8 thoughts on “My ASEE Slides

  1. OMG Norm, don’t suggest “broadening” O-1 visa! Do I have to explain all the reasons why not?

    And even the 67th percentile is way too low, it should be the 110th percentile. If there were such a thing! And *none* under $100k. Zip. Zero. Nada.

    Here’s the thing, you raise a question here that you do not answer: WHY would employers prefer cheap, low-quality workers? Is the value slightly higher than the cost, even so? That would be a rational answer – but I do not believe it is true! I believe employers prefer to have cheap, low-quality employees EVEN IF IT COSTS THEM MORE TO DO IT! This is not financially rational, but it may be socially rational, but if this is true it is hard to find evidence for it strictly in the numbers. Rather you have to take the numbers and say, “what real world situation would have to hold, to make all these numbers consistent?” And that real-world situation contains many social/anthropological elements. Not *just* having immobile employees trapped by their visas, though that’s a good sample. No, they want a BIG gap between the technicians and the managers, why, it gives the managers more room to show off when those (cheap) technicians keep screwing stuff up (as I discussed once upon a time with Gerald Weinberg).

    Now, what if that all is true – isn’t it their right as free American employers to hire cheap, stupid workers if they want to? It doesn’t look like Google, Facebook, or Intel are going broke doing it, right? And I’ll tell you Norm, I don’t really have an answer for that one. No matter how sad a story that is.


    • The guy from Georgia actually addressed the issue of “cheap, and good enough,” though that latter aspect is questionable. And he or someone else (I don’t remember which) said, “Look, it’s working.”


      • So, how does that affect your arguments?

        I have some “answers” for this, but they get very abstract and what it comes down to is, a market gives people what they want, and if you know better go out and do it. And – people do! It’s called entrepreneurship, and it’s been “the answer” to such problems since the beginning of capitalism.

        But as for people trying to work a salaried (or hourly) non-entrepreneurial job in today’s economy, that is of course no answer at all.


  2. Here is an interesting bulletin on the job prospects of 1971 engineering graduates.

    Click to access ED058042.pdf

    During the 70-71 recession, the press went bananas with stories about unemployed engineers and scientists to the point of exaggeration. I bring this up because the unemployment STEM workers have seen under Obama is much worse than seen under Nixon, yet the press peddles shortage propaganda.


  3. That looks to be a very informative presentation. When I first saw that it was 134 slides, I initially thought that it was also a massive presentation! In fact, I think that it’s a very good technique to have a slide that adds each key point so that the viewer can focus on the points as they’re being read and/or discussed. It might be good to provide a set of the final slides as well for those who want a hardcopy or who have trouble syncing the slides so that each slide exactly overlays the prior one.

    I was especially interested in your bullet point on slide 97 that states that “Much of this research cuts ethical corners, e.g. Zavodny’s paper.” I agree that it does cut ethical corners but this seems like a very complicated topic and I was curious about your take on this. Personally, I think that it’s unethical for groups to keep pushing the 2.62 number when they must know by now that there are serious problems with it. As I describe at http://econdataus.com/amjobs1.htm#section16 , the 2.62 number applies only to a specific (and questionable) model and only to the years 2000 to 2007. Move that span forward two years to 2002 to 2009 and, using the same model, the 2.62 job gain becomes a 1.21 job LOSS. Yet neither Zavodny’s nor anyone pushing the number has ever addressed this problem. Instead, I’ve noticed that FWD.us has taken to tweeting that number out every day or two. You can see the last several tweets of it at http://www.scoopnest.com/s/2.62%20American%20jobs/ . I’ve gotten tired of tweeting back links to my analysis as they just ignore them. Hence, I have absolutely zero respect for FWD.us as an organization.

    In fact, I think that FWD.us keeps using the 2.62 number because they’ve discovered its value. The ordinary person who hears no dissenting views will likely think, “2.62 sounds like a very precise number. Surely there must be SOME gain in jobs for such a precise number to be mentioned in an economic study”. It’s like the old rule of politics, “you don’t have to fool a majority of the experts, just a majority of the voters”. Perhaps something might change if people contact its founders and supporters at http://www.fwd.us/supporters and hold them responsible. This would include Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates. Either defend your number or pull it!


    • Thanks for the suggestion on the pauses in the slides. I’ll remove them in the Web version.

      My criticism of Zavodny’s 2.62 figure, especially on the issue of ethics, was one of the few instances in which the audience seemed genuinely concerned. Jim Garrett, one of my two hosts, had highlighted that number in his introductory remarks, so when I explained what happened — her first analysis had been NEGATIVE on the effect of H-1B, and her sponsor then asked her to change the time frame — the audience seemed to be pretty shocked at such an ethical lapse. I then said, “You’re all deans. Suppose a faculty member came up for promotion with a track record of ethical lapses like this. You’d be very reluctant to approve the promotion.”


      • I am not so sure about whether a dean/provost/president would care about the ethics and even outright illegal activities of a faculty member if he/she brought in a lot of money.

        (I have become very cynical in my old age.)


        • I recently read something related about the great Russian chemist Mendeleev (the periodic table). After he became famous, he somehow got the idea that he “needed” a “better” wife, and divorced and remarried. The latter action was illegal, since at the time Russia had a 7-year waiting period for remarriage. Someone objected to the tsar. But the latter said, “Yes, I know that Mendeleev has two wives. But I have only one Mendeleev.” 🙂

          Well, all I told the deans was that they would be RELUCTANT to grant the promotion of a professor who was often unethical in his/her research. True, a dean may approve the promotion anyway, but only reluctantly. 🙂


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