‘How to Keep America Competitive’

By February 25, 2007General

Great op-ed by the above title in today’s WaPo from Bill Gates. It makes some great points, among them:

  • “Innovation is the source of U.S. economic leadership and the foundation for our competitiveness in the global economy.” Yeah, we knew that, and it’s driven by US manufacturers, as both you regular blog readers know.
  • “The most important factor is our workforce. Scientists and engineers trained in U.S. universities — the world’s best — have pioneered key technologies such as the microprocessor, creating industries and generating millions of high-paying jobs.”
  • “Two steps are critical. First, we must demand strong schools so that young Americans enter the workforce with the math, science and problem-solving skills they need to succeed in the knowledge economy. We must also make it easier for foreign-born scientists and engineers to work for U.S. companies.”
  • We’ve made all these points here before, but when they come from a successful businessman and billionaire, they carry a little more weight. He knows what he’s talking about. Gates notes that, “Half of this country’s doctoral candidates in computer science come from abroad.” It was former Sen. Allen (R-VA) at the NAM Board meeting who said of the foreign graduates of advanced US degrees in math and science that he’d staple a visa to their diploma. He’s right — otherwise we’re send the next Andy Grove back home to compete against us. Bad idea.

    So yes, we need to increase the number of H1B visas. Microsoft pays their H1B workers the same as their US counterparts, like almost every other company. The notion that these high-end employees somehow depress America wages is laughable. And, we need to reform the green card process so we can speed the more permanent residence of the workers we need.

    And while we’re at it, let’s do something about improving the schools. That’s something on which all of us — except maybe the NEA — can agree.

    Join the discussion One Comment

    • Babs says:

      There is no shortage and there never was.

      Emergency: Every American tech and engineering worker MUST prepare for rapidly arriving unemployment and bankruptcy if the bill to raise the H1B visa cap passes.

      How do I know? Because that’s what happened the last time the H-1b cap was raised. Hundreds of thousands of foreign workers were imported here for a period of several years until the visa cap went back down. During those same years, hundreds of thousands of competent, productive American workers were let go, because foreigners could be employed for less.

      Contrary to popular belief, there are NO protections for American workers in the existing law. What makes us think this time will be any different?

      Bill Gates is absolutely lying when he says that skilled Americans have no trouble finding work and when he insists that there is some sort of ‘shortage’ that needs to be remedied.

      I am an American IT professional, and I know what I am seeing. Salaries have been stagnant, and opportunities few and far between, ever since the H-1b cap was first raised.

      Why on earth should any American student major in engineering, computer science, or any related fied when these professions are being turned over to low-paid foreign workers?