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6/20/2016 12:08 AM - anonymous

Hero's and Villians

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4/27/2016 10:32 AM - Cancun

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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6/28/2016 9:38 AM - Cancun

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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7/4/2016 11:40 AM - Chandler

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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5/10/2016 11:11 AM - Chandler

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

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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

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.

Link to Source
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.

Link to Source
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.”

Link to Source
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.

Link to Source
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

Posts: 403
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”

Link to Source
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.

Link to Source
6/20/2016 12:04:12 AM
Foreign worker loophole concerns some NC lawmakers

Posts: 197
Foreign worker loophole concerns some NC lawmakers

The Charlotte Observer, June 19th 2016

CHARLOTTE, NC (Deon Roberts/The Charlotte Observer) - North Carolina’s practice of awarding millions in taxpayer-funded incentives to companies that hire foreign workers is causing concern among some lawmakers.

An Observer analysis of federal data this month revealed that companies in Charlotte and across North Carolina are stepping up their use of the H-1B visa program. The visas allow employers to bring foreign workers to the U.S. on a temporary basis to fill highly specialized positions, such as scientists and computer programmers.

Among the employers applying for visa workers in Charlotte are two companies that have received millions of dollars in state incentives to create jobs in the city, the Observer found. State law doesn’t prohibit companies from using foreign workers to meet job-creation requirements tied to the incentives, according to the North Carolina Department of Commerce.

North Carolina lawmakers say that’s troubling.

“If we’re recruiting jobs for North Carolina, they should be for North Carolinians,” said Sen. Bob Rucho, a Matthews Republican. “How fair is that?”

Lawmakers said they will investigate possible changes that would ban or at least restrict companies that are awarded incentives from using visa workers, though they believe such a move would likely have to wait until next year’s regular session.

Rep. Craig Horn, a Weddington Republican who serves on the House Commerce and Job Development Committee, said he will “see if I can get folks working on this.” He said he learned of the loophole through the Observer’s reporting.

Horn said he’d like to study the issue further. But he believes awarding incentives to companies that use foreign visa workers to fulfill job-creation requirements amounts to an “unintended consequence” of the incentive program.

“I would close the loophole,” he said. “I want to see our state tax money used to benefit our state residents.”

House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger did not respond to requests for comment.

A political flashpoint

The attention to state incentives comes at a time when the H-1B visa program is becoming a political flashpoint nationally. Proponents say the visas help companies fill jobs for which they can’t find qualified workers. Critics say companies abuse the program, replacing Americans with foreign workers willing to work for less.

Since publishing its original story, the Observer has received dozens of emails from readers in Charlotte and around the country, some sharing personal stories of losing tech jobs to H-1B visa workers from India. Some laid-off workers said they were further humiliated and outraged when their company told them to train their foreign replacements.

A Charlotte resident who said he’s lost IT jobs in the city to visa workers twice in the past five years

“It was not very pleasant to have someone next to you trying to learn your job so they can take it away,” said one former Charlotte contract worker who described losing information technology jobs in the city’s financial sector to visa workers. It happened to him twice in the past five years, he said.

“We had to hold their hands while they learned our jobs,” said the worker, who asked that his name and employer not be published, saying he was not authorized to speak publicly.

“I even had to teach a couple of people what was banking,” he said. “I had to explain what a checking system was in this country.”

More than half of readers who responded to an Observer questionnaire this month said they have experienced being laid off in Charlotte by an employer who replaced them with an H-1B visa worker. More than 75 people responded to the questionnaire.

The Charlotte Observer’s owner, McClatchy, is among U.S. companies turning to outsourcing firms that employ large numbers of H-1B visa workers. Starting this summer, the California-based publisher will begin outsourcing some technology functions to India-based Wipro, a move that will result in layoffs of 121 McClatchy employees across the U.S., including 10 in Charlotte. McClatchy said the move is designed in part to help accelerate its transformation into a more digitally focused media company.

Outsourcing firm gets $5M

Attorney General Roy Cooper, a Democrat opposing Gov. Pat McCrory in his re-election bid, in an emailed statement said incentives should not be used to replace North Carolina workers with cheaper foreign labor. Cooper stopped short of promising to push for specific changes to the law.

“North Carolina tax incentives should be used for companies that will create jobs for our North Carolina workers,” Cooper said.

Josh Ellis, a spokesman for McCrory, said by email: “Attracting high-tech companies with high-skilled talent is good for North Carolina. Roy Cooper’s union-inspired talking points were not expressed last week at an economic development forum nor any time he personally signed off on incentive agreements as attorney general.”

Rep. John Fraley, a Mooresville Republican who also serves on the House Commerce and Job Development Committee, called the matter “worthy of further investigation and debate” before or during next year’s session of the General Assembly.

In Charlotte, outsourcing firm Cognizant was awarded $5 million in incentives in 2014 in return for an expansion that would add 150 workers in Charlotte and 350 elsewhere in the state. The New Jersey-based firm, one of the nation’s largest users of H-1B visas, submitted 2,593 initial H-1B applications in Charlotte in fiscal 2015. That’s the most of any company that applied for visas in Charlotte that year.

Also in 2014, New Jersey-based Spectra Group was awarded a roughly $2.9 million grant tocreate 250 jobs in Charlotte. The information technology and financial services firm has since filed initial applications for 10 visa workers to be based in Charlotte and Fort Mill, S.C., federal data show.

Spectra Group could not be reached for comment. Cognizant, in a previous statement, said it actively hires experienced U.S. workers and recruits qualified students from colleges and universities across North Carolina and the country. But the firm also said it relies on H-1B visas to fill “talent gaps” in the U.S.

Recruiters who work to fill IT jobs say the skills gap is real. North Carolina has 19,565 open computing jobs but had only 1,224 computer science graduates in 2014, according to Code.org, a nonprofit focused on increasing access to computer science education in schools.

The debate over the visas has reached Capitol Hill, where some members of Congress are seeking to restrict access to them. They argue some employers are abusing the program as a means to use lower-cost foreign labor to replace Americans who are more qualified. Others want to see annual H-1B visa caps raised, arguing the program is a critical tool to fill science, technology, engineering and mathematics jobs for which there are too few qualified Americans.

For his part, John Lassiter, a former Charlotte City Council member who now chairs the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, said employers in North Carolina and elsewhere sometimes struggle to find qualified workers for certain jobs.

“Some cases, they have to go find those skills from somewhere else around the world,” said Lassister, who said the partnership does not get involved in the requirements placed on companies that get state incentives.

Jeff Finkle, president of the International Economic Development Council, said he’s not aware of any state where companies awarded incentives are required to hire only Americans.
“I’m not saying that a few more egregious cases (of visa practices) won’t cause some states to think about that,” said Finkle, whose Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit’s membership includes economic developers in the U.S. and abroad.

South Carolina does not ban companies that get incentives from filling jobs with visa workers, South Carolina Department of Commerce spokeswoman Adrienne Fairwell said.

It’s unclear what steps North Carolina lawmakers might take. But one option is to place limits, rather than an outright ban, on visa hiring when companies get North Carolina incentives.
That’s an idea suggested by Rep. John Bradford, a Cornelius Republican.

“In instances where skill gaps clearly exist I think exceptions can be requested and reviewed, and perhaps granted,” Bradford said.

“That said, though, jobs for North Carolinians should always be the main priority if and when North Carolina economic incentives are involved.”

Link to Source
6/20/2016 12:00:10 AM
Abbott uses H-1B program to displace U.S. workers

Posts: 197
Abbott uses H-1B program to displace U.S. workers
Like Disney, company requires laid-off workers to train their foreign replacements to qualify for severance payments

By Norbert Sparrow, Plastics Today, June 19, 2016

Abbott Laboratories (Abbott Park, IL) is a greatly admired global healthcare company with a 125-year history of innovation and deeply rooted commitment to improving access to healthcare through its philanthropic Abbott Fund. Its Chairman and CEO Miles D. White was named one of the world’s best CEOs by Barron’s in 2016, the eighth consecutive year in which he has made that list. So I have to wonder why the company thought that laying off approximately 180 IT employees and replacing some of them with workers from India hired on H-1B and other temporary visas was a good idea. The company also required some of the displaced workers to train their replacements and to keep any complaints to themselves if they want to receive their full severance payments. This is what Disney did in Orlando not too long ago, which earned it a much-deserved public shaming.

“[H-1B] 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,” wrote the New York Times in an editorial published on June 16 (“ Visa Abuses Harm American Workers ”). By making severance payments contingent on signed agreements prohibiting the former employees from bad-mouthing the company, the public response has been muted, but those days may be numbered. In that same op-ed piece, the New York Times writes that “14 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.” Many of the workers who received pink slips reportedly were over the age of 40.

It’s abundantly clear that the H-1B visa program is being abused by corporations. While the practice may not be technically illegal—the law is rife with loopholes—the ethics are deplorable. It can only fuel the increasingly shared sentiment of a rigged system that shores up corporate profits at the expense of U.S. workers. None of this surprises me, except for the fact that a company with Abbott’s history of corporate social responsibility would choose to go down this road.

Link to Source
6/17/2016 12:55:56 AM
Visa Abuses Harm American Workers

Posts: 115
Visa Abuses Harm American Workers

New York Times, The 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.

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.

Link to Source
6/7/2016 11:30:41 AM
Software Engineers: Exploited Migrant Workers?

Posts: 197
Software Engineers: Exploited Migrant Workers?

By David Iaconangelo, Working In These Times, Jun 7, 2016

Elton Kent, a software engineer from India, is filing a class action lawsuit against Accenture in U.S. courts, claiming pay discrimination under his L-1 visa. (WOCinTech Chat / Flickr)

Before Elton Kent ever set foot in New York, his career was going swimmingly. A son of India’s upper-middle-class, he had cut his teeth at a start-up, and finagled that into a prized job offer as a software engineer at the most prestigious firm in India: Accenture. Then, he says, in 2012, another stroke of good fortune came: Management was going to transfer him to New York City.

To bring him to the United States, Accenture applied for an L-1 visa, one of two visas for workers with knowledge or skills deemed to be in short supply among Americans.

Kent didn’t realize it, but when he got off the plane in New York in the fall of 2012, he stepped into a long-simmering dispute between software service providers like Accenture and American employees who see their profession undercut by foreign guest workers. Those guest workers, in turn, are often leery of making common cause with their American counterparts, fearing that by speaking out they may lose their visas or damage their career prospects back home.

But Kent says the issue is one of basic fairness. A month after quitting Accenture, in November 2015, he filed a class-action lawsuit against his former employer, citing “frustration and dismay at…uncorrected discrimination in compensation and promotional opportunities.” The suit alleges discrimination on the basis of national origin and says he was paid less than Americans who performed the same job and was denied the same benefits. It seeks the compensation he believes he would’ve made had he been an American citizen, plus legal fees.
Odd Poster Children

Guest workers in the software industry may seem odd poster children for workplace injustice. Many come from backgrounds of relative advantage in newly industrialized countries like India or the Philippines. While their salaries may be lower than those of their American counterparts, they still typically qualify as squarely upper-middle-class. During most of the three years Kent was employed in the United States, he made $85,300 annually, according to Accenture human resources records.

But in an April 29 memorandum in support of Kent’s motion for class certification, his legal team analyzed the salaries of “software engineer senior analysts”—Kent’s official title—at Accenture’s New York office during the time he worked there. The analysis paints a picture of a guest-visa workforce that consistently earned less than their U.S. counterparts.

Over a two-year period from 2013 to 2015, they wrote, only 25.2 percent of employees in the company’s Global Careers Program—a team made up exclusively of foreign guest workers— earned $75,000 or more per year. That’s compared to 68.8 percent of non-GCP employees.

Accenture declined to comment for this article. But in a mid-April affidavit, the company contested the pay analysis, saying that “no reliable method” exists to measure whether GCP and non-GCP employees hold comparable positions.

Both sides are slated to present arguments on the motion for class certification in September.

Less white-collar instances of L-1 exploitation have emerged. In October 2014 the Department of Labor investigated a printing technology company in Fremont, Calif., and found it had been paying Indian IT workers less than $2 an hour to install computer systems.

But the main argument levied against L-1s and the other temporary visa for tech workers—the H-1B—is that these visas give companies a cheap source of labor that undermines U.S. workers, essentially offshoring their jobs without moving them overseas.

In 2004, the Orlando Weekly ran a feature titled “Mike Emmons is Mad as Hell.” Emmons and 20 other software developers were informed by management they would be laid off—then required to train their Indian replacements, who were hired on L-1 visas. If Emmons and the others refused to stay on for the training, they’d lose their health insurance. Emmons couldn’t afford that. His daughter had spina bfida, a degenerative disease of the spinal column. After the experience, he became an crusader against the visa system.

In theory, employees on these visas are supposed to have specialized knowledge of a sort that’s hard to find among Americans. L-1 workers, for example, need to be managers or executives at the foreign facility. To get an H-1B, applicants must be seeking work in a “specialty” occupation and have at least a bachelor’s degree.

Silicon Valley execs from Bill Gates to Mark Zuckerberg have long maintained that such visas are necessary to fill a domestic shortage in STEM knowledge. Some experts disagree.

Aman Kapoor is the founder and president of Immigration Voice, a D.C.-based advocacy group for high-skilled guest workers that tries to pose a counterweight to Silicon Valley lobbying. “Even among immigrants, we don’t believe that the shortage is real,” he says. “It’d be true if they said there’s a shortage of talent at a specific price. These guys are unwilling to pay the price. … And they make sure that people coming in outside have few rights [so they can] pay them less and get more work out of them.”

Ron Hira, a political science professor at Howard University who has spent well over a decade researching visas for high-skilled workers, notes that such visas have few educational requirements. “There’s no educational requirement on the L-1 at all. And 80 percent [of workers] on the H-1B only have a bachelor’s degree.”

Some of the L-1 workers might have hard-to-come-by knowledge of a company’s internal workings. The problem is, Hira says, that visa officers don’t know how to assess that. “I think there’s very few [such workers], to be frank.”

The L-1, the least regulated of the visas in question, has no obligation that employers recruit U.S. workers first. “Maybe there is a shortage, maybe there isn’t, but employers should be required to prove one,” says Daniel Costa director of immigration law and policy at the Economic Policy Institute. “They should be required to recruit U.S. workers first and to pay at least the going rate, the average wage.”

Immigration Voice’s Kapoor argues that these visas are exploitative regardless of whether the jobs fill a need, because the worker’s presence in the U.S. is tied to the employer. To change jobs, a worker has to reapply for a visa, sponsored by a new employer. This limit on employees’ autonomy make it unlikely that a worker will make a fuss about substandard wages and working conditions. “Everybody knows about this,” says Kapoor. “It’s no secret.”

Kent knew that if he quit his job at Accenture, he had only two choices: “It was either resign and go back home, or get the H-1B and transfer,” he says.

Luck was on his side: A start-up based in Manhattan agreed to sponsor him for an H-1B. In October, he learned that he’d gotten it, and gave notice at Accenture. The next month, he filed the lawsuit.

Legislative Fixes

Each Congressional session sees new legislation to fix loopholes in visa laws introduced. The bills are usually bipartisan—a 2015 version was sponsored by Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Chuck Grassley (R- Iowa). The 2013 comprehensive immigration overhaul that stalled in the House would have created an H-1B job database, so that Americans could scope out jobs for which they might be qualified. In general, Costa says, legislation has been fairly well-conceived.

But the issue engenders a perfect storm of bipartisan alliances. Republican Sens. Jeff Flake (Ariz.), Orrin Hatch (Utah) and Marco Rubio (Fla.), and Democratic Sens. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) and Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) have all pushed for an end to caps on visas. Gridlock prevails.

Kent’s claim is still in the initial stages of litigation, so its impact is unclear. But it amounts to a challenge to the very structure of the L-1 visa program.

Emmons, who’s in software development now for the Orlando state attorney’s office, says he was glad to learn of Kent’s lawsuit. “I don’t think they should be taking jobs from Americans, but they should be paid a prevailing wage if they’re working here. It’s not fair to anyone but the corporations and the politicians whose pockets are lined by the corporations.” 

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6/7/2016 11:18:25 AM
N.C. taxpayers pay to outsource tech jobs

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Don’t make N.C. taxpayers pay to outsource tech jobs

The Observer editorial board

Nearly two years ago, we urged North Carolina lawmakers to stop companies from hiring foreign nationals for jobs created in exchange for state tax breaks and other economic development perks.

Today, however, companies remain free to hire foreign workers for such taxpayer-subsidized jobs. State law remains silent on the overlap between economic development incentives and companies’ increasing reliance on H-1B visa workers.

As a report in Sunday’s Observer showed, that’s an increasingly problematic silence.

Business writer Deon Roberts reported that companies’ visa applications for Charlotte positions rose 39 percent from the year prior – a bigger surge than the national increase of roughly 25 percent. Employers sought more than 16,500 H-1B visas in the Charlotte metro area, many of them in the technology sector.

Many of those jobs don’t involve taxpayer subsidies. But the state in 2014 gave Cognizant, a New Jersey firm that ranks among the nation’s biggest tech outsourcers, $5 million in incentives over 12 years for hiring 150 workers in Charlotte and 350 elsewhere in the state.

In the 2015 fiscal year, the firm submitted 2,593 H-1B applications in Charlotte – the most any firm sought in the city.

Is Cognizant hiring Americans only for its 500 state-subsidized jobs? Even if so, do we want to incentivize an outfit that then turns around and brings in five times as many foreign workers?

Companies say they need visa workers because they can’t find enough qualified Americans. But that’s clearly not the full story. Visa holders, many of them Indian, serve far more cheaply than U.S. citizens. Some American tech workers facing impending layoffs have to train their foreign replacements on their way out.

We get it. Companies (including the Observer’s parent company, McClatchy Corp.) turn to visa workers to help the bottom line – and, at times, because they can’t find good candidates otherwise.

Understandable. Just don’t ask taxpayers to help.

The story in Sunday’s Observer prompted the wife of one laid-off Charlotte tech worker to call the editorial board and plead for more coverage of the H-1B visa phenomenon.

“It’s a huge problem for this country,” said the woman, who asked not to be identified because her husband is seeking work. “Some people we know, they’ve taken lower-paying service jobs just so they’ll have a job. They’ve had to tighten their belts to the point where it’s unbelievable.”

Congress must decide on reforms for the H-1B visa program. But why shouldn’t the state at least limit the percentage of foreign workers who can be hired in jobs tied to state incentives packages?

Voters are turning to outsiders like Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump precisely because they don’t feel heard on matters such as this.

American workers have lost so much ground already. They shouldn’t have to subsidize visa workers’ jobs – and their own layoffs – as well.

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6/7/2016 11:15:56 AM
Millions of NC Incentives go to Visa Workers

Posts: 147
Millions of N.C. incentives go to companies using visa workers

By Winston-Salem Journal, June 5, 2016

As more companies turn to H-1B visa workers, North Carolina taxpayers are helping foot the bill.

Among those applying to use the visa workers are companies that have been awarded millions of dollars in state grants under agreements to create jobs across the state.

And it’s legal for those companies to meet their job-creation requirements with foreign workers, according to the N.C. Department of Commerce.

“State law governing incentives does not address visas and, therefore, does not prevent companies from using H-1B visa workers,” Commerce Department spokeswoman Kim Genardo said in an email.

The trend is playing out in Charlotte, where companies receiving state incentives have sought to place visa workers here.

In 2014, the state awarded New Jersey-based Spectra Group a $2.9 million grant to create 250 jobs in Charlotte.

Since then, the information technology and financial services firm submitted initial applications for 10 visa workers to be based in Charlotte and Fort Mill, S.C., according to federal data.

Another company, outsourcing firm HCL Technologies, was awarded more than $19 million in state grants in 2014 in exchange for expanding in Wake County. HCL said it planned to invest $9 million expanding a facility in Cary and creating an additional 1,237 jobs there by the end of 2018.

In a statement when the 2014 incentives were announced, HCL referred to Cary as a “strategic talent hub.”

Last year, the Noida, India-based company filed initial applications for more than 2,000 H-1B workers based in North Carolina, the vast majority in Wake County.

Spokesmen at neither Spectra nor HCL could be reached for comment.

It’s unclear if either will seek to have H-1B visa workers counted toward their employment totals required by their incentives.

Former Congressman Bruce Morrison, principal author of the 1990 law that created the H-1B visa, said states that dole out incentives for job creation shouldn’t let those firms fill the positions with visa workers.

“My visceral reaction is it’s a shame,” Morrison said. “The taxpayers ... have been taken for a ride.”

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6/7/2016 11:06:07 AM
Foreign workers replace Americans in tech roles

Posts: 147
In Charlotte, foreign workers replace Americans in tech roles

By Deon Roberts, Charlotte Observer

Companies in Charlotte are stepping up their efforts to hire foreign workers – especially for information technology jobs – under a federal visa program that’s becoming a political flashpoint.

The H-1B visa lets companies bring foreign workers to the U.S. temporarily to fill jobs requiring highly skilled labor. Employers say it helps them fill jobs that draw too few qualified applicants. Critics say some companies abuse it, replacing Americans with foreign tech workers willing to work for less.

Sometimes American IT workers are laid off after spending their final days training their foreign-born replacements.

Demand for these visa workers is growing especially fast in Charlotte. Last year hundreds of employers filed initial applications for more than 16,500 H-1B workers in the Charlotte metro area, many in technology positions. That number alone is bigger than the entire workforce of some of Charlotte’s largest employers.

Supporters of the visas, including local job recruiters, point to a shortage of skilled technology talent that is resulting in thousands of open computing jobs throughout the state. A lack of computer science majors graduating adds to the problem, officials say.

But in some instances, “companies that are bringing in H-1B people at the same time are having staff reductions in the same area – generally speaking, the IT area,” said Bill Chu, a professor at UNC Charlotte’s College of Computing and Informatics. “There are lots of H-1B people in Charlotte.”

A major source of H-1B workers is India, where experts say technology is a popular field of study and young, English-speaking workers are willing to move abroad for work. According to the federal government, 70 percent of H-1B visas granted in 2014 were designated for someone born in India.

Employers use the visas in different ways. Sometimes they bring a foreign worker with a specialized skill directly onto their staff. Other times, employers lay off Americans, then outsource work to firms that employ large numbers of H-1B workers.

In the Charlotte metro area, nine of the 10 employers who filed the most initial applications for visa workers last year were outsourcing firms, according to an Observer analysis of federal data. The exception was Charlotte-based Bank of America. The bank filed applications for about 380 visa workers, ranking it ninth. Statewide, employers filed applications for more than 33,400 visa workers last year.

Only a portion of such applications are approved each year by the federal government. Employers who received approvals can then enter a lottery, held annually in recent years because of high demand. Last year, about one in three applications seeking 85,000 available visas nationwide won the lottery.

Federal data shows companies’ visa applications for Charlotte positions were up 39 percent last year from the year before – surpassing the roughly 25 percent increase nationwide.

In Charlotte, employers’ reliance on visa workers has some on edge about their own job security.

“It is a real concern,” said one Bank of America technology employee who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal. Other banks, including Wells Fargo, have also filed applications for people on visas to work in Charlotte.

At Bank of America, visa workers are filling some positions once held by Americans who were either laid off by the bank or shifted into other positions, the employee said.

“I’m working more and more with H-1B visa developers than American developers within our company,” the employee said. “We’ve seen them pretty much replace a lot of the developer/programmer-type roles.

“If you go into any development team in the bank, I don’t know of any American developers that I’ve worked with over the last couple of years. They’re all Indian.”

Some of the positions being filled by H-1B workers require only basic computer skills, the employee said.

“The jobs that we’re replacing here aren’t rocket science. It’s database developers,” the employee said, “skills you can learn through a four-year program ... at any major American university.”

Bank of America declined to comment.

Charlotte Observer owner McClatchy is among U.S. companies turning to outsourcing firms that employ large numbers of H-1B visa workers.

McClatchy, based in Sacramento, Calif., this summer will begin outsourcing some technology functions to India-based Wipro. McClatchy said the move is designed in part to help accelerate its transformation into a more digitally focused media company.

The Wipro move will result in layoffs of 121 McClatchy employees across the U.S., including 10 in Charlotte, said Terry Geiger, McClatchy’s vice president of technology. Of the 121, two McClatchy employees who worked in Miami are being hired by Wipro, he said.

The bulk of the work being directly transferred to Wipro will now be handled by people in India, with the rest performed by an American tech company Wipro will use as a subcontractor, Geiger said.

A couple dozen McClatchy employees, including four in Charlotte, will train their eventual replacements, who are working in the U.S. on visas for the American subcontractor, he said.

Former U.S. Rep. Bruce Morrison, principal author of the 1990 law that created the H-1B visa, said the original goal was to help companies fill a skills gap. But he’s frustrated at how companies, particularly outsourcing firms, are using the program.

Such companies hire large amounts of H-1B visa workers to temporarily fill jobs in the U.S. before eventually sending those workers – and the jobs – overseas where wages are lower, he said.

“The outsourcing model is a conveyor belt to move jobs offshore,” said Morrison, a Democrat who represented Connecticut. “It is of great concern.”

Morrison and others say some employers are using the program to save thousands of dollars by hiring foreigners over Americans who would be paid more. In Charlotte, employers can save an average of $17,678 a year for each visa worker they hire, according to an estimate provided to a Senate committee this year by an IT industry group.

Buses into uptown At a bus stop on South Tryon Street on an overcast morning, H-1B visa workers emerged from nearby apartment complexes to catch buses into uptown. You can see the office towers just five miles away.

I spoke with more than a half dozen, most in their 20s and 30s. When I asked where they were from, they mentioned places from all across India. The time they’ve been in Charlotte ranges from three months to seven years.

All said they were here on H-1B visas to work in the IT sector. They work for Bank of America and outsourcing firms they declined to name. None wanted their names published, fearing reprisals from their employers.

I asked one woman from northern India whether she believes the U.S. has a shortage of skilled tech talent.

Yes and no, she said. Some companies use visa workers to fill jobs for which they can’t find qualified Americans. Other companies, she said, use the program just to import cheap labor.

She told me she can earn at least twice as much in Charlotte as she could in India. And she’s gaining experience that can help her later.

Political leaders weigh in

Lawmakers are calling for changes to the program, but disagree over what should happen.

Some want to bring in even more visa workers, raising the current cap of 85,000 a year. They argue that a skilled-worker shortage threatens the ability of the U.S. to compete globally. Other lawmakers want to rein in companies’ use of the visas, and question whether a worker shortage even exists – pointing to layoffs of Americans from IT jobs.

Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, wants to require companies to pay visa workers more, a move that he said would push them to give entry-level jobs to Americans instead of lower-paid workers from overseas.

On the Democrats’ side, Bernie Sanders has also called for raising visa workers’ wages, saying their pay should be higher if there is a true labor shortage. Hillary Clinton does not specifically address the visa program on her campaign’s website, but she has previously called for letting in more visa workers while also training more Americans for highly skilled jobs.

Laid off at Disney Ron Hira, a professor at Howard University in Washington, D.C., and widely considered an authority on the H-1B program, says outsourcing firms have a business model built on paying H-1B workers less than what Americans would earn.

“The only way they can grow their business is by bringing in workers that are below market wages,” Hira said.

Hira said he has been contacted by laid-off American workers at various companies who have had to train their replacements. Similar claims have been made recently by former workers at Toys ‘R’ Us and some other companies.

One former tech employee for Walt Disney Co., testifying before a Senate committee earlier this year, broke down crying as he described what it was like to train his foreign replacement in the weeks before he was laid off in 2015.

“We all felt extremely humiliated when the foreign workers sat next to us and watched everything that we did,” said Leo Perrero, adding that he had received the highest possible performance review prior to being laid off.

“We noticed that the foreign workers requested that we kept going over the same basic concepts over and over,” said Perrero, who had worked at Disney in Orlando, Fla., for more than 10 years. “How would they take over our jobs when they were so inexperienced and slow to grasp the basics, we wondered.”
According to an estimate from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, a Washington, D.C.-based professional organization, at least 45,000 Americans are laid off each year and replaced by H-1B workers employed by outsourcing firms.

Among Charlotte employers, outsourcing company Cognizant applied for the largest number of visa workers to be based here, according to 2015 data. The firm, whose parent company is based in New Jersey, filed applications for 2,593 workers in Charlotte.

In a statement, the company said it actively hires experienced U.S. workers and recruits qualified students from colleges and universities across North Carolina and the country. But the company, which said it is experiencing rapid growth, also noted the need to sometimes rely on visa workers.

“Each year, as we develop our business plan based on our assessment of our clients’ needs, we apply for H-1B visas to supplement our U.S. hiring in order to fill talent gaps in the market,” the company said.

Some see skills gap Recruiters who work to fill IT jobs say the skills gap is real. They note the number of open computer jobs far exceeds the number of qualified applicants.

North Carolina has 19,565 open computing jobs but had only 1,224 computer science graduates in 2014, according to Code.org, a nonprofit focused on increasing access to computer science education in schools.

During this year’s Senate panel hearing on the H-1B program, North Carolina Republican Sen. Thom Tillis said Charlotte had 1,000 unfilled IT positions two years ago.

“There was a mismatch between the requirements of the job and the skills that the person brought to the table,” Tillis said at the hearing. “Just because this person says they’re an IT person, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are qualified for the IT job, particularly with the highly specialized nature of the industry today.”

In Charlotte and elsewhere, many people left the IT field during the recession or were laid off and have never returned, contributing to the current shortage, said Michelle Fish, CEO of Charlotte-based Integra Staffing & Search, which helps find job candidates for local employers with openings. Demand for H-1B visas seemed to begin picking up about five years ago, as the U.S. economy started recovering, she said.

Fish said most companies turn to H-1B workers as a last resort.

“We’re always trying to tap into the talent that’s in the U.S. first,” Fish said.

Visa creator now critic Morrison, whose 1990 legislation spawned the H-1B, now lobbies against loopholes in the program that he says large outsourcing firms are exploiting to send American jobs overseas.

“Without tougher rules, things will keep going the way they’re going,” said Morrison, 71, who left Congress in 1991.

On South Tryon Street, a 34-year-old man from southern India smokes a cigarette while waiting for his bus. He says this is his third year in Charlotte, where he works on an H-1B visa for an outsourcing company he won’t name.

By October, he expects to return to India, where he’s considering opening a restaurant with childhood friends. For now, he’s enjoying an experience others would envy in India, where many hope to one day work in the U.S. on an H-1B.

“For some people, it is a dream,” he said, before hopping on a bus that roared off into uptown.

How we analyzed the numbers

An Observer analysis of federal data found employers during the 2015 fiscal year filed initial applications to place more than 16,500 H-1B workers in Charlotte. But the figure reflects companies’ preliminary requests, not actual hiring.

Employers file their initial requests, known as Labor Condition Applications, with the federal government as an early step in the visa process. The government will then certify or deny those requests before employers can move forward with visa applications.

Harder to obtain is data on how many visas the government has actually awarded to companies in Charlotte and elsewhere. The government requires a Freedom of Information Act request for that data. The Observer has filed a request for that information.

Who are Charlotte’s biggest visa filers?

The following 10 companies submitted initial applications for the most H-1B workers in Charlotte during the 2015 fiscal year, according to data from the U.S. Department of Labor. Below are the companies’ names, headquarters and number of H-1B visa workers the companies sought in Charlotte.

Teaneck, N.J.
New York
Bengaluru, India
Troy, Mich.
Armonk, N.Y.
Mumbai, India
Bank of America
Bangalore, India

Some lawmakers and industry officials disagree on what changes to make to the H-1B program. A look at some of the proposals:

Crack down on outsourcing firms

In November, Sens. Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican, and Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, introduced legislation to limit H-1B use by companies with more than 50 employees. The legislation would prohibit those companies from hiring H-1B employees if it meant visa workers would constitute more than half their workforce.

The lawmakers said the ban is specifically designed to target outsourcing firms that employ large numbers of visa workers.

Among other things, the legislation would also ban the replacement of American workers by H-1B workers.

Different legislation, introduced last year, would boost the cap on H-1B visas issued each year to 115,000, up from the current 85,000. The legislation would allow the cap to rise as high as 195,000 in a given year if early filings for visas exceed the cap. In addition, there would be no limit for H-1B visas for those with a U.S. master’s degree or higher.

Powerful allies have joined the push to raise the cap, including Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

The U.S. senators who introduced the legislation are Orrin Hatch, R-Utah; Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.; Marco Rubio, R-Fla.; Chris Coons, D-Del.; Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.; and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.

A provision in the current H-1B program allows companies that hire large numbers of the visa workers to bypass a requirement that they won’t displace American workers. Such companies are exempt from the requirement if they pay the visa worker at least $60,000 a year.

Critics say eliminating that loophole could help curb outsourcing companies’ use of the visas and provide more protections for American workers.

For fiscal year 2014-15, applications were filed for more than 16,500 H-1B visa workers in the Charlotte metro area. Here’s the breakdown of requested workers by county:

York, S.C.
Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Observer analysis

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5/10/2016 11:11:30 AM
Newspaper IT employees 'angry as hell'

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Newspaper IT employees 'angry as hell' over foreign workers

By Patrick Thibodeau, Computerworld, May 9, 2016

For McClatchy Company IT employees who will lose their jobs once their work is moved to India, there are fury and questions.

As many as 150 IT employees at the chain, which runs some 30 newspapers, will be losing their jobs. (See: "Newspaper chain sending IT jobs overseas.")

A government form, called the Labor Condition Application (LCA), is being posted on bulletin boards at the offices of various newspapers in the chain. This form alerts workers that at least one H-1B worker is being used.

Photographs of some of these notices, posted at the Miami Herald, one of the newspapers owned by McClatchy, were sent to Computerworld.

The top part of a Labor Condition Application posted at the office of the Miami Herald.

"The are basically firing me and hiring a foreign worker to do my job at less than half the rate they were paying me," said one IT employee. "They really couldn't find American workers to do this job? Seriously? I am angry as hell."

"I feel the same way the Disney employees must have felt last year when this exact same thing happened to them," said this IT employee.

On the form an employer must indicate whether they are H-1B dependent. If H-1B workers comprise 15% or more of an employer's workforce, the employer is classified as "H-1B dependent" by the U.S. government and subject to additional requirements.

H-1B dependent firms are required take "good-faith steps to recruit U.S. workers" and not displace workers. But there's a loophole. If these employers pay more than $60,000 to a visa holder, or that person has a master's degree, the nondisplacement provisions do not apply.

A second McClatchy IT employee said it's difficult to understand how an employer can use foreign workers to send their jobs overseas.

"There is something wrong with the system and the laws that allow these kind of things," said the second IT worker. "I understand that cutting costs is important for a company in deep trouble like McClatchy, but bringing underpaid workers from India to replace American workers is just crossing the line."

A McClatchy spokeswoman said the firm would not be commenting

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5/3/2016 3:41:34 AM
Without Sanders, Trump will win

Posts: 197
Unless the Democrats Run Sanders, A Trump Nomination Means a Trump Presidency
Democrats need to seriously and pragmatically assess their strategy for defeating Trump. A Clinton run would be disastrous; Bernie Sanders is their only hope.

by Nathan J. Robinson, CurrentAffairs.org, February 23, 2016

With Donald Trump looking increasingly likely to actually be the Republican nominee for President, it’s long past time for the Democrats to start working on a pragmatic strategy to defeat him. Months of complacent, wishful insistences that Trump will disappear have proven false, and with a firm commanding lead in polls and several major primary victories, predictions are increasingly favoring Trump to win the nomination. If Democrats honestly believe, as they say they do, that Trump poses a serious threat to the wellbeing of the country and the lives of minority citizens, that means doing everything possible to keep him out of office. To do that will require them to very quickly unite around a single goal, albeit a counterintuitive one: they must make absolutely sure that Bernie Sanders is the Democratic nominee for President.

The electability question should be at the center of the Democratic primary. After all, elections are about winning, and high-minded liberal principles mean nothing if one has no chance of actually triumphing in a general election. Hillary Clinton has been right to emphasize that the pragmatic achievement of goals should be the central concern of a presidential candidate, and that Bernie Sanders’s supporters often behave as if this is immaterial.

Instinctively, Hillary Clinton has long seemed by far the more electable of the two Democratic candidates. She is, after all, an experienced, pragmatic moderate, whereas Sanders is a raving, arm-flapping elderly Jewish socialist from Vermont. Clinton is simply closer to the American mainstream, thus she is more attractive to a broader swath of voters. Sanders campaigners have grown used to hearing the heavy-hearted lament “I like Bernie, I just don’t think he can win.” And in typical previous American elections, this would be perfectly accurate.

But this is far from a typical previous American election. And recently, everything about the electability calculus has changed, due to one simple fact: Donald Trump is likely to be the Republican nominee for President. Given this reality, every Democratic strategic question must operate not on the basis of abstract electability against a hypothetical candidate, but specific electability against the actual Republican nominee, Donald Trump.

Here, a Clinton match-up is highly likely to be an unmitigated electoral disaster, whereas a Sanders candidacy stands a far better chance. Every one of Clinton’s (considerable) weaknesses plays to every one of Trump’s strengths, whereas every one of Trump’s (few) weaknesses plays to every one of Sanders’s strengths. From a purely pragmatic standpoint, running Clinton against Trump is a disastrous, suicidal proposition.

Sanders supporters have lately been arguing that their candidate is more electable than people think, and they have some support from the available polling. In a number of hypotheticals, Sanders does better than Clinton at beating Trump, and his “unfavorable” ratings among voters are a good deal lower than Clinton’s. In response to this, however, Clinton supporters insist that polling at this stage means very little, and since Bernie is not well known and there has not been a national attack campaign directed at him from the right yet, his supporters do not account for the drop in support that will occur when voters realize he is on the fringes. Imagine, they say, how viciously the right will attack Sanders’s liberal record.

Clinton’s people are right to point out that these polls mean very little; after all, Sanders’s entire campaign success is a caution against placing too much weight on early polling. And they are especially right to emphasize that we should visualize how the campaign by conservatives will realistically play out, rather than attempting to divine the future from highly fallible polling numbers. But it’s precisely when we try to envision how the real dynamics of the campaign will transpire that we see just how disastrous a Clinton-Trump fight will be for Clinton.

Her supporters insist that she has already been “tried and tested” against all the attacks that can be thrown at her. But this is not the case; she has never been subjected to the full brunt of attacks that come in a general presidential election. Bernie Sanders has ignored most tabloid dirt, treating it as a sensationalist distraction from real issues (“Enough with the damned emails!”) But for Donald Trump, sensationalist distractions are the whole game. He will attempt to crucify her. And it is very, very likely that he will succeed.

Trump’s political dominance is highly dependent on his idiosyncratic, audacious method of campaigning. He deals almost entirely in amusing, outrageous, below-the-belt personal attacks, and is skilled at turning public discussions away from the issues and toward personalities (He/she’s a “loser,” “phony,” “nervous,” “hypocrite,” “incompetent.”) If Trump does have to speak about the issues, he makes himself sound foolish, because he doesn’t know very much. Thus he requires the media not to ask him difficult questions, and depends on his opponents’ having personal weaknesses and scandals that he can merrily, mercilessly exploit.

This campaigning style makes Hillary Clinton Donald Trump’s dream opponent. She gives him an endless amount to work with. The emails, Benghazi, Whitewater, Iraq, the Lewinsky scandal, Chinagate, Travelgate, the missing law firm records, Jeffrey Epstein, Kissinger, Marc Rich, Haiti, Clinton Foundation tax errors, Clinton Foundation conflicts of interest, “We were broke when we left the White House,” Goldman Sachs… There is enough material in Hillary Clinton’s background for Donald Trump to run with six times over.
The defense offered by Clinton supporters is that none of these issues actually amount to anything once you look at them carefully. But this is completely irrelevant; all that matters is the fodder they would provide for the Trump machine. Who is going to be looking carefully? In the time you spend trying to clear up the basic facts of Whitewater, Trump will have made five more allegations.

Even a skilled campaigner would have a very difficult time parrying such endless attacks by Trump. Even the best campaigner would find it impossible to draw attention back to actual substantive policy issues, and would spend their every moment on the defensive. But Hillary Clinton is neither the best campaigner nor even a skilled one. In fact, she is a dreadful campaigner. She may be a skilled policymaker, but on the campaign trail she makes constant missteps and never realizes things have gone wrong until it’s too late.

Everyone knows this. Even among Democratic party operatives, she’s acknowledged as “awkward and uninspiring on the stump,” carrying “Bill’s baggage with none of Bill’s warmth.” New York magazine described her “failing to demonstrate the most elementary political skills, much less those learned at Toastmasters or Dale Carnegie.” Last year the White House was panicking at her levels of electoral incompetence, her questionable decisionmaking, and her inclination for taking sleazy shortcuts. More recently, noting Sanders’s catch-up in the polls, The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin said that she was a “rotten candidate” whose attacks on Sanders made no sense, and that “at some point, you cannot blame the national mood or a poor staff or a brilliant opponent for Hillary Clinton’s campaign woes.” Yet in a race against Trump, Hillary will be handicapped not only by her feeble campaigning skills, but the fact that she will have a sour national mood, a poor staff, and a brilliant opponent.

Every Democrat should take some time to fairly, dispassionately examine Clinton’s track record as a campaigner. Study how the ‘08 campaign was handled, and how this one has gone. Assess her strengths and weaknesses with as little bias or prejudice as possible. Then picture the race against Trump, and think about how it will unfold.

It’s easy to see that Trump has every single advantage. Because the Republican primary will be over, he can come at her from both right and left as he pleases. As the candidate who thundered against the Iraq War at the Republican debate, he can taunt Clinton over her support for it. He will paint her as a member of the corrupt political establishment, and will even offer proof: “Well, I know you can buy politicians, because I bought Senator Clinton. I gave her money, she came to my wedding.” He can make it appear that Hillary Clinton can be bought, that he can’t, and that he is in charge. It’s also hard to defend against, because it appears to be partly true. Any denial looks like a lie, thus making Hillary’s situation look even worse. And then, when she stumbles, he will mock her as incompetent.

Charges of misogyny against Trump won’t work. He is going to fill the press with the rape and harassment allegations against Bill Clinton and Hillary’s role in discrediting the victims (something that made even Lena Dunham deeply queasy.) He can always remind people that Hillary Clinton referred to Monica Lewinsky as a “narcissistic loony toon.” Furthermore, since Trump is not an anti-Planned Parenthood zealot (being the only one willing to stick up for women’s health in a room full of Republicans), it will be hard for Clinton to paint him as the usual anti-feminist right-winger.

Trump will capitalize on his reputation as a truth-teller, and be vicious about both Clinton’s sudden changes of position (e.g. the switch on gay marriage, plus the affected economic populism of her run against Sanders) and her perceived dishonesty. One can already imagine the monologue:
“She lies so much. Everything she says is a lie. I’ve never seen someone who lies so much in my life. Let me tell you three lies she’s told. She made up a story about how she was ducking sniper fire! There was no sniper fire. She made it up! How do you forget a thing like that? She said she was named after Sir Edmund Hillary, the guy who climbed Mount Everest. He hadn’t even climbed it when she was born! Total lie! She lied about the emails, of course, as we all know, and is probably going to be indicted. You know she said there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq! It was a lie! Thousands of American soldiers are dead because of her. Not only does she lie, her lies kill people. That’s four lies, I said I’d give you three. You can’t even count them. You want to go on PolitiFact, see how many lies she has? It takes you an hour to read them all! In fact, they ask her, she doesn’t even say she hasn’t lied. They asked her straight up, she says she usually tries to tell the truth! Ooooh, she tries! Come on! This is a person, every single word out of her mouth is a lie. Nobody trusts her. Check the polls, nobody trusts her. Yuge liar.”

Where does she even begin to respond to this? Some of it’s true, some of it isn’t, but the more she tries to defensively parse it (“There’s been no suggestion I’m going to be indicted! And I didn’t say I usually tried to tell the truth, I said I always tried and usually succeeded”) the deeper she sinks into the hole.

Trump will bob, weave, jab, and hook. He won’t let up. And because Clinton actually has lied, and actually did vote for the Iraq War, and actually is hyper-cosy with Wall Street, and actually does change her positions based on expediency, all she can do is issue further implausible denials, which will further embolden Trump. Nor does she have a single offensive weapon at her disposal, since every legitimate criticism of Trump’s background (inconsistent political positions, shady financial dealings, pattern of deception) is equally applicable to Clinton, and he knows how to make such things slide off him, whereas she does not.

The whole Clinton campaign has been unraveling from its inception. It fell apart completely in 2008, and has barely held together against the longest of long shot candidates. No matter how likely she may be to win the primary, things do not bode well for a general election, whomever the nominee may be. As H.A. Goodman put it in Salon:
Please name the last person to win the presidency alongside an ongoing FBI investigation, negative favorability ratings, questions about character linked to continual flip-flops, a dubious money trail of donors, and the genuine contempt of the rival political party.

The “contempt” bit of this is obviously silly; we all know levels of contempt have reached their world-historic high point in the Republican attitude toward Obama. But the rest is true: it’s incredibly hard to run somebody very few people like and expect to win. With the jocular, shrewd Donald Trump as an opponent, that holds true a million times over.

Nor are the demographics going to be as favorable to Clinton as she thinks. Trump’s populism will have huge resonance among the white working class in both red and blue states; he might even peel away her black support. And Trump has already proven false the prediction that he would alienate Evangelicals through his vulgarity and his self-deification. Democrats are insistently repeating their belief that a Trump nomination will mobilize liberals to head to the polls like never before, but with nobody particularly enthusiastic for Clinton’s candidacy, it’s not implausible that a large number of people will find both options so unappealing that they stay home.

A Clinton/Trump match should therefore not just worry Democrats. It should terrify them. They should be doing everything possible to avoid it. A Trump/Sanders contest, however, looks very different indeed.

Trump’s various unique methods of attack would instantly be made far less useful in a run against Sanders. All of the most personal charges (untrustworthiness, corruption, rank hypocrisy) are much more difficult to make stick. The rich history of dubious business dealings is nonexistent. None of the sleaze in which Trump traffics can be found clinging to Bernie. Trump’s standup routine just has much less obvious personal material to work with. Sanders is a fairly transparent guy; he likes the social safety net, he doesn’t like oligarchy, he’s a workaholic who sometimes takes a break to play basketball, and that’s pretty much all there is to it. Contrast that with the above-noted list of juicy Clinton tidbits.

Trump can’t clown around nearly as much at a debate with Sanders, for the simple reason that Sanders is dead set on keeping every conversation about the plight of America’s poor under the present economic system. If Trump tells jokes and goofs off here, he looks as if he’s belittling poor people, not a magnificent idea for an Ivy League trust fund billionaire running against a working class public servant and veteran of the Civil Rights movement. Instead, Trump will be forced to do what Hillary Clinton has been forced to do during the primary, namely to make himself sound as much like Bernie Sanders as possible. For Trump, having to get serious and take the Trump Show off the air will be devastating to his unique charismatic appeal.

Against Trump, Bernie can play the same “experience” card that Hillary plays. After all, while Sanders may look like a policy amateur next to Clinton, next to Trump he looks positively statesmanlike. Sanders can point to his successful mayoralty and long history as Congress’s “Amendment King” as evidence of his administrative bona fides. And Sanders’s lack of foreign policy knowledge won’t hurt him when facing someone with even less. Sanders will be enough of an outsider for Trump’s populist anti-Washington appeal to be powerless, but enough of an insider to appear an experienced hand at governance.

Trump is an attention-craving parasite, and such creatures are powerful only when indulged and paid attention to. Clinton will be forced to pay attention to Trump because of his constant evocation of her scandals. She will attempt to go after him. She will, in other words, feed the troll. Sanders, by contrast, will almost certainly behave as if Trump isn’t even there. He is unlikely to rise to Trump’s bait, because Sanders doesn’t even care to listen to anything that’s not about saving social security or the disappearing middle class. He will almost certainly seem as if he barely knows who Trump is. Sanders’s commercials will be similar to those he has run in the primary, featuring uplifting images of America, aspirational sentiments about what we can be together, and moving testimonies from ordinary Americans. Putting such genuine dignity and good feeling against Trump’s race-baiting clownishness will be like finally pouring water on the Wicked Witch. Hillary Clinton cannot do this; with her, the campaign will inevitably descend into the gutter, and the unstoppable bloated Trump menace will continue to grow ever larger.

Sanders is thus an almost perfect secret weapon against Trump. He can pull off the only maneuver that is capable of neutralizing Trump: ignoring him and actually keeping the focus on the issues. Further, Sanders will have the advantage of an enthusiastic army of young volunteers, who will be strongly dedicated to the mission of stalling Trump’s quest for the presidency. The Sanders team is extremely technically skilled; everything from their television commercials to their rally organizing to their inspired teasing is pulled off well. The Sanders team is slick and adaptable, the Clinton team is ropey and fumbling.

There’s only one real way to attack Bernie Sanders, and we all know it: he’s a socialist fantasist out of touch with the Realities of Economics. But Trump is in the worst possible position to make this criticism. Economists have savaged Trump’s own proposals as sheer lunacy, using every word deployed against Bernie and then some. And while from a D.C. policy veteran like Clinton, charges of a failure to understand how political decisionmaking works may sound reasonable, Sanders is a successful legislator who has run a city; the host of The Apprentice may have a more difficult time portraying a long-serving congressman as being unfamiliar with how Washington works.

Of course, the American people are still jittery about socialism. But they’re less jittery than they used to be, and Bernie does a good job portraying socialism as being about little more than paid family leave and sick days (a debatable proposition, but one beside the point.) His policies are popular and appeal to the prevailing national sentiment. It’s a risk, certainly. But the Soviet Union bogeyman is long gone, and everyone gets called a socialist these days no matter what their politics. It’s possible that swing voters dislike socialism more than they dislike Hillary Clinton, but in a time of economic discontent one probably shouldn’t bet on it.

One thing that should be noted is that all of this analysis applies solely to a race against Trump; the situation changes drastically and unpredictably if Marco Rubio is the nominee or Michael Bloomberg enters the race. Yet the moment, it doesn’t look like Marco Rubio will be nominated, but that Donald Trump will be. And in that case, Clinton is toast.

Some in the media have rushed to declare Sanders’s campaign moribund in the wake of his recent loss in Nevada. This is absurd; after all, out of 50 states, only three have voted, one being a tie, one being a major Sanders win, and one being a small Clinton win. The media has dishonestly pointed to Hillary Clinton’s higher superdelegate count as evidence of her strong lead, despite knowing full well that superdelegates are highly unlikely to risk tearing the party apart by taking the nomination out of voters’ hands, and are thus mostly a formality. The press has also crafted a narrative about Sanders “slipping behind,” ignoring the fact that Sanders has been behind from the very start; not for a moment has he been in front.

But even if it was correct to say that Sanders was “starting to” lose (instead of progressively losing less and less), this should only motivate all Democrats to work harder to make sure he is nominated. One’s support for Sanders should increase in direct proportion to one’s fear of Trump. And if Trump is the nominee, Hillary Clinton should drop out of the race and throw her every ounce of energy into supporting Sanders. If this does not occur, the resulting consequences for Muslims and Mexican immigrants of a Trump presidency will be fully the responsibility of Clinton and the Democratic Party. To run a candidate who can’t win, or who is a very high-risk proposition, is to recklessly play with the lives of millions of people. So much depends on stopping Trump; a principled defeat will mean nothing to the deported, or to those being roughed up by Trump’s goon squads or executed with pigs’ blood-dipped bullets.

Donald Trump is one of the most formidable opponents in the history of American politics. He is sharp, shameless, and likable. If he is going to be the nominee, Democrats need to think very seriously about how to defeat him. If they don’t, he will be the President of the United States, which will have disastrous repercussions for religious and racial minorities and likely for everyone else, too. Democrats should consider carefully how a Trump/Clinton matchup would develop, and how a Trump/Sanders matchup would. For their sake, hopefully they will realize that the only way to prevent a Trump presidency is the nomination of Bernie Sanders.

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edited by Connelly on 5/3/2016
4/27/2016 10:32:40 AM
Triangulating Neoliberal Clintonites Back Business

Posts: 115
Gutless Democrats Fear Fights: Why Triangulating Neoliberal Clintonites Back Big Business Over People

By Paul Rosenberg / Salon

As the Democratic primary heated up to the boiling point, one particular line of attack on Bernie Sanders had the distinctively Karl Rove-ian stench of attacking Sanders’ strength. Vox, Slate and AEI all bought the spin and struck the same theme: “If Bernie Sanders cares about poor people, how come he doesn’t want to trade with them?”

But even more than Rove, we can catch a distinctive whiff of Thatcherism here: There is no alternative; either we do trade on neoliberal terms or else we head back to caveman status. We can’t do things in a more equitable manner, we’re being told, even though history repeatedly shows that we can—replacing monarchy with democracy, abolishing slavery, getting rid of child labor, establishing equal rights for women. All these equalizing advances we’ve come to take for granted were unthinkable once: There was simply no alternative…
or, again, so we were told.

Economist Dean Baker debunked the underlying argument on his “Beat the Press” blog as the attack on Sanders first appeared, and elaborated his critique more fully in a piece solicited by the Washington Post—which then declined to run it. Baker first noted that conventional economic theory calls for rich countries to run surpluses with developing countries—supplying the capital they need to develop—and that this pattern prevailed throughout most of the 1990s. “The United States had a modest trade deficit in these years, but Europe and Japan had large surpluses,” Baker recalled, but “This pattern was reversed in 1997 with the U.S.-I.M.F.’s bailout from the East Asian financial crisis.”

That bailout, “directed by the Clinton Treasury department and the I.M.F.,” came with very harsh terms, which led developing countries to decide they had to keep large foreign exchange reserves—meaning U.S. dollars—in order to avoid a similar fate. This in turn required running large trade surpluses, the exact opposite of what conventional, textbook economic thinking had previously assumed. “This was the period in which the U.S. trade deficit exploded, going from just over 1 percent of GDP in 1996 to almost 6 percent of GDP in 2005, a rise in the size of the annual deficit equivalent to almost $900 billion in today’s economy,” Baker noted. “This rise in the trade deficit coincided with the loss of more than 3 million manufacturing jobs, roughly 20 percent of employment in the sector.”

But it’s not just that American factory workers were sold out. At the same time, professionals (the same class of people who tell us it’s inevitable) were carefully protected. “The arguments on gains from trade are the same with doctors as with textiles and steel,” Baker noted. “The reason that we import manufacturing goods and not doctors is that we designed the rules of trade that way.” Those rules made it easy to off-shore jobs, but retained obstacles to foreign professionals moving here to work. “The reason is simple,” Baker pointed out: “Doctors have more political power than autoworkers.”

Pharmaceutical companies have even greater power, so “free trade” deals have now come to increase protections for them, along with other patent and copyright protections, imposing a huge financial burden on the developing world—not to mention the cost in lives. “Generic drugs are almost invariably cheap; patent protection is what make drugs expensive,” Baker noted.

“In sum, the recent pattern of trade and development is anything but natural. It was imposed on developing countries by the United States and other rich countries. It is just not true that it is their only path to development.”

Indeed, Baker’s think tank, the Center for Economic Policy and Research, provides a couple of additional ways of seeing through the smokescreen, first by examining the real impacts of NAFTA on Mexico, a case study of the grand-daddy of these sorts of deals; and second by examining worldwide data on how rates of development changed over time, which shows a marked slowdown when the neoliberal orthodoxy hit its peak. Both deserve to be more widely known.

In 2014, CEPR’s report on NAFTA’s 20-year record found that not only has NAFTA hurt American workers, it’s also hurt Mexico as well, particularly in contrast to its past development, and to other Latin American countries:
  • Mexico ranks 18th of 20 Latin American countries in growth of real GDP per person, the most basic economic measure of living standards.
  • From 1960 to 1980, Mexican real GDP per person almost doubled, growing by 98.7 percent. By comparison, in the past 20 years it has grown by just 18.6 percent.
  • Mexico’s per capita GDP growth of just 18.6 percent over the past 20 years is about half of the rate of growth achieved by the rest of Latin America.
  • According to Mexican national statistics, Mexico’s poverty rate of 52.3 percent in 2012 is almost identical to the poverty rate of 1994. As a result, there were 14.3 million more Mexicans living below the poverty line as of 2012 (the latest data available) than in 1994.

Thus, if NAFTA is a model of how “free trade” helps the world’s poor, it’s a record of abject failure. In addition to everything else, the report found that NAFTA devastated Mexican family farmers, which in turn was a major factor driving undocumented immigration:
  • NAFTA also had a severe impact on agricultural employment, as U.S. subsidized corn and other products wiped out family farmers in Mexico. From 1991 to 2007, there were 4.9 million Mexican family farmers displaced; while seasonal labor in agro-export industries increased by about 3 million. This meant a net loss of 1.9 million jobs.
  • The very poor performance of the Mexican economy contributed to a surge in emigration to the United States. From 1994 to 2000, the annual number of Mexicans emigrating to the United States soared by 79 percent. The number of Mexican-born residents living in the United States more than doubled from 4.5 million in 1990 to 9.4 million in 2000, and peaked at 12.6 million in 2009.

The second sort of debunking evidence comes from CEPR’s series of “scorecard” reports examining how developing economies were doing in comparison to the decades 1960-1980. The first such scorecard in 2001 reported “a very clear decline in progress as compared with the period 1960-1980.” (Two subsequent reports found improvements after 2000, as the neoliberal consensus was increasingly challenged. More on that below.) The reports looked at indicators including the growth of income per person; life expectancy; mortality among infants, children and adults; literacy; and education. For each indicator, countries were divided into five roughly equal groups, based on the countries’ level at the start of the period (1960 or 1980 in the first report). Thus individual countries were not compared across time periods; rather, groups of countries at similar stages of development were compared.

Growth rates fell for all groups. Most strikingly, “The poorest group went from a per capita GDP growth rate of 1.9 percent annually in 1960-80, to a decline of 0.5 percent per year (1980-2000).” In addition, “For the middle group (which includes mostly poor countries), there was a sharp decline from an annual per capita growth rate of 3.6 percent to just less than 1 percent. Over a 20-year period, this represents the difference between doubling income per person, versus increasing it by just 21 percent.”

The record with other indicators was generally negative as well. “Progress in life expectancy was also reduced for 4 out of the 5 groups,” while the growth rate of education spending—as a share of GDP—slowed for all groups, and educational results suffered as well. “By almost every measure of education, including literacy rates, the middle and poorer performing groups saw less rapid progress in the period of globalization than in the prior two decades.”

Changes during this period reflected widespread adoption of policies identified with globalization: the removal of tariff and non-tariff trade barriers, along with restrictions on international investment, and so-called “structural adjustment policies” imposed by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund on borrowing countries, including “contractionary monetary policies (higher interest rates and tighter credit), public spending cuts, privatization of public enterprises, increasing foreign reserve requirements and a long list of ‘micro-interventions’ ranging from user fees for primary education and health care to removing various government subsidies.”

CEPR did not claim the evidence proved that these policies were to blame. “But it does present a very strong prima facie case that some structural and policy changes implemented during the last two decades are at least partly responsible for these declines. And there is certainly no evidence in these data that the policies associated with globalization have improved outcomes for most low to middle-income countries.”

The next two scorecard reports appeared in 2005 and 2011. By the time of the third one, there was enough data to declare that “The past decade has shown a rebound in economic growth as well as progress on social indicators for many countries.” More precisely, “For all except the top quintile of countries—i.e., for the vast majority of low- and middle-income countries, there was a sharp rebound to the growth rates of the 1960-1980 period during 2000-2010.” Health and education indicators also recovered, though a bit more unevenly.

This resumption of progress is welcome news, of course. But it does not represent a magical explosion of progress beyond the rates of the past in the pre-globalization era; it is a merely a return to those rates [chart]. Hence, the underlying broad point remains: There is no simple story of free trade producing global prosperity and lifting the world’s poor. It’s a complicated story of global development, with a lot of moving parts, and the one thing that is quite clear is that simplistic free trade ideology—which dominated development in the 1980s and ’90s—is not the way to go.

But if free trade orthodoxy is not the answer for the world’s poor that Sanders’ critics take it to be, what is the alternative? It may be complicated, but surely some sort of guidance is possible. And, of course, it is.

As I’ve pointed out here recently [with more detail here], only a robust welfare state can effectively fight against systemic poverty, even in affluent countries. Which is all the more reason for developing countries to have them as well, as many millions of their citizens have long believed. This is the alternative that those attacking Sanders don’t want anyone to be thinking about. And it’s not just an idle thought. On several occasions, Sanders has cited the coups against Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala and Salvador Allende in Chile as classic examples of mistaken U.S. foreign policy. Both these coups were mounted in part to destroy the threat of model welfare states being established in Latin America—something that was only a threat because people wanted it, and it could work. But to Sanders, that wasn’t a threat—it was an opportunity, an opportunity for whole countries to develop in a democratically self-determined manner, placing themselves on the same sort of path that countries like Denmark and Sweden have taken to virtually eliminate poverty.

Thus, there is a broad underlying consistency to Sanders’ vision—from expanding the welfare state to a collaborative foreign policy and fair trade policies—which combines to present a clear alternative to the tunnel-vision framework of those attacking him. Of course, you can say that Sanders is powerless to bring this alternative about. Even as president, he couldn’t do anything to promote welfare states in developing nations—or could he? He could certainly stop making it harder.

But above all, this is where Sanders’ call for a political revolution comes in. Because the alternative he points to is precisely the opposite of a top-down, heroic one-person creation. And the fact that it both appeals and applies across international borders is what makes it so much of a vision for the future, not—as some would have it—a relic of the past. It is, in a profound sense, precisely the same vision that drove the Arab Spring, along with similar movements in Spain, Greece and elsewhere. Once again, America has the opportunity to decide what side of world history it will be on. Will we cling to the lie that we have no alternative? Or will we commit ourselves to another historic equalizing advance?

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4/26/2016 2:59:37 AM
With immigration, less is more

Posts: 426
With immigration, less is more

By Tim Hannigan, YourHoustonNews.com, April 25, 2016

"America is a nation of immigrants."

Politicians and pundits in both parties repeat that truism in lieu of opening a serious discussion about America's immigration policy. With legal immigration approaching historic highs and evidence mounting that current immigration levels harm American workers and burden taxpayers, it's time to reform the immigration system in a way that serves Americans' best interests.

The solution is not to end immigration to the United States. Indeed, immigration offers many benefits, and most immigrants are hardworking. But our country of 323 million simply cannot accommodate the 150 million people around the world who, according to Gallup polling, want to move to the United States right now -- some of whom are attracted, at least in part, by the nation's generous welfare benefits. Such a surge would be completely unmanageable. Even the current influx of 1 million people per year is economically unsustainable.

Admitting fewer immigrants and moving away from our current nepotistic admission system to one that is meritocratic will economically benefit ordinary Americans.

Our current admissions process gives preference to extended family members of current legal residents and naturalized citizens. This creates "chain migration," where past immigrants choose future ones. A smarter system would admit foreign nationals based on national needs -- such as educated experts in scientific fields or doctors willing to treat patients in underserved regions -- rather than relying on corporate lobbyists or family ties.

Using the excuse of persistent labor shortages, corporate interests have successfully shaped the immigration system to provide businesses with hundreds of thousands of guest workers, who can be paid low wages because of restrictive visa programs that are comparable to indentured servitude. The artificial low wages of these guest workers have deprived equally qualified Americans of employment opportunities.

The claim that America suffers from a labor shortage is outrageously false. Over 2 million people have been looking and applying for jobs for 6 months or more without success. The labor force participation rate is hovering around its lowest level since the late 1970s, as many Americans have been unable to find jobs and dropped out of the labor force altogether.

Simply put, it's economically nonsensical to welcome hundreds of thousands of foreign workers each year when there are more than 15 million unemployed and underemployed Americans and immigrants already here who want full-time jobs.

Condemning American citizens to poverty carries its own price tag, in the form of welfare payments, as well as the family breakdowns and higher crime that accompany the welfare culture. Lowering immigration would boost wages and expand job opportunities for lesser-skilled citizens, mitigating the need for taxpayer-funded assistance.

Immigrants also are more likely to impose costs on taxpayers, since immigrants on average use more in public services and welfare programs than they pay in taxes. Government data show that 49 percent of legal immigrant households used one or more welfare programs in 2012.

Two decades ago, a bipartisan congressional commission chaired by civil rights leader Barbara Jordan recommended cutting immigration to about 550,000 people per year. Recent polling shows that Americans want to reduce, rather than increase, immigration by more than a 5 to 1 margin.

It's time political leaders listen to the wishes of experts and ordinary citizens alike, and implement a meritocratic immigration system that reduces the number of immigrants per year, relieves taxpayers and workers, and welcomes those who have the skills to grow our economy.

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4/24/2016 3:15:49 AM
An argument against emphasis on STEM education

Posts: 426
An argument against emphasis on STEM education

By John Murawski, NewsObserver.com, April 23, 2016

In America’s first math showdown, losing the global contest would have handed the space race to the Soviets and ceded the Cold War. Today we are facing our next math challenge, one in which we’re told China will devour our offspring for lunch because Johnny can’t do quadratic equations.

The doomsday warnings this time are couched in economic rather than military terms: We are falling behind in the global jobs war because we are not producing enough workers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM.

This persistent math mantra has radically reshaped our nation’s education policy, steering kids into the math track as early as elementary school. But the STEM revolution is largely built on a mirage, argues Andrew Hacker in “The Math Myth and Other STEM Delusions.” A social critic known for his contrarian streak, Hacker says our STEM obsession is fueled by a manufactured crisis and is having destructive consequences for our society. It privileges a narrow range of talents, to the great disadvantage of students who aren’t wired that way, and ultimately will result in a job shortage for American technology workers.

“The suggestion that a mind can profit from perusing Emily Dickinson is barely heard in the century we are entering,” Hacker writes. “These delusions and illusions are already taking a heavy toll on this country, most markedly on the humane spirit that has made America exciting and unique.”

Hacker characterizes the prevailing STEM boom as “a major mythology of our time.” He denounces the STEM-centered value system as “an ideology, an industry, even a secular religion.”

Hacker, a professor of political science at Queens College, in New York, questions the touted benefits of algebra and calculus, and concludes these subjects are of little practical value for many high school and college students.

Worse, he contends, rigid math standards erect a barrier to entering professions like medicine. They are nothing more than a cruel weed-out mechanism that Hacker blames for high numbers of college dropouts.

“Imposing the mathematics of ‘college readiness’ on everyone will derail the academic careers of huge pools of our young people,” Hacker writes. “America’s educational highway is littered with dropouts at every mile, a human roadkill that doesn’t have to happen.”

His solution is not ending math requirements, but promoting the study of practical math and real-world statistics concepts that Hacker dubs “numeracy,” a subject to which he devotes an entire chapter.

One of the early figures of STEM-centrism is UNC System President Margaret Spellings. As secretary of education under President George W. Bush, Spellings convened the 2008 task force that generated an 857-page report warning that the American children were math dummies.

The report, which laid the philosophical groundwork for the Common Core curriculum, called for an overhaul of the U.S. educational system to prepare students to master essential skills needed to succeed in the emerging technology economy – such basic competencies as binomial coefficients and quadratic polynomials.

But Hacker says the numbers tell a different story. For example, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the United States economy will add only about 130,400 engineering jobs by 2022. Meanwhile our education system is on track to mint 860,000 new engineering graduates over that time.

So what’s really going on here? Hacker is among the skeptics who suspect the high-tech industry is promoting STEM-focused training for its own ends: to glut the job market with an oversupply of technology workers in a ploy to drive down the cost of labor.

How else to explain the H-1B visas used by Microsoft, Intel, IBM and a host of other corporations to hire, at last count, more than a quarter-million foreign technology workers in this country? Notes Hacker: These temporary workers are paid about 57 percent of an equivalent American’s wage.

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