View From Lodi, CA: Bill Gates—Big, Rich Phony
May 06, 2005, 05:00 AM
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Last week, I attended a party where most of the guests were a generation younger than me.

They were upwardly mobile professionals with solid middle class incomes and a couple of kids in primary school.

As invariably happens at these events, the conversation drifted around to politics. And someone asked me, as the senior citizen in the group, how I saw America`s future.

This is verbatim how I answered:

"If I were you, I would spend two hours less a week driving to soccer and tennis with my kids and spend those two hours in political activism. And I would focus my concerns on proactive efforts to keep the nation`s fabric intact. If you don`t, the chances are excellent that the hopes you have for your children will never be realized."

A loud silence fell over the group. I`m not sure if they thought I was a wet blanket or if they knew that I`m right and were embarrassed by their political passivity.

Soccer and tennis are great for kids. But what are their prospects for the long-term? Their parents had better be looking out for them because the U.S. Congress is not.

The reality is that until citizens fight for their economic future, then Congress will continue to give visas to overseas workers under the guise that "there aren`t enough Americans"to fill the jobs.

And these gifts of American jobs always take place under the radar…especially for those more focused on getting the kids to practice than in what`s happening in Washington, D.C.

Sure enough, a few days after the party Congress voted 94-6 in support of legislation that will triple the number of "temporary" H-2B visas given to foreign workers.

Specifically, here`s what that means.

The five most popular H-2B visas will be given to landscape laborers, forest workers, maid/housekeepers, stable attendants and construction workers.

The amazing thing is that the three industries with the highest unemployment rates are agriculture, landscaping and forest workers (11.8 percent); construction (10.3 percent) and leisure/hospitality that includes maids, housekeeping and stable attendants (8.3 percent).

Some of these jobs would make great summer employment for college students. Or they would represent welcome income for any of the 9 percent of unemployed American adults who have no high school diploma.

Increasing the numbers of H-2B visas reduces employment opportunities for the most vulnerable Americans and drives down wages for those marginally employed.

But those H-2B visas are wonderful vehicles for employers who want to keep salaries low by importing cheap foreign labor.

They win; you lose.

No sooner was the ink dry on the H-2B legislation than Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates began lobbying Congress to eliminate the cap on the H-1B visa. If Congress follows Gates` suggestion then there would be no limit to the number of foreign workers who enter America to work as scientists, computer engineers, architects and doctors.

Gates along with other proponents of unlimited visas claims that there are no Americans to perform these jobs.

Said Gates: "Anybody who`s got good computer science training, they are not out there unemployed. We`re just not seeing an available labor pool."

But this is a fiction that Gates works hard to perpetuate.

The reality, as pointed out by the Commerce Department undersecretary for technology, Phil Bond, is that unemployment among US computer engineers regularly exceeds unemployment for other industries.

Government statistics showed that unemployment for information technology professionals in 2004 was 5.7 percent versus 5.5 percent for all workers.

Why is Gates pushing so hard?

Let free market economist Milton Friedman answer. Said Friedman:

"The H-1B program is a benefit to employers, enabling them to get workers at a lower wage, and to that extent, it is a subsidy."

What Gates also failed to mention is that Congress established H-1B visas in 1990 as a "temporary" source of labor.

In the fifteen years since the program`s inception, the numbers of visas issued has increased from the original 65,000 to 115,000 and then increased again to 195,000. Currently, the number is set back at the original 65,000.

In other words, over a decade and a half, hundreds of thousands of work visas have been issued thus creating lay-offs and reducing opportunities for American workers.

Now Gates wants to open the floodgates.

Recently Gates addressed the nation`s governors at the National Summit Education Summit on High Schools.

Gates spoke critically about the country`s high schools calling them "obsolete," an "urgent cause" and largely incapable of graduating students who are employable in today`s economy.

[Bill Gates speech at the National Education Summit on High Schools Feb 26, 2005]

While no one can disagree with Gates, he gave the erroneous impression that he would like to help American students—especially students among the at-risk population—prosper.

The reality is that if Gates cared about American youth, he would be lobbying Congress to end the H-1B visa entirely.

But Gates only cares about himself. And as one of the richest, most influential Americans, he may get his way with Congress unless you remind your representative that U.S. workers come first.

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JOENOTE for VDARE.COM readers who want to learn more: I refer you to sources vastly better informed than me. Whatever I know about American job destruction via non-immigrant visas and outsourcing, I learned from them.

They include:

Professor Norm Matloff, University of California, Davis:

Rob Sanchez:

Dawn Teo:

Ian Fletcher:

John Miano:

And please go to the website of a new organization dedicated to fighting the loss of American jobs: http:/www.teapartyusa.org/

Joe Guzzardi [email him], an instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, has been writing a weekly column since 1988. It currently appears in the Lodi News-Sentinel.