Immigrants in a shrinking economy.

Americans are known around the world for their acceptance and welcoming of immigrants.  So why controversy now?  I think that it’s the shrinking economy.  The U.S. Government is reporting a low percentage of economic growth but the government adds government spending to the GDP numbers even when that spending represents debt (a Keynesian strategy).  And debt isn’t really any kind of production that indicates growth.  I don’t see significant growth in the U.S. economy that would matter to families in metrics such as employment (for example an abundance of well-paying and secure full-time jobs that allow a family to enjoy some economic security), home ownership (right now home-ownership is the lowest it’s been in fifty years), real estate construction (it has not recovered since the subprime mortgage crisis), car purchases (the average age of the American car is 11.5 years), small business start-ups (many have closed), etc.  While there’s capital growth in the stock market because of Federal Reserve market interference, it doesn’t represent real market demand.  Quantitative easing and corporate stock buy-backs have plumped up the stock market.

There are more than a single group of immigrants.  For example, within the scope of this discussion, there are H1-b applicants who have an education and there are refugees with or without an education.  But without economic growth, immigrants aren’t likely to find lasting prosperity here.  And neither are some Americans who live here already.  Most Americans know that it’s a bad idea to bring more people into the nation when there are already not enough jobs to go around.  It seems like a bad idea, too, to bring impoverished immigrant refugees to cities like Detroit, where people haven’t experienced a healthy economy in decades.

One issue is when neoliberals have wanted to use debt or taxes to educate people from other nations and then hire them to fill technical jobs here.  There’s a myth that Americans holding technical degrees aren’t unemployed in the U.S. but that isn’t true.  How many times have you heard that people who can’t find a job aren’t qualified because they don’t have a degree (so it’s their fault)?  Or that people with a college education are more likely to find work whereas those without a degree can’t?  There are plenty of unemployed engineers, mathematicians and scientists all over the United States.  And an employer will often hire a younger immigrant at a lower wage than an older and more experienced American STEM worker would be able to earn.  That shortens the usefulness of a STEM degree and kicks experienced workers out the door.

Neoliberals can get foreign workers who have been educated in the U.S. and then pay them less than they would pay American technical workers.  And doing that undercuts the opportunities of Americans in two ways.  First, by providing government scholarships to educate foreigners when many Americans can’t afford tuition and second by letting those same people replace Americans in the workforce.  Even if a foreigner was educated in a foreign university so that American taxes didn’t pay for their education, they shouldn’t be hired in place of a qualified American worker.  Original H1-b guidelines prohibited that.  And using foreign laborers also brings in people who may accept workplace behaviors outside the norm because they don’t know what’s normal here.

According to Karl Denninger writing from MarketTicker.com, there’s been HI-b visa abuse across America for too long.  Since the 1970’s, neoliberals have used labor arbitrage to lower their production costs by going abroad to get cheaper workers.  We call that “out-sourcing.”  For a while now, American corporations, especially in Silicon Valley, have wanted to reduce labor costs in the U.S. by using HI-b visas to bring cheaper foreign workers here.  This practice displaces qualified American candidates, even though the H1-b visa program is supposed to avoid displacing the qualified American worker.  Denninger says, “…as a direct consequence of the abuses I can not recommend to any teen today that they go into a STEM field, particularly a computer related field.”  H1-b abuses have been destroying American job opportunities for years and they should be stopped.  President Trump should stop these abuses and he seems to be aware of these problems.

Americans will probably return to a renewed acceptance of immigrants when the economy is growing again.  But for now, I think that there’s little mystery in the growing American attitude against HI-b visas.  While importing cheaper scientists, mathematicians and engineers might make it cheaper for employers, it undercuts the American STEM workforce.  Are there any STEM job opportunities in America for a fresh American graduate?  How about for an older engineer, scientist or mathematician who was educated twenty years ago?  Because it’s not clear where a job with job security exists that will provide a return on an American scientist’s, engineer’s or mathematician’s educational investment.

To conclude, H1-b visa abuses should stop even though corporatists enjoy a savings in wage costs.  Impoverished refugees probably shouldn’t be introduced to already impoverished American cities.  Because it causes unnecessary suffering among displaced American workers and foreigners won’t always find a job that lasts.  Refugees from the Middle East are suffering in part because of failed neoliberal military policies of making war in the Middle East.  I would like for the U.S. to stop interfering in the Middle East by bombing it or using drones.  These methods have caused catastrophes that have harmed Middle Eastern families and created the refugee crisis which has only worsened under these terrible policies.

If you want to get some statistics and references to support the statements I just made, then buy Political Catsup with Economy Fries at Amazon.com where I discuss these very same issues and others that explain how we got to our current place in economics and politics in the United States.

To read the article written by Karl Denninger, “H1b Abuse and Reform: Destroy Those Who Speak Against,” see http://market-ticker.org/akcs-www?post=231801, accessed 03 Feb 2017.

There’s another great article on H1-b visa abuses by Norm Matloff that I found on the Economic Populist.  Here’s the reference:

Norm Matloff, “H-1B and Related Guest Worker Visa Reform,” http://www.economicpopulist.org/content/h-1b-and-related-guest-worker-visa-reform-6043, Dec 15, 2017, accessed Feb 15, 2017.

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