|"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
|"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
Despite what Gates said in the rest of the pages of his speech, it all boiled down to, We Need More Foreign Guest Workers. If You Don't Give Us More Foreign Guest Workers, We'll Show You Who's Boss By Sending These Jobs Overseas.
Several members of Congress practically tripped over each other as they lined up to profess their fawning admiration for Bill Gates. Why shouldn't they, when so much money for potential campaign contributions and from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is at stake? Representative Bart Gordon, (D-Tennessee), said, "Bill Gates embodies both the American spirit of innovation and the theological virtue of charity. … I can think of no other witness better suited to share his insights with this committee."
A few Representatives had the guts to ask some tough questions. Dana Rohrbacher (R-California), asked if:
..........H-1B workers were driving down U.S. wages or replacing "B and C students" from the United States. Gates said no, citing a study released Monday by the pro-immigration think tank the National Foundation for American Policy, saying that for every H-1B position applied for, companies create an additional five jobs.
[Note from Carrie: How convenient that report came out just a few days before Gates' testimony.]
"The top people are going to be [paid] higher," Gates said. "It's just a question of what country they're working in."
For more good discussions on the National Foundation for American Policy report, you can read Rob Sanchez' and Norman Matloff's newsletters. Please also see Patrick Thibodeau's article at Computerworld for another good recap. (For some reason, I'm having a devil of a time trying to link to his article. If motivated, look for his article "Gates: U.S. Puts Tech Jobs at Risk by Capping Foreign Workers" dated March 12, 2008 under the "Government" section.)
Rep. Laura Richardson, a California Democrat, challenged Microsoft and other tech companies to fund scholarships for science and engineering students with the money they use to recruit workers and apply for visas.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation provides scholarships for 14,000 minority students, Gates noted. But more scholarships won't solve the problem of a lack of U.S. science and engineering students, he said.
"Scholarships can be helpful, but I'm not sure that alone would drive the shift we need," Gates said.
Predictably, by late Thursday afternoon, Gabrielle Giffords, (D-Arizona) introduced the Innovation Employment Act that would double the number of H-1B's being issued from 65,000 to 130,000 per year. A number of safeguards are supposed to be included in this bill, such as:
I say these "safeguards" are little more than window dressing. However, that will be another post for another day.
Many pundits admit that Congress will have a tough time passing legislation for higher numbers of H-1B workers during an election year, when people are finally reaching a consensus that unemployment rates are going higher while the economy is going sour. However, just for extra insurance, Lamar Smith (R-Texas) introduced the catchy-sounding Strengthening United States Technology And Innovation Now (or Sustain) Act, which would triple the number of H-1B visas being issued for 2008 and 2009.
(Cross-posted at Carrie's Nation.)