Hillary Tech: US STEM Students Don’t Matter

In her technology agenda (which you can read on her own web site) Hillary Clinton gives the nation’s technology moguls, hedge funds, and teacher’s unions everything they could want: billions of dollars for technology research, internet expansion, and computer science education.  Then she gives US graduate students in STEM subjects a big slap in the face.  She wants to give green cards to foreign STEM graduate students along with their diplomas.  That’s right, green cards!  These aren’t the non-immigrant H1B work visas that allow a foreign worker to work for one company; these cards grant permanent resident status with a path to citizenship.

So, how does this hurt US graduate students?  A permanent resident can apply for any job with any company, anywhere, any time.  That puts foreign graduates in direct competition for the best jobs with US graduates, and once in the job line they’ll probably get favorable treatment.  This competition is globalism at it’s worst.  It’s inherently unfair, one reason being that there’s no reciprocity with other countries.  A US student couldn’t get an MS in Computer Science in Canada, for example, and expect to be granted automatic residency.  The result will be that US students, already burdened with the heaviest debt, will be relegated to the lower paying, less challenging jobs.

How can anyone who wants to be president of the US suggest establishing a completely open global job market in the US?  Globalists like Soros must be cheering.  Hillary shouldn’t be elected, and if you’re a STEM student or have students in college you now have a good reason to not vote for her.  She’s working for Wall Street, not for you, regardless of what her signs say.

There is an alternative: the H1B visa program.  While I’m opposed to employers using the H1B visa system to replace experienced US professionals I recognize that this program has a legitimate purpose in allowing employers to fill necessary jobs that are unfilled by US citizens.  If the H1B visa regulations were strengthened to protect US citizens as I suggested in “Does STEM Matter Any More” we could balance the needs of technology employers with the right of US STEM graduates to be at the front of the employment lines.

 

A vote for Hillary is a vote against US students.

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Opportunity Knocks. Quick, Bar the Door!

The USA currently has an opportunity to secure it’s position as a world leader in technology and industry while securing the future of it’s workers.  Opportunity is knocking and the Federal government is refusing to answer.

When I wrote “Jobs for America, Starting Today” I was looking at two regional industries, one that has been running a successful apprenticeship program for over a century and another that recently partnered with a community college to develop a skilled workforce.  Now this trend is spreading.  Honda America is establishing a program to interest students in manufacturing jobs and develop the workforce of the future, Starbucks is offering it’s employees college scholarships, and we can expect other businesses to step up.  For those who think manufacturing is just for machinists and mechanics, remember that modern manufacturing also requires engineers, computer programmers, quality control experts, logistics specialists, and industrial safety and health professionals.  The best way the Federal government could help is to Get Out of the Way.  Businesses need skilled employees, colleges need qualified students, but neither needs a government middleman to broker the deals.  Neither needs the “strings” that come with government “help” either.  Here’s how the Feds can get out of the way.

Reform and simplify the corporate tax code.  Lower the tax rate while cutting “corporate welfare” to ensure that tax breaks benefit everyone, not just the top executives.

Implement my “PARA” plan for repatriating overseas  earnings in a way that will create jobs here at home while helping the environment as businesses can use that money to  improve energy efficiency.

As millions of Baby Boomers retire their knowledge must be passed to the next generation.  Encourage businesses to offer transitional employment such are part time work to retiring employees so that new employees can benefit from their experience.  In most cases it’s a win-win proposition.  Reform the individual tax code too to help all employees.

Abolish the Medical Device Tax immediately.  It hurts everyone: patients, providers, and businesses that save lives.  Medical technology is a growing field that requires multi-disciplinary professionals, and one in which this country excels, so keep these businesses here and growing.

Cut excess overhead by eliminating requirements for endless reports that no one looks at, then cut the bureaucrats who asked for them.

Stop flooding the country with unskilled immigrants.  A tight labor market will result in wage increases without a mandated minimum wage increase while an excess of available laborers will depress wages.  Politics can’t change the basic rules of economics.

Don’t increase the H1B visa ceiling for skilled foreign workers until every citizen with a STEM degree has a job in their field.  Technology companies and IT departments  have used H1B visas to cut older (i.e., higher paid) workers out of job opportunities.  Also, since H1B holders tend to be in the higher salary ranges, don’t let their spouses work and take jobs from citizens.

If you expect businesses to help in training the workforce of the future don’t tell them who they must hire.  Let them invest in those who are best qualified for the particular work at hand.

Reject the false promises of modern socialism, which is actually elitism.  Don’t put the UN ahead of the USA either.  Resist the notion that we must become a third world nation in order to help third world nations.  We are a sovereign nation founded on one document, our Constitution, and it has helped this nation prosper for over 200 years.

Welfare is neither a right nor a requirement, it’s a program.

And every program has rules, so if you want to participate, live with them.

Welfare was supposed to be a hand up, not a handout, but the “War on Poverty” that began with President Johnson in 1964, while it helped some, also enabled a generation of people for whom the safety net became a hammock.  Instead of ending poverty it institutionalized poverty and contributed to the breakdown of the nuclear family by incentivizing single parent homes.  The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act of 1996 reversed some of this by incorporating a responsibility to work and by replacing AFDC with TANF, where the “T” stands for “temporary”.  We also have SNAP and WIC programs that provide food aid and both public housing and rent subsidies to provide help with shelter.  It’s an alphabet soup of up to 80 programs with each having different eligibility requirements.  It’s also an invitation to fraud and waste.  Since all welfare should be managed at the state level, is there any reason why there couldn’t be just one program run by one agency that covered everything?   The goal isn’t to deprive people of benefits for which they’re eligible, it’s to make the system more efficient with less overhead, fewer forms to fill out, and less fraud.  I’ll suggest a model I call ISIC, but first I’ll discuss a few related  topics.

Deadbeat Dads: Social services would cost less if every man who fathers a child and then walks away from mom paid child support.  An aggressive effort to pursue child support needs to be a part of welfare.  Sorry guys, but I shouldn’t have to pay for you to play, so “man up” and take responsibility for your kids.

Earned Income Tax Credit: EITC is a Federal welfare program that provides tax credits for low income people who work.  For some it’s a disincentive to work because it’s easy to look at the EITC chart and figure out how to get maximum money for minimum work.  Eliminating it would be politically unpopular, but why not replace it with a single coordinated welfare system?.  The amount of the tax credit is currently based on charts for 0 to 3 children, with the third being a recent expansion to EITC.  If we can’t eliminate EITC, return it to a maximum of 2 children, or even use just one chart somewhat below number 2 for everyone, and impose a maximum number of years in which it can be collected.  Why on earth are we subsidizing people to have children they can’t afford instead of encouraging smart lifestyle choices?  Also, the IRS should be prohibited from issuing EITC to those in the country illegally.

Drug Testing: I won’t advocate drug testing because it’s expensive and has mixed results, but if a state wants to do it, it shouldn’t be considered an unreasonable search that violates the applicant’s rights.  Welfare application, like job application, is voluntary; it’s not an arrest situation.  If a judge rules that pre-welfare drug testing violates a welfare applicant’s right without also ruling that pre-employment drug testing violates a job applicant’s right, the judge is making a welfare applicant “better than” a job applicant.  What happened to equal rights?  I also wouldn’t say that drug use should automatically disqualify an applicant if they’re willing to go to rehab.  The objective of welfare is to help people reach financial independence, not to punish them.

Workforce Housing: This is not a welfare issue but it is an issue in some communities for lower income families trying to improve their lives so I’ll mention it.  They need affordable places to live.  There has to be something between run-down “poor housing” and the “mcMansions” that require six-figure incomes to buy.  Workforce housing is not public housing, it’s simply affordable housing.  Many communities oppose workforce housing because they fear it will lower property values or cause an influx of children who will place increased demands on schools and hence property taxes.

Job Training. This is often discussed in connection with both unemployment and welfare.  Like many government programs, there are too many job training programs, around 47.  Why not consolidate and cut this to two, one for office/paraprofessional jobs and one for skilled trades?  To be useful, candidates must have completed high school, one way or another, and jobs matching the training must be available.  To be fair, candidates only get one pass through.  No one should become a professional student at taxpayer expense.

Minimum wage: Also not directly a welfare issue, raising the minimum wage is a topic of recent interest.  Doing so would lift some out of poverty but could harm small businesses.  The minimum wage hasn’t been raised for years, so doing it makes some sense, but not by around $3-6 all at once.  The adverse effects on the economy could be minimized by raising it incrementally over a period of 3-5 years while still providing an immediate benefit to those working at minimum wage.  The impact of a minimum wage hike also could be minimized by allowing the unskilled labor market to tighten so wages would rise naturally instead of by government mandate. I realize that a minimum wage hike conflicts with strict conservatism but my goals are to shrink welfare rolls and government itself.  Also, with inflation predicted, some wage growth is necessary to avoid stagflation.  Finally, with liberals buying votes all around, standing your ground on “NO” won’t win elections, and if you can’t win elections you can’t change the course of the country.

To reduce the size of government you must reduce dependency on government.

Jobs for the future, starting now.

Government officials like to tout “government-industry” partnerships to promote job growth.  Leave the government and our tax dollars out of the picture with industry-college partnerships.  I’m referring to co-op programs and apprenticeships, combinations of education and work experience that grow the economy and educate productive citizens.

Co-op programs are usually used for professional careers requiring a 4-year degree, often in STEM subjects.  A promising student enters into a contract with an employer that gives the student tuition assistance and summer on-the-job experience in exchange for the student agreeing to work for that employer for a specific number of years.  If the student defaults on the contract the unrepaid part of the assistance becomes a loan that must be repaid.  If the company defaults on the deal the student owes nothing.

Apprenticeships are used for skilled trades and typically involve education at a community college, possibly up to an associate degree, along with on-the-job training and work experience.  The contract is similar to the co-op program.  Apprenticeships work.  The US will always need skilled trades if it wants to regain industrial superiority, repair it’s aging infrastructure, keep construction building, and keep transportation moving.  Skilled trades offer a decent living to those who would rather work with their hands than in a white-collar career but want to do more than flip burgers.

Both of these programs exist now, but expansion of them would be better than more government intervention.  We could even give US companies a tax incentive to help train US workers and offset the cost with higher charges for importing foreign workers, e.g., through the H1B visa program