Indian Business Machines? IBM Dumps Its American Workers
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The Associated Press writes in the International Herald Tribune:

The work force at International Business Machines Corp. grew 8 percent in 2006, with most of the rise coming in India, where the technology company has been on a hiring binge in recent years.

The figures were disclosed Tuesday in IBM's annual report to the Securities and Exchange Commission. IBM noted that at the end of 2006 it employed 355,766 people, up from 329,373 one year earlier.

Its base in India was 52,000 people — up from 36,000 one year earlier


That makes India the second-largest center for IBM, trailing only the United States, where IBM's work force rose slightly to 127,000. India is so key to IBM that Chairman and Chief Executive Sam Palmisano held his annual analysts' briefing there last June rather than in the traditional location of New York.


Now, what this means is that IBM is dumping its American work force—particularly its American technical work force. The SEC doesn't require reporting on the immigration status of employees, but I think if we could get figures on the number of H-1b/L-1 guest workers, green card holders and naturalized citizens being employed by IBM in recent years, it would be a safe bet that the number of Americans born in the USA that have been employed by IBM in recent years has gone down significantly. I would seriously question the ability of IBM management to get key information at this point without relying heavily on sources of data that may be skewed by ethnic and national nepotism. Can IBM really guarantee the security of software systems developed in India?

The thing is, IBM is major US government contractor—and a major corporate welfare recipient. Does it really make sense for the American people to do that kind of business with what is essentially a foreign company?

In the long run, I think we need to revisit the entire issue of intellectual property-which is a major mechanism that has helped create economic dinosaurs like IBM, Intel, HP, Oracle and Microsoft. Reputable economists like Lester Thurow at MIT have suggested that right of eminent domain be used more aggressively to acquire key patents and technologies and place them in the public domain. If there were done appropriately, a lot of the niche for companies like IBM could be greatly reduced.


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