funded by corporations to ensure cheap labor. Median wages for people with PhDs in computer science were $121,300 in 2013, down 7% from 2008. There is no shortage, even in this hottest of fields.

Wages show the supply & demand for people with Ph.D.s.

Their wages are falling, so there is no shortage.

For years corporations and their paid propagandists at think-tanks have bombarded us with news about the shortage of workers in the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), which will cripple America in the 21st century. Looking to the future, we’re told growth in these fields would offset some of the massive unemployment from automation.

Oddly, despite the ludicrously high numbers of unfilled jobs reported, wages in these fields have not been rapidly rising (excerpt in a few hot specialties, as it takes time for students to graduate into them). Has the law of supply and demand been repealed? No, since not only is there no shortage, but even Ph.D.s in these fields are in excess supply and seeking employment in other fields, or at jobs in their field not requiring their level of training.

Worse, the data suggests that in the future we might have an oversuppy of highly educated workers (the large surplus of attorneys might be the exemplar of what’s to come).

What we see here is corporations using the news media and government to ensure an ample supply of cheap skilled workers. An entire movement has been built on this fake story.
Here’s the latest of the articles presenting the facts about higher education in the second decade of the 21st century.

Job-Seeking Ph.D. Holders Look to Life Outside School

by Douglas Belkin in the Wall Street Journal

“New doctorate holders are grappling with dwindling employment prospects.”“…The percentage of new doctorate recipients without jobs or plans for further study climbed to 39% in 2014 from 31% in 2009, according to a National Science Foundation survey released in April. Median salaries for midcareer Ph.D.s working full time fell 6% between 2010 and 2013.

“The reason: supply and demand. Production of doctorates in the U.S. climbed 28% in the decade ending in 2014 to an all-time high of 54,070. That surge has come as more Americans see a postgraduate degree as a hedge against stagnating wages and unemployment in an economy demanding increasingly specific skills and expertise.
“Meanwhile, the academic job market — the largest employer of Ph.D.s — continues to wither as many universities move away from the model of only employing tenured professors and toward using greater numbers of relatively lowly paid adjunct teachers.

“In addition, critical pockets of public and private funding that have traditionally supported jobs for doctorate holders in their research fields have dwindled. The pharmaceuticals industry, for example — the largest employer of chemists in the country — has moved much of its research overseas, shedding 300,000 jobs in the U.S. in recent years. Salaries for chemists with Ph.D.s fell 12% between 2004 and 2014, according to the American Chemical Society.

“…Michael Teitelbaum, who studies the scientific workforce as a senior adviser to the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that supports research in education {said} ‘When you can import an international workforce or outsource research, you have a buyer’s market.’

“…their median incomes have been falling. Computer scientists earned $121,300 in 2013, down from $129,839 in 2008; engineers saw a drop to $120,000 from $125,511 and social scientists fell to $85,000 from $90,887.

“…The decline in full-time hiring in universities has resulted in tens of thousands of Ph.D. holders teaching classes for around $3000 each without benefits. …

“As a result, many graduate students are considering careers outside the academy or their research field. This has led to credential inflation as Ph.D.s fill jobs traditionally held by professionals without such lofty degrees. For instance the number of Ph.D.s applying to teach at private high schools has jumped between 10% and 20% over the last five years, according to Devereaux McLatchey, president of Carney, Sandoe & Associates which is one of the nation’s largest recruiters for private high schools.

“…Production of doctorates in the U.S. climbed 28% in the decade ending in 2014 to an all-time high of 54,070. …”

Skills: only useful if there are jobs.

Another perspective: corps use H1-B visas to depress wagesNot content with shipping jobs overseas and pushing to generate a surplus of workers in America, corporations import more workers to depress wages in skilled fields:
The H1-B Visas Don’t Help American STEM Graduates

By Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Wall Street Journal

“It’s a myth that there is a shortage of qualified Americans to fill jobs in STEM.”“…To support your belief that American workers should receive no protections, you recycle the myth that there is a shortage of qualified Americans to fill jobs in STEM—science, technology, engineering and math—and then demand more guest workers as substitutes. Your evidence for this claim is that the government “received a record 233,000 requests from American business for the 85,000 H-1B visas available.” But the only thing this statistic proves is that companies prefer low-wage, bonded guest workers over higher-paid Americans.

“Each year, the U.S. graduates twice as many students with STEM degrees as are hired in STEM occupations. Contrary to the suggestion that these students are finding better, higher-paying jobs, the opposite is true. About 35% of science students, 55% of technology students, 20% of engineering students and 30% of math students who recently graduated are now working in jobs that don’t require any four-year college degree. As further proof of no shortage, wages in the profitable IT industry have been largely flat for more than a decade.

“Yet despite the enormous supply of job-seeking Americans, two-thirds of entry-level hires in the tech industry are now going to foreign workers.

“That is because the H-1B visa is not a high-skilled immigration program. It operates as a low-wage nonimmigrant temporary visa, undercutting the jobs and wages of highly qualified Americans. Just recently, Southern California Edison laid off hundreds of loyal employees and forced them to train the H-1B guest workers hired to replace them. One of those replaced American workers was a mother with a physical disability caring for two children. …”


We find it difficult to prepare for the future because we cannot clearly see the present through all the lies we are told.

There are no broad shortages of skilled workers in America (the slow growth of wages in almost every field shows that). Worse, there are already signs of surpluses in many kinds of workers with both undergraduate and advanced degrees — so that ramping up education is unlikely to compensate for the jobs lost in the coming wave of automation.

We need to begin considering more radical solutions. Such as ways to generate faster economic growth and jobs, and support those that lose their jobs. We have dealt with the severe transitions of previous industrial revolutions, and can do so with this one. Keep our eyes open, our minds clear, and stand together.

Other articles about the STEM “crisis”

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6/20/2016 12:08:52 AM
Visa Abuses Harm American Workers

Posts: 403
Visa Abuses Harm American Workers
NY Times, Editorial Board, JUNE 16, 2016

There is no doubt that H-1B visas — temporary work permits for specially talented foreign professionals — are instead being used by American employers to replace American workers with cheaper foreign labor. Abbott Laboratories, the health care conglomerate based in Illinois, recently became the latest large American company to use the visas in this way, following the lead of other employers, including Southern California Edison, Northeast Utilities (now Eversource Energy), Disney, Toys “R” Us and New York Life.

Technology workers from Abbott Laboratories gathered in April at a North Chicago bar after the company laid off about 150 of them.

The visas are supposed to be used only to hire college-educated foreigners in “specialty occupations” requiring “highly specialized knowledge,” and only when such hiring will not depress prevailing wages. But in many cases, laid-off American workers have been required to train their lower-paid replacements.

Lawmakers from both parties have denounced the visa abuse, but it is increasingly widespread, mainly because of loopholes in the law. For example, in most instances, companies that hire H-1B workers are not required to recruit Americans before hiring from overseas. Similarly, companies are able to skirt the rules for using H-1B workers by outsourcing the actual hiring of those workers to Tata, Infosys and other temporary staffing firms, mostly based in India.

Criticism of the visa process has been muted, and reform has moved slowly, partly because laid-off American workers — mostly tech employees replaced by Indian guest workers — have not loudly protested. Their reticence does not mean acceptance or even resignation. As explained in The Times on Sunday by Julia Preston, most of the displaced workers had to sign agreements prohibiting them from criticizing their former employers as a condition of receiving severance pay. The gag orders have largely silenced the laid-off employees, while allowing the employers to publicly defend their actions as legal, which is technically accurate, given the loopholes in the law.

The conversation, however, is changing. Fourteen former tech workers at Abbott, including one who forfeited a chunk of severance pay rather than sign a so-called nondisparagement agreement, have filed federal claims with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission saying they were discriminated against because of their ages and American citizenship. Tech workers from Disney have filed federal lawsuits accusing the company and two global outsourcing firms of colluding to supplant Americans with H-1B workers. Former employees of Eversource Energy have also begun to challenge their severance-related gag orders by publicly discussing their dismissals and replacement by foreign workers on H-1B and other visas.

Congressional leaders of both parties have questioned the nondisparagement agreements. Bipartisan legislation in the Senate would revise visa laws to allow former employees to protest their layoffs. Beyond that, what Congress really needs to do is close the loopholes that allow H-1B abuses.

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