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Bill Gates Speaks Out Against Immigration Policies 722

Posted by samzenpus
from the losing-our-skillz dept.
Jeian writes "None other than Bill Gates has spoken out against tighter immigration policies in the US. According to Gates, the US is losing skilled immigrants to other countries that are easier to immigrate to. Among his comments: "I personally witness the ill effects of these policies on an almost daily basis at Microsoft.""
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Bill Gates Speaks Out Against Immigration Policies

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  • Translation- I made billions in this industry, but if you try to work your way up from intern in my company to my level I'll fire you and replace you with somebody who spent 1/10th your cost growing up and getting an education, regardless of skill, because it's better for my bottom line.

    With attitudes like this among our upper class, can anybody blame high school kids for not going into computer science?

    Every programmer out there who lived through the depression in our industry of 2001-2005 is asking "Where was Bill with these jobs then?", and unfortunately the answer is Bangalore.

    I suggest that to change this image, for every H-1b Microsoft hires, Bill Gates donates a $60,000 scholarship to an American high school student to study computer science, or a $50,000 scholarship to an unemployed American programmer to update their skillset and get a higher degree. Then maybe we'll believe what he says on this topic. Until then, he's just lobbying for the Cheap Labor crowd, which includes his own business.

    My problem, I guess, is that I just can't bring myself to trust these folks any longer. They'll go for cheap over quality any day of the week- even when it means a 7 year delay in the next operating system only to have a bunch of GUI bells and whistles and no real new fixes or functionality.
    • by TodMinuit (1026042) <todminuit@nosPAM.gmail.com> on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @08:14PM (#18270468)
      Microsoft is doing what they think is in their best interest. Their purpose isn't to justify your education, or try and boost the number of CS majors. Their purpose is not to give you, or anyone else, employment. Nor is that the purpose of any company.
      • Microsoft is doing what they think is in their best interest. Their purpose isn't to justify your education, or try and boost the number of CS majors. Their purpose is not to give you, or anyone else, employment. Nor is that the purpose of any company.

        Exactly right! So why should we change our laws, written by representatives elected democratically, to help a bunch of sociopaths who are just out to get what they can regardless of the destruction they cause to the rest of society? I say we should be disbanding any corportion that doesn't have, as a part of it's charter, a duty to support the citizens of the country that is granting it incorporation papers. It's not worth the cost in lowered taxes to allow such sociopathic systems to incorporate.
        • by BakaHoushi (786009) <Goss.SeanNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @09:17PM (#18271162) Homepage
          But (And I am not an economist) then wouldn't these companies then just pack their bags and move to a country where supporting its own people is not so valued?

          I'm far from a communist or some advocate for overthrowing our government to give power to the workers (I'm for overthrowing the government because, let's face it, it's fun!). But this, I see, is the main flaw of capitalism.

          A corporation exists for one purpose: To earn money. This, in itself, isn't really a bad thing. We need a lot of goods, and a corporation provides them. We get what we need, and the company profits. Everyone's (mostly) happy. But then comes the end of the financial year. Uh-oh. Retailer X made 1 million units of currency less than it did last year. We need to cut back and fire some employees to raise our stock prices.

          Let's face it. In business, it's survival of the greediest. You head a company, and you have two options before you. One will net you X dollars, and has no damaging repercussions on your employees or the economy. However, some rather crude, dishonest, and dirty method will earn you 2X dollars at the expense of your employees (but your investors are very happy). What do you do?

          If you didn't pick the option that makes the most money, sorry, the board of directors has just given you the boot and replaced you with someone who WILL make that choice.

          This is a cynical and exaggerated example, I know, but it really does seem to me that the sad fact is, some people will do ANYTHING for money and power, and will go wherever they have to and hurt whoever they need to to change their yearly income from 4.5 billion to 5.4 billion.
          • by AJWM (19027) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @09:45PM (#18271430) Homepage
            A corporation exists for one purpose: To earn money.

            No, that's not quite right. A corporation exists to limit liability, specifically the liability of its owners for the deeds, misdeeds, or misadventures of the corporation. There are plenty of enterprises that exist to make money that are not corporations. And indeed, there are corporations that exist not to make money (e.g. non-profits).

            This, in itself, isn't really a bad thing.

            Well, yes it is. Oh, the making money part isn't inherently bad, it's the limitation on liability. Does funny things to the wiring in the brains of the board members and/or officers of the company. Because of this limitation on liability, the stockholders don't have much incentive to care how the company behaves, so long as it's profitable; worst case, they're out their investment, not facing personal impovrishment or jail time. Indeed, in most cases the real stockholders don't even know what they own, it's all indirect via investment funds, 401(k)s, and the like.

            I'm not offering any easy solutions, I'm not sure there are any easy ones. But it's worth thinking about. Personal responsibility -- pay attention to what your 401(k) funds are doing, and vote whatever shares you personally own -- is a big part.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by BakaHoushi (786009)
              Touche. I suppose you should replace "corporation" with "company" to start off with. But you are correct. Trying to make money isn't inherently bad, but to make money at ANY cost, with no responsibility... now that's scary.

              And I, too, lack any sort of real solution. As I said before, if we crack down too hard on these companies, as much as they deserve it, they'd just go someplace more lax in their laws. I mean, for Christ sakes, they don't even have to leave the U.S. You can set up sweat shops in US territ
            • by tbo (35008) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @01:38AM (#18273066) Journal
              I'm not offering any easy solutions, I'm not sure there are any easy ones.

              Oh no, your solution is quite easy--eliminate the "corporate veil" and all that--it's just that it's misguided. What you're advocating would eliminate the ability of average people to own stock, and make it the exclusive province of those rich enough to afford all kinds of liability insurance and legal "firewalls" between them and their portfolios.

              Think about it--if you're an average joe interested in buying a few shares of company X, how much time would it take you to ferret out any of X's wrongdoings? Even if you knew what to look for and somehow had access to all of the company's records, how long would it take you to sort through all of it? It's basically impossible unless you hire an army of lawyers and accountants, and that's only worth doing if you're planning to invest so much that you can afford take the hit on checking out the company. Even then, you'd probably still want to buy insurance in case you missed something.

              Take me as an example. I have a small (2-4k) investment in two gold royalties companies. These companies don't operate mines themselves, but rather buy and sell royalty rights to other mines. They have no direct control over mine operations, but do help fund the development of new and existing mines. Do any of the mines from which they receive royalties do unethical things? Do those mines employ child labor or dump toxic chemicals or prop up evil dictators? I hope not, but I don't actually know. What's more, there's no practical way for me to find out. These royalties companies regularly acquire and sell interests in various mines, many of which are located in different countries, so it's hard to keep up to date. Most of the individual mines don't have websites, and, even if they did and were up to nefarious deeds, I doubt they'd show pictures of children working in cyanide gold leach pools. If one of the companies I own stock in is ethical, and the other is not, I would of course like to transfer my investment to the ethical company, but how can I possibly find out which is which? If I was faced with the possibility of criminal responsibility for the actions of others that were beyond my control and knowledge, I'd have to just exit the stock market. Most other small investors would have to do the same. Big investors would clean up, being the only ones who could stick around.

              The logical response would be that companies should hire auditors and external accountants who could provide assurances to investors. Of course, if we have external verification of the company's ethics, why not just directly regulate rather than making investors liable? Bam, you're back to our present-day system, with all its inherent flaws and virtues. The system is not fundamentally broken--it just needs some fine-tuning.
              • by BendingSpoons (997813) on Thursday March 08, 2007 @09:39AM (#18275934)

                Do those mines employ child labor or dump toxic chemicals or prop up evil dictators? I hope not, but I don't actually know. What's more, there's no practical way for me to find out.
                I think what you mean to say is "I don't care enough to try to find out." I don't disagree with the central thrust of your post. Shareholders shouldn't face liability for their corporation's actions. However, I can't believe that a publicly traded company has no mechanism for finding out which companies they're dealing with. What you're really saying is that it's not worth the hassle to find out if your stock money has a little blood on it.

                Here is what I saw when I read your post: "I invest in GoldCo. GoldCo may or may not deal with some of the worst, exploitative elements of humanity. However, it would be quite an undertaking to find out what sort of mining companies GoldCo deals with, and then look to some NGOs to find out these mining companies' reputations. And I'm just trying to make a little money here." That mentality is a complete abdication of social responsibility. That sort of apathy, that unwillingness to see where your money is actually coming from, enables some horrible activities when it transfers to a large scale.

                I'm not trying to beat you down with a burst of self-righteousness here. I just think that stockholders wield a bit more power, and have access to more information, than you give them credit for.
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by AJWM (19027)
                Geez, I say flat out that "I'm not offering any easy solutions, I'm not sure there are any easy ones." and you respond with "Oh no, your solution is quite easy". Oh? What fricking solution? Right, your strawman.

                You put words in my mouth to offer up an "easy" solution which you then proceed to knock down. Do you think I don't know that? Why do you think I said there were no easy solutions? Hello?

                In any case some of your assumptions are mistaken. For example: I'd have to just exit the stock market. Mos
          • by mikael (484) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @09:46PM (#18271436)
            Microsoft already has research centers in Bangalore [microsoft.com], Beijing [microsoft.com] and Cambridge [microsoft.com],
            not forgetting Redmond [microsoft.com] and Silicon Valley [microsoft.com].

            Microsoft have a policy of not employing software engineers over 30 - apparently, according to Bill Gates, a software engineers skills peak at age 26, and goes downhill from then on.
            • by AJWM (19027) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @09:53PM (#18271534) Homepage
              Microsoft have a policy of not employing software engineers over 30 - apparently, according to Bill Gates, a software engineers skills peak at age 26, and goes downhill from then on.

              The real reason is that any older than that, and the engineers have enough real world experience to see what utter crap Microsoft's development practices really are, and not put up with them. MSFT needs to get them early so they can be properly indoctrinated. That they're also cheaper and willing to work longer hours (no family to spend time with) is bonus.

              There's a reason that the address of Microsoft HQ is "One Microsoft Way", and not "street" or "boulevard" or such.
            • by mpaque (655244) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @11:37PM (#18272328)
              Microsoft have a policy of not employing software engineers over 30 - apparently, according to Bill Gates, a software engineers skills peak at age 26, and goes downhill from then on.

              That can't be a real engineer, then. A person who wants to become an engineer has to take and pass the Fundamentals of Engineering/Engineer in Training examination, a seriously difficult exam (all day, about 8 hours) that requires knowledge at the Bachelor Degree level. The exam is often taken after the graduate has been in the workforce for a year or so. After passing the FE/EIT, the prospective engineer has to work several years (typically 4-5 years) in an Engineering position that the state board finds acceptable, and then must pass another exam, the Professional Engineers Examination, before they are credentialed as an Engineer.

              You just don't find many people at age 26 in the engineering community that have acquired a Professional Engineer's license, and, to be blunt, I wouldn't consider them to be at the peak of their profession for many years after that.

              Now, if you are looking for a coding drone who can type out reams of C++ really fast to a predefined specification, well, that's different. That's a skill more analogous to a construction laborer than to an engineer. Being able to set forms really quickly doesn't make one qualified to design a bridge.
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by be-fan (61476)
                That's the kind of requirements you have to meet for aerospace/chemical/nuclear/mechanical engineering. The standards for software "engineering" are nowhere close to being as rigorous.
        • Wow. Thank you for that. You must be the most hated /.er, btw.

          I agree mostly. But some degree of corporation will always be necessary in the modern world. Sure it should be regulated to ensure it remains beneficial to its host society, and it should be taxed so it is forced to support the culture which allowed it to strive and be profitable.

          On the other hand we, for some odd reason, have a double standard when it comes to corporations, we legally treat them as individuals, but also treat them as pure capitalist constructs. The boards and leaders of these corporations should be held culpable for their actions, as well as the corporate entity itself.

          Oddly I think the libertarians have some degree of a point when they want the economy to be free from government. But I see this in a positive sense, corporations should be divorced from government in the same way religion ought to be, it has no influence over government, but government can still touch its harmful practices. Of course Mr. Gates likes immigration, he benefits from it, but due to our system he has more of a voice than you or me, or most other /.ers or lay public.

          Oddly, to go back more OT, I think Mr. Gates is confused. I haven't seen much initiative to reduce legal immigration, and if there is it too is misguided since it is already well night impossible for skilled immigrants to come to the US, especially those from Europe, and other developed nations.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dbIII (701233)
        You will see more of this for as long as India has a superiour high school system to the USA. If you are a potential voter you can do something about this. If you are a graduate with some spare time you can help out and show to students that a bit of education helps. I still find it difficult to believe that education standards have slipped enough that there are schools that don't teach calculus at all - slipping below the standards of the developing world is not the way to run an education system.
    • Which do we really need here in the US? Do we really want highly skilled immigrants to fill highly skilled jobs, or do we want cheap labor that will do the jobs no one else wants to do? Are kids who grew up here complaining about losing construction/landscaping and migrant farm jobs to immigration?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Which do we really need here in the US? Do we really want highly skilled immigrants to fill highly skilled jobs, or do we want cheap labor that will do the jobs no one else wants to do?

        We want cheap highly skilled labor to prevent having to actually pay for the society in which we live.

        Are kids who grew up here complaining about losing construction/landscaping and migrant farm jobs to immigration?

        Some are. I really do not like that the way I learned to work (picking strawberries, cane berries, and do
      • by Tackhead (54550) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @08:46PM (#18270850)
        > Which do we really need here in the US? Do we really want highly skilled immigrants to fill highly skilled jobs, or do we want cheap labor that will do the jobs no one else wants to do? Are kids who grew up here complaining about losing construction/landscaping and migrant farm jobs to immigration?

        Which is what makes US immigration policy so infuriating.

        Apu Packofsix wants to come over from Bangalore and write software. He can come as an H-1B, he can't change jobs while he's here, and his H-1B expires in three years. Then he can renew once, and he can stay for three more years, after which he has to go home. Since he's making between $50K-100K, his employer might like to keep him around, but his employer isn't in the business of breaking the law. So - he's only got six years here, he never puts down roots, and after six years of making $20K/year in taxes off him, he gets kicked out.

        Jose Seispack, on the other hand, sneaks across the border in the dead of night. Makes $3/hour picking berries. Has an "anchor baby" at the earliest possible opportunity. Stays indefinitely, sneaking back across the border within a few months, should he be so unfortunate as to be caught and deported. Consumes about $10K/year in government services, indefinitely.

        Joe Sixpack? Well, Apu was forced to go back home after his six years were up. So when Apu starts his consulting operation in Bangalore, guess what happens to Joe Sixpack's engineering career?

        Thanks, Politicians. Thanks a fuck of a lot.

        I'll grant that a population consisting of a lot of highly-educated engineers is lot harder to rule than a nation of xenophobic Joe Sixpacks and happy-to-get-$3/hour Jose Seispacks, but that's about the only win I see for the government: There's no other conceivable rationale (economically or in terms of tax revenue) behind the current system of discouraging a few hundred thousand highly-skilled workers from coming to America, while simultaneously encouraging millions of low-skilled workers to show up.

        Maybe it's time for Atlas to shrug. If America doesn't want its high-tech immigrants, maybe they should take the hint and all go home, where they'll at least be allowed to be productive. And if America doesn't want its own high-tech citizens either, maybe we should take the hint and go where the action is.

        The problem isn't just in the computer industry: does anyone seriously think the next generation of biotechnicians and gene-hackers is going to come from America's educational system? Anyone? Bueller?

        • by Eskarel (565631) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @09:10PM (#18271098)
          The problem actually has nothing to do with sending skilled immigrants home or letting unskilled immigrants in. It comes from classifying immigrants as different than everyone else.

          When you class an immigrant worker as different, he or she loses all legal protections and is forced to work under whatever conditions his employer dictates. Apu doesn't make 100k a year(unless he's exceptionally lucky), he makes 50k because if he complains about it he goes back to Bangalore. He doesn't fight for a shorter work week or better conditions, because if he complains he goes back to Bangalore. Joe Seispack has the same problem. He works under whatever conditions his employer sets for him or he goes back home.

          This is great for employers because they get cheap labor, it's great for politicians because these companies have more profits and can donate more to their campaigns, plus they get to blame economic hardship on immigrants instead of their own &#$% ups.

          It sucks for the government(as opposed to politicians) because there is less tax revenue, and it definitely sucks for you because it means that you can't compete. You can't even offer to work for whatever Apu is getting because the company doesn't believe(quite rightly probably) that you'd be willing to work for peanunts for 6 years, and wont' hire you.

          Personally I reckon just open up the damned borders, it's not like the government really provides many services anyway, and without the threat of deportation over their heads the immigrants would probably want to work for the same wages as you or I, and with the same conditions as you or I. Apu might not be willing to work 80 hours a week for half of the industry standard just so he can stay in the US long enough to maybe, just maybe get his citizenship, and we'd go back to employing people based on their qualificiations.

          • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @09:49PM (#18271494) Journal
            Both me and my brother are Appus. There is a sea change in the attitude of the next generation of Appus. They dont want to come to USA on a permanent basis. Till about 2000, they (now I am an American, so I call them they) would given an arm and a leg to come to USA slog for six years, get employers to sponsor them for green cards (most employers do) and run back to India to get a bride before filing I-480 [*FN1]. That was then and now not many want to come. Main reason: domestic help. In India their salaries have gone up not the wages for servant maids. They live like little Kings there, usually employing a cook, a maid and a driver. Most Indian middle class employs servant maids. We were barely middle class growing up, still we had one maid to do the floors, dishes and wash clothes. Most middle class grows up believing it is beneath their diginity to do housework. Till about 2000 these girls see the shiny cars and air-conditioned carpeted homes and got married to H1Bs. Only after landing here they realize, unlike Indian families in India with airconditioned homes and shiny cars, the American household does NOT employ an army of servants. They reported back and the next generation of Indian women are extremely reluctant to marry H1Bs. So H1Bs would rather stay in India.

            The USdollar is worth 45 Rs +-2 Rs on the exchange rate. But IMF and others have calculated that on the Purchase Power Parity basis, just 10 Rs buys in India what a dollar buys in USA. Adjusted for this, and the cheap labour for other services, and the inherant aversion for the Indian middle class to do blue collar work, leave alone menial labour, US has lost its attraction. You can raise back the H1B quota back to 120,000 from the present 65,000 like it was till 2000. But unless Mr Gates offers domestic servants, he is not going to get that many applicants from India.

            [*FN1] If you are married when you file the dependants form, both get green card at the same time. If you get married after green card, spouse waits for as long as 7 years to get one.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Jason Earl (1894)

              Exactly. I am an American that grew up outside the U.S. (South America) and so I have seen how the moderately wealthy live in third world countries. And you are exactly right. If you can get a "good" job in a third world country you are far better off to stay there than to come to the United States. Quite frankly, that's unfortunate for the United States.

              Part of the reason that the United States is as powerful as it has become is that we have skimmed the best and brightest from every nation for genera

      • I say (Score:3, Funny)

        by einhverfr (238914)
        we revoke the citizenship of all immigrants and anyone decended from immigrants in the last four hundred years.

        Wait....
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by N3WBI3 (595976)
        Up until a few years ago construction jobs were choice jobs! Working your way through college? Construction has a seasonal peak. Are you not college material? Construction can provide a middle class life. Its not until contractors and companies started to depress wages with illegal labor that construction jobs suddenly became 'jobs Americans wont do'. Summer harvesting jobs also used to be good labor for High shcool kids in rural areas but we can pay illegals below the minimum wage off the books so we will
    • by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @08:32PM (#18270704) Journal
      Typically short-sighted protectionist viewpoint.

      Think about it this way...if all the competent people move here, where will all the work be? One of America's greatest advantages is that it's just a damn nice place to live. If you can move here (and thanks to our typically loose immigration laws, you probably can), you will, depriving your native country of your skill, and giving the pass along benefits to the rest of us...Skilled workers immigrating to a country is always a good thing.

      The other option is to lock everything down, and say "No new immigrants." What happens then? Do you think wages will go through the roof, and jobs will grow on trees? Or do you think more companies will send the jobs to where the workers are?

      Sure Microsoft wants the cheap workers, but, you know what? They can go to where the cheap workers are if they want 'em that bad, and we really don't want that to happen.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Maxo-Texas (864189)
        And they can discover the benefits of countries like that just as exxon and others have recently.

        These companies are taking advantage of a safe legal environment here while using workers who do not have the same costs as we do.

        I think a suitable answer would be for the government to nationalize microsoft just as other countries nationalize oil companies.

        Either they are part of our society and share it's benefits or they are not.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Eli Gottlieb (917758)
        Right, but none of that justifies H-1B visa slavery.

        In the beginning of the twentieth century, the United States had really free immigration laws. Millions came in because of how great America supposedly was (along with the lack of attempts at genocide) a great place to live. Then people got racist and tightened the immigration laws.

        If we let skilled labor into the country, they should be able to compete on a level playing field with American workers. That means visas that let guest workers stay here whi
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by N3WBI3 (595976)
          What a crock!

          In the beginning of the twentieth century, the United States had really free immigration laws.

          People were denied entry for everything from whopping caugh to severe myopia. If you were in no condition to provide for yourself (this is before welfare, food stamps, ....) or if no American would take care of your provision you were sent back on the boat you came in on. America in 1900 had a huge demand for labor that it could not fill so if you were healthy enough to work you were sent here and,

      • by monopole (44023) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @09:05PM (#18271036)
        a.) The US is a damn nice place to live because we have a large middle class and labor protections that men fought and died for (the 8 hour day and having weekends off didn't just happen, and they won't stay around if we don't fight for them). Generating an underclass of scab labor slowly destroys what makes this country a great place.

        b.) Companies which renounce their US citizenships should be treated as such, no government contracts, no tax breaks, no protection military or legal. Microsoft doesn't want to hire Americans? How about all government agencies (federal to municipal) require ODF XML format and ban submissions in Word for any official business, and require strict conformance with standard WWW formats for web pages, and POSIX compliance for all APIs in use? How about revisiting antitrust?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by smallpaul (65919)

          a.) The US is a damn nice place to live because we have a large middle class and labor protections that men fought and died for (the 8 hour day and having weekends off didn't just happen, and they won't stay around if we don't fight for them). Generating an underclass of scab labor slowly destroys what makes this country a great place.

          It's ridiculous to call H1B's "scab laborers" and outrageous to accuse them of destroying what makes America great. Entrepreneurship is at least as much of what makes Amer

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by SatanicPuppy (611928) *
          Labor protections have certainly done wonders for our auto and steel industries.
      • Hahaha... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by rbarreira (836272)

        One of America's greatest advantages is that it's just a damn nice place to live. If you can move here

        Is that supposed to be a joke? Call me when USA guarantees cheap health care, decent vacation time and working hours policies, personal safety and privacy.
    • by The Bungi (221687) <thebungi@gmail.com> on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @08:39PM (#18270770) Homepage
      Every programmer out there who lived through the depression in our industry of 2001-2005

      It wasn't a depression - it was a correction. The bubble burst on a million stupid overpriced and underdeveloped "products" created by "developers" who got $50K out of highschool because they knew how to spell "HTML". Frankly, I was happy to see them go back to whatever it was they were doing before.

      Further, the "depression" wasn't specific to IT, nor was the IT industry the only one affected. You make it sound like you and your friends were the only ones who got shafted in 2001. And it ended in 2005? Give me a break, in most large to mid-sized markets the bloodletting was over by late 2002 to early 2003.

      I'm sure you'll be gettin lots of karma tonight since the mods seem to like your "fuck Bill Gates" stance and seem to be modding down anyone who questions your wisdom. I do however wonder why no one on Slashdot finds some time to question the immigration policies of companies like IBM, who layoff thousands of American developers, sysadmins, project managers and analysts and then hire [wikipedia.org] hundreds of thousands of Indians and chinese to come work in the US for wages that are significantly less than the ones dictated by H1-B rules. In some cases they even hire back their old employees through consulting body shops at two thirds the cost (without any benefits whatsoever and lower salary).

      At least Microsoft doesn't screw immigrants like IBM and other companies do. But IBM is the darling of the open source crowd, so mum's the word. I don't expect to see many articles around here detailing that sort of thing.

      In the meantime though, it's always fun to bash Microsoft while ignoring the real problems. Take a gander at that Wikipedia article, let go of your "the corporation exists to serve me" philosphy for a second and think about what hurts this country more.

    • Depression my ass (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ucblockhead (63650) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @08:43PM (#18270818) Homepage Journal
      The job market for software people in 2001-2005 was little different from the job market in 1991-1995. What changed was that people entering the market during the boom thought the boom was normal.

      I was part of interviews in 2004...trying to hire a software developer. A majority of "software developers" who applied couldn't write a goddamn recursive function in the language of their choice. 2001-2005 was not a "depression". It was the market returning to normal after a period where any warm body got three competing offers.
    • by troll -1 (956834) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @09:48PM (#18271468)
      My problem, I guess, is that I just can't bring myself to trust these folks any longer. They'll go for cheap over quality any day of the week- even when it means a 7 year delay in the next operating system only to have a bunch of GUI bells and whistles and no real new fixes or functionality.

      But is there really an inversely proportional relationship between cheap and quality? In other words do people from, say, India have less talent than Americans because they're willing to work for less?

      I wonder if better paid Americans really do produce better products? If so, I wonder what it is about Americans that makes them better and why there's not a market for such talent.

      I work for a company as an administrator for a 2000+ Linux cluster. We hire a lot of people from India and Eastern Europe. Should we fire them because they're not American?

      There seems to be a hint of racism in your argument. I really don't know, perhaps we are better off being isolationist. But maybe you need to make the argument against free trade and diminishing borders in broader economic terms rather than in just citing Microsoft's delayed release of Vista.
  • by biocute (936687) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @07:59PM (#18270280) Homepage
    Mr Gates did mention that 640K skilled immigrants ought to be enough for USA.
  • by illegalcortex (1007791) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @08:00PM (#18270290)
    Bill Gates's public statements on immigration are about as credible as his public statements on Google's business plan. The man has a history of boldly lying when it suits his business interests. Why would anyone seriously consider his claims on this topic?
  • by canipeal (1063334) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @08:04PM (#18270326)
    Microsoft is also a fond supporter of H1B visa immigrants http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H1B_visa/ [wikipedia.org] From my own personal experience working as an IT recruiter in the past, H1B Java Developers with similar education and experience often would work for about 30% less than a US citizen.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by daveb (4522)

      From my own personal experience working as an IT recruiter in the past, H1B Java Developers with similar education and experience often would work for about 30% less than a US citizen.

      yup - and that's the free market, competition and capitalism at work for you.

      I'm just not sure what it is you're suggesting as a better alternative. Removing all barriers would undoubtedly improve the profitability of US businesses. Perhaps that's what you are advocating.

      ok ... that's a troll-like statement. I'm really trying

    • Except... (Score:3, Informative)

      by Philodoxx (867034)
      It's illegal to pay an H1-B employee less than an American citizen doing the same job. I'm sure there are ways around it but there are laws in place to make sure that companies don't use H1-B as a farm for cheap labour.
  • by smose (877816) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @08:04PM (#18270334)

    The mantle of "hire the best, no matter the cost" has been assumed by Google. The good ones from MS all burned out long ago, and they aren't going back. The rest of the best in this country would cost MS too much to hire, or won't take any offer because they find MS to be unsavory.

    Gates has to look overseas -- it's the only place he has left.

  • Translation (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @08:05PM (#18270344)
    Among his comments: "I personally witness the ill effects of these policies on an almost daily basis at Microsoft.""

    In other words, I think my employees suck.
  • the future (Score:5, Funny)

    by User 956 (568564) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @08:06PM (#18270364) Homepage
    According to Gates, the US is losing skilled immigrants to other countries that are easier to immigrate to.

    Not to mention the US ban on human cloning. At this rate, with no immigrant labor, and no clone slaves, our future workforce is going to be heavily reliant on robots. And we all know how well that always turns out.
    • by CrazyJim1 (809850)
      Not to mention the US ban on human cloning. At this rate, with no immigrant labor, and no clone slaves, our future workforce is going to be heavily reliant on robots. And we all know how well that always turns out.

      Yes, in a show of hightened self esteem, Bill Gates installs Windows Vista(TM) on all the robots. Unfortunately one wrong voice command and all the robots are selected to become double the killers of any man.
    • by Gryle (933382) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @10:56PM (#18272054)
      Better get your Old Glory insurance policy quick then!
  • by iamacat (583406) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @08:06PM (#18270366)
    Why would he care where people immigrate to, as long as they work for Microsoft? Of course, outsourcing laws themselves need to be tightened. If nothing else, outsourced employees are not paying US income taxes and are neither protected by or obligated to any US laws. It's only fair to at least impose duties to cover their use of US public infrastructure that local companies pay for in taxes. Also if, say, Chinese government has any issues with MS software, corporate executables should be extradited to serve time in Chinese re-education camps, or whatever punishment is deemed appropriate by the local government. One should be required to follow SOME country's laws completely.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    But raise the quota in a controlled fashion so we aren't flooded by H1Bs over the next couple years.

    I've always said, I'd rather compete against the guy down the hall making an American wage, than someone in India, China, or Vietnam making 20 percent of what I'm making. Even if I can outperform that guy 5 to 1, it's hard to convince upper management of that. And yes, America has always benefited from the influx of restless talent from foreign shores. Our colleges need them, our startups need them, our Fo
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Our colleges need them, our startups need them, our Fortune 1000 companies need them.

      But the question is why the need? With 300 million Americans, there must be a price point that will make getting a CS degree profitable enough to attract employees. Or is it that these three groups just refuse to pay that price point?
      • They basically refuse to pay that price point because above a certain pay level it's simply more economical to offshore the job.
  • Gates may be right. Im surprised Microsoft hasnt outsourced large amounts of its programming and customer service jobs yet. Gates basically saying theyll have no choice if they cant import the talent they need. Well paid immigrants keep money in our economy.
    • They're already doing it- Microsoft has a huge R&D center in Bangalore that they used to prevent the hiring of highly paid American citizens during the 2001 high tech depression.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @08:07PM (#18270388)
    I'm perplexed at Bill's thinking here. He apparently doesn't think US students are getting enough math and science or are going into that field. So his solution is to bring over endentured servents for a fraction of a US worker's salary to make up for the slack.

    What's a smart college bound kid going to do? Go into math and science when he's competing against people that will always work for a lot less than he wants to make, or go into law and become an ambluance chasing attorney?

    And to top it off: Bill wants a technical solution to this company's incomptence in hiring people and getting into markets. Bill your stock price is flat not due to that you don't have the best C++ coder that knows how to make recursive data structures, it is because your business model is outdated and you don't have anything exciting in the pipeline.

    Course this is rational behavior for someone who can't continue to run his business: say "look our problem is X and if only you let me do Y I would still be making money in the stock market"
    • by LibertineR (591918) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @08:27PM (#18270648)
      A smart college kid would choose a career based on what they love to do, rather than on money, or they just are not a smart kid to begin with. It makes no sense to destroy your life doing something you dont want to do, because the odds are, you will suck at it and be a failure anyway.

      Do what you love, or suck at anything else. You could end up being better than others, but never as good as you could be at the thing you love to do.

      • by aeoo (568706) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @08:40PM (#18270784) Journal
        Bingo.

        Money is irrelevant. Money is only relevant when you love 2 things more or less equally and there is a large difference in income between them.

        If you hate plumbing and you get into plumbing to make money...yea, you'll be a shit plumber who will make his own life miserable and lives around them as well! And in the end probably get a bum rep and never get another plumbing contract.

        Do what you love. It's the only thing that makes sense. The same is true after you're hired. You gotta do what you love regardless of what management tells you to do, because following orders against your nature won't help neither you nor your management.
        • by rmckeethen (130580) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @10:32PM (#18271856)

          Money is irrelevant. Money is only relevant when you love 2 things more or less equally and there is a large difference in income between them.

          Bzzt! Wrong answer. You go to the back of the line... ;-)

          Don't kid yourself on this subject -- money is *always* relevant in any business decision, most especially your choice of careers. As someone who's been on the other side of the tracks, I can tell you that poverty does indeed suck. The only people who think differently are usually the ones who've never known what it means to be poor. You might love janitorial work, but I guarentee you that your family isn't going to love the sacrifices they'd have to make if you changed careers.

          After a few years, I've come to see that the real trick in life is to find a career that fits both your aptitude and your financial needs. Ignoring either factor, or choosing a career based only on money or only on aptitude, is the surest path to unhappiness. If you want true career satisfaction, find something you're good at, and make sure it pays!

  • by Anonymous Coward
    http://www.creativeclass.org/_flight_articles.shtm l [creativeclass.org]

    Richard Florida, author of "The Rise of the Creative Class" has written another book "The Flight of the Creative Class". The books are the result of his research on why some cities prosper better than others. He points out a couple of things: 1 - Some people are better for the economy than others. 2 - The people we need to drive the economy won't follow jobs to places they hate living. One of the reasons our economy has been so good is because we have
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by f0dder (570496)
      Anyone who has ever attended college only need look at where the graduation ceremonies are held. Engineers get dinky basketball gymnasium. Business gets school coliseum.
    • by Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) * <seebert42@gmail.com> on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @08:18PM (#18270530) Homepage Journal
      On a slightly different topic, I note that farmers in Colorado can't get the labor they need because of the tighter border control. Cutting our nose off to spite our face is truly clueless. We need these people.

      Sorry, but whoever told you that is the granddaddy of all liars. Farmers in Colorado (and other states) can't get the labor they need because they refuse to pay a living wage for that labor and accept the inflation in food prices that comes from paying a living wage. The border control isn't any tighter- border patrol agents who actually use guns to enforce the border get sent to jail, and the National Guard troops we've sent there don't have any ammo. If anything, the border control is LOOSER than it was in the 1990s.
  • here we have it (Score:5, Interesting)

    by phaetonic (621542) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @08:09PM (#18270406)
    How is stemming illegal immigration going to hurt Microsoft from issuing H1B visas? I have not heard about making it more difficult for legal immigrants, just illegal.
    • The number of H1B visas is already quite restrictive. I think a loosening up on the annual quota is what he was talking about. Seems like there's more demand than supply.
    • by chill (34294)
      He wasn't talking about illegal immigration, but rather legal immigration and the problem with lumping all immigration together in one debate.
  • Fuck him (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @08:10PM (#18270422)
    It's alright for tech workers and engineers to have their wages depressed by opening up the borders meanwhile the MBAs, lawyers, physicians and such are under no such threat. If you're going to open up the floodgates at least make it equal opportunity.
  • The wrong idea (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ZDRuX (1010435) *
    I think a lot of the people here are looking at this from the wrong angle. He doesn't specifically target ONLY programmers, or ONLY network technicians. It seems his general idea is that most people coming into this country with very high skills in different fields posess the knowledge and intelligence to be a real great asset to the country, but are turned down because they are immigrants.

    This same talk has recently been appearing in Canadian news papers, where a lot of scientists, doctors, lawyers, and
  • Shortage myth (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Supercooldude (1018122) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @08:19PM (#18270542)
    Every time I hear someone complain about the "desperate shortage of skilled programmers" I want to punch him in the face. To see how false this is, all one needs do is look at the extremely low percentage of recent comp-sci grads who can find work as programmers. The majority of them have to work in some semi-technical job such as tech support, or in some cases can't find jobs in the computer field at all. When I graduated, it took me 8 months to find a job, meanwhile the entire time so-called experts were claiming a desperate shortage of programmers and demanding an increase in the H-1B quota. The problem is that employers too often have ridiculously specific requirements. Ten years ago, a typical job ad would say something like "C++ programmer needed, with 2 years experience". Today, a typical ad requires "6 years Java experience in a commercial environment, 3 years J2EE web-based development, Swing, JSP, Servlets, EJB, XML, DOM/SAX, advanced knowledge of application servers (primarily Weblogic and WebSphere), Advanced knowledge of database connectivity and integration. (Oracle, DB2 and SQL Server). And when they can't find someone with /exactly/ the skills they're looking for, they complain about a labor shortage. They don't realize that a skilled C++ programmer could become productive in C# in a very short amount of time, because these are transferable skills. That would be like Chevy refusing to hire a skilled Ford mechanic. It just doesn't happen in any other field but ours. And if they absolutely /have/ to have someone who meets those exact requirements, then they could find him if they offered a high enough salary.
    • by Renraku (518261)
      Do you think the immigrants have these qualifications? Hell no.

      All they have to do is have proof that they've tried and tried and tried to find someone with these requirements and can't. Then they get the OK to hire a foreign worker.

      I can bet if someone could possibly have all that experience, they wouldn't be applying for that job. They'd already be with a company somewhere, with decades of experience, making a lot more than starting pay at another job. It would be like me putting an ad in the paper fo
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dorkygeek (898295)

      You do realise though that Computer Science is not only about programming? The positions you described can easily be filled with somebody who only had vocational training, at least over here in Europe.

    • Re:Shortage myth (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Philodoxx (867034) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @09:01PM (#18270994)
      And every time I hear somebody complaining about graduating with a CS (or equivalent) degree and complaining about not being able to find a job I want to punch him in the face. Accredited does not equal skilled! Some of the people in my graduating class are complete morons but they still have a piece of paper that says they are just as skilled as I am.
    • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @10:07PM (#18271650) Journal
      When job reqs get that specific, it means that there already someone with exactly the same qualifications working for them, most likely an H1B and or someone with F1-practical-training waiting to become H1B. These adverts are crafted to reduce or reject other applicants, not to select any.

      One good silver lining in this whole issue is that India is a democracy. It cant keep its currency low like China or cap the pay and extract blood from its workers. Indian infotech worker salaries are sky rocketing, considering the productivity, other costs and exchange rate, India will soon stop being such a great source of cheap intellectual labour. Even if we raise the H1B quota back to 120,000 like it used to be till 2000, we will not be getting top talent from India. Now a days it is very difficult to persuade IIT/IIM grads to settle in USA. My classmate is so furious with the insulting treatment by our (I was an Indian now I am an American to clarify the us/them for you) cosulate in Chennai, India when he applied for a two week tourist visa, he said he would never set his foot again in USA. We might get 120K applicants from India, they will be of such poor quality companies will quickly sour on them.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by mpaque (655244)
        When job reqs get that specific, it means that there already someone with exactly the same qualifications working for them, most likely an H1B and or someone with F1-practical-training waiting to become H1B. These adverts are crafted to reduce or reject other applicants, not to select any.

        Good news, everyone! The Department of Labor has addressed this, and employers no longer need to pretend that they tried to hire someone that was already in the US.

        The Department of Labor has published it's strategic 5 Ye
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ozborn (161426)
      Ten years ago, a typical job ad would say something like "C++ programmer needed, with 2 years experience". Today, a typical ad requires "6 years Java experience in a commercial environment, 3 years J2EE web-based development, Swing, JSP, Servlets, EJB, XML, DOM/SAX, advanced knowledge of application servers (primarily Weblogic and WebSphere), Advanced knowledge of database connectivity and integration. (Oracle, DB2 and SQL Server).

      Let me explain the game to you. The way it works is this:
      1)Management wants t

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tignom (562076)

      Every time I hear someone complain about the "desperate shortage of skilled programmers", I cringe. It's true, there is a desperate shortage of skilled programmers, but there's always a glut of mediocre/decent/good programmers. That's what nobody pays attention to in this whole debate.

      It's easy to find programmers to fill positions, especially if you pay well. But it's very difficult to recruit the really talented people. And there's a huge difference. I know talented programmers who are easily three

  • What science? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tomstdenis (446163) <tomstdenis&gmail,com> on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @08:55PM (#18270942) Homepage
    The problem I have is the sub-culture that follows the MSFT style businesses don't really have a need for true science. I mean god, look at thedailywtf.com for examples of how "programmers" just don't get what the hell they are doing. Quick, dirty, and with a lot of buttons. That's the sort of software people come to expect, with absolutely no focus on what goes on behind the scenes.

    We have a business culture where most of the people who program [or claim to design software] for a living couldn't explain, say, how a merge sort works. Worse yet, they couldn't easily find a description, learn it, and explain it. The net result being applications which fail in the field (hint: bugs in any other engineer discipline == killing people), consume far too many resources, and don't meet all of the user requirements to start with.

    Take a good hard look at things like Vista, or heck even OpenOffice (for a good OSS target). Bloatware to the extreme, the result of rampant divergent design processes without care to optimization or proper resource management.

    Why could I point and click applications with Win 3.11 and 4MB of ram, but now Vista requires a min of 1GB of ram, and a processor that is 200 times faster? Heck, you can run a decently tuned BSD or Linux distro with only 128MB of ram easily (with X, Gnome, etc). Why did a full featured word processor with spell/grammar checking fit nicely on an 80MB HD in the 80s and now Word takes a half gigabyte? etc...

    As a whole, most end user applications are just not engineered to be engineered. They're quickly assembled and shoved out the door. Which pretty much annoys the fuck out of any true blue software engineer [who wants to take pride in what they are doing]. Net result, only uneducated non-engineers will want to work on the software because they don't know better [and/or don't care]. It'd be like running an art school where you only showcase musical performances that are off beat and out of tune. No serious musician would want to study there.

    I don't think comp.sci is dying, I just think most hardcore scientists are not really caring to work for the likes of MSFT, they'd rather work for smaller companies where their input is actually valued and their contributions while commercial, are not solely aesthetic.

    Tom
  • by cfulmer (3166) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @08:57PM (#18270962) Homepage Journal
    If Microsoft wanted, it could announce that it is going to start their engineers at $200K/year and it would get more than enough qualified applicants. Or, it could hire marginally qualified applicants and train them in the technologies it wants. In fact, were Microsoft to start paying that rate, it would not take long before the market were flooded with qualified engineers. More people would switch to Computer Science and more universities would open up comp. sci departments.

    The problem is not a shortage of American high-tech labor; it's a shortage of cheap American high-tech labor. Gates' concern is not that he can't find engineers in the U.S.; it's that it's cheaper for him to hire engineers elsewhere.

    I suggest that the reason that fewer people are going into Computer Science is that they see how software companies treat their engineers. How many software engineers lost their jobs between 2001 and 2004? If the market for good engineers were as tight as Bill Gates suggests, those people should have been gobbled up in an instant. Heck, companies would have been hiring them, knowing that they'd be needed eventually.
  • by mi (197448) <slashdot-2014@virtual-estates.net> on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @09:02PM (#18271008) Homepage

    Instead of arguing, whether immigrants are useful or detrimental overall, the right argument is based on Human Rights. I simply don't understand, how an American (except, perhaps, the Native Americans) can sleep at night rejecting the right to move to this country to someone else.

    The same right his/her ancestors took for granted...

    Oh, a common defense goes, my ancestors arrived legally. BS. If today's laws were the same as they were before and during the Ellis Island era, all of today's immigrants would've been legal too.

    "Oh, but they are criminals," — goes another. No they are not — the only offense, most of them have committed is only violating the laws against immigration. The circular argument boils down to:

    1. They are bad people.
    2. Why, what's wrong with them?
    3. They break our laws!
    4. Which laws?
    5. Ones, designed to keep them out.
    6. Why do we design such laws?
    7. Because they are bad people. [Go back to 1]

    Frankly, I hold the following truth Self-Evident:

    Anyone has the right to live, where he/she can afford to and work for anyone, who would hire him/her.

    The need to keep out (real) criminals et al. is of no more consequence to the above statement, than the ban on yelling "Fire!" in a crowded theater is to the Freedom of Speech.

  • by GPS Pilot (3683) on Wednesday March 07, 2007 @10:08PM (#18271654)
    Inasmuch as Bill is calling for admitting more skilled immigrants and fewer unskilled immigrants, it's a step in the right direction.

    Let's make an analogy between Harvard U. and the United States.

    Harvard is extremely selective about who is admitted. As a result it has a stellar reputation. Imagine how quickly Harvard would go downhill if it started admitting high-school dropouts.

    Similarly, because so many people want to emigrate to the U.S., it could be extremely selective about who it admits. For example, it could require immigrants to have a master's degree.

    Instead, the U.S. isn't picky at all about who it lets in. Anyone with a pair of legs can walk across the border. The U.S. imports poverty, when it could instead import success and wealth. As a result, the social safety net has been strained beyond the breaking point in some places: more than 70 California emergency rooms have closed. And the number of Americans killed by illegal immigrants is far higher [worldnetdaily.com] than the number of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Imagine how much schools, hospitals, and crime statistics would improve, and property values go up, if the U.S. were selective about immigrants.
  • by rwa2 (4391) * on Thursday March 08, 2007 @04:30AM (#18273882) Homepage Journal
    It's the new global economy, we don't /have/ to employ people directly here in America. It makes more sense, since then workers will spend money on our local economy. But ostensibly the foreign workers send most of their money back home anyway (but who doesn't have an H1B buddy with an awesome home entertainment system and doesn't eat out all the time?). But our policymakers don't have a very good track record of making sense, so I'm not terribly worried about our economy, we'll managed to scrape by.

    What does suck are the export controls imposed by the EAR (Dept. of Commerce) and ITAR (Dept. of Defense). It pretty much means that any transfer of engineering technical data / discussion must be approved. For US companies, they basically need to employ a full time "Export Compliance Officer" that serves as a proxy to either ensure all technical communication (which now needs to be done in paper) is utterly devoid of "sensitive" technical information, or that we apply for a specific license from the DOC and/or DOD to talk or send source code on things like encryption algorithms (which are showing up EVERYWHERE now that proper security and authentication are important).

    Basically, we've had to pigeonhole all of our foreign workers (even H1Bs, permanent residents and US citizens are typically all right) into their own office spaces and file and network servers locked off from everyone else. If the project they're working on contains "sensitive data", they're pretty much only allowed to contribute code to it, but can't even really access the repository with their own code.

    So anyway, if you're working developing on anything interesting, such as high performance computing or improving encryption devices or better phased-array antennas or vehicle guidance systems, AND you want to take advantage of the best /cheapest foreign scientists and engineers available from around the world, you're better off spinning out your R&D center onto foreign soil as a foreign entity. It seems much easier to have the few US citizens you have emigrate or become non-technical project managers, than to put up all the walls and proxies you need for your US scientists and non-US scientists to collaborate without incurring US gov't fines.

    The way I see it, the effect of EAR and ITAR will be to provide job security for American engineers and scientists in the short run, but in the long run our engineering/scientific capability will either flounder here all on its own, or move entirely outside our borders where they can more easily collaborate in the global intellectual community (very much the opposite of the US technological superiority that the EAR and ITAR try to preserve).

    So really, it's us American workers who should be worried about our government's policy screwing us over, not the H1B workers.

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