The foreign STEM worker’s revenge

Note: Corrente is having an end-of-year fundraiser!  Check it out.  They are some really decent people over at Corrente including Lambert, DCBlogger, Letsgetitdone and CoyoteCreek.  There are some people who make me think, “bloggers, you can’t live without them and you can’t give them a wedgie.”.  But that’s all good, right?  How much fun would blogging be if it was all just one big echo chamber and no one disagreed or raised their voices?  It would be like spending eternity with a bunch of Jehovah’s Witnesses.  So, keep your blogosphere JW free and contribute to Corrente today!

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Avedon Carol posted this today:

Congress Betrays The U.S. STEM Worker Once Again: “The House of Representatives is out to destroy the American Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Professional. Republicans passed H.R. 6429 with the oxymoron title, STEM Jobs Act of 2012. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics and this bill gives 55,000 foreigners a year who graduate from an American university with a Masters or PhD in these fields an employment sponsored green card. ” They’d rather have guest workers rather than Americans in jobs.

Avedon, thank you so much for being one of the first bloggers on the left who even acknowledges that there are about 100,000 unemployed, highly trained STEM professionals who are out of work right now.  I have been trying to get through to some of thick skulls on our side of the aisle for almost 4 years now and they have either been in denial or lifted their snooty liberal noses in the air because they don’t like what we do for a living, i.e. save their asses with our research.

But it’s not the Green Card holders I’m worried about.  It’s the people who come here on HIB visas who can only work here as long as their companies sponsor them.  I have known people who worked in research for years who couldn’t get a green card.  Once their companies laid them off, they had to go back to their country of origin even if they had settled down and bought houses and had excellent work records.  Even *with* a green card, a researcher is at risk of being sent home if the green card is narrowly restricted.  For example, a green card holder might be able to get one to work only in the particular position for which they were hired.  If their company lays them off, they have to find a similar position or they can’t work in this country. They can’t just become a greeter at Walmart. If they can’t find an almost identical job within a certain period of time, they have to start the application process all over again, which means going back home, going on parole, all kinds of unpleasant and economically disastrous things.

By the way, here is a word of warning to the visa holders out there who applied for a green card years ago but whose company bureaucracy seems to be sitting on the application.  If you can’t get them to move on your application it’s probably because the company isn’t planning to keep your site open.  But they can’t come right out and say that because that might induce panic at the site.  So, instead, your application sits in no-man’s land.  They’re planning to milk you for all you’re worth and then lay you off.  What happens to you after that is YOUR problem.  Get your affairs in order and don’t buy that house.

I don’t know whether Congress is going to fix this.  You’re absolutely right that we don’t need to further cripple the ability of American STEM workers to find jobs. Right now, there isn’t a shortage.  Nope, not even a little bit.  We are fairly bursting at the seams with over educated, technically proficient STEM professionals who are all dressed up with no place to go.  The companies whine about a skills gap that is non-existent.  What I and my fellow unemployed STEM professionals have found is that these companies want a person straight out of school with 25 years of experience.  In other words, they desperately need experienced people but they have no intention of paying for it.  So, they are assuming that cheap foreign grad students will be able to pick up the slack and if it doesn’t work out, well, it’s only a green card. Let them try to find work at another company.  That will keep them from getting notions of dignity above their station.  Right?  You know I am.

But here’s the thing, Avedon.  I know many, many foreign researchers who come here, get a Green Card and as quickly as possible, convert that to citizenship, which is how it should work.  We should welcome the people who intend to stay.  Then, they become ferocious tiger parents and their kids graduate at the top of their classes.  But those kids are just as likely to go compete for jobs – on Wall Street.

Yep.  In fact, those Chinese, Indian and Russian graduate students in molecular biology and physics could be the brand new recruits for Goldman Sachs.  It’s not unheard of.  I know several people who decided that research was unrewarding and economically unstable.  No one appreciates what we do. They decided to leave science to get into hedge funds.  And their kids are going to go where the money is. I already know many Asian parents who are steering their children in that direction. The “Jahb creators” might think of them stereotypically as hard working, no drama Chinese (they greatly underestimate them) but they are not naive pushovers.

And why shouldn’t Lloyd Blankfein replace his little group of overpaid WASPs to work the front office when he’ll have more than enough brilliant, aggressive recruits who not only speak perfectly unaccented English but a fair bit of Mandarin too?  Talk about asymmetric information, you have no idea how much you’re missing until you’re surrounded by the Chinese underground every day.

So, while I’m not happy about this bill, because the premise upon which it is built, that we need more STEM workers, is absolutely not true.  But if they’re coming, I’d rather give them a green card with zero restrictions than a visa.  And then, I’m just going to sit back and watch them take over the world.

Bwahahahahahahhhhhh!

As for the Congresspeople and Senators who voted for this stupid bill that will keep many Americans, including naturalized Asian American researchers, out of work permanently, I think we STEM workers should compile a list of names.  Maybe some of us should run against you or at least point our fingers in your direction and proclaim loudly to everyone we know and our children that you put us out of work and killed American science by giving in to the greedy lobbyists who have no appreciation for what it means to do actual research.

Now, can we talk about who clueless twit Marcia Angell is working for?

No one loves you more than you love yourself: Alan Simpson edition

Screen Shot 2012-12-06 at 9.04.34 AMAlan Simpson was on the DailyShow with Jon Stewart last night. I guess he was sent by the powers that be to soften up the younger crowd.

Note to the powers that be: If you’re trying to sell something as unpalatable and sadistic as cuts to the social insurance programs (and let’s be honest here, raising the retirement age even by one year while recalculating the COLA based on some new criteria *is* a cut), don’t send this guy. You want to send some young, hot dude, like Ben Affleck, not some crotchety, old guy who is prematurely decomposing before our eyes and is already sucking off the government teat.

Oh, did I forget to mention that? In 2010, this is what Alan Simpson had to say about Americans who put so much of our own blood, sweat and money into our social insurance benefits policies:

In a letter responding to criticisms against him from a group representing older women, former Wyoming Sen. Alan Simpson wrote that he has “spent many years in public life trying to stabilize” Social Security. However, he wrote, “Yes, I’ve made some plenty smart cracks about people on Social Security who milk it to the last degree. You know ‘em too. It’s the same with any system in America. We’ve reached a point now where it’s like a milk cow with 310 million tits!”

Nice.

I think what angers me the most about Alan Simpson’s “Suck it up, people. It’s not as bad as a hot poker up your rectum” attitude is that it’s so out of touch with the reality of our present working environment.

Women my age were socked with a surplus SSI tax the minute we started working full time. We were told that we needed to pay our benefits in advance. Ok, fine. And then we started working and almost as soon as we hit that pension vested mark, our companies shifted us over to 401Ks.

But that wasn’t all. In the US, it takes 5 years at most companies to go from 2 weeks to 3 weeks of vacation. Maternity leave is not paid. If you have sick days, you’re lucky, but these usually get factored into the maternity leave you get, along with your vacation time, if you’re lucky enough to work for a company that grants it. So, you come back to work exhausted with no vacation or sick time. And you do that for years while you pay the highest child care costs in the western world.

Meanwhile, our European cousins get 6 weeks of vacation time to start.

Our work ethic in America is relentless. We work hard, very hard, for a lot longer than most of the developed world, and get a lot less time off to enjoy the rest of our lives. In the last decade, I routinely had weeks of vacation time left at the end of the year from the 4 weeks I worked up to after 20 years. I rolled them over to the next year. And why did I have so much time left over? I was afraid to leave my desk, not that it mattered in the end.

Here’s my point: The American worker is wildly productive. It’s insane how hard we work for as many decades as we do under the constant stress and fear of layoff and economic insecurity. The masters of the universe should be grateful that all they have to pay is 7% of an employee’s social security benefit. But no, they are not grateful. They don’t want to have to pay anything.

Meanwhile, if any of us had known back in 1986 that we were going to be set on a track of decades of work with few productive, restorative breaks only to end up with absolutely nothing when the time came to retire, if we were ever able to retire, we would have done things quite differently. Maybe we would have demanded more up front. Maybe we would have screamed bloody murder when George Bush stole the White House from Al Gore. Maybe we would have tarred and feathered Newt Gingrich back in the 90s and rode his fat ass out of Washington on a rail. Maybe we would have saved more, bought smaller houses (although, my house is already pretty reasonable). Maybe we would have seen the social issues as what they were, a clever decoy to get older conservative voters to sign on to punitive economic policies. Maybe we would have been a lot more vigilant about absolutely everything.

But we didn’t know. And why didn’t we know? It’s because we are Americans and bad stuff happens to people in other countries. Even now, you’re probably sitting there reading this thinking, “They can’t be serious about cutting social security for those of us who don’t have decent pensions to retire on. They couldn’t be that heartless. We’re Americans.”

Oh, yes, they would. They would do it. And that’s because “No one loves you more than you love yourself”. In other words, do not expect people like Alan Simpson or Nancy Pelosi, and definitely NOT Barack Obama, to care two shits about what happens to you. Politics to them is a game, not a service. They spend their days listening to lobbyists of the self-identified “Jahb creators” crying crocodile tears about how hard it is for them to find good help anymore. Those people don’t think you deserve the salary you’ve got, let alone retirement benefits. They definitely will expect you to “suck it up, people”. You WILL retire poor, if you can retire at all. That’s what you get for sacrificing the best years of your life to American capitalism so the 1% can live comfortably.

They’re going to try to turn Social Security into a welfare program instead of a social insurance program. That money is ours to do as we like, whether or not Alan Simpson, acting like some selfish ex-husband on behalf of the rest of the selfish ex-husbands in the elite group of rich and well connected, thinks we need it or not. They will never, never stop until the Republicans and conservative Democrats and their backers are reduced in numbers in the House and Senate to make them completely impotent. They don’t care about you. They don’t love you. Your life is not important to them and they’re going to do everything in their power to deprive you of the money YOU paid because in order for the rich to take what they want they have to convince themselves that  you haven’t worked hard enough. Yes, that is what they think.

Are you going to take this lying down?

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Found this QOTD over at Corrente:

If we didn’t share in the prosperity, why should we share in the sacrifice?”

Yes, all of us should be asking ourselves this question.

Give me caffeine!!

Get your mugs ready. I’ve got Starbucks Blonde Christmas Blend in mine, which, I have to admit, is excellent. (No endorsement, just my personal opinion. I’m not a fan of the original Christmas Blend.) For those of you who like a lot of caffeine in your morning brew, get the lighter roasts. They’re loaded.

Now, check out this video of Emily Eddington, morning anchor at WSIL in Illinois, doing the coffee dance with her co-worker Josue.

I’ve been busy for the last couple of days playing around with ribbons and stuff. I’ll be back later after I figure out how to figure out how the stories I’ve been reading snap together.

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