There are two reports, requested by Congress, that do a fairly good job in explaining the problems with the H-1B work visa: One by the NRC in 2001, and another by the GAO in 2003. Yet I believe one could knock on doors all day on Capitol Hill and not find a single staffer who is aware of those highly-relevant studies. Congress, it seems, has no memory.
The Wall Street Journal seems to suffer from amnesia too, as evidenced by an editorial it ran recently, blasting Wisconsin governor Scott Walker for changing his mind on the immigration issue (basically from pro- to con-). Now remember, folks, I’m a lifelong Democrat, and thus am not out to promote Walker here, but fair is fair — and the WSJ is not being fair at all. Or consistent, which is my topic here.
The editorial uses as its main source the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP), “a pro-immigration think tank.” That latter description is right, but the grandiose title of the organization masks the fact that it is little more than a one-man operation consisting of Stuart Anderson. Much more important, though, is that this same WSJ has roundly criticized Anderson’s past research.
And this was not ordinary research. It was of the “each H-1B creates x new jobs” genre, so popular in the current debate. To my knowledge, Anderson was the pioneer in this type of research. And the WSJ gave an excellent analysis of why Anderson was wrong. There were also some major flaws in Anderson’s study that the WSJ missed, but it certainly showed well why vested-interest funded research like that should not be taken at face value. And yet the recent WSJ editorial does exactly that.
The rest of the editorial cites “the usual suspects,” studies done by researchers who either funded by vested interests or have an ideological motivation to support H-1B. And it yet again gets into the childish debate over which fields do or do not consistute STEM; I’ve repeatedly urged both sides of the H-1B debate to stick to the computer fields, which form the plurality of H-1B jobs.
As to Walker and his dramatic policy shift, I know almost nothing about the man, other than his prominent battle with state workers (on which I don’t know enough to take sides). But a friend of mine mentioned to me the other day that Walker had helped him get smoking banned at the Milwaukee Brewers stadium, Miller Park, in spite of pressure by Phillip Morris, then owner of Miller. Apparently Walker is not afraid to go up against Big Business. Should be interesting to watch.