Jobs Americans Won't Do

Microsoft is opening up shop in Canada after Congress screwed them over on visa increases:

The new software development center will open somewhere in the Vancouver, British Columbia, area and will be "home to software developers from around the world," Microsoft said in a statement on Thursday....

The announcement of Microsoft's Canadian plans follows the failure of an immigration bill that would have expanded the number of foreign high-tech workers that could have come to the country each year under so-called H1-B visas.

It was a classic, "It's not me, it's you" breakup:

High-tech companies have been pushing hard to get Congress to increase the number of visas they are allotted. In separate Capitol Hill appearances, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates made a strong plea for unlimited H-1B visas, while a Google executive credited the company's success to foreigners and called for expanded ability to hire them.

But so far, a broader feud has killed two attempts by the U.S. Senate to overhaul the immigration system, including a bump in the H-1B quota from a base level of 60,000 to at least 115,000. Silicon Valley wasn't pleased with all of the bill, but it was also counting on passage of amendments that would provide greater assurances that green cards for permanent residency come through and create new exemptions for foreigners with advanced degrees.

There really are jobs Americans won't do...the ones that go to Canada.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • thoreau||

    I agree with MikeP.

  • dhex||

    goddamn frostbacks taking our jobs...

  • Dave W.||

    Good luck getting them to innovate.

    Oh, wait, it's M$. Nevermind.

  • ||

    Yet another example of the CanadianGovernment in league with BigSoftware seeking PoliticalPower.

  • ||

    They took ur jobs!

  • ed||

    Sure, that's what Microsoft needs: more drunks doing their coding.

  • Guy Montag||

    'Open Borders' question.

    Maybe one day the visa quotas will be eliminated but it sure does not look like that day will come by the end of the week. At least, that is what I support.

    From what I hear from the 'open borders' folk there is some difference between unlimited visas (or the limitation only being the amount that can be processed) and whatever they are talking about. Some say 'open borders' does not mean anybody who can get across the border stays, but that sure is what Nick sounded like he advocated when he was on TV with that Moyers fellow.

    I really do like this idea of shifting operations to where the talent is located. Just like what some SW USA farmers moving operations to Mexico. The only peril there, of course, is that the modern history of Mexico is to nationalize anything that becomes successful if it is run by foreigners, like their oil industry.

    Perhaps we could use the term 'open borders' for firms moving operations across international borders? Sounds like it fits there a little better.

  • ||

    FWIW I'm not "open borders" in the sense of no longer having visas. I just think the number of visas available should be increased to eliminate the black market in illegal labor.

  • ||

    Oh god. I don't think I could live in a world where Canada is a high tech powerhouse.

  • thoreau||

    Guy Montag-

    One could envision a system where the number of visas is not fixed but the qualifications for receiving one are fixed.

    It's like the difference between grading on a curve and giving students whatever they earn. If you grade on a curve, a certain proportion of the class has to get each grade. If you give students what they earn, you're prepared to give everybody an A if they kick ass, you're prepared to give everybody an F if they suck, and you're prepared to give out any other distribution of grades if that's what they earn.

    So you could have some qualifications for a visa, and anybody who meets those qualifications (e.g. anybody who is employable, passes a background check, doesn't have certain diseases, and pays a fee) gets in.

  • Timothy||

    Free trade in capital=free trade in labor.

    Cue the wacko in 5...4....3...

  • Jozef||

    As an H1-B visa holder I must point out that H1-B is not exclusive to high-tech workers, but to workers with unique knowledge or work experience, accepting positions that the company couldn't find and American for. In my case, it was financial analysis specific to a certain industry and now product management, again specific to a niche industry I've got experience in. Usually, companies who hire H1-B workers like me then apply to permanent work visas, which have the same kind of requirements (no suitable American workers), but more stringent reporting requirements.

    I would be actually much more happy if software engineers were taken out of the H1-B requirements, as their job can be a performed pretty much anywhere in the world with an Internet connection, and the H1-B visas were only issued to people in other industries, which require face-to-face interaction.

  • thoreau||

    If it would help get us on the path toward something sensible, I'd even be willing to go so far as to have higher standards for people bringing kids and lower standards for people not bringing kids, on the grounds that kids will go to public school.

  • ||

    I work for Microsoft. This is good news for me, 'cause it means I'll get to live in Whistler this winter while commuting to the new Vancouver office.

    For companies like Microsoft, the whole visa thing is silly. Employees can pretty much work wherever they want, that technology already exists - it's only a question of getting management to buy-in...

  • Christopher Monnier||

    Good thing American jobs were protected!

  • SIV||

    So why do foreign workers even need H1b visas?
    Can't they just come in and go to work for whoever they want to at a mutually agreed upon wage? The State doesn't enforce immigration and labor laws for "12-20 million" workers.

    Wait..... they wouldn't be selectively enforcing
    those laws for the benefit of certain classes of people would they?

  • Guy Montag||

    thoreau,

    That is generally what I am talking about, but would just be issuing tourist or work visas. Get hired in the USA and you get a work visa if you pass the background check. Let the employer determine qualifications.

    Just want to visit without working? Tourist visa after a background check.

    I am still at a loss as to that the 'open borders' types are talking about since their position seems to shift with any question about what they really mean.

    Jozef,

    I know a woman from Germany and I think she has an H1B from her restraunt management and gourmet skills, but she has worked as a pro-shop manager at a tennis club and an office manager at a political magazine in the months that I have known her.

    That system just seems so open that if they took away the special lettering I doubt anybody could tell the difference in real-world application.

    For the software folk and any other writer type, management really should take your advice and not worry about the location of the typist as long as the product is what they wanted.

  • ||

    This is great. Those donut-scarfing, warm-smoothie slurping canucks writing software code?

    "Internet explorer has encountered an error and needs to close, eh."

  • Tim of Angle||

    I guess Microsoft woke up to the fact that shifting operations to Canada also shifts the responsibility for Microsoft employees' medical benefits to the backs of the Canadian people.

    Bill and Steve are kinda slow sometimes....

  • ||

    I'm glad we are keeping the PhDs out, because those are the sort of people who believe in evolution and sometimes go crazy and start building mail bombs. Also, they have leprosy, I think.

  • thoreau||

    Guy-

    The catch is that you seem to be describing a system where you have to have a job before you enter, and remaining here is contingent on your employer's good will. Recruiting overseas might be easy for large businesses, but a small business in Oregon, looking to hire a few kitchen staff, won't go abroad to advertise.

    And if staying is contingent on remaining with your employer, employees lose a lot of flexibility. The dynamism of the US marketplace means there are always some people between jobs, and this constant shuffling around, as businesses rise and fall and people test their abilities and try to find their niche, is seen as a good thing by those of a Shumpeterian bent.

  • ||

    As an H1-B visa holder I must point out that H1-B is not exclusive to high-tech workers, but to workers with unique knowledge or work experience, accepting positions that the company couldn't find and American for.

    I hate reading things like this. It's not that you couldn't find an American for most of the H1-Bs that get brought over -- it's that the company can cut their costs considerably by bringing in H1-Bs.

    Am I really suppsoed to believe that Microsoft can't find Software engineers in the USA? That's a load of crap. What they want is the ability to bring in labor from other countries who are willing to work for considerably less than what Americans need/want.

    I'm not passing any judgement, but the whole "We can't find Americans with this skill set" is a load of bull.

    (Full Disclosure: I work as a software developer and have worked with a number of H1-B's and in every case it wasn't that the companies I was working for couldn't find Americans with the skills they wanted, but that they could hire 3 of them for the price of one non-H1-B. ALso after working with many, many H1-Bs I have come to believe that you get what you pay for.)

  • ||

    Employees can pretty much work wherever they want, that technology already exists...



    I understand the biggest obstacle to setting up shop in India is the lack of an adequate and reliable supply of electricity.

  • ERIC FUCKING DONDEROOOOOOOOOO||

    I'm glad we are keeping the PhDs out, because those are the sort of people who believe in evolution and sometimes go crazy and start building mail bombs. Also, they have leprosy, I think.



    Aren't the fucking Brits having fucking trouble with the fucking islamofacist fucking MDs they've been fucking importing?

    The fucking MDs are the fucking worst fucking terrorist fucking threat, fucking ever.

  • ||

    ChicagoTom,

    I have to seriously, seriously disagree with your impressions on H1-B holders' salaries. In my experience in software, they are not any lower. They are certainly not 3 times lower.

    By the way, they post the salaries of the H1-B holders in a place they can be seen. Could you cite some numbers backing your one-third claim?

  • Jozef||

    I hate reading things like this. It's not that you couldn't find an American for most of the H1-Bs that get brought over -- it's that the company can cut their costs considerably by bringing in H1-Bs.

    The company that hires H1-Bs must pay the worker the prevailing wage in the given region and job area, according to wage tables that are managed by the US government. In both of my H1-B jobs, I was always getting a higher wage than my peers who were in the same kind of work, as the wage tables tend to be higher than average (I'm not entirely sure, but I think they are somewhere around 80th percentile). If you worked at a company that underpaid its H1-B workers, that company was breaking he law.

  • ||

    On the one hand, I hate borders, and think we should all be free to move about the planet. On the other hand, my previous employer send my career to Bangalore. I considered going there myself, but found that the Indian goverment conspires to keep the rupee cheap, and the American government conspires to keep the dollar expensive. Thus it is that Indians can afford to work for fewer dollars than I can. And thus it is that American engineers haven't had a raise in years.

  • ||

    By the way, offshoring software development is not a zero-cost option.

    The biggest barrier to offshoring software jobs is requirements management -- the handling of what the product should do for the customer, how the product should implement it for the customer, how the code will be written to get the functionality into the product, and how the final product will be tested. All of that requires continuous communication, gobs of documentation, and a substantial software expertise onshore.

    For complicated products, it is definitely more efficient for a company selling product in the US to have a significant number of the higher value developers in the US.

  • ||

    I am still at a loss as to that the 'open borders' types are talking about since their position seems to shift with any question about what they really mean.

    Guy,

    What I mean by open borders is that anyone can come and go over the border as they wish so long as there is no cause to keep them from doing so -- with the proviso that the causes are limited to those that are actual threats to the public.

    I do believe that checks should be done on entry across the border, and visas should be issued to those entering and resident in the US. But the visas should be subject neither to quota nor to expiration.

  • ||

    Okapi:

    I work for Microsoft. This is good news for me, 'cause it means I'll get to live in Whistler this winter while commuting to the new Vancouver office.

    Lucky you. Not been to Whistler, but Vancouver's a great city. You'll love it.

    Ottawa's a great town, too, but it's no Vancouver. Even if we are Silicon Valley North.

    Ed:

    Sure, that's what Microsoft needs: more drunks doing their coding.

    *snicker* My boss tells me her husband works at an IT company in Ottawa that offers free beer to employees staying after five.

    God bless Canada.

  • ||

    All those maple-syrup eating Canucks will give new meaning to 'sticky software.'

    ;P

  • ||

    I have to seriously, seriously disagree with your impressions on H1-B holders' salaries. In my experience in software, they are not any lower. They are certainly not 3 times lower.

    While three times lower is a bit of an exaggeration, in my experience they have been most definately lower. My old company would hire developers from Russia, Mexico and India primarily and ALL of them made lower starting salaries than I did when I started and on average they made about 2/3 of what non visa holders make.

    The company that hires H1-Bs must pay the worker the prevailing wage in the given region and job area, according to wage tables that are managed by the US government.

    My understanding is that the devil is in the details. Esp in software development. Many of the H1-Bs from I worked were brought over as Analyst I's (I apologize if I get the exact terms wrong, I am going by memory) even though the work they were doing would have qualified them for a higher rating and higher comparable salaries.


    In any case though, I find it very hard to believe that there is such a shortage of qualified software developers/engineers in the US. In my later college years (before graduation) the incoming and < third year students in college were full of comps sci/engineering majors who saw computers as the wave of the future.

    Again though, I am not advocating that we shouldn't have immigrant workers or whatnot, I just find that claim to be rather unbelievable.

  • ||

    To bad I can't move my yard work to Mexico...

  • ||

    I think a number of commenters are missing the point. The goal of this center isn't to employ Canadians: The goal is to employ workers from around the world in Canada since it is too hard to get them into the US anymore.

    Since many of these workers are going to be the millionaire movers and shakers of the future back in their homelands, the real effect of this new regime is that it will be Canadian culture -- not American -- that they take back and spread throughout the world.

    Can America stand for that? Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!

  • The Wine Commonsewer®||

    Were I Bill Gates, I would have left town after the Justice Department screwed me over. This is still a nice Randian Shrugging turn of events, however.

  • ||

    I think a number of commenters are missing the point. The goal of this center isn't to employ Canadians: The goal is to employ workers from around the world in Canada since it is too hard to get them into the US anymore.

    How much easier to emigrate to Canada? Even without intending to become a citizen?

  • thoreau||

    Tom,

    I don't know how much easier it is to move to Canada, but I'm guessing that:

    1) If nothing else, better to have two channels to move software engineers through rather than one.

    2) They've probably struck some sort of deal with Canada to get more than just the bulk advantage.

  • Guy Montag||

    thoreau,

    Yea, that was my idea on the visas, but not limiting it to one specific employer, just being employed (like my German friend seems to have been doing since 1998).

    Not for an expiration date either, even for tourists.

    Now, if you want to come here and laze around on the dole then become a citizen first, not just a visa holder.

  • The Wine Commonsewer®||

    Eric, nice try but you ain't getting into the Guiness Book under use fuck in a sentence category.

    Walking into Hanger 296 at El Toro where one of my fellow Misguided Children was working on an OV-10A. Suddenly a large box wrench goes flying and clanging across the hanger deck and he screams Fuck! The fuckin' fucker's fucked!

    Top that.

  • Scooby||

    TWC,
    I think the "the" in the second sentence is unnecessary.

    Should be "Fuck! Fuckin' fucker's fucked!" Don't need any other words messin' with the poetry, there.

  • ||

    ChicagoTom,

    I can't speak for mislabeling developers as analysts or the like to get them a lower pay grade. I've never seen it. I doubt a large company could pull it off given how many people would raise the issue. I myself am likely to see it as a form of civil disobedience against oppressive law, but that's just me.

    But I am sure you know that software engineers have perhaps the widest spread of quality and productivity among their ranks of any occupation. The best engineers are worth 10 times the average engineer. Allowing companies to recruit from around the world is much less likely to be used to pay them less and much more likely to be used to cast such a wide net that you can get the exceptional ones into your shop -- where, of course, you will have to pay them well above market wage to keep them from going to the next shop.

  • ||

    Now, if you want to come here and laze around on the dole then become a citizen first, not just a visa holder.

    I'm with you there, Guy.

    I'd go so far as to say that citizens by virtue of birth to immigrants not yet far enough along the permanent residency/citizenship track are not eligible for the welfare privileges afforded long-time citizens.

  • Rhywun||

    I've worked with enough software engineers in India to decide that I MUCH prefer my coworkers next to me in person than halfway around the world. The notion that coding can be done "anywhere in the world" is a pipe-dream.

    How much easier to emigrate to Canada?

    I believe it's a great deal easier, as long as your skills fit the very lengthy list of occupations on their list. I know someone who's given up on the US and concentrating on Canada now.

  • Dave W.||

    I work at a technology sector company in Canada that is 75%+ people not from Canada (almost all from various part of Asia). It ain't my dad's technology sector employer, that is for sure!

  • ||

    I've worked with enough software engineers in India to decide that I MUCH prefer my coworkers next to me in person than halfway around the world. The notion that coding can be done "anywhere in the world" is a pipe-dream.

    Agreed and agreed.

    Applied engineering, support, test, finite projects and subsystems with clear requirements... These are the things that can be done at a distant location.

    But raw product development really needs to be done in one location. If the US maintains stupid limitations on high valued immigrants, that location in future might be in India or China*. But it's not there yet.

    * Not that there's anything wrong with that. As always, more product built more places means more product to consume and leverage in the US. But the perception that H1-B limitations protect US workers is wildly mistaken.

  • ||

    In any case though, I find it very hard to believe that there is such a shortage of qualified software developers/engineers in the US.

    My company has opening for several hundred engineers -- software, hardware, systems -- and struggles to find engineers to move the midwest.

  • ||

    Rhywun, I've done enough projects with offshore engineers to know that it can work very well. The work included plenty of development, such as virtual machines, advanced libraries, and language standards. The key to success was the ability to do work and make decisions via email.

  • Dave B.||

    In any case though, I find it very hard to believe that there is such a shortage of qualified software developers/engineers in the US. In my later college years (before graduation) the incoming and < third year students in college were full of comps sci/engineering majors who saw computers as the wave of the future.



    Having just graduated from a computer science program, I can safely say that most of these people are not qualified software developers/engineers. Sure, they can code up small classroom projects (albeit with difficulty) but very few are capable of handling important large-scale projects.

  • ||

    Doctor G,

    I note that all the outsourceable projects on your list sound self-contained. Dare I say that the key to success also included clean, clear requirements and clean, clear interfaces and little need to worry about what was actually behind the interfaces so long as it was compliant?

  • ||

    I heartily agree with Chicago Tom. If there is a labor shortage, wages will rise to "correct" it. Isn't that Econ 101? Bill Gates, a typical capitalist, wants to bring in gold-plated indentured servants, who are not allowed to enter the labor market and sell their services to the highest bidder but must work for him alone under the terms that he specifies. I support increased immigration (vastly increased), rather than "guest worker" provisions for either unskilled or skilled positions. Jobs "moving" to Canada don't bother me that much because eventually Canada and the U.S. will fuse. What this country needs is 30 million more pot-smoking social democrats! Solidarity forever!

  • ||

    Doctor G,

    Of course, I grant that those other keys to success I enumerated are how software should be built in any event. And if the larger project can be broken into smaller projects that admit outsourcing without high overheads, it is a clear win.

    But going back to Rhywun's comment, if you spread those same smaller projects up among groups all resident in the same building, those working on different smaller projects are really your co-workers only in the sense that you see them in the cafeteria.

  • ||

    If there is a labor shortage, wages will rise to "correct" it. Isn't that Econ 101?

    But if the labor shortage is artificially induced, then the economy is poorer than it would be absent the shortage.

    Bill Gates, a typical capitalist, wants to bring in gold-plated indentured servants, who are not allowed to enter the labor market and sell their services to the highest bidder but must work for him alone under the terms that he specifies.

    Then you should be all for higher H1-B quotas so any company can get as many as they like, allowing them to hire away each others' indentured servants.

    What's that called when indentured servants can be hired by anyone? Oh, yes. It's called a free labor market.

    I support increased immigration (vastly increased), rather than "guest worker" provisions for either unskilled or skilled positions.

    Agreed.

  • Guy Montag||

    I'd go so far as to say that citizens by virtue of birth to immigrants not yet far enough along the permanent residency/citizenship track are not eligible for the welfare privileges afforded long-time citizens.

    Well, I actually am not for the welfare at all, but you seem to get what I mean.

  • Jozef||

    How much easier to emigrate to Canada? Even without intending to become a citizen?

    From my own experience (currently in the process of filling out the application), the main difference is that Canadian immigration is much more transparent and predictable. The point system keeps being adjusted every year to achieve the best mix of immigrants, but once you submit the application you pretty much know where you stand, and only if you are borderline will the immigration decision be based on the subjective judgment of a person you conduct a personal interview with. In addition, Canadian immigration services can tell you pretty exactly when your application will get processed, instead of the last response I got from INS - "within two weeks to six months."

  • ||

    Microsoft, Sun, etc. are always claiming that they can't hire enough people, even when the SW industry was tanking (6 or 8? years ago).

    Microsoft has about 70,000 employees worldwide, with 30,000 in Redmond. This new office is starting with 200 people and expected to increase to 800 or 1,000: IOW, very minor. Lots of computer-type Canadians (and doctors, etc) have moved/immigrated to the U.S. because they can make a *lot* more money here.

    MS's immigration angle is just propaganda.

  • ||

    My company has opening for several hundred engineers -- software, hardware, systems -- and struggles to find engineers to move the midwest.

    How sure are you that they're even trying?

    I used to believe that, too, because the only people I was interviewing that were qualified were all foreign nationals.

    Of course, I can only interview the people that HR sends me. And they ain't gonna find what they ain't lookin' for.

    My guess is that while Microsoft's move isn't going to save any American jobs, it's not likely it will lose any, either.

  • ||

  • SIV||

    Seriously , I'll ask again.......
    Why can't these H1B workers just come in on tourist/student visas and go to work?

    Are they not as sharp as Mexicans?
    Have too much respect for the law?
    Or is the State selectively enforcing immigration and labor laws?

  • ||

    But raw product development really needs to be done in one location. If the US maintains stupid limitations on high valued immigrants, that location in future might be in India or China*. But it's not there yet.

    Nor is it likely to be, at least not due to immigration policies. Whatever you think of our immigration policies, they're a helluva lot more liberal than those of any country in the Pacific Rim (including those of Japan, which is arguably the only country that can rival or best us in technical innovation).

    Also, you may have noticed that while India and China can produce top-flight credentialed engineers, and can certainly perform repetitive manufacturing functions cheaper than we can, they seem to be a little light in the innovation department. How many of the products and services that are delivered from those countries actually had their origin there?

    < Sound of crickets chirping >

    Compared to our competitors, we're doing just fine in the raw product development department, even with our current immigration policies, thankyouverymuch.

  • Rhywun||

    The key to success was the ability to do work and make decisions via email.

    In my experience, that slows down a project big-time. Even more so if there are language issues (which are easier to deal with in person).

    And dividing large projects into many smaller projects sounds good on paper until you try to implement it in the real world and it doesn't work.

    Finally, I've found that outsource workers tend not to have the extensive business knowledge that all our in-house developers have. It slows things WAY down when you have to teach them enough business to understand what the hell you need.

  • ||

    SIV,

    Maybe it's that both the prospective illegal employees and their prospective employers have a hell of a lot more to lose than the average farm worker and farm owner.

    The companies that hire H1-B visa holders have HR departments that do everything they can to maintain the legality of their employment relationships. A lot of people's livelihoods and wealth are on the line. Those HR departments even do things such as attend videotaped seminars where they learn how to make sure that they are complying with whatever law is applicable.

    Did that possibility not occur to you?

  • ||

    Microsoft is opening up shop in Canada after Congress screwed them over on visa increases:

    By the way, do you even read the articles you link to?

    Microsoft spokesman Lou Gellos said that while the immigration issue was a factor, the company would be opening the center in Vancouver even if it were not for the immigration challenges. That said, Vancouver is particularly attractive since it is a short drive from Redmond, Wash., but not bound by U.S. immigration policies.

  • SIV||

    MikeP,

    You are implying that there is more money on the line in IT than in agribusiness, real estate development, manufacturing and other "old industries" that routinely employ "illegal labor"?

    I'm still asking.... is this some sort of cultural thing with the employer/employee?

    Or are immigration and labor laws selectively enforced by the Government as a matter of policy?

  • ||

    You are implying that there is more money on the line in IT than in agribusiness, real estate development, manufacturing and other "old industries" that routinely employ "illegal labor"?

    I am implying that there is more money on the line for individual enterprises and for individual employees. The gross revenue of the particular industry is quite irrelevant.

    I'm still asking.... is this some sort of cultural thing with the employer/employee?

    Almost certainly. Both employer and employee in high tech and other high value industries are usually more educated, more socialized to acting in large organizations, less comfortable upsetting the powers that be.

    Or are immigration and labor laws selectively enforced by the Government as a matter of policy?

    This may be the case too. Just as the IRS spends more effort looking for high earning tax cheats than for low earning tax cheats, I can believe that ICE spends more effort checking the I-9's from Microsoft than those from Julio's Landscaping. But I also expect that they know they can trust high tech HR to be compliant.

  • The Wine Commonsewer®||

    Scooby you are correct and I may have had a little brain fade as the incident occurred quite some time ago. As it was a Marine, I doubt he said the word THE (or teh).

  • ||

    By the way, SIV,

    For pretty much the very same reasons, I assume that most employers and citizen employees who keep the employment off the books, pass money under the table, fail to report income, and do all sorts of other things to skirt labor laws are in smaller enterprises in lower earning industries -- not in high tech.

    Are you going to insinuate some conclusion about a willful government policy of selective enforcement from that?

  • SIV||

    Just as the IRS spends more effort looking for high earning tax cheats than for low earning tax cheats

    They do?
    You have a citation?

    There are vastly more low earning tax cheats
    and they are much easier to catch and fine/prosecute.

    I see your point about large vs small enterprises, however I think you are mis-characterising the nature and scope of "illegal employment" in this country. It ain't all day laborers, busboys and seasonal farmhands. I just looked at Mohawk Industries, traded on the NYSE at 102 a share today, I believe their domestic manufacturing employees are majority "illegals" . Do they have some immunity not extended to other industries?

  • SIV||

    I am still at a loss as to that the 'open borders' types are talking about since their position seems to shift with any question about what they really mean.

    I have a suspicion that support for "open borders" as it refers to labor markets is unrestricted immigration of "low value" labor while maintaining strict quotas on "high value" labor.

  • The Wine Commonsewer®||

    SIV,

    Just as the IRS spends more effort looking for high earning tax cheats than for low earning tax cheats

    This is an accurate statement. Highest exposure for audit are higher income self-employed people filing Schedule C (Business Income). Nobody knows where the breaking point is exactly but I suspect it's around $100,000 to $150,000 and up.

    However, any self-employed Schedule C filer has a higher risk of audit regardless of income, it's just that as your income goes up so does the chance of audit.

    There isn't any percentage in auditing regular working people who have two kids a mortgage and a W-2 because they have already been effectively audited by virtue of our insufferable financial reporting requirements. IOW, the W-2, the 1098, and the social security numbers of the kids perform the audit function (tell the tale, blow the whistle, rat you out).

    For those who don't know, a Schedule C is used for unincorporated entities (sole-proprietors) to report business income and expense in order to arrive at a taxable net profit. It is attached to the return after Schedules A & B (itemized deductions and interest & dividend income, respectively)

    Those with privately held corporations or LLC's are far more likely to report and pay taxes correctly than Schedule C filers and, accordingly, have a far lower chance of audit. However, IRS is currently doing compliance audits on S corps for statistical sampling and to learn if this should be an area of focus in the future.

    Take a look at this site with some interesting statistics that I just pulled out of thin air. It shows odds of audit to be roughly double for those earning over 100k per year compared to those earning less than 25k per year.

    Hmmm, maybe I'll clean this up and post it over at TWC. Thanks for the inspiration.

    Disclosure: Taxes is my living but I'm not in the book.

  • The Wine Commonsewer®||

    Actually, there is a lot more info on the site I linked to above than I realized. Good explanation of the DIF program and other valuable information that will be useful to those don't sleep well.

  • grammfuckingarian||

    Engfuckinglish - fucking fucktard fucker

    hanger != hangar

  • SIV||

    TWC,

    I certainly defer to you on tax matters.
    I was of the impression that the IRS focused more scrutiny on low income earners for the self employed as you indicate and on those using the EIC and iffy itemized deductions.Anecdotally, most people I've known with tax trouble either did not file or filed as Scedule C. I would consider most of them to be "lower earners".
    Gross receipts of $100,000 to $150,000 and up could well qualify as such these days.
    The news media has reported on the greater scrutiny of those claiming the EIC.

  • ||

    I don't know if anyone has pointed this out, but university programs in computer science have had a 50% enrollment drop in the US over the past five years. There are still good jobs in the field, but it seems students would rather study the liberal arts instead of science.

    With the visa restrictions on foreign students and restrictions on certain types of research in the US, it's no wonder we're going to get our asses handed to us by Canada. Take a look at the results from the ACM programming competitions to see how well the schools in Canada are doing.

    Microsoft is just going where it can get the best workers. I don't blame them. The US has done this to themselves.

    Sorry for the rant.

  • ||

    I have a suspicion that support for "open borders" as it refers to labor markets is unrestricted immigration of "low value" labor while maintaining strict quotas on "high value" labor.

    I can't speak for everybody, but, as an open borders type myself, I think open borders means open borders: Anyone who can support themselves in the US should be allowed to travel, live, and work in the US.

    Since higher value workers are more likely to be able to support themselves, open borders will actually result in shifting the average skill level of immigrants upward, placing more immigrants in direct competition with the bulk of American jobs.

    Perhaps that, and not a fear of lower skilled foreign workers, is what actually motivates immigration law. Did I say "perhaps"? I meant "certainly".

  • ||

    "I don't know if anyone has pointed this out, but university programs in computer science have had a 50% enrollment drop in the US over the past five years. There are still good jobs in the field, but it seems students would rather study the liberal arts instead of science."

    I think students are reacting rationally to their perception of a declining job market in the US for a BSCS. Why bust your ass preparing for non-existant jobs, or to get a job that will soon be outsourced to India or Russia?

  • The Wine Commonsewer®||

    Engfuckinglish - fucking fucktard fucker

    hanger != hangar


    But you fucking knew what I fucking meant now didn't you?

    Why is it that so many libertarian types wnat to be the grammar police? I don't get that. This is a blog for Chrysler's sake. We're not writing technical manuals to operate the space station nor are we writing a doctoral thesis on grammar in America.

  • The Wine Commonsewer®||

    SIV, where lower income folks get into trouble is when they live in Beverly Hills 90210 and show a minuscule taxable income.

    I did mean a taxable income of 100k and up is where the risk potential begins to ratchet up. That's my opinion of course and not set in stone.

  • ||

    I just looked at Mohawk Industries, traded on the NYSE at 102 a share today, I believe their domestic manufacturing employees are majority "illegals" . Do they have some immunity not extended to other industries?

    The pattern seems to be that companies that hire any illegals at all, hire them almost exclusively. It's a kind of specialty, and it comes with both risks and rewards. The risk is lowest when the employees can be easily replaced.

  • ||

    Wayne: You're right about the perception that students have. I think a lot of it is based upon the dot com bust. No one will hand just anyone millions of dollars anymore for their stupid web based business.

    However, there's also the reality that there are still good jobs to be had in the field. The ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) has published some fairly comprehensive reports on the topic.

    At our school, we gave substantial scholarships to any US citizen that could maintain a B average in the program. We couldn't give away the money due to a lack of interest in the topic amongst US citizens. Meanwhile, psychology has record enrolment.

    Unfortunately, I'm coming to the conclusion that these are jobs that Americans do not want to do.

    Thanks for the response.

  • ||

    However, there's also the reality that there are still good jobs to be had in the field. The ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) has published some fairly comprehensive reports on the topic.

    ...

    Unfortunately, I'm coming to the conclusion that these are jobs that Americans do not want to do.


    Tell that to to these Americans who just lost their jobs. Half of my department just got the ax last month.

    Having been in the IT industry since 1979, my observation is that the perception of the aspiring students is a lot more accurate than the perception of the ACM.

  • ||

    IBM has been emancipating wage slaves for years (as per the Onion). Interesting link though.

    I do think the ACM did a fairly comprehensive and thorough study as opposed to just looking at individual cases, but they might also have a bit of a vested interest in reporting positive things.

  • ||

    Here's a New York Times article about IBM's motions in services and outsourcing with a different flavor...

    "Workers in U.S., India move up IBM ladder"
    "SOME JOBS CAN BE MOVED OVERSEAS; OTHERS CAN'T"

    ...

    To compete, companies like IBM have to move up the economic ladder to do more complicated work, as do entire Western economies and individual workers. "Once you start moving up the occupational chains, the work is not as rules-based," said Frank Levy, a labor economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

    In the field of technology services, Levy said, the essential skill is "often a lot more about business knowledge than it is about software technology - and it's a lot harder to ship that kind of work overseas."



    Worth reading, for lots of themes hit on this thread.

  • ||

    "To compete, companies like IBM have to move up the economic ladder to do more complicated work, as do entire Western economies and individual workers. "Once you start moving up the occupational chains, the work is not as rules-based," said Frank Levy, a labor economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology."

    Boiled down to its essence, this means that American workers have to be smarter than everybody else. There is no room in the American economy for tradesmen to earn a living and support a family at an American level. An American carpenter has to become an "entreprenurial business expert" and then hand his hammer to his El Salvadoran replacement.

    But the good news is that "we will all be richer in the long run".

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement