Nothing Wrong With American Programmers… But Does That Mean No Foreigners?
from the missing-the-point dept
There’s been a lot of hype lately about the supposed decline of American programmers. With that in mind, it’s interesting to read Norm Matloff’s defense of American computer science education, pointing out that the aggregate numbers hide that there are still plenty of good American programmers coming out of universities. However, as Matloff has been known to do, he then turns the whole story into a slam on foreign workers and offshoring. Matloff has been a leading critic of the H1-B program for years, so it’s no surprise that he’s still focusing on that issue. However, just as he accuses the press of doing concerning the state of American programming education, he’s carefully shades his explanation to insinuate things that aren’t true. His biggest assertion, of course, is that H1-B programmers are “cut-rate” programmers who are paid “far less” than others, saying that it’s impossible for American workers to compete with “cheap, imported labor.” Of course, that’s a totally misguided attack on the H1-B program. The H1-B program is clear that programmers hired under it must be paid the competing wage rate. Plus, dealing with the H1-B paper work is a costly procedure on its own. Do some companies scam the system? Yes. Is that a reason to scrap it entirely? No. Can the H1-B system be improved? Absolutely. The fact that it often forces employees to stay with one company is a problem. Matloff then goes on, like so many protectionists these days, to claim that the H1-B program and offshoring go hand in hand — which isn’t true. If there weren’t so many limitations on bringing the smartest workers to the US, then there would be less incentive to move the work to them. Are there plenty of competent American programmers? Absolutely. However, the more we can do to make sure that the best programmers, no matter what their nationality, can work for American companies, the stronger those companies will be. Building up artificial protectionist walls never helps an industry when there’s global competition.