I thank a couple of alert readers for calling to my attention to this video of a National Journal LIVE event, which was partly sponsored by Fwd.us, the lobbying organization founded by Mark Zuckerberg to promote expansive policies for H-1B and immigration in general.
Fwd.us arranged for the panel to include Lars Dalgaard, a former entrepreneur and current venture capatilist who is associated with Fwd.us. During the discussion the moderator, the National Journal’s Niharika Acharya, asked about the SCE case, in which American IT workers were replaced by foreign workers, and forced to train those foreign replacements. Apparently having prepared beforehand, Daalgard recognized the substance of the question even as Acharya was in the midst of posing it, and replied,
You know, I’m going to be rather crude about that. Nobody’s going to hold you up and carry you around…If you’re not going to work hard enough to be qualified to get the job…well then, you don’t deserve the job.
Archarya said, “That’s rather harsh,” and turned to the other panelist, P.J. Corbut, who said he agreed with Dalgaard.
Outrageous? Sure. To my knowledge, neither SCE nor anyone else has claimed that the laid-off Americans at SCE weren’t working hard. What we do know is that the foreign workers were a lot cheaper than the Americans they replaced. Hard to believe Dalgaard would deny the obvious.
This isn’t the first time someone from Fwd.us has made statements along these lines. Joe Green, while serving as the organization’s first president, bragged that the tech industry could buy its way in Congress and the media, and also implied on C-SPAN that tech firms were laying off Americans and replacing them with better-quality Americans. One of the interviewers asked Green, “Are you saying that all of the [Americans] who are laid off are not talented and all the people from these other countries are valued employees?” Green, realizing how unreasonable his remark sounded (and was), didn’t really answer. Green resigned, apparently having been fired, not long afterward.
My guess is that Fwd.us won’t be sending Dalgaard to more panels anytime soon either. But his attitude typifies what I’ve observed among tech CEOs: an arrogance, a sense of entitlement, even a Messiah Complex. Not to mention a completely uncaring attitude. I’ve mentioned before an incident some years ago when I was chatting with Netflix founder and CEO Reed Hastings. When I mentioned that H-1B has caused major harm to older American tech workers, not just financial but also emotional, with divorces and even some suicides, he sarcastically replied, “Maybe they beat their wives too.” Bill Gates looks good in comparison.
But there is more. We should all be concerned that Fwd.us was a sponsor of this National Journal forum. The latter is a private enterprise, of course, but one that has enjoyed respect. That this forum was one-sided is obviously an indication that Fwd.us’ dollars have influence (just as Green said they would), and that should worry any reader of the magazine. Indeed, even Archaya had apologetically prefaced her question to Dalgaard by saying she was playing the “devil’s advocate.” Something similar occurred a few years ago with the Washington Monthly.
So the whole thing is even scarier than just Dalgaard’s callous remark.