Friday, June 21, 2013

Shortage of Skilled Workers in America - Symptom of America's Self-inflicted Decline

Recent immigration related headlines informs us that the American tech industry has too many jobs and too few skilled workers.  What is the tech industry's solution?  Lobby congress for support of the Immigration Innovation Act, which would increase the number of H-1B temporary work visas.

The demand for H-1B visas to work in the U.S. is so high that the federal government announced it would use a lottery to award them.   There is an annual cap of 65,000, plus another 20,000 visas for workers with a master’s degree or higher on these visas, which are awarded to foreign workers with theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields, including scientists, engineers, and programmers.  An additional caveat for awarding these visas is that the bearer of these visas, by law, must be paid the same as Americans doing the same work.

I know that in the scheme of things, the issuance of a seemingly paltry 85,000 temporary work visas seems small, even inconsequential, in the face of America's huge unemployment problem.  But, the demand for H-1B visas, and the tech industries urgent congressional lobbying efforts, are evidence of a larger and more pernicious problem in America, dwindling access to necessary quality lower education and higher education. 

Who's at fault for the destruction of the American public education system and more importantly for the dramatic reduction of state and federal programs to insure the nutrition, crucial to the learning process, of the poor children who populate our public school systems? 

When a corporation entertains a consideration moving to a state and municipality, it has likely indicated that such a move is contingent on tax breaks, which results in little or no increase in state or municipal revenue.  Add to this the low income tax rate enjoyed by the corporation owners, CEO's, and investors, and an electorate intolerable of any tax increase to make up the resultant revenue shortfall.  As a result, state and municipalities have cut a host of many necessary services like fire and police departments.  But because fire and police are so important to the electorate, state and municipalities have directed much of the impact of revenue shortfalls to education.

Many of the same dynamics are play in pushing the prospects of a college education beyond most American families.  The growing income inequality is fueled by flattened wages for workers, to accommodate exploding CEO pay.  And, the cost of a college education is also increasing to levels many families simply can't afford.

So the shortage of skilled workers in America is a direct result of corporate tax breaks to, and lower income tax rates for, the same people who are complaining of a shortage of skilled workers in America. And their solution is to lobby for an increase in the number of H-1B temporary work visas.  Where is the American outrage?

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