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CS Prof Decries America's 'Internal Brain Drain'

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the aside-from-reality-tv dept.

Education 791

walterbyrd writes "Dr. Norman Matloff of the University of California-Davis computer science department argues that US citizens are avoiding 'Science Technology Engineering Math' (STEM) careers, because US citizens see those fields as being ruined by massive offshoring and inshoring. 'Despite widely publicized claims that foreign tech workers and scientists represent exceptional ability and are thus vital to American innovation, Matloff called that argument merely "a good sound byte for lobbyists" supporting industry proposals for higher visa caps. The data (PDF), on the other hand, indicate that those admitted are no more able, productive, or innovative than America's homegrown talent, he said.'"

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Halle-freakin-lujah (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35560490)

If it were all about talent, with 95% of the worlds population being from outside the US, we'd see more CEO's dumped for off shore replacements. Its about the money.

Re:Halle-freakin-lujah (1)

MemoryDragon (544441) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560620)

Happens all the time with industries being taken over by foreign companies.
The cycle usually goes like that first offshoring then being outshored...

I disagree (0, Flamebait)

TideX (1908876) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560536)

I think the real problem is, Americans just aren't interested in Science and Technology whatsoever.

Re:I disagree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35560610)

I think the real problem is, Americans just aren't interested in Science and Technology whatsoever.

Don't forget the rash decision making leading any common nitwit to respond "yes I agree" when posed the question: "did you avoid science and math related jobs due to an influx of offshoring and inshoring in those fields?" - likely being confused by words with x's like "influx" and trying to play along to make themselves feel less like a fucking retard. Thank you for wasting more grant money though, good to know the system is still failing the same way.

Re:I disagree (5, Insightful)

hoggoth (414195) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560616)

I'm interested in Science and Technology. I'm fascinated and obsessed by it. But I left the programming field 6 years ago when I started losing projects to outsourcers charge 1/10th what I could charge.

Re:I disagree (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35560744)

Same here. I left the US in 2005 to go to Asia where all the jobs are while my Indian buddies stayed in the US and did my old job for half what I was getting paid. Teachers make more than programmers these days.

Re:I disagree (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560994)

That's a bit of hyperbole. In Austin, TX, with a healthy tech community, a dev right out of college makes around $60k a year, depending on the industry. A teacher right out of college makes around $30k, and only gets to $60k after a decade or so.

Re:I disagree (2)

Batmunk2000 (1878016) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560870)

Economics in a global age isn't about dividing up the current pie, it is about making new pies. Just like those that worked in manufacturing for years, we all have to continually adapt. The mindset that is killing America is that wealth is somehow "traded" and is static. The truth is that wealth has to be continually generated by innovators. "Programming" as a skill is more replaceable now than ever because it is much more accessible. Science & Tech workers need to be innovators and business leaders these days.

Re:I disagree (4, Insightful)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560916)

Economics in a global age isn't about dividing up the current pie, it is about making new pies by farming out the baking to the country with the lowest labor costs.


Re:I disagree (-1, Troll)

Batmunk2000 (1878016) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560974)

And who is writing the recipe? You sound like a UAW worker. Nobody says you have to work for these companies... start your own!

Re:I disagree (1)

Kenja (541830) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560896)

He said "Americans", not east/west coast liberal elite book reading types!

Re:I disagree (2)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560912)

Interesting enough though, that was a MBA decision. Save money for short term gains, get big bonuses, but at what cost? How many outsourcing horror stories are there?

Re:I disagree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35560686)

It seems that too many Americans equate science with the BS that Bigfoot UFO Creationists propose. There needs to be in the media a greater sense of what comprises science and what comprises foolishness. We need more Bill Nyes and fewer (insert your favorite nutjob scientist here).

Re:I disagree (1)

g0bshiTe (596213) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560996)

(insert your favorite nutjob scientist here)

Bill Nye or back in the day Mr Wizard []

Re:I disagree (4, Insightful)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560732)

The federal government began an active campaign of destroying the citizen tech workers in the start of the 21st century, after huge economic downturn in 2001 and citizens had huge need for IT jobs. H1B has been system for destroying IT job market for U.S. techs since sept 11, even while noise made about dropping "caps", that was only a third of visas granted if "exempt" categories included. Caps were raised in 2000 to 195,000 from 115,000 and then "dropped" to 65,000 in 2004 BUT "exempt" categories used to pump up total granted number (reapplication, research, etc.)

Total H1B's granted:

2000: 355,000
2001: 331,206
2002: 370,490
2003: 360,498
2004: 387,147 (cap dropped to 65,000 BUT exempt categories pumped up)
2005: 407,917

Result: many IT people completely driven out of the IT industry, while in 2002, for example, 9 out of 10 new IT jobs taken by H1B holders.

There is ongoing huge problem with H1B workers being farmed out to other companies illegally, and visa holders illegally staying on to work elsewhere.

Citation needed (1)

recoiledsnake (879048) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560902)

Do you have citations for your numbers? Seem to be inflated by a lot at first look unless you're double counting extensions, company transfers etc. .

Re:I disagree (4, Insightful)

skaffen42 (579313) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560970)

So here is something I always ask when people complain about H1B workers. You are going to compete against people from India/China/etc. no matter what you do. But would you rather have them in the US, where they have to compete against you while having the same cost of living as you, or while living in their home country where the cost of living is a fraction of that in the US?

Even better, a lot H1Bs go back home after a few years. However, during their time in the US they paid into the social security fund, a benefit they will never be able to claim. Unfair to them, but great for US citizens.

Re:I disagree (5, Insightful)

Fallen Kell (165468) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560750)

Because the people smart enough for it see it as a bad career. Why slave to make 80-100k a year with a Masters degree when you could be making 250-300k as a lawyer....

Re:I disagree (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35560918)

Probably because many IT types would rather burn themselves alive than be a lawyer.

Re:I disagree (5, Informative)

CFTM (513264) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560986)

Uh yeah, so things have changed since the economic downturn and there is a growing body of evidence that suggests a Law degree is about as valuable as a BS in the Arts. Unless you can graduate in the top 10% of your class and are at a prestigious university, you will not be hired as a lawyer these days.

Law firms folded like stacks of cards during the economic downturn but these institutions of higher learning have continued to sell the idea that getting a JD will make you big bucks right out of school. There are even reports of major law programs manipulating their employment numbers by hiring former students to be over-educated paper clerk.

So after three years of law school you're saddled with 150k debt and no means of paying it back....sound investment!

If you want a return on investment, go get an MBA :P

Blog source [] so take it for what it's worth,

Re:I disagree (4, Insightful)

metlin (258108) | more than 3 years ago | (#35561006)

And that is the problem. On some level, people replaced passion with monetary incentive. Now don't get me wrong -- I understand all too well the importance of incentives.

However, the greatest works in the arts and the sciences were the result of passionate people working on something because they felt a calling, not because they are worried about making a few grand more.

And I say this as someone who has been contemplating going back to school for a PhD because at the end of the day, I'm tired of the rat race. I had the chance to do it when I was younger, but I had my blinders on, and only cared about short term happiness (as measured by money, no less). Today, after having been through the grind, I just know that it's not worth it to give up your passions for short-term compromise because you will never be truly happy.

Re:I disagree (1)

Cragen (697038) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560796)

^This. I am a geek. My wife is a geek. We make ridiculously good money being geeks. Our college age kids, in spite of our joy of playing with pcs, programming, etc., never, ever wanted to study programming, or even any other science. My kids are English and PoliSci majors. I have no idea why. To each his own, I guess. They are lucky, I suppose, to have that choice and the brains to take advantage of the opportunity. Oh, well.

Re:I disagree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35560968)

What do you and your wife do to earn ridiculously good money? I'm genuinely interested.

Fixed that for you (5, Insightful)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560816)

I think the real problem is, Americans aren't interested in Science and Technology careers that lead them to a lifetime of poverty for themselves and their families.

It's about the money. The rest is BS media hyped fantasy. When I can use my brain to become a doctor, lawyer, or financier or any high paying skill which can't be outsourced, why would I bother pursuing a career where my skills can, and inevitably will, be outsourced?


Nobody is interested in science and technology (2, Interesting)

Chemisor (97276) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560846)

Correction: all people are generally uninterested in science and technology. Americans are no worse than the rest of the world. In those countries in Asia where most of those H1Bs come from people are not interested either; they are interested in passing the test and getting the job. Tech jobs pay more than sweatshops, there is a tradition for test taking (especially in China), and their parents make them. Once they pass the test and get the job, they stop caring and become just like everybody else.

Re:I disagree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35560848)

I see your disagree and raise you a "NOT ON YOUR LIFE!"

Everyone I know is interested in science because geek is the new sheek. There is not a lack of interest in science there is just a lack of companies that are willing to pay educated workers what they are worth. This is part of the reason so many companies are suffering. They hire under educated workers, with little to no experience, that appear to know what they are doing because they can get them on the cheap. Not to mention the companies that are willing to pay educated workers what they are worth (i.e. Google, Tesla, Facebook, Ebay) only have so many open positions so the compitition is very high.

Re:I disagree (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560988)

I think you mean "chic". (It's French.)

"It's a damn poor mind that can only think of one way to spell a word." -- Andrew Jackson

try work with possibility of exceeding 40 hours (1, Troll)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560868)

and you would be closer. Yeah its not fun but many of use do cross forty regularly. Then after a few years these who do their best to not cross forty bitch that they aren't getting anywhere or getting good money and think its unfair I do. Nothing anyone can do can convince them of what the difference was because they don't want to hear it.

ESPN, NCAA, and Dancing with the Stars, are areas where most excel, ask them about yesterday's meeting and they would know less that what happened three weeks ago on American Idol

Re:I disagree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35560892)

Not true.

Americans are interested in USING Science and Technology. Just not developing it. This of course ignores the fairly broad hobbyist/hacker market that is making up for the lack of creativity currently plaguing the sector.

One of the more glaring problems that's getting largely ignored by the mass media (due to combined ownership), is that Corporations, by use of DMCA, Copyright, and Patents, want technology to progress at their desired pace rather than what we, the Science/Tech inclined, are pushing it into.

I mean, the fraking 'Kinect' was used in the Operating Room for image manipulation during surgery! You're telling me that Seimens, GE, or $medical-instrumentation-co isn't going to go file for a patent on something similar? Hell! It's probably been on file for 10 years now, before it ever happened in the first place.

Re:I disagree (3, Insightful)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560964)

Our public education system does a terrible job at showing how math is relevant. I know I'm in the turned off crowd. Even having taken math all the way through AP Calculus in high school, I never had a teacher that could show me the relevance of trig or calculus. 9th grade geometry was about the most relevant thing I had as a teenager.

So much better.... (4, Interesting)

bat21 (1467681) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560542)

I hear plenty of arguments from friends as to how "college is completely unnecessary". Yeah, have fun working at McDonalds for the next 60 years. Better to have problems finding a job than to have no skills at all.

Re:So much better.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35560586)

Tell that to Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, or Mark is for grinds...only Asians seem to believe in higher education, anymore...

Re:So much better.... (4, Insightful)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560646)

Ah yes, let's take the exception and make it the rule!

Re:So much better.... (3, Insightful)

w_dragon (1802458) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560716)

Not sure about Jobs, but Gates and Zuckerberg both completed a fair bit of college before dropping out to run their businesses.

Re:So much better.... (1)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560858)

Which is why "Asians" are taking over the world economy and we'll soon spend our lives in the shadow of their might empire.

Re:So much better.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35560614)

I'm a college dropout with a 6 figure salary... perhaps I am an anomaly, but something to consider.

Re:So much better.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35560634)

college is unnecessary for many careers, though Universities don't want you to know that. Sure, some careers are really only possible with a formal education (doctor being the best example), but most careers can also be taught through internship and on the job training, provided the individual is willing to study and take possible certifications on their own.

Computer science/programming is a field that does not require a degree. Get an internship for peanuts pay, work hard to learn from those around you, and you will come out ahead after 4 years instead of $100k+ in debt.

Re:So much better.... (2)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560810)

In theory, sure.

In practice, a lot of companies will not talk to you without a degree. A person who knows anything technical will never see your resume -- HR will look for a degree, not see one, and delete/shred it a long time before that.

If you're the kind of person with an entreprenurial bent/talent to start your own company, that probably won't matter. If you're most people, it definitely will. This is much more true in any kind of economic downturn or recession.

Re:So much better.... (3, Informative)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560812)

Computer science/programming

Computer science != programming. Programming does not require a degree. I've been doing it since I was 7, and by Highschool I was fairly competent. Through my computer science degree I didn't learn to much more about programming, but I gained the mathematical and theoretical background to actually understand what I was doing, and more importantly, extend what has already been done.

Re:So much better.... (4, Insightful)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560728)

Yeah, have fun working at McDonalds for the next 60 years.

Don't you think it rather depends on the person? Let's say I'm going to start a landscaping business. Do you think I should blow $50,000 and 4 years on a degree in something, or should I put together a business plan and buy some equipment?

Granted, courses like accounting 101 will help out any business owner - but those can be taken anywhere, even online.

I went to college and feel that the rest of the "college experience" was valuable to me. But while I was in college, one of my friends was making $60k/year managing a stockyard, and this is in the mid 90s. I came out of school with over $40k in debt - he had a house.

Sure, 15+ years on I now make more than he does, my debt is paid off, and he's still doing the same thing, and he is back to square one if the place ever closes. But he was never going to be an engineer, no matter how much schooling he had. He's doing pretty well, he got into the real estate market almost a decade before me, and his house is 1/3 paid off.

In short, different strokes for different folks...

Re:So much better.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35560788)

College teaches skills?

And what about the mountain of debt? Have fun living with your parents and making payments on your 20k college loans along with your 10k car loan and 2k in credit cards. (all below the averages from '07-'09)

Re:So much better.... (1)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560872)

If it's fair for you to assume that the only way to get a college education is to take on more debt than is wise, it's fair for me to assume that people with no college education can only ever work as cashiers at McDonalds.

People do actually graduate college debt-free or close to it, believe it or not, though that does require some different choices than most make.

Re:So much better.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35560940)

This is one of those "it depends" comments.

If you're looking at Medicine, Law, Education or Engineering, college is mandatory. If you're some green nub with no background or experience in your chosen field, some form of higher education is mandatory, at least if you can't pull an internship somewhere.

But if you're competent and willing to work your balls off, there are many many avenues of success which don't give a shit what your educational background is.

Personally, I got a recommend from my high-school comp-sci teacher which scored me an internship as an IT grunt as a small consulting firm. I spent 3 months unpaid with them, then moved into a paid (min wage) internship with a large company. Spent a year with them, and joined a small outfit as a Net Admin. Worked my ass off with them, learnt a ton of database administration and development. While working with them, volunteered a ton in my community & was elected as a City Councilor. Served my term, moved into an IT Management role where I still get to do DBA work as well. Am currently teaching myself VB (as I'll need it for a project here starting 2012).

All with only a High School diploma. Although I admit I'm currently working towards 30 credits in Public Administration (just started) for nothing but a foot in the door to leverage my political life with my management experience to move into a CAO role at a municipality. But even there, that will be without a college diploma...just a 1-year Certificate.

The average moron we went to high school with could never pull this shit off...but quite frankly most of them couldn't pull off what I have WITH a 4-year diploma and $100K in debt. Not trying to say I'm special either...I just worked my fucking ass off instead of spending 4 years in school.

Re:So much better.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35560944)

Trade schools exist too, you know.... Don't need an MS to become a plumber(a worthy profession).

Re:So much better.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35560950)

I am a Jr. Applications Developer at 19 with no college making a very nice paycheck for my work history, college isn't everything.

Sucks (4, Insightful)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560556)

Maybe if they would actually hire STEM people it would help. Ive been looking for a job for 6 months with a MS in Applied Math (signal processing / computational math) and a 3.65 GPA (not super impressive, but I give out my transcript anyway). Nowadays in America, you get MBA's and Finance majors getting all the high paying jobs, and an MBA is a notoriously easy degree to get. I know several people that laugh about how easy it was to get their MBA, because all they did was get drunk, skip class, and screw hookers all the time.

Re:Sucks (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35560588)

People who make money for a company get jobs. Period. It doesn't matter how easy their degree was, what matters is the bottom line.

Re:Sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35560622)

Not true. People who are perceived by the level of management above them as making money for the company get jobs. Perception does not ordinarily match reality.

Re:Sucks (3, Insightful)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560664)

Yeah, and scientists make money for companies too. They are responsible for intellectual property, trade secrets, and infrastructure. Finance majors may contribute something, but MBAs do nothing a senior engineer / scientist could do. Its a joke degree unless you do it later in your career, such as an engineer going back for his MBA so he can transfer to a management position over less senior engineers. The problem with America is people put too much weight on worthless professions like lawyers, and stock market investors. They produce nothing by themselves, they are only good at legally stealing money from one person and putting it in their own pocket.

Lawyers and investors (2)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 3 years ago | (#35561002)

Sorry, but law and business analysis are not worthless, though there are many people who are bad at them. There are bad engineers, doctors and scientists too who somehow do well professionally.

Without law, you have Mafia economics, settling conflict with guns. Without investment advice, how do you get money for your good idea?

Re:Sucks (5, Funny)

sribe (304414) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560606)

...because all they did was get drunk, skip class, and screw hookers all the time.

Perhaps if you'd worked as hard at training for your future job as they did, you'd be employed too ;-)

Re:Sucks (1, Informative)

commodore6502 (1981532) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560662)

>>>you get MBA's and Finance majors getting all the high paying jobs,

Things changed after the second depression hit. They are not finding jobs, and believe me, they aren't laughing anymore about their "drank my way through college" days. I know one guy who went *back* to being a technician because he was laid-off from his high-paying finance job.

Re:Sucks (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35560894)

Hey, screwing hookers is backbreaking work!!!

In other words ... (5, Interesting)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560562)

The laws of supply and demand still operate: If you want great STEM workers, then you need to pay for them. If you aren't getting as many as you'd like, increase the amount you're willing to pay them, or improve working conditions, until you get them.

That said, the reason that many US employers prefer foreign labor over US labor have nothing to do with the costs, and everything to do with foreign labor having less ability to go find another job when they get mistreated.

Re:In other words ... (1)

Batmunk2000 (1878016) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560712)

My experience has been mostly with workers in Malaysia. I have found them to be extremely capable and knowledgeable. They are no more "stuck" at a job than we are. In fact, it is pretty difficult to find someone there willing to stay put for more than a couple years. The different countries have cultural oddities too. In India it seemed like people wanted to work for large recognizable companies.

Re:In other words ... (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560890)

That says more about the work conditions than anything else. I would personally prefer to work for the same company for the rest of my career. The problem is that most companies don't give out raises sufficient to keep up any more, and if you want to get your fair value you're stuck hopping from job to job every few years. And that's assuming that the company even follows relevant pay and safety regulations. I quit my previous job because it was getting more and more dangerous and they weren't even bothering to ensure that my paycheck was right.

Re:In other words ... (2)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560766)

Right these guys know they could never pass directive 10-289 so this is the next best thing.

Re:In other words ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35560888)

I saw this first hand at a company I used to work for. We had a number of foreign engineers that the company had gotten for cheaper than they'd have to pay Americans and it was all because they have those visa workers by the balls. They would do make them work 12 hour days and assign them each the work of three men and yet pay them not even 2/3 what I was getting. They were not very good engineers either, and being so overworked only made the quality of their work even worse.

I wasn't sorry to leave when my contract ended and I really felt sorry for those guys. I figure the only reason the company had hired me for full pay in the first place was because one of those guys had managed to find a better company and left so suddenly that they immediately needed to bring someone in who was skilled enough to finish the project he had left half-finished. Once that was done they tried to get rid of me as fast as possible so they could bring in another guy on a visa that they could put on a leash.

Re:In other words ... (1)

recoiledsnake (879048) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560946)

That said, the reason that many US employers prefer foreign labor over US labor have nothing to do with the costs, and everything to do with foreign labor having less ability to go find another job when they get mistreated.

That's why Norman's arguments for not increasing permanent visa numbers doesn't make any sense. If these workers don't wait for decades for green cards, the employers will have less leeway on them and will make it far easier to switch jobs thus leveling the playing field.

Does it matter what reasoning lobbyists have? (3, Insightful)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560568)

Lobbyists have a motive,"To get people to do what they want", then they'll make up the words that sound as reasonably sounding to a regular Joe to make it sound like it is in his best interest. No matter how awful the thing someone wants to do, I'm sure they can always make a bullshit reason why it is in everyone's best interest. It doesn't matter they have a,"sound byte", they can do this stuff in their sleep.

Re:Does it matter what reasoning lobbyists have? (4, Informative)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560578)

Same goes for marketers. No matter how awful your product is, they can find "some study, somewhere" that has something vaguely positive to say. For instance, I'm not sure if you caught it recently, but Lucky Charms was being touted as a health food.

Re:Does it matter what reasoning lobbyists have? (1)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560692)

Well, it is probably healthier than starving since its a fortified cereal.

Re:Does it matter what reasoning lobbyists have? (5, Insightful)

causality (777677) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560900)

Same goes for marketers. No matter how awful your product is, they can find "some study, somewhere" that has something vaguely positive to say. For instance, I'm not sure if you caught it recently, but Lucky Charms was being touted as a health food.

It reminds me of those toothpaste commercials that say "9 out of 10 dentists recommend our brand X!" What they don't say is that maybe they interviewed hundreds of dentists in groups of ten until they finally found a group out of which nine preferred brand X. I have little respect for mainstream marketers because they spend so much time and effort and money exploring the myriad ways one can use deception without technically lying.

I've posted it here a few times and it's still relevant. This is a good quote about the subject:

Television lies. All television lies. It lies persistently, instinctively and by habit. Everyone involved lies. A culture of mendacity surrounds the
medium, and those who work there live it, breath it and prosper by it. I know of no area of public life -- no, not even politics -- more saturated by
a professional cynicism. If you want a word that takes you to the core of it, I would offer rigged. it dishonest for the presenter to imply that the pundit in the chair is free to offer any opinion, when the truth is that fifty pundits were
telephoned, but only the fellow prepared to offer the requisite opinion was invited?

-- Matthew Parris

Many people are far too easily impressed by the official look and larger-than-life appearance of whatever is given a slick presentation, especially on TV. It distracts them from any serious thought about how and why the show was produced and who benefits from its message.

I'd say the other dimension of the problem is that knowing the right people is a much better way to advance than having the right skills. Because of that, what we have is far from a meritocracy. What we have is a collection of many small examples of cronyism. Having malleable principles and a willingness to wholeheartedly adopt the agenda of whoever your gatekeeper may be are the traits we most highly reward and encourage. That's part of why so many high-level managers are sociopaths, because such people feel no guilt about being completely phony and have no conflict about putting on a show solely to win the approval of others.

That and "globalism" and "free trade" always seems to mean "transfer wealth away from the US". It is not the mutual trade and prosperity that was sold to us when NAFTA and other proposals were getting off the ground.

Re:Does it matter what reasoning lobbyists have? (5, Interesting)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560736)

>>>they'll make up the words that sound as reasonably sounding to a regular Joe to make it sound like it is in his best interest.

This is why I quit the IEEE. In the early 2000s they kept sending-out newsletters about how we need the Government to allow more Visas for imported workers, and keep America competitive. And I believed them, until I stopped to think - "More workers == more competition when I go looking for a new job. Why would I want that???"

That's when I realized IEEE was lobbying for the Corporations, not the the electrical engineers they supposedly represented. So I quit renewing my membership.

Re:reason (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560854)

Eat a child today! After all, he'll die of starvation out in Africa, so end his misery!

Thanks, Professor! (2)

snspdaarf (1314399) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560574)

Now, if you could just start a multi-billion dollar company and put your words into action.

More reasons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35560592)

Not to mention they can make 10x the money in the financial sector.

Imported workers == negative wage pressure (2, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560600)

It's not about quality. Foreign workers are no better than Americans.

Corporations push for imported people, because it keeps overall US wages low. Else US engineers/scientists could demand $200,000 and get it. Having cheap imported workers keeps the salaries lower, and saves Microsoft, Lockheed, etc money.

So ? What would be any different if (0)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560630)

All those students who were staying away from STEM, instead enrolled in STEM, and there had been no offshoring/inshoring ?

They would just drive down their salary and youth would still stay away from STEM.

How do i know ? this is exactly what happened in my country in a duration of 20 years in regard to major technical disciplines. We had no inshoring/offshoring and so on.

In america's case, there is inshoring/offshoring, and the critical mass of people who drive down wages are produced by inshoring/offshoring, instead of the americans themselves flocking to those disciplines and driving down.

ALL the difference in between the two is, american universities had not made big bucks over students' enrollment fees during this process, like what happened in my country.

And from my experience, let me tell you ; there is no difference in between the two, from the perspective of us, the students/people/employees. (of course, unless you are an employee or owner of an education institution who was going to make big bucks over agonizing students' fees)

Re:So ? What would be any different if (1)

RiddleofSteel (819662) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560814)

Sorry I don't see how more STEM students in the U.S. could possibly drive down salary more then thousands of offshored people working for a fraction of the salary as someone in the US. Jut look at U.S. Lawyers to see that over abundance of students doesn't mean lower salaries if they are all in the U.S..

Re:So ? What would be any different if (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560942)

The difference is that it would reach a natural equilibrium. A lot of the workers coming in from other parts of the world are being shipped in specifically because they can afford to work for less than what a citizen could. Which is a really substantial problem, you can only afford to lower your wage expectations so far before you're looking at bankruptcy.

Plus, it's a lot harder to manage the education system if you don't know how much demand theirs going to be for a given occupation in the future. It's hard enough without having to predict how many people are going to be brought in to depress wages.

Read between the lines (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35560632)

That outcry sounds like "we have to pay too much salary, we have to get more competition an thus lower salaries."

the problem is the reverse (4, Interesting)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560678)

foreign geniuses come to study here, our colleges are well-respected, and are interested in setting up shops after college that could employ 100-300 americans in 5-10 years. but because of rabid anti-immigrant american hysteria, they are deluged with harrowing residency/ citizenship requirements that are intended to turn away seasonal farm workers, and are forced to go home, where those companies of the future grow instead

frankly, protectionism is moronic. even when packaged in the stilted round about way this stupid story packages it

go ahead and man the borders and prevent the poor immigrants if it makes you happy. but if you force the geniuses to go home after studying college in the usa, you are throwing away hundreds of thousands of jobs in the companies of the future

we are a nation of immigrants. we always have been, unless you are native american. so enough with the protectionist stupidity. no matter how lamely you package the failed ideology, its still a failed way of thinking that ultimately only hurts the usa

Re:the problem is the reverse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35560886)

foreign geniuses come to study here, our colleges are well-respected, and are interested in setting up shops after college that could employ 100-300 americans in 5-10 years.

If we let them stay here, as you suggest, why would they hire Americans when they could hire more people from their home country instead, and bring them over (because we just made it easier for them to stay, as you suggested)? Other cultures assist each other, unlike Americans.

The real solution is not to let these "foreign geniuses" come to our universities in the first place.

Re:the problem is the reverse (2)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560906)

I'd hardly characterize the asian/indian students in my graduate and undergraduate institutions as geniuses. They were bright kids to be sure, but the only thing that set them apart from me was the color of their skin. If anything, I'd say they were fundamentally lacking in academic ethics. It got so bad my graduate school had to institute a course to teach incoming foreign students that copying passages verbatim without attribution is plagiarism and not acceptable. This is something every American student has been taught since elementary school, but is completely lost on foreign students.

Re:the problem is the reverse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35560930)

foreign geniuses come to study here, our colleges are well-respected, and are interested in setting up shops after college that could employ 100-300 americans XXXXXXXXXXXXXX 500-1000 of their relatives back home in 5-10 years. And pay the whole lot less than half the cost of 300 Americans

There. Fixed that for ya.

Re:the problem is the reverse (5, Funny)

arivanov (12034) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560934)

Quoting an old Russian joke (from one of their best stand-up comedians):

An American University is a strange entity where Russian professors teach Chinese students a technical discipline in English language.

Re:the problem is the reverse (1)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560962)

You know that's actually an interesting perspective I hadn't considered before. My job is actually a product of just such a person, an Iranian actually. Good thing we're now isolating and persecuting such terrorist states/people.

Re:the problem is the reverse (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560980)

we are a nation of immigrants. we always have been, unless you are native american.

I hate that statement. Their ancestors immigrated here just the same as ours, they just came earlier.

Re:the problem is the reverse (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35560990)

lol talk about off topic and bias. Let me some point you or a friend were turned down for citizenship and now you have a chip on your shoulder about immigration laws. Good for you but spew your bias when it relates to the actual topic.

All those offshore companies where the outsourcing is going is due to rejection of "foreign geniuses" from our country. HAHAHAHA Riiight.

It couldn't possibly have anything to do with the demand of cheap labor by the companies doing the outsourcing. Or the value of the local economy in those countries. Or the ability to hire 4 people there vs 1 here for the same amount. No no, its due to the rejection of the foreign geniuses who created those companies. You know the companies that only make there money from outsourced jobs. What geniuses to invent such a company!?!?! lol.

Lets get real those "genius companies" commodity is mass labor on the cheap. It doesn't take a genius to create such a company and it doesn't take a genius who went to school in the states either. All it takes is a willingness to live on nothing and the ability to live on nothing. Which in there case is very easy given the economies they live in.

Get on topic or take your bias and shove it.

Parasitic class overtaking STEM (5, Insightful)

Spy Handler (822350) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560696)

I see this all the time. The bright kids today are going into law or the financial industry, because that's where all the money is. Why bother working your ass off in school studying hard subjects that involve math, when you can party your way through school, get a law degree or something in financial mumbo-jumbo, and make 3 times as much working for Merril Lynch? Not to mention not worrying about having your job shipped to India or China.

In any sane society this kind of imbalance would be corrected by the rulers. However in our current society the lawyers and the financial industry owns - oops I mean make "campaign contributions" and "lobbies" - the government, so they have all the power.

I can't really see anything good in the future for a society where a parasitic class, which produces nothing of value, is given such an overwhelming priority over the productive classes.

Re:Parasitic class overtaking STEM (3, Informative)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560820)

This was my point exactly in an earlier post, though I did not say it as eloquently as you. I have a MS in math and I can't find work. I apply to numerous jobs, I try to do everything Im supposed to do including following up, sending transcripts, etc. but I never get a call back. When I peer over to the other side of the wall (i.e. finance/MBA jobs) Im seeing more of them and higher pay. Finance isn't easy but its easier than math and finance produces nothing, whereas at least math can be used to build bridges that won't collapse, compute the most efficient design for wings, etc.

Re:Parasitic class overtaking STEM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35560938)

er - a maths degree can't be used to build bridges that won't collapse. you'd need to be civil engineering degree for that. Perhaps you're applying for jobs you're not qualified for....

Re:Parasitic class overtaking STEM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35560876)

Your facts are dated. I have a law degree, and I'm working as a software engineer. Most of my classmates are either working crap temp jobs, or are doing crap legal work for long hours at little pay, knowing that there are a hundred jobless attorneys standing outside the door wanting to take their job.


Why Work When You Can (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35560718)

smoke pot [] ?

Illiterate, innumerate 'Mericans !

Yours In Ufa,
Kilgore Trout

US wants higher pay and less school (4, Insightful)

mschaffer (97223) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560742)

Dr. Matloff's assertion is utter crap! US students aren't pursuing "STEM" careers because one needs to pay a fortune in college tuition to make a mediocre salary. Why bother? Also, nerdy "STEM" careers aren't cool/trendy/whatever.

US culture doesn't value "STEM" careers. Why should US citizens go against their own culture?

Here's what I don't understand (5, Insightful)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560746)

Typical conservative POV:
1. American exceptionalism
2. American exceptionalism redux -- we're so freakin' awesome, God's chosen people etc
3. Strong on national defense
4. Self-reliance
5. Sloppy kisses for capitalism
6. Strong support for the average folk (working people who work for their money)
7. Everything that's wrong with this country starts and ends with liberals and they're the ones trying to tear it apart from the inside because the black filth of communism is pumping through their veins

Well, the reality is that America's not all that special. We're being torn apart from the inside in end-stage capitalism where we cease to exploit internal markets and are now cannibalizing ourselves to support the credit binge.

I would tend to think that a strong national defense begins with a strong national economy. We wouldn't need to be engaging in all these wars in the middle east if we didn't need their oil. Viable alternative power like solar and wind would do more to secure our nation than fleets of F-22's.

I understand why that sort of thing isn't happening. I just don't understand why these people are too blind to see it. Gay marriage is a threat to the American family? Fuck, no! Two parents having to work 60 hours a week to put food on the table is destroying the American family. Pay enough so that one job-holder can support a full-time parent who stays at home and you'll make one hell of a start towards saving the family. And how about some goddamn affordable health care? No, we can't have health care but we can ban abortion and that's being pro-life. Wait, what?

I just can't understand how myopic people are. It's like those seniors marching at the townhall meetings carrying signs saying "Government: hands off my medicare!"

Big Balls (0)

TheTyrannyOfForcedRe (1186313) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560748)

Check out the big balls on Dr. Norman Matloff! It's great that he is brave enough to stand up and acknowledge the elephant in the room. I hope he manages to keep strong. He will doubtlessly be subjected to accusations of xenophobia, racism, etc. as a result of his speaking out. Meanwhile, Gates wants more 401's because "American schools suck."

"Sound 'byte'"? (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560762)

I know that current policy communications massively favors the short, low-content, high-impact format known as "sound bite"... but really, compressing your message to 8 bits is just too much. You can't even get much (acoustic) noise out of one measly octet, let alone anything resembling spin, hype, or fearmongery.

H-1B is sweet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35560768)

Employers can treat immigrants almost like slaves. U.S. citizens can enjoy working alongside and with "slave" labor.

Why don't you get a job? (2)

mukund (163654) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560776)

It's not all about top-notch brains. It's also about many not-so-clever brains at lesser salary. This was the reason why US companies hired foreign labor, and this is the reason why thanks to the H1B caps, companies are happy to go east to other countries.

Most CEOs (especially American CEOs) don't care about how well it will be for the company 10 years down the line. They care about the next quarter.

More and more jobs are global now in computer science. If there is a programming job, it can be had anywhere in this world, not just in America.

Plus, isn't America so well off thanks to migrants? Who invented your rockets and your bombs near in the past as 50 years ago? Who makes your microprocessors? Suddenly, you want to stop immigration and be protectionist?

This professor needs to stop dining and think a little.

OTOH, there's the big problem of Indian companies gobbling up H1B slots like it was property.. but that's a different problem. There's also the problem of poor quality labour --- programmers who can't code, thanks to sneaky HRs and those who undercut salary, fire the good programmers and hire the cheap ones. It looks good this quarter, but they'll soon find out. Again, this has nothing to do with migration.

Here, we have Biotech, Commerce students recruited into the CS industry. "Don't worry we'll train you in 4 weeks."

Why? Because we can sell this to the western company whose CEO is more than eager to pick up this plate because it's cheaper.

Imagine if a CS worker were hired in an airline as a pilot (Don't worry we'll train you in 4 weeks), or *shudder* as a surgeon. Quality programming is harder and needs more experience than all this.

In the end, the Indian programmers who actually studied CS and are good at what they do get a bad name on Slashdot and elsewhere, cause they're a part of the lot.

Brains drained before career decisions made (4, Interesting)

Nethemas the Great (909900) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560780)

As far as I can tell brains are being drained well before anyone starts considering career choices. The sciences are losing, they have been for a good long time. US culture is being groomed away from hard work. We're about being "social" and "amused." I suspect too much focus for too long has been given to providing for a "better life for our children" that the value of maximum effort, and striving has been lost on the last two, probably three generations. Our predecessors have largely achieved their goals of eliminating backbreaking physical labor but no one bothered to keep the momentum of effort moving into the intellectual realm as we've transitioned away from manual labor. Asia knows that it must out think, out innovate to compete with the west and they've been relentless in their pursuit. Time is running out for the western world. Already it may be too late.

In the words of that well known role model... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35560830)

Math class is tough! []

CS Jobs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35560838)

No worries. As a relatively recent Computer Science graduate from a respectable university with a high gpa I have been unable to find employment. Seems everyone wants experienced professionals with a masters degree, and/or security clearances however no one wants to give that experience or go through the clearance process. Needless to say it has been extremely frustrating. Nothing like giving away our jobs onshore to help benefit those off it.

Count me among the disenchanted.

That is the wrong way round. (1)

ciderbrew (1860166) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560852)

Most of the anecdotal yap I hear in England would be about top people leaving here to go make money in the US. It can't all be outward. Where are these people ending up? Does anyone have a story about an Indian leaving their call centre and making it big in the US?

Right On! (1)

curmudgeon99 (1040054) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560856)

Wow! I could not have said it better. A good sound byte by the lobbyists with lots of cash.

The USA has a culural bias against good education (5, Interesting)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560860)

'Despite widely publicized claims that foreign tech workers and scientists represent exceptional ability and are thus vital to American innovation, Matloff called that argument merely "a good sound byte for lobbyists'

I hate to say this, but it's true -- sure, there are a few scholastic stars that come out of the USA education system, but the majority of students aren't being pushed (or pushing) themselves to excel. In fact, many do a little as possible to just barely cruise through high school, those that apply themselves and work hard are often teased and goaded for working hard -- and I'm not just talking about the traditional geeks, but that guy on the track team is also called out for sutyding too hard and missing out on the after-school party with the boys.

There's no stigma to not doing well in high school -- or even dropping out. Parents hold much of this responsibility - sure, public schools are lacking, but the drive to succeed in school comes from home. Many parents can't even be bothered to see that their elementary school students complete required homework - and they'll make excuses for it "Oh, that takes too much time, Sally needs time to play" -- for an hour long assignment that was assigned a week ago. Of course, when a parent doesn't have a high school education it's hard for him/her to see the value of a good education, and harder still to help instill good study habits when they don't know what a good study habit is.

In contrast, school in Japan (to use one example) is highly competitive - students know that if they don't do well in high school they aren't going to get into their college of choice (which means a high paying job), and may not even get into a college at all are are relegated to trade school. This pressure starts early in their school life - by 7th or 8th grade a student better be on a college track or he/she is not going to make it. The school hours are long, with Saturday schooldays not being unheard of. Parents in turn push their children to do well in school.

I'm not saying that the Japanese culture is better, but I am saying that it produces better students. If a culture pushes 80% of its kids to excel at school, they are going to produce many more scientists and engineers than one that pushes 10% of its kids to excel, even if it only has 1/3 the population. And that's just one country -- if the USA is importing some of the best and brightest students in the world, then those imports are going to make up a significant portion of USA talent.

"The data"... really? (2)

Ecuador (740021) | more than 3 years ago | (#35560952)

"The data" is a BAD 150+ slide presentation which might be tolerable as a lecture background, but it is certainly nothing close to being as readable as is. Perhaps a link to an actual Paper?
At least the article filename is interesting "an-internal-bra.html"... ;)

Anyway, my personal experience at a US top-30 CS grad school can add a data point: The CS undergrads were mostly US students. Of those, even the best ones most often did not go on to grad school, since they could find a good and well-paying job without the grad school hassle. That left around 5 US students in our grad program along with several dozen Asian students and quite a few other of assorted ethnicity. From this I got the feeling (which agrees with what other people from the CS field either in academia or the workplace tell me) that there is a demand for CS workers, so US citizens get absorbed easily, and there is also a demand for highly skilled CS workers for which US citizens that go into the trouble of getting the extra skills are too few to fill it, thus foreigners are hired, who are probably not smarter than the good US students that could go to grad school but did not.
I don't know if this translates to other science fields though...

Another Cause (5, Interesting)

Bob9113 (14996) | more than 3 years ago | (#35561000)

> US citizens see those fields as being ruined by massive offshoring and inshoring.

Another cause I have been researching -- increasing income concentration. While the common perception is that the high end of the software engineering pay scale is in the "rich" category, and hence are beneficiaries of increasing income concentration, the data speaks otherwise.

I have extracted the income data from the IRS-SOI going back to 1950. The increasing concentration since the mid-to-late 1970s (it started prior to Reagan -- initially caused by the falling dollar and the failure to adjust the tax brackets) has gone almost exclusively to the top 0.5%, and even there is skewed heavily upward. This has not only affected software engineers, but also entrepreneurs, small to medium enterprise executives, starting to mid-level investment bankers, and a whole host of others who fit the traditional perception of those who benefit from concentration.

The result, of course, is that anyone who has a sufficiently strong, broad skill set (like understanding engineering and business) has a significant financial motive to go to a fortune 500 and climb the corporate ladder. This is great for the Fortune 500s, as it increases the internal competition for promotion. It has, however, been harmful to smaller enterprises and high skill labor (like software engineers).

The complaints of a shortage of US engineers are not entirely unfounded, but it is our tax policy and the resulting shifts in income distribution -- not greater engineering skill in foreign countries -- that is causing it. Our talent can easily see where the money is and there is a direct impact on career path. For those from less advantaged countries, the engineer/entrepreneur payscale looks great, despite the fact that within our country it (along with everyone below the engineer/entrepreneur level, though I might argue that below P30 there is another factor at work -- but I digress) it has been relatively inhibited for the past 35 years or so.

Just another piece of the puzzle. Check out IRS-SOI -- great data to play with.

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