Sanchez On BusinessWeek On Matloff
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When I heard that Moira Herbst of Businessweek wrote an article about Norm Matloff, I read it with extreme trepidation. Herbst is a skilled writer and journalist, but she is very much a corporate globalist who supports H-1B and outsourcing. Despite her obvious bias the article wasn't as bad as I anticipated.

There are a few things in the article that I felt should be commented on.

To some opponents of H-1B visas, Matloff is something of a hero — and in a sense, the intellectual backbone of their movement.[ An Academic’s Labor Helps Fight H-1B Visas, BusinessWeek, June 28, 2009.]
That may be the most profound thing Herbst has ever written (which probably isn't saying very much!). As far as I know, Norm Matloff is the first one to make the connection between H-1B and age discrimination. I first found out about Matloff many years ago when I was trying to figure out why I couldn't find good engineering jobs. For many reasons I began to suspect my 40+ age was a factor (in one interview the manager asked me if I would have a problem riding go-karts with "the boys" on Friday). I stumbled into Matloff's "Debunking" paper and much to my astonishment it read like my autobiography. The stories in that paper have been accused of being anecdotal, but they are the story of my ruined career. They aren't anecdotal to me!

My journey into the H-1B issue originated from the wealth of information that Matloff provided on age discrimination in the computer/IT professions.

I'm not sure why Herbst used so many quotes from Vivek Wadhwa, an Indian supremacist who writes articles mostly for the same magazine. Surely she could have found someone outside of BusinessWeek to take cheap shots at Matloff! Arthur Hu was briefly mentioned but his credibility is damaged by the fact that he is a Chinese racist who has an obsession with hating Matloff.

Vivek Wadhwa didn't stop his attacks there however—he complained

that Matloff's "research doesn't seem to have been published by credible authorities or have received any form of peer review."
That's a very disingenuous thing for Wadhwa to say considering Matloff's 99 page report "On the Need for Reform of the H-1B Nonimmigrant Work Visa in Computer-Related Occupations" was published by the University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform.

Wadhwa's assertion that the data Matloff uses has "no basis" is a vindictive attack that might have been exacerbated every time Matloff effectively debunked the corporate sponsored studies published by Wadhwa and his politically correct cronies at Harvard and Duke Universities. Matloff has poked so many holes in Wadhwa's studies it's amusing stuff to read.

Most of the studies I have seen from Wadhwa contain data that is tailored to coincide with predetermined conclusions, and they somehow always seem to "prove" that we need to allow more Indians into the U.S. to take our jobs. To Matloff's credit he sees right through these scurrilous studies that parade as objective academia. Wadhwa has very little room to criticize Matloff for using faulty data.

As for peer review: Before Matloff subjected that Michigan paper to a formal peer review he invited comment from a wide variety of people in and out of academia. I doubt Wadhwa was on Matloff's review list, which makes me suspect that Wadwha's remarks are caused by a case of extreme narcissism. I know that Matloff had the paper reviewed by outsiders because I was one of many that reviewed it!

Matloff deserves praise for inviting a wide variety of activists both inside and out of academia to review his material. Vivek Wadhwa in contrast prefers to keep his research data within a small clique of Ivory Tower professors and corporate sponsors.

I can personally vouch for the fact that Matloff not only listened to many of us, he incorporated changes into his study when he determined that our critiques had merit. Wadhwa had this to say about Matloff:

Matloff routinely attacks the work of other academics by citing statistics and data which have no basis," says Vivek Wadhwa, a Duke University engineering professor and fellow with the Labor & Worklife Program at Harvard Law School. (Wadhwa is also a columnist for "He claims to have performed his own research, but this research doesn't seem to have been published by credible authorities or have received any form of peer review."
OK, I'm not an ivory tower academic, so I decided to ask Norm Matloff the following questions, and I got the following answers which he gave me permission to quote:
< <<<< Start of Q&A >>>>>

QUESTION BY ROB: Norm, has Vivek Wadhwa ever invited you to peer review anything of his? Have you asked him to do the same?

ANSWER BY NORM: This is not how it works. Instead, one submits a manuscript to a journal, and the associate editor chooses some reviewers. The reviewers, whose names are typically not divulged to the author(s) of the manuscript, critique the paper and recommend acceptance or rejectance.

Ironically, I criticized Vivek for not having peer-reviewed work. I pointed out serious errors in his papers, and said that peer review would have caught them. Since he now is accusing me of not having peer-reviewed work (he is incorrect on that, but that's not my point here), I assume that means that he finally has submitted something to an academic journal.

On a related matter, recall that I said in my e-newsletter the other day that almost all my analyses are an open book, based on public data such as PUMS, PERM, NCSG and so on. Anyone can verify my results. By contrast, Vivek's data is all private. I have asked him to share it with me, and he has declined my request.

QUESTION BY ROB: So, one more question — was your Michigan Reform study peer reviewed, and if not, why?

ANSWER BY NORM: Yes, I said so in my critique of the BusinessWeek article. By the way, the archived copy of my critique (with a couple of typos corrected) is here [ version here]:

< <<<< End of Q&A >>>>>

There are a few other things in the article that are cause for concern—of course we should keep in mind that the quotes might not be accurate or they are taken out of context (Herbst does that sometimes). I have great respect for Lindsay Lowell, director of policy studies at Georgetown University's Institute for the Study of International Migration, but he was quoted as saying something that makes me scratch my head in bewilderment:
Matloff lacks definitive data on, for example, the proportion of older workers who are laid off and replaced by younger workers or H-1B visa holders.
Lindsay Lowell is a researcher and a darn good one, and as such he will never have enough data (do a Google search to find his excellent studies on the many facets of immigration including H-1B). Gathering and analyzing data is what he does. Matloff and many other researchers have been gathering facts about H-1B for a very long time. Matloff has adequately proved the connection between H-1B and age discrimination but I have no doubt that academics like Lowell could study statistics for another 10 years before they came to a definitive conclusion. In the meantime our entire computer/IT industry is being given away to YOUNG foreign nationals.

By now all of you have read something by ITGrunt. Allow me to come out of the closet and admit that sometimes I go to his website. I find his material entertaining and yet provocative. Sometimes he even reminds me of myself in the early days of my rage against the machine. Some people have speculated that ITgrunt is just a ghost name that I use. I assure all of you that I am not the ITgrunt, so let's put an end to that bit of internet mythology.

ITgrunt's stories from the work world seem to have a kernel of truth to them, but sometimes his specifics on H-1B are weak on the facts. I was rather stunned that BusinessWeek asked his opinion on Matloff:

"While I do admire Matloff and find his work to be substantial, his contribution to our cause has been academic and largely ignored by the I.T. industry," says "Kevin," who publishes a blog that routinely refers to Indian tech workers as "slumdogs" (
Kevin, or ITgrunt, or whomever your name is: I got news for you—the IT industry and everyone else who employs H-1Bs routinely ignores Matloff and anyone else that criticizes H-1B—that includes you and I. The corporatocrats and their toadies in government will continue to marginalize us until we either vote the traitors out of office or pay them off. Forget the latter option because the cheap labor lobby will always outbid us, and they control the bully pulpit of the mainstream media so they also control public opinion.

Donna Conroy was quoted, but I have no idea what she is talking about here:

"The thing that's missing in Norm Matloff's strategy is fighting for a seat at the table," says Donna Conroy, executive director of Bright Future Jobs.
I'm not sure what seat at the table Donna is talking about, but she is right about fighting—we need a lot more of that and a lot less apathy and cowardice. Conroy's next statement is excellent except for one thing:
"We need a political movement that allows us to help craft legislation. All the numbers [Matloff] crunches won't have nearly the impact as American technical professionals standing up for themselves."
I just don't agree with the characterization of Matloff as being merely a number cruncher. In addition to his heroic efforts to educate clueless Americans about H-1B he has testified before Congress and has been on innumerable panels, discussions, news shows, radio talk shows, etc. At times all of us out there have wished Matloff would do more, but realistically just how much is a working university professor expected to do? Techies need to learn to fight their own battles if they expect to get their jobs back.

Conroy is totally right-on about the need for techies to do something for themselves. Until they organize and do something politically, the best result we can expect is for more academic studies to be authored that will explain or deny the obvious harms that H-1B has wrought on the U.S. work force — and the debate will go on and on.


"On the Need for Reform of the H-1B Nonimmigrant Work Visa in Computer-Related Occupations", by Norm Matloff, University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform, Fall 2003 PDF

"Debunking the Myth of a Desperate Software Labor Shortage", Testimony to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Immigration, Dr. Norman Matloff, Presented April 21, 1998

"H-1B Temporary Workers: Estimating the Population", By B. Lindsay Lowell, 2000 PDF

America's New Immigrant Entrepreneurs: Part I, by Vivek Wadhwa and others, January 4, 2007

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