America – The New Third-World Country

Employment opportunities are scarce – or so we are told.

I’ve been listening for years to IT professionals complain about losing their high-paying jobs to overseas tech-workers. Do they have a legitimate complaint?

The problem is a complex one. U.S. firms are owned by capitalists who answer to no one, not even their stockholders. The bottom-line is making money. They expect to turn a profit each quarter and turn a profit they do. Corporate earnings are up throughout the country, while job loss is at an all time high.

Did technology workers really believe the gravy train would go on indefinately? What company can afford to pay their workers a $8,000 a week paycheck and still stay in business? Our government for one, I know this first-hand because my own husband worked on a (I won’t say which one) government project and worked extensive over-time, earning some very hefty paychecks. His pay rate $26.00 an hour at that time. He was eventually replaced with an H1-B Visa holder.

I can’t even fathom how much many IT workers were bringing home, when we hear about programmers who were earning $180.00 an hour.

Software developers, who earn $60 an hour in the United States or $30 in Britain, are available at $6 an hour in India. Data entry clerks, who cost $20 an hour in America, cost $2 in Calcutta.

Part of the problem lies in where many of the positions were located. Anyone, who has ever visited the Bay area in California, can tell you, prices are steep. The cost of living in the area is staggering.

So staggering in fact, a person earning $20.00 an hour in the area would be living below poverty level and could barely afford a room to sleep in. The rates for a studio apartment start around $1,250 per month. I never would have believed it if I had not seen it with my own eyes.

If property values were not so over-priced in the area, technical workers wouldn’t require such high pay rates.

In contrast, living in India is very cheap. A Newly built, furnished, 1950 sq ft, 3-bedroom condo, with swimming pool and health club, goes for a mere 18,000 Rupees per month ($395.00 US). This is located in an upscale neighborhood (adjacent to Kowdiar Palace), situated very close to hospitals, schools, with a spacious balcony.

A technical worker, living in India, earning $6.00 U.S. could easily afford to live in this condo.

In the early 1980’s we watched as Reaganomics was first ridiculed, then embraced by politicians. President Bush has attempted to use Reaganomics to fix our current budget woes. The concept is simple in theory, give tax breaks to the wealthy to encourage business expansion which trickles down to the masses in the form of new jobs.

I hate to break it to President Bush but this isn’t the 1980’s and times have changed. What worked well in previous economies won’t work today. In our new global economy of open markets and free trade, American will end up a third-world nation.

The tremendous profits corporate America is realizing, benefits stockholders and not middle income earners. As more and more high-tech, skilled-trades and factory-jobs are being exported we are seeing the market flooded with low paying service-oriented jobs.

If President Bush and Congress refuse to act in the best interest of American workers, it will be up to us to fix the problem.

Many citizens are feeling powerless today as our bills continue to mount and the job pool dwindles. But we can change the outcome. We have the ability to stem the tide.

Take a stand against corporate America.

  • Refuse to purchase items that are imported, especially those from China.
  • Refuse to shop at stores that import heavily. Retailers such as Walmart hurt more than help our economic future.
  • Refuse to do business with corporations that export our jobs. Hold off purchasing a new computer. Why not hire someone to build one for you instead?
  • If you own stock in a company that has moved it’s operators overseas, sell.
  • Start your own business, refuse to work for large corporations.
  • Stay informed and help educate your neighbors on the problem.

The only other option is to pack up the family and move to India, where you can earn next to nothing and live like a king.

Tancredo fights back – to abolish H1-B visas

The Congressman from Colorado, in a bold move last week to assist unemployed American IT workers, introduced HB 2688. Congressman Tom Tancredo, has introduced a 15-line bill proposing the elimination of all visas under the H1-B category, created in 1952 under the guise of providing the US economy with technically skilled foreign workers.

In recent years, the number of H1-B visa’s issues had swelled. H-1B workers have obviously been a source of cheap labor, so much so that many IT departments laid-off American workers in favor of labor imports, mainly from India.

The results have been disturbing. University studies have shown that H-1B programmers and engineers are paid 15 percent to 33 percent below normal, and the Wall Street Journal has reported that the H1Bs are paid $20,000 to $25,000 less than comparable Americans. Similar findings were issued in a 2000 report from the National Research Council.

The Economic Times (an India Times Publication) would have us believe this “move is patently unfair and will not help unemployment. Rather it will cripple the high-tech and other technical industries and undercut the American hi-tech industry’s ability to be a competitive global leader.”

In light of a recent move to eliminate over-time pay by President Bush, (Bill HR 1119) affecting IT specialists and having the pleasure of personally knowing a gentleman living and working in this country under the H1-B visa the only word that comes to mind is, “Hogwash.”

“Sam” an IT worker from Indian lives with the constant fear of being sent back to India, with 10-days notice. He makes far less than his American counter-parts and puts up with a great deal more from the company he works for than most American workers would. He seems to handle the stress well but a great deal is at stake for him and his family.

Sam puts up with this injustice because of his opportunity to be sponsored by his employer for a green card, allowing him to live permanently in the United States. H-1B visa holders are not considered immigrants but “temporary” workers, who are allowed to remain in the United States only at the pleasure of their employers. This is, in effect, indentured servitude – slavery – and creates strong incentives to accept lower pay.

Congressman Tom Tancredo began his crusade to end this injustice November 1, 2001, when he introduced a similar bill HR 3222.

Please contact your Congressman and ask that they support this bill.

Have you been replaced by an H1-B visa worker? I’d like to hear your story.

Annette M. Hall