Dobbs - Cheap Science
Dobbs - Cheap Science
Date: Tuesday, January 27, 2009 3:09 PM
<<<<< JOB DESTRUCTION NEWSLETTER No. 1965 -- 1/27/2009 >>>>>
Bill Tucker had an excellent report on the dismal job market for PhDs on Jan
LOU DOBBS TONIGHT
Reid's Retreat; NAACP and Burris; It's the Economy; Cheap Science; Border Drug
Aired January 7, 2009 - 19:00 ET
DOBBS: New evidence tonight there are enough American scientists in this
country to fill job openings in science and engineering and in science and
engineering companies, despite many industry claims to the absolute contrary.
Those companies actively discourage American workers by keeping wages lower
than they would otherwise be without foreign workers being imported. They keep
wages low by exploiting visa rules and bringing cheap foreign workers into
this country. Bill Tucker has the report.
BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This fact from the National
Science Foundation highlights a serious problem. "The number of foreign post-
docs has increased by 52 percent since 1996, whereas the number of U.S.
citizen and permanent resident post-docs has grown by nine percent."
The conventional wisdom is that that data shows a shortage of scientists and a
dire need to bring in as many foreign scientists on H-1B visas as we can.
Science professionals see it very differently. Beryl Benderly writes a monthly
column for science careers on science labor force issues.
BERYL LIEFF BENDERLY, SCIENCE CAREERS COLUMNIST: There is no shortage of
people. There are thousands of people who cannot find careers as scientists
after they've been through years of training.
TUCKER: Studies from the Urban Institute, the Pratt School of Engineering at
Duke University, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation all agree, the United States
produces more scientists annually than science jobs. There is no shortage
reflected in the pay they receive either. Ellis Research Services (ph), which
has been doing wage studies in the science and engineering fields for 20
years, has consistently found pay for scientists to be in line with or lower
than the average for all fields.
RON HIRA, ROCHESTER INST. OF TECHNOLOGY: There's no premium to these careers,
and at the same time, what's happened is that there's been an increase in the
risk to those workers, right, as employers cut, for example, benefits, as
employers start to look to move work overseas, and a lot of science positions
are vulnerable to being moved overseas.
TUCKER: In other words, there's a disincentive for choosing a career in
PROF. NORM MATLOFF, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA: The first thing the Obama people
should do is take a hard look. Ignore the PR and take a hard look at what's
really going on in terms of wages and job opportunities and science today.
TUCKER: There are winners. Just not the scientists.
TUCKER: A typical post-doc in their early 30s, after years of school, earning
a PhD will earn about 35,000, maybe $40,000 a year in a research position.
Helping keep those wages low, the fact that research institutions have
unlimited access to H-1B visas. And according to Ron Hira, some 60 percent of
post-docs are foreign students, Lou, here on guest worker visas.
DOBBS: I'm not sure I quite understand this. You're telling us that a person
with a doctorate in this country, roughly 30 years of age, late 30s...
DOBBS: ... early 30s -- I mean late 20s, early 30s is making just about the
same as the median household income in this country?
TUCKER: They're making about 35 or $40,000 a year, after all of those years of
DOBBS: That's incredible.
TUCKER: ... which really is below what a Bachelor...
DOBBS: So let me ask a question.
TUCKER: ... make.
DOBBS: Why would it not occur to geniuses like Bill Gates, who's had the
tamari to stand in front of Congress and demand an infinite number of H-1B
visas, why would it not occur to such a genius as Bill Gates and others in
corporate America and in academia to perhaps offer greater pay for higher
education in corporate America? TUCKER: Well I can't speak for them, but
they're the ones who benefit from the lower wages, Lou, so I would imagine
they're acting as they would say in their own self-interest.
DOBBS: Well a horrible -- a horrible construction of self- interest, denying
an incentive for people to move into those jobs and give them a living wage,
DOBBS: And I really would love to hear from the Chamber of Commerce -- the
U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable. We invite you to come here
and demonstrate to us the error of our ways because you've been among those,
Chamber of Commerce, Business Roundtable, and Bill Gates, I want to invite you
too, Bill, because you and I have known each other a long time and you know
I'm a straight shooter and I know that you can be when you're wrestled to the
So why don't you come here and we'll talk about what's really going on, and
how the American interest and American middle class workers can best be
served. Because it looks like, frankly, folks, you're doing the nation a great
disservice by distorting what is happening in this country for higher
education, graduates, particular post-docs in corporate America.
Well there are right now 23 guest worker programs. By the way, I know you're
one of those people, I'll bet you, who like me has listened to the president
say we've got to have a guest worker program. Well, let me repeat that number.
We keep trying to keep -- to figure out how many there are.
And the number right now is just 23 guest worker programs.
So, Mr. President, I know you only got a couple of weeks left, a little less
than that, but I want you to hear me loud and clear. As you've been going
around the country saying this nonsense, there are 23 guest worker programs,
folks. Foreign workers enter here under an alphabet soup of different visas in
those guest worker programs.
In addition to the H visas there are also the E, the G, the I, the O, the P
and there's an R-visa as well. There's also a visa for workers covered under
NAFTA. In total, almost 810,000 foreign worker visas were issued in 2007. H-
visas accounting for more than 400,000 of those workers and eight of the top
20 companies requesting H-1B visas last year -- are you ready -- those
American companies looking for that skilled talent that Bill Gates talked
about and the Chamber of Commerce wants, well, eight of the top 20
-- that's right, they were based in India. They were outsourcing jobs. Just
thought we'd bring that to your attention as well, Mr. Gates.
A major scandal at one of the big Indian outsourcing companies today. The
chairman of Satyam Computer Services was forced to admit that Satyam has been
falsifying its books for years. The company's balance sheet inflated the
amount of cash the company held by just $1 billion in the quarter ending last
September. The company overstated its operating profits by just a factor of
11, 11 times their actual profit. Satyam is third on the list of companies, by
the way, receiving those good old H-1B visas. You got to love it.
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