Update: After tweeting with Noah Smith, I realized this post came out all mangled. The point was not to bash foreign scientists, but to point out that the strongest advocates for H1-B visas as well as more PhDs (from anywhere) do not have Science or the scientific workforce’s interests at heart. They are trying to drive wages and working conditions down via a compliant (often because of immigration status) labor pool. My goal is to figure out how to maintain the welfare of scientists (because you can’t have Science without scientists). Obviously, bringing in smart people is a good thing (some guy named Einstein comes to mind…).
When it comes to the STEM workforce, there never seem to any Marxists around when you need them. We do, however, have Ed at Gin and Tacos (boldface mine):
“There are not enough Americans with the necessary skills” sounds to me like “There are not enough American workers willing to live five to an apartment and do this job for $22,000/year.”
It’s not as though American universities have a shortage of people in the STEM fields, and the quality of American education in these areas is supported by the fact that foreign – Russian, Indian, Chinese, etc. – students come to the US in droves to get college degrees. If people travel halfway around the world to go to Stanford and Harvard and Michigan and Georgia Tech, I find it really hard to believe that those universities produce Highly Skilled non-U.S. Citizen graduates but insufficiently skilled U.S. Citizen graduates. That makes…no sense. None.
Like Ed, I’m not beating the nativist soapbox, but, as I’ve mentioned once or twice, many of our scientific workforce policies (such as they are) do seem designed to lower wages and increase corporate payouts or allow the NIH to have a cheap workforce.
By the way, if scientists–not universities, scientists–could organize a quarter as well as defense contractors, this would be less of a problem. But Mendeley! Or something.