“Skill Shortage” Racket Driving Americans From Science And Engineering

Last June a

revealing marketing video
from the law firm,

Cohen & Grigsby
appeared on the Internet. The video
demonstrated the law firm`s techniques for getting
around US law governing work visas in order to enable
corporate clients to

replace their American employees
with foreigners

who work for less.
The law firm`s marketing manager,

Lawrence Lebowitz,
is upfront with interested clients: "Our goal is
clearly not to find a qualified and interested US

If an American somehow survives the
weeding out process, "have the manager of that
specific position step in and go through the whole
process to find a legal basis to disqualify them for
this position—in most cases there doesn`t seem to be a

No problem for the employer he
means—only for the

expensively-educated American university graduate

who is

by a foreigner imported on a work visa
justified by a

nonexistent shortage
of trained and qualified

University of California computer science professor

Norm Matloff
, who watches this issue closely,

said that Cohen & Grigsby`s practices are the standard
used by hordes of attorneys, who are cleaning
up by putting Americans out of work.

The Cohen & Grigsby video was a
short-term sensation as it undermined the business
propaganda that no American employee was being displaced
by foreigners on H-1b or L-1 work visas. Soon, however,
business organizations and their shills were back in
gear lying to Congress and the public about the amazing
shortage of qualified Americans for literally every
technical and professional occupation, especially IT and
software engineering.

Everywhere we hear the same droning
lie from business interests that there are not enough

American engineers

. For mysterious reasons Americans prefer
to be waitresses and bartenders, hospital orderlies, and
retail clerks.

As one of the few who writes about
this short-sighted policy of American managers
endeavoring to maximize their "performance bonuses,"
I receive much feedback from affected Americans.

Many responses come from recent
university graduates—such as the one who "graduated
nearly at the top of my class in 2002"
with degrees
in both electrical and computer engineering and who

"hasn`t been able to find a job."

A college roommate of a family
member graduated from a good engineering school last
year with a degree in software engineering. He had one
job interview. Jobless, he is back at home living with
his parents and burdened with

student loans
that bought an education that
offshoring and work visas have made useless to

The hundreds of individual cases
that have been brought to my attention are dismissed as
"anecdotal" by my fellow economists. So little do
they know.

I also receive numerous responses

American engineers
and IT workers who have managed
to hold on to jobs or to find new ones after long
intervals when they have been displaced by foreign
hires. Their descriptions of their work environments are

For example, Dayton, Ohio, was once
home to numerous American engineers. Today, writes one
surviving American,

"I feel like an alien in my own country—as if Dayton had
been colonized by India.


other local employers
have either offshored most of
their IT work or rely heavily on Indian guest workers.
The IT department of National City Bank across the
street from LexisNexis is entirely Indian. The nearby
apartment complexes house large numbers of Indian guest
workers filling the engineering needs of many area

I have learned that

Reed Elsevier
, which owns LexisNexis, has hired a
new Indian vice president for offshoring and that now
the jobs of the Indian guest workers may be on the verge
of being offshored to another country. The relentless
drive for cheap labor now threatens the foreign guest
workers who displaced America`s own engineers.

One software engineer wrote to me
protesting the ignorance of

Thomas Friedman
for creating a false picture of
American engineers being outdated and for "denouncing
American engineers and other workers as `xenophobes` for
opposing their displacement by foreign guest workers."

The engineer also took exception to the "willful
ignorance or cynicism of

Bruce Bartlett

George Will
who he described as "bootlicks
for pro-outsourcing lobbies."

On November 6, 2006,

Michael S. Teitelbaum,
vice president of the Alfred
P. Sloan Foundation, explained to a subcommittee of the
House Committee on Science and Technology the difference
between the conventional or false portrait that there is
a shortage of US scientists and engineers and the
reality on the ground, which is that offshoring, foreign
guest workers, and educational subsidies have produced a
surplus of US engineers and scientists that leaves many
facing unstable and failed careers.

As two examples of the false
portrait, Teitelbaum cited the 2005 report, Tapping
America`s Potential
, [PDF]led
by the

Business Roundtable

signed onto by 14 other business associations
, and
the 2006 National Academies report,

Rising Above the Gathering Storm,
"which was
the basis for substantial parts of what eventually
evolved into the American COMPETES Act."
Testimony in


Teitelbaum posed the question to the
US Representatives:

"Why do you continue to hear energetic re-assertions of
the Conventional Portrait of `shortages,` shortfalls,
failures of K-12 science and math teaching, declining
interest among US students, and the necessity of
importing more foreign scientists and engineers?"

Teitelbaum`s answer:

"In my judgment, what you are hearing is simply the

of interests by interest groups
and their

. This phenomenon is, of course, very
familiar to

everyone on the Hill
. Interest groups that are well
organized and funded have the capacity to make their
claims heard by you, either

or via

echoes in the mass press
. Meanwhile those who are
not well-organized and funded can express their views,
but only as individuals."

Among the interest groups that
benefit from the false portrait are

, which gain graduate student
enrollments and inexpensive postdocs to conduct funded
lab research. Employers gain larger profits from lower
paid scientists and engineers, and immigration lawyers
gain fees by leading employers around the work visa

Using the biomedical research sector
as an example, Teitelbaum explained to the congressmen
how research funding creates an oversupply of scientists
that requires ever larger funding to keep employed.
Teitelbaum made it clear that it is nonsensical to
simultaneously increase the supply of American
scientists while forestalling their employment with a
shortage myth that is used to import foreigners on work

Teitelbaum recommends that American
students considering majors in science and engineering

investigate the career prospects
of recent

Integrity is so lacking in America
that the shortage myth serves the

of universities, funding agencies,

, and

immigration attorneys
at the expense of American
students who naively pursue professions in which their
prospects are dim. Initially it was blue-collar factory
workers who were abandoned by US corporations and
politicians. Now it is white-collar employees and

Americans trained in science and technology
Princeton University economist Alan Blinder

that there are 30 to 40 million American
high end service jobs that
ultimately face offshoring.

As I predict, and as BLS payroll
jobs data indicate, in 20 years the US will have a Third
World work force engaged in domestic nontradable



Paul Craig Roberts

] was Assistant
Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration.
He is the author of

Supply-Side Revolution : An Insider`s Account of
Policymaking in Washington
and the Soviet Economy

Meltdown: Inside the Soviet Economy
and is the co-author with Lawrence M. Stratton of

The Tyranny of Good Intentions : How Prosecutors and
Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name
of Justice
. Click

for Peter
Forbes Magazine interview with Roberts
about the recent epidemic of prosecutorial misconduct.