John Derbyshire: Malkin And Miano’s SOLD OUT—Time To End The Crony Capitalists’ Temporary Work Visa Scam
See Also by Michelle Malkin: The Myth of H-1B Job Creation
We who seek to promote rational immigration policy have set out on a road both long and hard. Arrayed against us is the mighty political-commercial power of crony capitalism which has, in the post-industrial West, filled the vacuum left by the collapse of socialist ideology.
The culture of our age is also against us. In North America, immigration romanticism—famine ships, huddled masses, sweatshops—runs strong. Layered on this today is a peculiar racial death-wish afflicting white people everywhere in the West: a sickly blend of ethnomasochism and xenophilia, colored by guilt over slavery and colonialism.
However, the gods of Reason and Truth do not send us unarmed to face the enemy. We have some impressive assets of our own. Among them are two brilliant polemical journalists, both female.
By vigor of presentation, force of personality, and good instinctive judgment (better than mine, alas) as to how much reality humankind can bear, these two ladies have managed to keep themselves acceptable to major TV and publishing outlets.
Ann Coulter struck lightning through the fog of open-borders propaganda in June this year with her bestseller ¡Adiós America! We reviewed or passed comments on the book here, here, here, here (by Ann herself), and here.
This week sees the publication of Sold Out: How High-Tech Billionaires and Bipartisan Beltway Crapweasels Are Screwing America’s Best and Brightest Workers by Michelle Malkin and John Miano.
Having read three of Michelle’s previous books, I confidently surmise that the spirited polemical style of Sold Out is mainly hers. I guess with equal confidence (I have not asked either author) that John Miano, a fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies and a leading expert on our guest-worker programs, must have supplied the detailed case studies that the book’s arguments are built around.
¡Adiós America! and Sold Out are from different publishers—Regnery and Simon & Schuster, respectively—but they complement each other very well; they could be boxed together and sold as a set.
Boxed, boxing: this is what pugilists call “the old one-two.”
Ann’s book is a broad survey of U.S. immigration lunacy with emphases on our open southern border, criminal aliens, the “refugee” rackets, and “family reunification” as a means of importing entire Third World villages. Her coverage of guest-worker programs is incidental and brief, most of it in a chapter memorably titled “Every Single Immigration Category Is a Fraud.”
Sold Out is all about those guest-worker programs.
The book is structured in three parts:
- The H-1B visa and its abuses (128 pages).
- The hijacking of other visa categories—visitors, investors, company transfers, and students/trainees—for guest-worker purposes (108 pages).
- The politics of “immigration reform” (78 pages).
H-1B abuse has made the news recently. Anyone who pays much attention to current affairs has heard of the Disney employees terminated in fall of 2014, their jobs given to cheaper foreign workers imported on H-1B visas, whom the original employees were forced to train under threat of losing their severance packages.
This, Sold Out shows, is the merest tippy-tip of the H-1B-abuse iceberg. This stuff has been going on for at least twenty years:
AIG had contracted with an offshoring company called Syntel Inc. to import foreign workers to run their computer operations. Syntel would hire the workers in India and bring them into the U.S. on H-1B guest worker visas …
AIG heaped another insult on these workers. They would get sixty days of severance—but only if they trained their foreign replacements. [Sold Out, pp. 80-81.]
What happened to those Disney workers last year is nothing new; it’s been going on for decades—at least since Crony Capitalism settled in as our chosen form of government after the Cold War.
It’s not hard to figure out why. The capitalist side of the crony-capitalist ruling class want cheaper foreign labor to replace more expensive American workers. They have co-opted our system of guest-worker visas to achieve that end.
Their bought-and-sold political stooges—the “crony” side of the two-headed monster—have manipulated federal laws and regulations to make it all happen. New-ethnic lobbies and immigration-romantic descendants of the old-ethnic 1880-1920 Great Wave have provided cultural and media cover.
Sold Out describes the whole scam in fine detail. That cultural and Main Stream Media cover, for example, includes the systematic dissemination of myths, lies, and bogus studies in support of worker displacement.
You have probably heard that:
- Thirty-six percent of America’s top twenty-five tech companies were founded by immigrants.
- We have a shortage of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) workers.
- Employers have to show they cannot find Americans before hiring foreign guest workers on H-1B visas.
- H-1B workers must be paid “prevailing wage” or higher.
- H-1B doesn’t take American jobs. H-1B creates jobs.
- If U.S. companies can’t hire foreigners, they will just move their operations offshore.
Every one of those is demonstrably deceptive or outright false, and Sold Out does the demonstrating.
To get to that thirty-six percent in the first item, for example, you have to count Texas Instruments, three of whose four founders were American-born Americans. You also have to count Google, founded by Larry Page, an American-born American, and Sergey Brin, who came here from the U.S.S.R. aged six. If the statement “TI and Google were founded by immigrants” is true, then the statement “TI and Google were founded by Americans” is twice as true (four founders to two).
It is worth noting here the common conflating of guest workers with immigrants. Guest worker visas like the H-1B are nonimmigrant visas.
“Immigrant” does not mean “a person who has entered our country.” If it did, tourists would be immigrants. “Immigrant” means “a person who has entered our country after having been given permission to settle here permanently.”
Guest workers are not given that permission. They are admitted to fill some temporary requirement. Once no longer needed, they are supposed to go home. That’s why they are called guest workers. Your house guests go home eventually, don’t they?
This perfectly straightforward distinction is lost on a depressing number of commentators and politicians: GOP presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina, for example:
Fiorina was quick to defend the H-1b [sic] program when Carr confronted her with that data. “There is no reason for us to fear highly skilled immigrants who want to come to this country and stay here and live here and contribute to our nation,” she said. “After all, this is a nation built on immigration.”
[Fiorina Slams Disney, Then Admits She Used H-1B Program At HP by Rachel Stoltzfoos; Daily Caller, June 10th 2015.]
Whether or not this is a nation built on immigration, it could not, by definition, have been built on guest workers!
Here, though, we enter the vast dark cavern of immigration ignorance, wherein dwell practically all of our politicians and pundits.
It is, for example, still quite common for newspaper editorialists or TV talking heads to explain that what America needs is a guest-worker program, as if we did not already have a bucketful of the darn things.
I could fill the rest of this article with similar examples of willful stupidity; but there is a book under review, so I had better return to it.
(Although I shall pause briefly to register my joy at having learnt, from reading Sold Out, that I am not, after all, the only person in the U.S.A. who knows where to place the hyphen in “H-1B.”)
The most egregious lie put out by the crony capitalists and their media shills is the one about a STEM shortage. There is so much evidence to the contrary, Malkin and Miano apologize for offering only a selection.
They list, for example eight studies from high-credibility sources (Ivy League universities, the RAND corporation, the Economic Policy Institute, the Chronicle of Higher Education) debunking the STEM-shortage tale.
Our own Ed Rubenstein has done yeoman work on this. As Ed points out:
If STEM workers were in short supply, their earnings would be increasing rapidly. Instead, the data show long-term stagnation. [National Data: STEM Wages’ Shocking Stagnation Destroys Case For Increased Immigration by Ed Rubenstein; VDARE.com, March 24th 2015.]
An interesting question, not addressed in Sold Out, is why computer programmers (or “software engineers,” as we are now supposed to say) are so particularly susceptible to replacement by guest workers. What is it about this particular line of work—writing instructions for machines—that makes it so vulnerable?
Programming was my line of work for thirty years, and I have some ideas. The biggest factor, I think, has been the failure of programmers to attain any kind of professional or unionized solidarity. Programming came up too fast; and most of the coming-up happened in an age when every kind of social capital was declining.
Just at the point where the collective self-awareness of programmers might have congealed into defensive professionalism, the Cold War ended, Crony Capitalism took over, and our masters decided that the technical middle class needed putting in its place.
The blogger who used to call himself “Half Sigma,” but who now calls himself “Lion of the Blogosphere,” was himself a programmer. In 2007 he posted some thoughts in a much-circulated post titled “Why a Career in Computer Programming Sucks.” From which:
The other half of foreignization [the first half being outsourcing] is the near abandonment of the domestic IT market to foreigners. This is a trend that is accelerated by the issuance of special H1-B [sic] visas that allow extra computer programmers to come here and take jobs away from American programmers. Computer programming (along with nursing) has been specially targeted by our government for foreignization.
Foreignization creates a vicious circle effect with the low prestige of the profession. Because the profession has low prestige, employers balk at the idea of having to pay high salaries (while it seems perfectly appropriate if a lawyer or investment banker is making a lot of money). Thus the demand for more H1-B visas so that salaries can be decreased.
In turn, Americans see an industry full of brown people speaking barely intelligible English, and this further lowers the industry’s prestige. Computer programming and IT in general is now seen as the foreigner’s industry and not a proper profession for upwardly mobile white Americans.
(The Indian and Asian people I’ve known in the IT industry are nice people, and normally I don’t pay attention to their different appearance, so this should not be taken as a racist dislike of non-white people. I am only accurately describing the fact that the typical white American thinks negatively of a profession that’s predominately non-white. And I stand by my belief that people born in this country have more rights to the money being created here than foreigners. Asian countries feel the same way about foreigners. Asian countries are, typically, a lot less open to foreign worker immigrants than is the U.S.)
Because there is no reason to think that the trend of foreignization will reverse, this will ensure that the future of the industry will be lower salaries.
[Why a Career in Computer Programming Sucks by “Half Sigma; March 11th, 2007.]
I knew most of what is to be known about the H-1B visa before picking up Sold Out. Heck, it was the visa I rode in on; although back in 1985, before the changes introduced by the 1990 Immigration Act, it was merely an H-1, and quite strictly administered.
The second section of Sold Out, however, was completely new to me. I had no idea how much corruption and chicanery had infected other nonimmigrant categories like the L (intra-company transfers), F (student), and even B (tourist and business traveler) visa programs.
The B visas, for example, are for temporary visitors. Holders of B visas are not permitted to do any kind of paid work. You are a tourist on vacation, or you came to attend a business conference.
Hoo-kay: but what if I come into the U.S.A. on a B visa, settle in to some programming work, but am paid overseas by a foreign employer? Do the authorities in the U.S. mind that?
Not very much, even though both the worker and the company being worked for are evading U.S. income taxes.
The big Indian programmer body-shop Infosys was pulling this stunt for years as a way to circumvent the numerical caps on issuance of H-1B visas. (B visas are not capped.)
A dogged whistle-blower eventually persuaded the U.S. authorities to act. In October 2013 Infosys paid a $34 million settlement to various federal agencies.
However, Sold Out reports:
Despite finding “systemic visa fraud and abuse,” the feds dropped civil and criminal charges against the company in exchange for the settlement money and admission of paperwork violations. The feds also agreed not to use any of the evidence it uncovered in its investigations to revoke any visas fraudulently obtained by Infosys workers; not to debar or suspend Infosys from any B-1 or H-1B program; and not to make any referrals to any agencies for debarment or suspension of Infosys from visa programs.
So … Eh, cost of doing business.
The feds’ leniency there was surely encouraged by the fact that a key legal consultant to Infosys in the case was Michael Chertoff, not long free from his duties as U.S. Secretary for Homeland Security. Infosys were the capitalist in this story; Chertoff was the crony.
If the laws won’t help, regulators will. The F visa category is for foreigners who come to the U.S.A. to study. For some courses of study, a limited amount of hands-on training work has always been allowed.
Encouraged by the laxer regime after the 1990 Immigration Act, federal regulators opened wider this crack in the wall between education and work. They created the “Optional Practical Training” program, allowing up to a year of work by F visa holders.
Egged on by employers, bureaucrats then got to work widening the crack further. When the Department of Homeland Security was created following 9/11:
One of [the Department’s] first regulations allowed aliens to work on OPT without being enrolled at a school.
The description of valid F-1 student visa status straightforwardly required a student to be attending school. But unknown, faceless regulators added the clause “or engaging in authorized practical training following completion of studies” at the end of the statutory provision defining valid F-1 student visa status.
Presto change-o! F-1 “student” visas effectively became guest worker visas—with no messy congressional debate or inconvenient public scrutiny. [My italics.]
Numbers of OPT students approved for work in the U.S.A. soared from less than 30 thousand in 2008 to over 120 thousand in 2013.
Again, OPT was an entirely bureaucratic creation, with no input from Congress or the public. Businessmen told federal regulators to jump, and the regulators asked “How high?” Crony Capitalism doesn’t need no steenkin’ laws.
The concluding section of Sold Out, which describes the politics of the guest-worker rackets, is withering. Both foreign and American companies—the authors name names—are implicated.
The big software firms are of course to the fore: Microsoft, Oracle, Qualcomm, Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg is just as evil as I had supposed, and particularly adept at dressing up his greed in high-moralistic flimflam.
Zuckerberg publicly sold his immigration push for the so-called “comprehensive immigration reform” package, carried by the U.S. Senate’s Gang of Eight, as a “civil rights” and humanitarian cause. But it was Beltway special interest business as usual behind the scenes.
In their penultimate chapter, the authors cast a cold eye on the 2016 presidential candidates, as announced at the time of going to press.
Of the sixteen names here, only two and a half have pro-American views on guest workers.
Almost every other major 2016 presidential hopeful in both parties, from Hillary Clinton on the corporatist left to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on the Big Business right, to Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on the Tea Party right, favor more temporary guest worker visas and raising (or obliterating) visa caps originally established to protect the American workforce.
Rick Santorum is polling at less than one percent. Jim Webb has withdrawn from the Democratic contest altogether, though he may yet relaunch as an independent.
And who knows what Trump really thinks—or even whether he reads his own campaign literature?
The authors quote Jim Webb thus:
I do not support guest worker programs. This applies to H-1B visas, except in the most extraordinary circumstances. I do not believe the myth of the tech worker shortage.
[A new H-1B fight looms with the Democratic Congress by Patrick Thibodeau; NetworkWorld, January 4th 2007.]
On this, as on many other matters, Jim Webb is right. I’d feel better about Trump if he had said that in 2007; or even in 2015 … And I more than ever consider Jim Webb a significant loss to the 2016 field.
Probably guest worker programs have always been something of a racket. It is hardly imaginable that a nation of 320 million souls lacks anything in the way of talent, or the ability to produce talent as needed.
This is particularly the case in computer programming, for which there is a whole shelf-full of books promising to teach you some programming language or other in 24 hours of study. (You can even, in fact, acquaint yourself with all current major programming languages in 24 hours!)
Where temporary shortages in some specialist field arise, wages will rise, and keen young Americans will enroll in training. Sold Out gives a neat example from petroleum engineering.
There might be a case for bringing in a few hundred foreigners a year for work like foreign-language interpreting or school teaching. Persons with extraordinary levels of talent—Einsteins and Netrebkos—should of course be accommodated somehow by the visa system.
Those cases aside, I see no need for guest-worker visas. Sold Out estimates a population of 650,000 H-1B workers legally in the U.S. With those 120,000 OPTs, and the other Fs, and the Bs, and the Ls, and the EB-5s (that’s a whole other story told by Malkin and Miano), there must be well over a million of these guests doing work that Americans could perfectly well do.
They should all be sent home.
Sold Out exposes the entire racket with fine polemical élan. Buy one copy for yourself and another to mail to the politician of your choice.
John Derbyshire [email him] writes an incredible amount on all sorts of subjects for all kinds of outlets. (This no longer includes National Review, whose editors had some kind of tantrum and fired him. ) He is the author of We Are Doomed: Reclaiming Conservative Pessimism and several other books. He’s had two books published by VDARE.com: FROM THE DISSIDENT RIGHT (also available in Kindle) and From the Dissident Right II: Essays 2013. His writings are archived at JohnDerbyshire.com.
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