American Jobs and India

Thanks, Notty, for sending the video above. This makes me mad. Everyone needs to watch it.

I’ve spoken with some people in tech, and at the high end, these H1B visas do benefit the U.S. as American companies can hire people from the India Institute of Technology and get the cream of the crop. We do get some top workers who help with our innovation.

On the other hand, companies are also trimming their payroll by getting H1B visas on the cheap, and sometimes (as evident from the American Express case in the video) they’re just trying to cut their costs and taking advantage of “free trade” laws in order to do so. I was surprised when Dan Rather revealed that the law says that American companies don’t need to prove that they have tried to fill a position in the U.S (around 7:50). That’s the problem with politics–the politicians are saying we need more Americans in STEM subjects, but meanwhile the same politicians have created laws designed to benefit corporations at the expense of the American worker. American companies don’t hire many of the STEM people that we already have. I’ve spoken with a few tech managers recently, and they all tell me the same thing–it’s rare for American companies these days to hire American tech people. In every batch of new recruits, the vast majority of hires are H1B visa holders from India.

I feel bad for these unemployed people. You can tell in the video that they’re trying hard not to sound prejudiced, but when the law discriminates against American workers who have paid taxes into creating and supporting this system, it’s hard not to be angry. The government-industrial complex has waged war against the American worker, and the American worker is losing. Mitt Romney believes that corporations are people, which could presage an even greater future power discrepancy between the ruling class and the middle class.

By the way–has anyone here been to India? Is it good living? What I’m thinking is that perhaps there’s a way to create an idea around this–retirement centers for Americans in India. If it’s possible to live like a king or queen on $10k a year in India, perhaps it’s possible to live like a normal person forever with a $50k 401(k) account. India is a democratic country where English is the official language, and the weather is warm. The temples are beautiful, and there are yoga teachers all around, so there would be no shortage of recreational activities. Plus the healthcare facilities are excellent and more affordable (American-trained doctors). Maybe that could be an option for some people. Kinda sucks to have to move because of bad and prejudicial “free trade” laws, but it’s always good to have a backup plan. Maybe the government could pay for these retirement centers as a kind of severance package for the older Americans they use and dispose of.

58 thoughts on “American Jobs and India

  1. hey Byron,

    The ironic thing is that I only found out about the link because a racist guy posted it on a “conservative” (read: wingnut) site that I read occassionally for laughs (more like groans).

    I think that the fact that the people replacing the locals are brown people does add a racist dimension to the rage for some people. For me, I’m not angry at the H1B workers, because they too are victims of a sort. I don’t envy being under the Damocles sword of being fired and losing the very H1B visa that keeps you in the country.

    I am angry at the individuals and organizations that have kept this H1B visa racket going since the 1990’s. I’d support keeping modified versions of H1B visas that give those workers the right to quit their job and look for another one without losing the H1B status. Anything that would put us all on a more level competitive field. THe only thing you can’t compete with, though, is the money exchange value.

  2. “If it’s possible to live like a king or queen on $10k a year in India, perhaps it’s possible to live like a normal person forever with a $50k 401(k) account”

    It’s actually a myth that someone can live better in a third world country at income levels like that. Their quality of life would be no better than someone living in a trailer in America at that amount; the only difference is that that person would not look relatively poor & cannot take advantage of the American Welfare State.

  3. Notty,

    A friend of mine was telling me that they can hire people from the Indian Institute of Technology, which is the MIT of India, and they can get top quality which they pay for–they make as much as American engineers. A key difference, however, is that these IIT grads pay around $250 per year or per semester (don’t remember which). So basically they pay of their student loans with their very first paycheck! Not to mention that when they send the money home, it’s like hitting the lottery for their families!

    I agree with you. I think anything that would make the playing field a bit more level would be good. There should be a requirement that they have to seek to fill the position locally. Plus there should be substantial tax implications if they don’t. Corporations complain about costs, but the truth is that corporations are making more money than ever. And the American worker is losing out.

  4. Fun,

    Why do you think it’s a myth? The woman in the video (understandable if you haven’t seen it yet) was talking about people having nannies and servants at $10k a year. If you live in a place where the average salary is $2 a day, I can easily see it being affordable to have servants while making $10k a year.

    Now of course there are other issues–is the electricity always on? Do you have freedom of speech? Is clean water and fresh food available?

    I don’t know if it’s easy to set up a retirement center, but I’m thinking that if the American government set one up to house former American workers that big corporations have used and displaced, the upkeep might not be that expensive.

  5. Danny,

    That looks like an awesome movie! Judi Dench! I love it! I definitely want to check that out. I don’t know about you, but the India of that movie looks absolutely beautiful.

    Great trailer too. I love that line: “We have a saying in India…” 🙂

    I’ve actually always wanted to go to India, so maybe I can check it out in the next few years.

  6. I’ve heard that there are differences by region, from folks who have been there. I might have gotten the place names mixed up and all of this is from imperfect memory, but places like Kolkatta and Goa or places formerly under communist municipal rule tend to be quite clean and orderly, New Delhi has a pervasive smell of shit and human waste that permeates the air because sewage overflows regularly into the open, and people defecate in public in many parts of India, like outside train stations.

    A few visitors who have gotten sick over there have told me about how doctors try to scam them (or their insurance) by prescribing a cocktail of drugs based on the profit margin they would get, not necessarily what the patient needs.

    Overall, the folks who went there to visit and tour India like its beaches and monuments loved it a lot, the folks who had to work there suffered severe culture shock.

    P.S: Everybody I have asked says that India is very conservative and in general the sexes do not mingle in public places.

  7. why aren’ t you as mad about americans who are working abroad? How about the american expat scam? does that piss you off too?

  8. Sorry, I didn’t watch the video (my general policy at work), so my thoughts are based on what I read.

    I think there are definitely social factors at work, at least in my experience.

    I work for a back-end data development team for one of the top 3 advertising companies in the world, and our work staff does include a lot of developers and testers who have H1B visas. I’m friends with our recruiter at work, and he mentioned that H1B visas are a pain to process, and there’s a quota for how many H1B workers you can hire, based on your department size. According to him, it’s actually easier to hire an American because you don’t have to wait for their visas to process or go through the renewal process for existing H1B workers.

    The US-born new-hires we had here at work were not as good as team players as the foreign ones. They couldn’t deviate from their developer work schedule of 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. when we were trying to meet deadlines. They had attitude problems. And when they were unhappy with their job, they bounced onto the next job.

    Not sure if it has anything to do with culture or maybe H1B workers are more likely to stay committed and want to fit in at work (because of their foreign status), but a lot of H1B folks I’ve worked with are easier to work with. Obviously, I have my own biases against them, such as being unable to understand their thick accents, but other than that, it’s been fine.

    Socially, our foreign new-hires acclimated to their teams much better, because a socially-inept foreign-born developer will most likely be shy (and yearning to be accepted), while a socially-inept American-born developer will most likely act like an elitist asshole who thrives in being “misunderstood.”

    Something to take note of, while we’re talking about H1B folks comprising a growing percentage of the workforce, the upper management is still mostly, American-born (and white), including here at work. These are people who you’d think would be biased against foreigners, but this time, I think their choices of selecting foreign-born candidates are sound.

  9. it looks like in the video when they looked at job websites it said “indeed India” and various other Indian websites; so there’s inherent bias in the way they represented the sort of “overwhelming floodgate” of jobs only for Indians, when it’s on an Indian job website.

    I think the anger should be directed against the corporations and the government, like it also should be at the lower end of the skills spectrum with the “illegals” picking grapes.

    The corporations get tax breaks supposedly because they’re creating jobs, but obviously that’s not true since the whole “outsourcing” thing of the last decade. Therefore, government isn’t doing anything to help American citizens and you should voice it with your vote in November this year.

    lastly, I’ve had some bad experiences with Indians; but they’re no different than any 3rd world country people with their antics. just don’t work for any Indians, same as don’t work for any Chinese bosses.

  10. The US-born new-hires we had here at work were not as good as team players as the foreign ones. They couldn’t deviate from their developer work schedule of 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. when we were trying to meet deadlines. They had attitude problems. And when they were unhappy with their job, they bounced onto the next job.

    This is the same sentiment that the ex Secretary of Labor under Bush shared:

    http://www.parade.com/articles/editions/2007/edition_07-01-2007/Intelligence_Report

    I can’t say that I’ve worked with people like that yet, though I’m sure they do exist. What I have experienced, though, is management that consistently fails to plan properly, overextend their promises out of willful ignorance, and then expect developers to pick up the slack they create.

    From mine and my coworker’s experiences, as well as the gripes I see around the internet, IT workers work an excess of unconpensated hours in addition to being kept on a leash with Blackberries. The list goes on.

    As they say, “shit rolls downhill” in the corporate world.

    Also, like I told Byron, I wonder whether H1B workers would be so easy going with management if they didn’t have the restrictions that being H1B status brings with it.

  11. Nottyboy,
    Yes, just like every place of employment, upper management needs to do a better job in terms of planning for upcoming projects. I’m a PM–I know! But one thing my work is great at is work/life balance. The fact that everyone, not just developers here, get to work from 10-4 (without bringing work home) is a testament to that.

    As much as I believe in work/life balance, we are running a business, and there are ebbs and flows when it comes to work. IMO, people who can get away with leaving work early when there’s not much work to do should be prepared to work late when they have a deadline.

    Perfect example: Today, all of Seattle shut down because of snow. Many people, including myself, worked from home. Who showed up at work? 5 people — 3 of them H1B workers, and 2 VPs. While I’m looking at FB photos of my coworkers building snowmen with their kids (on a work day), I realize that’s why they’re unresponsive to my emails about project status and open questions. I’m pretty sure their work will pile up the next day, which will most likely be another snow day, and I’m frustrated that we basically lost two days of work because people don’t know how to WFH. But I don’t have that issue with the foreign-born members of my team…

  12. @bigwowo
    Just because the average income in India is $2 a day doesn’t make a person earning 10k be able to live like a queen or king. That is like saying earning the average salary in the US makes one be able to live in NYC, LA, SF. If you want to live in a place that you are going to be with other English speakers that have a “modern” outlook you are going to be paying more than if you live in a village.

    In general 10k would get you farther but somethings like electronics are more expensive and getting things done quickly is often not an option.
    You can’t look at India as the same as the US. In the US we all speak the same language (for the most part). Imagine if in Alabama spoke a different language than North Dakota. That is how it is in India. Traffic laws in some states are only marginally followed, some cities have no crosswalks, you just make your way through traffic with good eyes and some luck. Sending Americans to India would not work well for most people.

  13. Companies ruined or almost ruined by imported Indian labor

    Adaptec – Indian CEO Subramanian Sundaresh fired.
    AIG (signed outsourcing deal in 2007 in Europe with Accenture Indian frauds, collapsed in 2009)
    AirBus (Qantas plane plunged 650 feet injuring passengers when its computer system written by India disengaged the auto-pilot).
    Apple – R&D CLOSED in India in 2006.
    Australia’s National Australia Bank (Outsourced jobs to India in 2007, nationwide ATM and account failure in late 2010).
    Bell Labs (Arun Netravalli took over, closed, turned into a shopping mall)
    Boeing Dreamliner ES software (written by HCL, banned by FAA)
    Bristol-Myers-Squibb (Trade Secrets and documents stolen in U.S. by Indian national guest worker)
    Caymas – Startup run by Indian CEO, French director of dev, Chinese tech lead. Closed after 5 years of sucking VC out of America.
    Caterpillar misses earnings a mere 4 months after outsourcing to India, Inc.
    Circuit City – Outsourced all IT to Indian-run IBM and went bankrupt shortly thereafter.
    ComAir crew system run by 100% Indian IT workers caused the 12/25/05 U.S. airport shutdown when they used a short int instead of a long int
    Computer Associates – Former CEO Sanjay Kumar, an Indian national, sentenced to 12 years in federal prison for accounting fraud.
    Deloitte – 2010 – this Indian-packed consulting company is being sued under RICO fraud charges by Marin Country, California for a failed solution.
    Dell – call center (closed in India)
    Delta call centers (closed in India)
    Duke University – Massive scientific fraud by Indian national Dr. Anil Potti discovered in 2012.
    Fannie Mae – Hired large numbers of Indians, had to be bailed out. Indian logic bomb creator found guilty and sent to prison.
    Goldman Sachs – Kunil Shah, VP & Managing Director – GS had to be bailed out by US taxpayers for $550 BILLION.
    GM – Was booming in 2006, signed $300 million outsourcing deal with Wipro that same year, went bankrupt 3 years later
    HP – Got out of the PC hardware business in 2011 and can’t compete with Apple’s tablets. HP was taken over by Indians and Chinese in 2001. So much for ‘Asian’ talent!
    HSBC ATMs (software taken over by Indians, failed in 2006)
    IBM bill collecting system for Austin, TX failed in 2012 written by Indians at IBM
    Intel Whitefield processor project (cancelled, Indian staff canned)
    JetStar Airways computer failure brings down Christchurch airport on 9/17/11. JetStar is owned by Quantas – which is know to have outsourced to India, Inc.
    Kodak: Outsourced to India in 2006, filed for bankruptcy in Jan, 2012.
    Lehman (Jasjit Bhattal ruined the company. Spectramind software bought by Wipro, ruined, trashed by Indian programmers)
    Medicare – Defrauded by Indian national doctor Arun Sharma & wife in the U.S.
    Microsoft – Employs over 35,000 H-1Bs. Stock used to be $100. Today it’s lucky to be over $25. Not to mention that Vista thing.
    MIT Media Lab Asia (canceled)
    MyNines – A startup founded and run by Indian national Apar Kothari went belly up after throwing millions of America’s VC $ down the drain.
    Nomura Securities – (In 2011 “struggling to compete on the world stage”). No wonder because Jasjit Bhattal formerly of failed Lehman ran it. See Lehman above.
    PeopleSoft (Taken over by Indians in 2000, collapsed).
    PepsiCo – Slides from #1 to #3 during Indian CEO Indra Nooyi’ watch.
    Polycom – Former senior executive Sunil Bhalla charged with insider trading.
    Qantas – See AirBus above
    Quark (Alukah Kamar CEO, fired, lost 60% of its customers to Adobe because Indian-written QuarkExpress 6 was a failure)
    Rolls Royce (Sent aircraft engine work to India in 2006, engines delayed for Boeing 787, and failed on at least 2 Quantas planes in 2010, cost Rolls $500m).
    SAP – Same as Deloitte above in 2010.
    Singapore airlines (IT functions taken over in 2009 by TCS, website trashed in August, 2011)
    Skype (Madhu Yarlagadda fired)
    State of Indiana $867 million FAILED IBM project, IBM being sued
    State of Texas failed IBM project.
    Sun Micro (Taken over by Indian and Chinese workers in 2001, collapsed, had to be sold off to Oracle).
    UK’s NHS outsourced numerous jobs including health records to India in mid-2000 resulting in $26 billion over budget.
    Union Bank of California – Cancelled Finacle project run by India’s InfoSys in 2011.
    United – call center (closed in India)
    Victorian Order of Nurses, Canada (Payroll system screwed up by SAP/IBM in mid-2011)
    Virgin Atlantic (software written in India caused cloud IT failure)
    World Bank (Indian fraudsters BANNED for 3 years because they stole data).

    I could post the whole list here but I don’t want to crash any servers.

  14. It’s all over the news these days since the tech companies are lobbying!

  15. I have some views on the H1B and software programing. However, I can quickly comment on this:

    “If it’s possible to live like a king or queen on $10k a year in India, ”

    No! I don’t think so. There are “two” India. I have a hunch which India Americans would try to be in. I haven’t lived there in a while but even with $20k, most American’s shouldn’t bother. $40k, okay perhaps. A good house in a metro would be around $200k, and we are talking small condo’s here. Unless you buy and shop in the other India, everything costs just like in the US (or a bit more). Public infrastructure isn’t great but that can be overcome if you are rich. It buys you influence. So, $10k wouldn’t cut it. You will move from one trailer park to another.

  16. well, at least I found one more reason to hate Mark Zuckerberg. He’s funding a conservative video by Marco Rubio, which itself makes no mention of the H1B1 visa issue.

    http://empowernetwork-system.com/conservative-video-marco-rubio-ad-pushing-gang-of-8-bill-funded-by-mark-zuckerberg-immigration/

    Listening to the show, something that was infuriating was the fact that the tech lobby, having shaped the proposed bill to get most of what they want, still were not happy with it because it had some weak provisions protecting the american citizen (like, requiring companies to first advertise the job to American citizens, before offshoring them)

  17. Bigwowo,

    Okay, I saw the first 20 minutes of the interview. I will comment on those parts. As a foreigner in a white collar job, I went through the H1B visa (there is no other choice really, its the US law).

    I think overall, Dan Rather should have picked a better example to attack the H1B program instead of Microsoft and this disgruntled former employee.

    (1) Fact: H1B is prone to abuse because (a) the main requirement is that the wage should not be less than a number provided by the US labor department which is very low, and can lead to wage depreciation. (b) the H1B worker is tied to the employer. In principle a H1B worker is out of status as soon as out of job though lawyers claim UCSIS gives around 10 days (I have a hunch why that is but not germane to the discussion). So, US laws allow a very abusive situation where the foreign workers can be trapped.

    (2) Fact: In *general* software programming is relatively easy (not to hurt feelings) compared to other STEM discipline. You don’t require special training like say in chip design. Thats my observation. I have high school friends that were History, English, Psychology majors, now running big software companies in India. This is illustrated by the interviewee who was an Music major. I can find people with masters with computer applications (MCA) degrees in India dime a dozen.

    Interestingly in 80s when Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi accelerated computer industry, Indians were opposed to it as people are going to lose traditional jobs by the dozen.

    It cuts both ways. So, yes “best and brightest” might be a stretch when applied to software programming but that also means like manufacturing, someone else somewhere else can do it cheaper and better (remember that White guy offshoring his jobs to China?)

    The problem as I see it is that lot of people got on it thinking they will be employed for a lifetime, and then finding out like the H1Bs they themselves are not the “best and brightest”.

    (3) Myth: H1B and offshoring are not the same thing obviously. People tend to have this emotional response and start using them in the same sentence.

    (4) Fact: There is a lot of demonizing of the H1B worker.

    Problem is they are the victims here. They don’t vote, and didn’t write those immigration laws but are getting abused by it.

    Besides the out of status thing, if you lose your job, you also have to restart your green card process (Not talking about EB2-NIW, EB1-OR, EB1-EA, etc.) and you also can be in the H1B status for a total 6yrs (modulo some milestone in the green card process). So, this feeds back into the abusive employer.

    (5) Microsoft is probably not the best example to pick if you are trying to highlight abuse of the H1B program in terms of salary and how they abuse the employee with threat of deportation.

    (6) The Music major, former microsoft employee is not the best example to pick. She ends up hating the people on H1B instead of the people who allowed the H1B program and its abuse. Finally, her arguments descends into what it is really about … she dislikes that Whites are replaced by non-Whites.

    She starts subtle talking about people who know the local “culture” better at 2:50. I have heard that arguments used by Whites in hiring decisions in situations where it was uncalled for.

    She talks about how she is contributing with tax, building community, etc. And then 13:00 she suddenly doesn’t like that there are 30 Indian restaurants in “her” neighborhood. 30% of the people in “her” neighborhood (mind you she moved to Seattle from NY city). Here her intensions are becoming clear. Those 30 restaurants are contributing through sales tax, and business. 30% of the residents must be paying tax and building a community (maybe not White) but somehow that is less important than her contribution. Dan Rather points out its 11% Indian.

    Her contribution is what exactly? Oh yeah! Another White person use Earth’s resources.

    (7) 18:29 She complains how while she is worried about her next meal or whatever, colored people are buying jewelry. Oh the injustice! The unfairness of it all! These people should have been in a farm somewhere working for Whites.

    This person is judging an entire group of people by the color of their skin. These foreign workers might be good at their jobs, or good at saving money, or come from rich family, on, and on. Why does it bother her that they are rich and foreign? Would she have made the same comment if the jewelry customers were White?

    (8) I think the software industry is messing up the H1B program for the rest of the STEM program.

    (9) A better fix for the H1B program would be to not tie the H1B visa to a particular employer.

    You can have a guest worker program where the employee can choose to work with whomever they want and if they can’t find employment say in 3 months, they have to leave the country and apply for a new visa. This will remove some of the reason for wage depreciation.

    (10) Americans have to except the reality that software is really not that hi-tech. And willing to live on a smaller wage. Otherwise offshoring (which is not H1B) is going to happen even if you fix the problems in the H1B system.

    (11) I can understand losing a job, especially if you are older is traumatic. More so if you are just a programmer like so many other younger available programmers. However, that women has some serious White privilege issue. Maybe microsoft fired here because she can’t get along with brown folks.

    (12) at 17:00 I was half-expecting the Music major to go postal on that brown women in salwar-kameez.

    (13) Interacting with former software employee on the internet, I always at the end come away feeling that these people are angry at H1B because of racial reason when they should be concentrating on the companies and the people who make these laws.

    (14) Fact: Software != STEM. In many other areas, its hard to find US citizens even with decent pay because everyone wants to be a CS major because it supposedly pays well and clearly not as demanding as some other areas of STEM. So, there is a need for something like a H1B program otherwise lot of STEM fields in the US will suffer.

  18. Nottyboy,
    The example from the link above is a white collar crime in violation of the H1B. I don’t consider it is necessarily a problem with the program in the sense that it was fraud just like people commit Tax fraud by not reporting things correctly.

    A big problem with the H1B is it is tied up with the employer. The workers are not free to compete in the open market at a fair wage. As long as the H1B is tied in with the employer, the foreign worker would continue to be exploited. If losing a job is hard for a US worker, imagine what its like for a foreign worker who have to find a job the next day or get deported according to the letter of the law. Even if you have been in the country for a year, and just renting an apartment, relocating from one country to another for most normal people with or without family is not easy. Its just not fair to make someone work harder for the same or less pay through coercion, irrespective of their citizenship.

  19. It’s not really equivalent to tax fraud because fraud in the H1B1 system impacts citizen’s ability to make a livelihood.

    That is not the only way in which the system is rotten, however. Listen to the “On Point” link.

    A fair system, for starters, would give guest employees the same base pay, a lot more time to find a job, and also unemployment. I’m pretty sure that once that happens, you won’t be seeing the lopsided number of H1B1 employees you see now in many places.

  20. “It’s not really equivalent to tax fraud because fraud in the H1B1 system impacts citizen’s ability to make a livelihood.”

    I didn’t mean its a one-to-one correspondence but its a direct violation of a law not a loophole that is being exploited. Like say a ponzi scheme (a violation not a loop hole).

    “A fair system, for starters, would give guest employees the same base pay, a lot more time to find a job, and also unemployment. ”
    I agree in principle. Giving more than one day to find a job, and the ability to work for any (willing) employer would help keep wages reasonable. Enforcing same base pay might require how private companies report things. Moreover there can be a lot of difference between actual and base pay depending on how well you negotiate your pay, and what you are willing to work with.

    The other problem of offshoring can only be off set if the wages in software comes down. Software wages are way inflated, and the problem in that sector with H1B is messing up things in other areas of STEM. Software in general is not that hi-tech and it can be easily done elsewhere cheaper and better. Germany is a good example. They are an exporting nation, and wages are not low. How do they do it? They produce high tech machinery that others can’t do better and cheaper.

  21. ^ I guess I could be little bit more clear. The problem with the news link is that its a sensational journalism in the sense they are reporting cases where someone is violating a law, and then presenting it as if there is something wrong with the law itself that encourages that criminal behavior. If what there were reporting is a direct result of a loophole in the law then it would have been fair to say that law needs to be changed. In this case, the govt. needs to make sure the law is followed.

    One can in principle take any law, and then find some people violating those law and then report how bad that law is. If you stand by the side of the highway and measure how fast people are driving, you will see lot are speeding possibly putting other peoples life in danger. It doesn’t mean traffic rules are bad just that people are violating those rules.

  22. “The other problem of offshoring can only be off set if the wages in software comes down. . Software wages are way inflated, and the problem in that sector with H1B is messing up things in other areas of STEM. Software in general is not that hi-tech and it can be easily done elsewhere cheaper and better”

    That’s a non argument. This is simply a case of business wanting the free market to be only free when it suits them. You could make a much better case for executive wages being overinflated, but you don’t see a push to import executive talent via H1B1. Instead you see a million justitfications of why these wages are needed to attract talent.

  23. “One can in principle take any law, and then find some people violating those law and then report how bad that law is.”

    The problem here is that it is a law based on a problem that does not exist. The unemployment figures for American citizens in this field speak for themselves.

  24. Bigwowo,

    I saw the rest of the video. In the middle, H1B and immigration is interlinked with offshoring of jobs. I think immigration and offshoring should be kept as separate discussion. I can see right wingers making it the same issue.

    Bit short on time. I heard the comment about $10k and servants. $10k would come to around Rs 40k-45k per month. With that you would be able to get hired help. But there is a whole lifestyle issue. These Indians who said $10k gives you a Kings life probably are single and/or come from a poor background so they are just enjoying a better life. Talking to some friends (my age group) who are a bit more established in the middle class, they spend about Rs 40k-50k per month running daily expenses (food, water, etc.). Other luxuries of life would cost much more. These are people who can send their kids to study in the US but not what would be considered the very rich. For Americans, where they are used to living in a developed country $10k would not buy you comparable lifestyle to the middle class lifestyle of the friends I mentioned.

    One of the systemic problem it seems is companies taking advantage of the at-will clause in the employment. Perhaps Americans need to do some introspection. Many other countries can’t just fire employees like that.

  25. Bigwowo,

    Some more numbers I could get hold of. Depending on what the maid does, it would be around Rs 3k per month, a driver around Rs 7k-10k month. A friend is renting a 3 bedroom to three young working professionals for around Rs 30k. I just asked an Indian govt employee (comparable to faculty payscale) in Bangalore is payed a housing allowance of Rs20k. So, a good rental property is about Rs 30k or up in a metro. So, $10k comes to about Rs 40k-45k per month, and I don’t think its enough. Around $40k if you already have a house you could live well unless you have a lot of medical bills.

  26. John,

    I’ve actually never been to India, but I would LOVE to go someday.

    I think that what you’re saying is similar to lots of places in Asia. Americans assume they could retire there, and ten years ago, maybe they could, but prices seem to be up all over the world! It may be a bit like some poorer neighborhoods here where you can live relatively safely only if you know how to do so. Most Americans wouldn’t survive in poorer areas of Asia.

    My guess is that the standards of living in China and India won’t take long to catch up; maybe in the next ten years or so they’ll be a lot closer. They won’t have the same resources as we have here, but the incomes and living costs will be similar enough that the economic relationships between these countries will be different.

  27. bigWOWO, anybody,

    Do you know what they have in mind for reforming the H1B program. I hear they want more H1B numbers. Thats not reform. Right now H1B dual intent so a foreign worker can plan to remain here permanently. However, the problem is (a) H1B is tied up to employer, and (b) most lose status as soon as loss of job (c) even if you find a job (c) you have to start the labor certification for Green card from scratch which used to take couple of year (d), only 6 years on H1B allowed so labor have to be cleared in that time frame, (e) most foreign workers are from China and India but only 7% of 140k green cards can go to any country spread over many sub categories (f) most of these H1B workers fall in the third category (EB-3) requiring labor certification (g) even if they have labor certification wait time for green card is 10 yrs (h) There is restriction on job transferability even after labor certification (i) so most foreign workers are beholden to the employer who have an at-will employment policy (j) the exploitation of foreign workers continue for 10-15 yrs.

    So, knowing all these why wouldn’t Mark Zuckerberg continue to push for more H1B visa while being evasive about what changes they will bring to improve H1B.

  28. John,

    I was reading a great article a few days ago, but I can’t find it now. Here is one that is similar:

    http://www.bizjournals.com/boston/news/2013/04/19/federal-plan-could-double-h1b-visas.html?page=all

    So they’re doubling the number of visas.

    I wish I could find the original article. The changes, as one would expect, are very pro-business, and the only pro-American-worker part that I remember was that there were more provisions on how those jobs had to be marketed to Americans. I think it also said something about making it easier to hire from China and India since that’s where the techies are, i.e. that 7% cap would go away. I’ll keep looking for the article.

  29. ^Notty,

    Despicable behavior but not entire surprising. Some of these executives would rather have oligarchy over democracy and free market.

    This mind set is tied in with H1B immigration.

    This mind set also is tied in with offshoring though I don’t know what the solution could be for that. Perhaps since these companies are getting rich from offshore business but enjoying their wealth in the US under a protection that ultimately is derived from the US military, these companies should be asked to pay a security surcharge to be in the US. That will level things out. If they don’t like it, they can move to wherever their offshore business is. Okay not really a solution.

  30. Despicable behavior but not entire surprising. Some of these executives would rather have oligarchy over democracy and free market.

    Ha, I’m not surprised either. Just disgusted.

    This mind set also is tied in with offshoring though I don’t know what the solution could be for that.

    I’d be happy with laws that give them the same workplace rights as American citizens. Unemployment, a long period to find employment, comparable wages, etc. At least then we’re on equal footing.

    I have a very strong feeling that if those were the conditions, usage of H1B visas would go down significantly. There’s no shortage of skilled workers here; just shortage of cheap labor with the same skills.

  31. “I’d be happy with laws that give them the same workplace rights as American citizens. Unemployment, a long period to find employment, comparable wages, etc. At least then we’re on equal footing.”

    That would probably destroy India.

  32. That would probably destroy India.

    How so? Braindrain? Or a reversal of outsourcing?

  33. @Notty,

    You wrote in response to outsourcing
    “I’d be happy with laws that give them the same workplace rights as American citizens. Unemployment, a long period to find employment, comparable wages, etc. At least then we’re on equal footing. ”
    which is not the same things as H1B (you are not the first to somehow equate these)

    As I said software != STEM and in general software is not really hi-tech either. H1B would still be needed in rest of the STEM even if hypothetically ALL software jobs goes off shore.

  34. ^ Notty you solution doesn’t effect outsourcing unless you are also going to demand workers in India and China be paid the same wages as in the US, which of course cannot be done.

  35. I haven’t thought much about outsourcing to India though you hear it a lot. Apparently its about 1% of the Indian GDP. Which is big but still much smaller than one would assume from all the noise. I am not sure if losing half of that 1% of the GDP would destroy the entire economy even if everything is interconnected.

  36. I was referring to H1B’s. The end result is the same.

    As I said software != STEM and in general software is not really hi-tech either. H1B would still be needed in rest of the STEM even if hypothetically ALL software jobs goes off shore.

    A large number of those H1B’s are being awarded for positions that you would call “not really hi-tech”. There is no shortage of qualified Americans for those, and when you dig deeper, it seems that the same is the case for what you would call real STEM.

    The distinction is irrelevant to the argument anyway. Give guest workers the same rights and advantages and then we’ll see if the shortage is real or manufactured.

  37. @Notty,
    “I was referring to H1B’s. The end result is the same.”
    I know you were referring to H1B in response to outsourcing. The two are not the same, and so the solutions cannot be the same. Its important to understand the distinction if you want to address the issues. Here is why.

    Lets say you improve the working conditions for H1B so that there is no wage disparity between foreign and domestic worker in the US. This will addresses the issues that people have with the abuses of the H1B system. However, imagine that there is a pool of workers available in a foreign country. Then many jobs like software can be off-shored, and this cannot be prevented by any amount of H1B regulation because H1B deals with foreign workers in the US and off-shore deals with workers in a foreign location. They are not the same. Period.

    Now one can go into the different pros and cons of H1B vs off-shoring but thats a different debate.

    Your second point:
    “ … it seems that the same is the case for what you would call real STEM.”
    This I call BS. Go to any top 50 university in the US. Look into their STEM graduate programs (beyond the masters degree. To be brutal taking classes is nothing but some elaborate fill-in-the-blanks questions. Not much creativity required in getting a good grade in a class). The universities pay you money to be in their graduate programs. These places are fighting with each other to recruit the few US citizens they can find to warm a seat. Some fields (you can guess) are over subscribed. They others can fill their seats with foreign students even if they put the most selective criteria. These places try very hard to recruit US citizens. Unemployment rates are low for these STEM graduates. Whom are we supposed to hire if not many US citizens are even in these STEM fields.

    Only so many people can work in software. At some point someone will have to actually manufacture something.

  38. I know you were referring to H1B in response to outsourcing. The two are not the same, and so the solutions cannot be the same. Its important to understand the distinction if you want to address the issues. Here is why.

    I never equated them except for what they produce as their end result: unemployed American workers that are otherwise qualified.

    This I call BS. Go to any top 50 university in the US. Look into their STEM graduate programs (beyond the masters degree. To be brutal taking classes is nothing but some elaborate fill-in-the-blanks questions. Not much creativity required in getting a good grade in a class).

    There are studies that would say otherwise.

    http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-04-24/business/38783974_1_stem-more-foreign-workers-epi-study

  39. @Notty,

    Lets first settle the things we actually agree on.

    I think we both agree that wage depreciation due to H1B can be mostly removed if H1Bs are not tied to the employer and have a longer duration than a single day to find a job.

    I think you would also agree with me that fixing H1Bs is not going to prevent certain jobs being off-shored.

    Having said all that, there is an important technical distinction one needs to keep in mind. If you were born in the US you probably don’t appreciate it.

    H1B is a temporary work visa but its a dual intent. The “spirit” of the visa is that foreigners come in temporarily and after some years they have to decide whether to stay in the US permanently or leave. The dual intent is important as under US regulations for a non-immigrant visa the onus is on the applicant to prove s/he will leave after the visa period. If you have applied for a non-immigrant visa you know these interviews depend on the whim of the visa officer (and US geo-politics), and it becomes a he said-she said. For H1B there is no need to prove intent of return.

    In fact many H1B remain in the US and become US citizens. That is why I thought the White women complaining about businesses catering to certain demographic was not a reasonable argument against H1B. This is a crucial difference between off-shoring and H1B.

    Off-shoring means jobs gone elsewhere. H1B means these jobs are still here, taxes are still paid in the US, there is still economic activity (might be a Indian or Chinese restaurant instead of an Italian restaurant, too bad) and lot of H1Bs become permanent residents and US citizens given a chance.

    Now there are people who simply do not want foreigners to come to US. Thats there view point and I can’t change that (like the White women in the video). Given the history of racist immigration policy, I don’t think Asian Americans should support such a view. For me I am happy if the foreign workers enjoy the same working conditions and wages, as citizens. Moreover, many of these foreign workers become US citizens. So, the idea of displacing citizens is a bit complicated, and not so clear cut.

    In practice the reason most of the foreign H1B workers remain non-citizen is because of US policy. So, you can’t have it both ways — put up policy that traps foreigners in a long purgatory immigration status, and at the same time point at them and say these foreigners are stealing jobs from US citizens.

    There is more. Given the nature of immigration, employment based immigration H1B visa to EB visa (green card)–> US citizenship becomes eventually family based immigration. Some foreign H1B workers look at family based immigration with some hostility. That divide is also artificial.

    There might be a bright light at the end of the tunnel. Everyone notices prosperity in China and India have risen. For example, you will notice undergraduates from these countries in greater numbers in the US. In grad school you will meet lot of Chinese and Indian students who actually want to return back home after graduation instead of dealing with the H1B crap. I personally know of many who either had green cards or are (were?) US citizens that returned to India, something that in the 70s or even 80s would not have happened.

    I will come back to the study you linked later. I have written enough for now.

  40. King: That would probably destroy India.
    Notty: How so? Braindrain? Or a reversal of outsourcing?

    Exactly – but among other things.

    If U.S. economy is not at the same place as the Indian economy, and the Indian economy must grow and develop through many of the same stages as the American and European economies have gone through. If the Americans just step in and start offering all the perquisites that an American worker would get, just think of what that would do to the Indian companies! How many of them could offer those kind of wages and benefits even on their BEST day?

    Soon Indian wants to work for an Indian company in India. Instead they all idolize the idea of working for a big American company. And all the best and brightest of India end up doing just that. But of course, if companies had to pay the same wages and benefits as they have to pay in Ohio, then they wouldn’t really be in India in the first place.

  41. @King,

    “Exactly – but among other things.”

    notty was answering about H1B working conditions in the US not demanding equal US pay in India (which would be silly) though he answered in response to outsourcing. Imagine demanding Indian farmworker get the same pay as a farmworker in Germany.

  42. Ah, silly me!
    Thanks John. My bad, Notty!

    But I think I’d still argue that in most cases, if you remove the wage difference you remove the motivation to offer the jobs in the first place. The real question is are they making a fair wage based on their OWN economy. If they weren’t I’d assume that they simply wouldn’t take the jobs oversees. Why would anyone leave their country to work for less money than they could make in their own country?

  43. “Why would anyone leave their country to work for less money than they could make in their own country?”

    Complicated. Sometimes its not just the salary. Sometimes there is still the lore & glitter of the West from the 70s movies (despite the internet). There are lifestyle issues , and no clear answer. Personally, I think my friends in software who are in India should stay there (though they do have to put in work hours that would make American software workers cry mommy I think). My research I wouldn’t be able to do as easily in India. The infrastructure is not quite there yet. Maybe in 10-15 yrs the infrastructure would be where I can do in India what I do here. There will still be the Indian military to deal with for someone who looks like me …

  44. http://reappropriate.co/2016/11/asian-americans-must-join-the-fight-to-stopsessions-and-stopbannon/#more-12106

    why does it not surprise me that reappropriate would be an (unwitting?) shill for the greedy technocrats at sillicon valley? way to conflate bannon and some other fox news stooge with sessions.

    for something closer to the truth, read this:

    http://www.computerworld.com/article/3140711/it-careers/trumps-election-sets-stage-for-h-1b-reform.html

  45. That’s the way of the Far Left: Action without considering consequences. You’re either with us…or you’re racist. This is exactly what got Trump elected. People are tired of not being heard. People are tired of being called racist.

    It’s a complicated issue, which is why we can’t reduce it to the “you’re racist and I’m holier than thou” arguments that have usually dominated these conversations. I know people who were laid off years ago and never went back to work. I find many of these H1B recipients a lot more culturally-similar to me than some of the native-born people here, but that doesn’t mean that the native-born people don’t have legitimate complaints about a system that is screwing them. Just wanting to talk about these issues doesn’t make someone a Steve Bannon.

  46. $130k? I think I agree in principle, but I think it needs to depend on the locality. $130k where I live is considered rich, whereas it’s passable in the Bay Area.

    I wonder if that will pass through Congress. Our education system also needs to make adjustments so that American workers have the right skills.

  47. That’s the thing, though. There is no shortage of American workers that can do IT and do it at least as well as any of the H1B workers. It’s always been about the money.

    Even after it was found out, they got what amounted to a slap on the wrist: http://fortune.com/2015/09/03/koh-anti-poach-order/

    These companies and their execs only love the free market when it helps them.

  48. Yeah, my company JUST went through yet another round of gutting IT for overseas workers who will work from off site. But the guys that we had were great at their jobs, and most of us can’t imagine how we’re going to get along without them.

  49. @bigWOWO,

    I actually think it should be $150K. That way, for sure it’s extremely well qualified leaders in the industry they can’t find anyone in the US with the same experience/skills.

    I don’t believe in Reaganomics, but when somebody makes $150K and it already covers enough housing and sports car expenses, the rest is disposable income they’re definitely going to spend if they’re in red states and that helps the overall economy. Nobody can hoard that much money if more people have liquidity.

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