Gates Says Open The Doors To Foreign Workers

from the changing-world dept

Tech companies have complained mightily about restrictions on H-1Bs, the visa program that lets them bring foreign workers to the U.S. temporarily for jobs. The government caps the number of H1-Bs that can be issued each year — last year it was 65,000 — severely limiting the talent that high-tech companies can recruit and employ. Efforts by the industry to raise those limits have largely fallen on deaf ears, especially since 9/11 when everything foreign was deemed a potential threat. Bill Gates is now reiterating the industry’s stance, and even went a step further, when he argued in a panel discussion that the government should get rid of the caps altogether. The argument makes sense: hire the best workers you can find, regardless of nationality, and improve the competitiveness of the company, industry, and economy. Opponents claim that more foreign workers equals fewer jobs for Americans. But it looks like Americans are contributing to this trend pretty well on their own with a declining interest in high tech. Keeping skilled labor in their home countries, away from jobs they want and Americans don’t, only exacerbates the difficulty companies are facing with retaining tech talent.

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Gates Says Open The Doors To Foreign Workers”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
anonymouse says:

No Subject Given

What claptrap.
Mike, you clearly have no grasp of the law of supply and demand – but Bill Gates does. As long as there is an unlimited supply of cheap (albeit, qualified) labor, businesses like Microsoft have no incentive to increase wages, provide better training, or do any of the other things that attract employees to a company.
Of course, that’s not how Bill puts it: “The whole idea of the H-1B visa thing is, don’t let too many smart people come into the country. The whole thing doesn’t make sense,” Gates said.
No Bill … that’s not the “whole idea” of the H1-B visa program. The whole idea of the H1-B visa program is that employers in this country should hire the citizens of this country who built the road leading to your campus and your house.
It’s no wonder, Bill, that it doesn’t make sense to you.
Your idea of the H1-B visa program is that you want a limitless supply of third-world labor willing to work for much less than you’d have to pay to encourage someone who already lives in the United States to take your jobs.
In this way, you “stay competitive” by ever decreasing the standard of living in this country to equalize it with the standard of living in other countries.
Why not just build another campus in India, Bill? That way, you can hire as many smart people as you want.
Why do you even need to BRING people here, Bill? Have you ever heard of a VPN? I thought Microsoft was on the cutting edge of “mobile computing.”
Why not just hook up a bunch of sweat-coders up in a Live Meeting session. That way, you can pay them in, uh, “local currency.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: No Subject Given

because you are white does not mean you deserve a job. If someone can do a better job than you for less money I would hire them too. It is called thinking on the “margin.” There are still labor standards so it is not like Microsoft will turn into a sweetshop. Plus, this is good for competition in general. If people around the world see that they can get a job with Microsoft paying 20x what they are making in their home country they are going to go into computer science/engineering. There will then be a larger pool of good talent. Gates idea will have a profound impact on technology, in general, if this goes through.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: No Subject Given

Funny, my best friend is Chinese and he can’t get a programming job, and he’s a US citizen. “Labor standards?” In the software industry? Go read the book NetSlaves and after reading about software developers working forty or fifty hours of unpaid overtime EVERY WEEK and discuss labor standards and how they relate to Microsoft. Every software development project I’ve seen outsourced offshore for cost reasons has been a disaster, including the one that nearly scuttled the bank where my friend used to work.

Michael Kohne says:

H1-B visa program

Frankly, the H1-B program should be scrapped altogether – it ties the worker too strongly to the employer, while not giving much of a path to citizenship. We should be offering these people real citizenship instead. That way, not only does the job get done, but we get more smart people overall – definitely a win for this country.

sly squirrel says:


I really don’t see why microsoft want’s workers in this country. Any company over a certain size, and Microsoft is the largest can build up an Indian or Malaysian or whatever country operation and use the local labor pool at not only the labor price, but the price of the whole infrastructure of the country.

So there is something else going on here.

Also I tend to not want to go with the “let a company get as big as it wants” to take competition and natural selection to another height.

I don’t Bill and his family has had the want or the need to appreciate that there is more to human existance than being in a constant state of competition and selection.

I realize it happens in nature and reflects back to everything that we have to contend with, no matter what, but it is not something that rings my bell. I don’t care to have to act like a pack dog all the time and beat off the nearest competitor to me or loose out. This is what bringing in other workers to take jobs here means.

Also just filling the jobs with whoever benefits the corporation at the expense of keeping the tension of making the nation respond to the need to fill the jobs. If the stimulus to have high tech workers goes away, we’ll all generate artiste’s (spelling probably wrong, but I’m an engineer) from colleges, because it isn’t hip to be in sciences or engineering.

Not to fault those who are not interested, but the example is the nearest that I can think of at this time.

The need for nursing and the need for teachers is another example of the need being there, and the flow of people to do those jobs showing up. The problems with at least teaching is that the economics are in the political arena. That means they probably will never be right. Teachers will always be subjected to unfairly low wages, and abuse about the product they turn out. This is because parents rule the roost there and want to have their kids educated for no money, and won’t do what they need to to get them to learn.

That’s a different discussion though.

Saum says:

High Tech Jobs at America

Between outsourcing the IT jobs abroad and issuing H1b visa for the foriegn workers to come and take those jobs that were not outsourced,this kind of leaves American IT workers on the side line.
I wonder who is the winner and who is the loser here.
In 80’s we hard that America is going to be information highway this is why we outsourced all the manufacturing jobs.
Where does it end?

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...