LinkedIn CEO Hoffman: Preserve H-1b Corporate Welfare
March 18, 2009, 12:21 PM
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From the India Times:
CEO and founder of popular site LinkedIn Reid Hoffman urged the US Congress and the Obama Administration to remove the cap on H-1B visas, which enable foreign nationals to live and work in the United States. LinkedIn is a popular business-oriented social networking site.

�Remove the cap on H-1B visas and impose a 10 per cent payroll tax beyond the benchmark salary for each visa,� Hoffman wrote in an article �Stimulus 2.0: It’s the Startups, Stupid� in TechCrunch, a publication of The Washington Post. A day earlier in another article in The Washington Post, Hoffman made a similar argument for the next phase of stimulus policies.

Observing that the US is a country founded on immigration, Hoffman said, �We should welcome the best and the brightest as our own. Abolish the H-1B cap, and give me an economic reason for preferring local. I’ll only do foreign if I need to.�

Hoffman said, �A 10 per cent payroll tax for each H-1B visa can be reinvested in whatever it takes to get American talent up to the same level.� This has been proposed previously, but a payroll tax ensures that H-1Bs are used for skilled labour, not cheap labour.

First off, the taxes on imported labor that Hoffman is arguing for are quite a bit less than companies would pay in competitive econonmies like Singapore. I disagree strongly with Hoffman's argument that the issue has ever been training of Americans—but even if he were right, the revenues on a $60,000/year H-1b worker would be something like $12,000 over six years. This would not even cover expenses for a 4 year IT program at a State University—let alone the true cost of education and the student's opportunity cost of investment in their education. Hoffman is still advocating what amounts to a program that lets US companies grant green cards at far less than the value of citizenship. Such a program is inherently abusive.