• Tips gratefully accepted here. Thanks!:

  • Recent Comments

    bellecat on Does anyone believe…
    bellecat on Does anyone believe…
    Sweet Sue on Does anyone believe…
    ipotter on Does anyone believe…
    peep9 on Does anyone believe…
    bellecat on Does anyone believe…
    bellecat on Does anyone believe…
    peep9 on Does anyone believe…
    ipotter on Does anyone believe…
    Lady V on Does anyone believe…
    ipotter on Does anyone believe…
    ipotter on Does anyone believe…
    bcc on Does anyone believe…
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Does anyone believe…
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Does anyone believe…
  • Categories


  • Tags

    abortion Add new tag Afghanistan Al Franken Anglachel Atrios bankers Barack Obama Bernie Sanders big pharma Bill Clinton cocktails Conflucians Say Dailykos Democratic Party Democrats Digby DNC Donald Trump Donna Brazile Economy Elizabeth Warren feminism Florida Fox News General Glenn Beck Glenn Greenwald Goldman Sachs health care Health Care Reform Hillary Clinton Howard Dean John Edwards John McCain Jon Corzine Karl Rove Matt Taibbi Media medicare Michelle Obama Michigan misogyny Mitt Romney Morning Edition Morning News Links Nancy Pelosi New Jersey news NO WE WON'T Obama Obamacare OccupyWallStreet occupy wall street Open thread Paul Krugman Politics Presidential Election 2008 PUMA racism Republicans research Sarah Palin sexism Single Payer snark Social Security Supreme Court Terry Gross Texas Tim Geithner unemployment Wall Street WikiLeaks women
  • Archives

  • History

    May 2013
    S M T W T F S
    « Apr   Jun »
     1234
    567891011
    12131415161718
    19202122232425
    262728293031  
  • RSS Paul Krugman: Conscience of a Liberal

  • The Confluence

    The Confluence

  • RSS Suburban Guerrilla

  • RSS Ian Welsh

    • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.
  • Top Posts

Business ruined science in this country

These two posts go together:

Engineers See a Path out of Green Card Limbo at the NYTimes

and

Promoting STEM Education, Foolishly at In the Pipeline by Derek Lowe

Here’s the bottom line as Derek spells it out:

And that takes us back to the subject of these two posts, on the oft-heard complaints of employers that they just can’t seem to find qualified people any more. To which add, all too often, “. . .not at the salaries we’d prefer to pay them, anyway”. Colin Macilwain, the author of this Nature piece I’m quoting from, seems to agree:

“But the main backing for government intervention in STEM education has come from the business lobby. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard a businessman stand up and bemoan the alleged failure of the education system to produce the science and technology ‘skills’ that his company requires, I’d be a very rich man.

 I have always struggled to recognize the picture these detractors paint. I find most recent science graduates to be positively bursting with both technical knowledge and enthusiasm.

If business people want to harness that enthusiasm, all they have to do is put their hands in their pockets and pay and train newly graduated scientists and engineers properly. It is much easier, of course, for the US National Association of Manufacturers and the British Confederation of British Industry to keep bleating that the state-run school- and university-education systems are ‘failing’.”

This position, which was not my original one on this issue, is not universally loved. (The standard take on this issue, by contrast, has the advantage of both flattering and advancing the interests of employers and educators alike, and it’s thus very politically attractive). I don’t even have much affection for my own position on this, even though I’ve come to think it’s accurate. As I’ve said before, it does feel odd for me, as a scientist, as someone who values education greatly, and as someone who’s broadly pro-immigration, to be making these points. But there they are.

Anyone who thinks that all you need to make  good science is cheap, well educated labor should really give it a whirl sometime.  Let me know how you’re doing after a decade of lab work and half a dozen restructurings.

The idea that we need to import more foreign engineers when American engineers can’t get work here and have to go work in Canada and Japan is just beyond cruel and stupid.

As Colin McIlwain says, the idea that there is a shortage of well educated, technically proficient and experienced American scientists is something the business community conjured up in order to push wages down.  Congress is either willfully ignorant or completely bamboozled if it seriously thinks that we need more foreign STEM graduates.  I recommend that the coastal Senators and Reps take a good look at their states’ unemployment statistics to see what Pharmageddon has done to the R&D industry.  It’s a hemorrhage of good jobs and tax revenue and if they pass this immigration measure, they’re only going to make the problem worse.

Good science is hard work and should be paid accordingly.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve known scientists who have been here for years and had difficulty getting a Green Card and I have great sympathy for them.  They paid their dues and deserved the card.  But we don’t need more foreign math and science students here until we can clear the backlog of the hundreds of thousands un and underemployed scientists that are struggling to get by since the bonus class decided it didn’t really need research after all.  In any case, they’re smart enough to figure it out.  When low wages make living in the US a losing proposition after 10 years of undergraduate and graduate school, they’ll stop coming here.

They might try France instead.  Here’s an article from the WSJ about how R&D employees got the aid of the French government on its side to keep the research facilities open when the Bonus Class at Sanofi tried to shut them down.  The secret?  UNIONS.

Want to know where the next great discoveries are going to come from?  Europe.

If American STEM workers don’t start fighting back, we all lose:

Still busy doing stuff work and house related.  It’s perfect gardening weather here in Pittsburgh.  I’m having a couple of cubic yards of mulch and top soil mix dropped off here later and I have a ton of weeding to do.  Now, where are my secateurs?

13 Responses

  1. Fascinating stuff, as usual, illustrating a general point (our business elites trying to impoverish us all) with examples showing how this works. Like that old group The Animals, I wish I knew a way outta this place we’re at now where this stuff happens.

  2. Business ruined everything that was good in this country. 👿

    FIFY.

    • The profit motive resembles fire: Properly controlled, it can be very useful. Out of control, it is lethally destructive.

  3. Ahhh, the fresh scent of wet mulch and soil mix with mushroom manure. Dee-lishus!

  4. Ruh-Roh, nasty storm outside.

  5. Thanks riverdaughter for this post. As an unemployed engineer I am enraged by the STEM laws being shoved down our throats. I watched as my previous employer laid off quite a few over 50 American citizens but kept the employees with green cards. Perhaps we should start a movement to bring more lawyers into the country and drive down their wages! Welcome back to the Burgh! We are happy to have you!

    • Wow. A genius idea!!

    • So happy to be back! I love this place.

    • Sammie, you raise an interesting point. One of your over 50 laid off friends should call an anti-discrimination lawyer, or whatever the state board is in your state. (In CA its under the Fair Employment and Housing Act.) Or, try the Feds.

      Under old Fed social programs it was illegal to fire or let go qualified workers in favor of lesser paid trainees, and I would think those under the Stem program would fit the category of trainees.

      Second, a pattern of layoffs, even under the guise of saving the employer money, could possibly be challenged.

  6. Off topic: I just learned today that Ray Manzarek, keyboard player of the legendary Doors, died Monday. He was 74.

    http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/ray-manzarek-doors-keyboardist-dead-at-74-20130520

    “Death makes angels of us all and gives us wings where we had shoulders smooth as ravens’ claws” — James Douglas Morrison

  7. Riverdaughter
    Glad you have come in from your new garden of earthly delights for a moment to give us again the benefit of your braininess on another outrage being perpetrated on Plantation America by its owners, the villainous .00001%. Keep up the good work…

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: