As many of you know by now, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton recently released her platform on STEM issues. Notable is her support of “staple a green card” legislation (would give foreign STEM students at U.S. schools automatic green cards), aimed at remedying an alleged STEM labor shortage.
Smart political strategy, exemplified in Clinton’s platform, is to ignore facts rather than countering them. No research study, other than those sponsored by the industry, has ever shown a STEM labor shortage. On the contrary, it has been shown exhaustively, including by the think tank allied with Clinton’s own party, EPI,that no such shortage exists. And no fancy studies are really needed, as the flat wage growth we have in STEM should immediately set the matter straight for anyone; you don’t need a weatherman to tell you it’s raining outside.
Meanwhile we see comments by another consummate politician, Microsoft president Brad Smith. He and Kansas Senator Jerry Moran write that computer science is today’s Sputnik (emphasis added):
Today we face a similar challenge as the United States competes with nations across the globe in the indispensable field of computer science.
They then write that the U.S. must make an all-out effort to maximize the number of CS-savvy workers. Oh, really? Then why is the industry shunning highly-qualified older (35+) Americans? In fact, Microsoft itself is an excellent case in point, as Vivek Wadhwa wrote (emphasis added):
Senior Vice-President and Chief Technical Officer David Vaskevitch…acknowledges that the vast majority of Microsoft hires are young, but that is because older workers tend to go into more senior jobs and there are fewer of those positions to begin with.
In other words, tech is pretty much a dead-end job, according to Microsoft itself. And the industry has made lots of similar statements, e.g. former Intel CEO Craig Barrett’s noting that “The half life of an engineer, hardware or software, is only a few years.” This throwaway attitude exposes Smith’s grandiose Sputnik claims as a typical political shell game.
Which brings us back to Clinton, or I should say, the Clintons. If Hillary is challenged on her support of Staple, she will undoubtedly cite the fact that IEEE-USA, whose officials like to say “represents 230,000 American engineers,” supports Staple. That ignores the fact that most IEEE-USA’s members have no idea that the officials are pushing Staple, and that the organization has refused to conduct a poll of its members on the issue.
As to Bill: After his Labor Secretary Alexis Herman stated in early 1998 that the administration opposed an increase in the H-1B cap, Bill Clinton signed into law a near doubling of the cap later that year — and then went on a fundraising tour of Silicon Valley. And this was in spite of the fact that internal memos later showed that the Clinton White House was skeptical of the industry claims of a tech labor shortage. Clinton raised the cap another 70% in 2000 — just weeks before tech stocks collapsed and we entered the Dot Com Bust. (He also signed into law a repeal of the Glass-Stegall Act that same year, at the behest of the financial industry.)
And by the way, to me, Bill’s recent meeting with Atty. General Loretta Lynch on an airport tarmac is more of the same. It doesn’t matter than the two simply talked about their grandchildren; it’s clear that the old charmer simply wanted to get into Lynch’s good graces regarding Hillary’s legal problems. I say this as a lifelong Democrat who actually does have some admiration for the guy, but to me, it’s all the same, callous disregard for the well-being of the nation for political gain.