Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) 2007
“Our challenge is to strengthen the forces of freedom and prosperity in this region. One of the most important ways we can do so is through the expansion of trade and investment.”
– President George W. Bush, Remarks at APEC Business Summit, 9/7/07
At The 15th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Meeting In Sydney, President Bush And The Other APEC Leaders Took Further Strides Toward Their Shared Goal Of Free And Open Trade And Investment In The Asia-Pacific By:
|Endorsing a consensus report on ways and means to realize the vision of a trans-Pacific, region-wide Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific;|
|Agreeing on three new sets of model measures for free trade agreement (FTA) chapters to promote high-quality FTAs that expand trade; and|
|Deciding on an action plan to reduce trade transaction costs by 5 percent by 2010; and|
|Launching a region-wide effort to streamline patent procedures.|
President Bush And The Other APEC Leaders Secured Renewed Commitment Aimed At Generating New Momentum On The Doha Round Multilateral Trade Negotiations:
The Leaders issued a strong Statement insisting on an ambitious, balanced result that delivers substantial market access in agriculture, industrial goods, and services.
|The United States and many APEC partners are showing resolve to make the tough choices required to create new trade flows.|
President Bush, Australian Prime Minister John Howard, And The Other APEC Leaders Forged A New Direction For Global Efforts To Address Climate Change And Energy Security:
|The “Sydney Declaration on Climate Change, Energy Security, and Clean Development” calls for substantial yet realistic goals and practical actions concerning energy intensity, reforestation, and key technological advancement priorities.|
|APEC Leaders welcomed the United States-led initiative calling for high-level discussions among the world’s major economies to define a framework for action that could become part of a new global agreement. The first meeting will take place September 27-28 in Washington.|
Reflecting His Dedication To APEC And The Region, President Bush Offered, And The APEC Leaders Accepted, That The United States Host The APEC Meetings In 2011:
|The United States views APEC as the preeminent regional economic forum.|
|President Bush has participated in every APEC Leaders’ Meeting since he entered office in 2001.|
|Peru will host in 2008, Singapore in 2009, and Japan in 2010.|
At APEC, President Bush And Other Leaders Urged Countries That Have Isolated Themselves In The Region To Correct Their Course:
|The Leaders urged North Korea to take prompt action to denuclearize, as the crucial first step for it to be welcomed as a responsible member of the international community.|
|The President also expressed deep concern about the recent actions of the regime in Burma against peaceful demonstrators and called for the release of these and other political activists.|
President Bush Took The Lead At APEC In Championing Key Human Security Issues:
|APEC Leaders agreed to region-wide principles on defending food supplies from terrorism; committed to strengthening food and product safety standards using scientific risk-based approaches; agreed to support the timely sharing of influenza specimens and to promote access to vaccines and other benefits derived from them; and endorsed guidelines to ensure that economies continue to function in times of pandemic.|
|APEC has also made progress in areas such as deterring illegal trafficking of radioactive materials, protection of transportation and energy infrastructure, and combating the illicit use of financial systems for terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).|
|This year, APEC accepted U.S. transitional membership in the APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC) scheme, which offers card holders expedited immigration processing at ABTC member airports.|
President Bush Also Continued His Commitment To Building Societies For Sustainable Growth:
|APEC Leaders reinforced their fight against corruption by creating model Codes of Conduct and complementary Anti-Corruption Principles for business and government officials.|
|APEC Leaders committed to equip the region’s workforce with 21st Century skills in order to help workers adapt more quickly to an open and competitive marketplace.|
Background On APEC:
· APEC was founded in Australia in 1989, and the United States hosted the first meeting at the Leaders’ level at Blake Island in 1993.
· 21 member economies, representing:
o 60% of U.S. exports
o 60% of world GDP
o Almost half of global trade
o 2.7 billion consumers
· Premier economic forum in the Asia-Pacific, allowing Leaders, Ministers, and Senior Officials to focus high-level attention on issues of regional and global importance.
At The 14th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Meeting In Hanoi, Vietnam, In 2006 President Bush Presented A Vision Of APEC As A Forum To:
|Create opportunities for sustainable growth through trade liberalization;|
|Prevent threats to sustainable growth by securing travel, transport, and trade, fighting against terrorism, and preventing pandemic disease; and|
|Build societies for sustainable growth by stemming corruption and promoting good governance.|
Conferences, Seminars, and Workshops
AABR is pleased announce the following conferences, seminars, and/or workshops. Where registration is required, please be sure to register early.
1) Continuity of Government Operations August 15, 2006
2) Congress of the United States June 19, 2006
Participants Manual for Conferences
Sent: 7/11/2010 6:25:49 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time
Subj: “The Real Science Gap”–a crying shame
To: H-1B/L-1/offshoring e-newsletter
My fields are mathematics and statistics in terms of formal training,
but in terms of most of my academic career and industrial experience, I
am a computer scientist. Thus in writing about H-1B, I tend to write
about the software industry, with occasional comments on math and stat.
Computer science does not (yet) rely much on postdoctoral scholar
(postdocs), researchers working in low-paid academic jobs as sort of an
apprenticeship after completing their PhDs. The main fields employing
postdocs are the basic sciences, such as biology and physics. But I’m
well aware of the disgraceful postdoc mess, which, as Dr. Shirley
Malcolm of the American Association for the Advancement of Science has
pointed out, graphically demostrates that we have an OVERsupply of
scientists. Academia would not be able to force people through such an
abusive process were it not for the presence of a very large pool of
And that oversupply is driven by H-1B. In a recent posting to this
e-newsletter, I wrote:
…our government’s central science agency, the National Science
Foundation (NSF), explicitly admitted back in 1989 that H-1B and
other efforts to bring in more foreign scientists and engineers would
suppress salary growth and thus–the NSF went on to say–discourage
domestic students from pursuing doctorates in science and
engineering. And today the NSF has the gall to complain that not
enough American students pursue a PhD! Anyone without a vested
interest here would see the stupidity of such a policy, and would be
The effect of H-1B on careers in science is absolutely disgraceful.
The government and academia have created a huge oversupply of PhD
scientists, which has led to a post doc labor system under which
aspiring scientists run a many-year gauntlet of low-paid, temporary
jobs, with no idea whether they will even get to have a permanent
career in science in the end. The government might as well make it
illegal to be a scientist. Again, an absurdly stupid and outrageous
system, fueled by H-1B, the visa held by most foreign post docs.
The article below, by science reporter Beryl Benderly, presents all the
horrid details. This is by far the most thorough and insightful
treatment of the subject that I’ve seen, and indeed, one of the few to
broach this subject, period. It should be required reading for our
government policy makers, as an antidote to the flood of “how the U.S.
can innovate” articles we’ve been seeing in the last few months from
those with hidden agendas.
I have a few comments, of course.
# A prime symptom noted by all: a growing aversion of America’s top
# students — especially the native-born white males who once formed
# the backbone of the nation’s research and technical community — to
# enter scientific careers. Increasingly, foreign-born technical and
# scientific personnel on temporary visas staff America’s university
# labs and high-tech industries.
“White male”? Ordinarily I would been startled, and maybe even winced,
at seeing this. I can understand the citing of nativity, since the
author raises the question (as I have), “What if they stop coming here?”
But why should race and gender matter?
Yet I was less startled than I would have been, because a similar point
was made a couple of months ago, when my department’s graduate program
was undergoing its regular review. The head of the review team, a white
(and by the way immigrant) professor from UCB, expressed the team’s
concern that among our graduate students there were rather few women,
adding “especially white women.” I think he intended “white” as a proxy
for “domestic,” but I was shocked that he would say something like that.
That made the reporter’s citing whiteness (and maleness) in the enclosed
article as an issue brought up by those she interviewed a little less
shocking, but I must say I’m still baffled.
The author also uses a phrase above that the industry lobbyists and
related people use constantly, “foreign born.” I object to this because
it lumps together those who come here as foreign students or H-1Bs, with
those who come here as children as family immigrants. It has always
been the case that the latter produce scientists, professors and the
like, myself being an example. And conversely, my experience with H-1Bs
is that they discourage their children from pursuing careers in pure
science, or even engineering–medical school or law school is their goal
for their kids. So I’m not quite sure what point the author’s
interviewees were trying to get across in discussion white natives.
Ms. Benderly’s account of the history of research funding is excellent,
and will make a good reference. What is in my opinion missing, though,
is the corrupting influence of the system. The funding, ostensibly to
support research, took on a life of its own, becoming in many ways more
important than the research itself. The old joke that “Deans can’t read
but they can count,” meaning that in faculty promotion cases they simply
enumerate the number of papers the candidate has published, has morphed
into counting how much grant money the candidate has brought in. In
engineering faculty meetings, retreats and so on, the discussion is
dominated by getting more research money, especially from industry. The
number of PhDs a promotion candidate has produced is also tallied with
keen interest, and of course one can’t have PhD students without funds
to support them, so it’s back to the grants issue again.
As a result, we have University.com, academia run as a business.
Individual departments are considered “profit centers.” After the
dot-com bust in 2000, my own department’s undergraduate enrollment
plummeted, yet the more it declined, the more the university expanded
our faculty! Why? Simple–our department is a rainmaker, bringing in
more and more research grants.
Now all of this would not be so terrible if research truly were a public
good. But although in principle research it should benefit the economy
and society, in practice the obsession with funding creates perverse
The most salient ill effect in the present context is that the obsession
with money kills innovation, rather than developing it. The effective
way to be awarded a grant is to do incremental, NON-innovative research.
Innovation actually makes funding agencies, and the professors they
appoint as reviewers, nervous, skeptical and, in some cases, jealous.
Worse, there is what I will call here the Hennessy Principle. Just as
with the Peter Principle, under which one rises to one’s level of
incompetence, in academic science and engineering, one’s talent as a
researcher forces one OUT of research activity, and IN to
“entrepreneurship”–the neverending, full-time, shameless hustling for
grant money. The very research brilliance that brought a professor to
prominence now imprisons him, keeping him from actually doing research
himself. And again, the incentives are to develop large, hierarchical
research teams in which the guy at the top often knows very little of
what is actually being done by those doing the work. And those who are
doing that work are usually not as talented as the guy who spends all
his time scrounging for money.
I’m calling this the Hennessy Principle after Stanford University
President John Hennessy. Back in the days when he was a computer
science professor, doing “big science” (read “big funding”), he once
gave a talk on his then-current project, a huge multiprocessor computer.
I was startled by his lack of knowledge of even basic principles of the
workings of his machine. This is no dig at Hennessy or Stanford–I
consider the Stanford CS and Statistics Departments to be the best in
the world–but that doesn’t change the fact that this method of
operation is tragically wasteful and rife with opportunity costs.
The other perverse effect, of course, is to develop an oversupply of
doctoral students and postdocs. An oversupply makes labor cheap, and
thus one gets the most bang for one’s buck of grant funding. And the
way to produce that oversupply has been, as we’ve seen, to bring in a
lot of foreign students. This has led, as noted, to low professional
salaries and greatly reduced career prospects–in turn causing the very
dearth of domestic (“white male”) PhD students that academia is now so
One point that the article should have elaborated on is that that exodus
of domestic students (a new kind of “white flight”) consists
disproportionately of “the best and the brightest.” Studies have shown
that when a profession turns economically sour, the best minds bail
first. The mediocre people then get their chance at that profession.
Given the sordid role of the NSF in this mess, the following statement
is woefully incorrect:
# “No one designed the present system. It just happened,” says Maxine
# Singer, a former president of the Carnegie Institution of
Again, the NSF made a conscious decision along these lines, and others,
such as former UC President (then UCSD Chancellor) Atkinson, were making
the same push. See Eric Weinstein’s frightening account, at
To be sure, there have been questions raised. The Sloan Foundation
produced a very insightful report (ironically, one of the authors was at
Stanford) on overproduction of tech PhDs in 1995. The next year
Professor Anthony Ralston of the State University of New York at
Buffalo wrote in the Association for Computing Machinery’s flagship
% [In the coming years] we are almost certain to continue to produce
% more–probably far more–Ph.D.’s in computer science than will be
% able to find the kinds of research jobs which attracted them to
% seek doctorates in the first place, and perhaps more than will be
% able to find jobs at all. Many of us are, in fact, accepting
% students under false pretenses…
Ralston then went right to the heart of the public-good issue. He noted
that CS PhDs would still be hired for jobs not needing a PhD, but
countered, “But does this justify the cost–to taxpayers, to
government, to the students themselves–when the attainment of a Ph.D.
adds little to the abilities of the candidates to do [these] jobs?”
These voices were, of course, drowned in the subsequent ocean of
expansion during the dot-com boom. That boom actually had essentially
nothing to do with PhD production, but the giddiness and lobbyist hype
of the time made it impossible to discuss, a barrier that continues to
Much more recently, another lone voice surfaced just a few weeks ago in
an op-ed in the Chronicle of Higher Education, in which the four
professor authors argued that we’re producing far too many garbage
research papers. Among their thoughtful suggestions was that faculty
promotion candidates should be allowed to include only a few
representative papers in their promotion packets, thus removing the
“quantity” incentive. This would allow professors to concentrate on
quality work, with less incentive to overdo grant seeking and PhD
production, not to mention solving the problem of absurdly burgeoning
research journals filled with work of questionable value.
But again, in the current climate, such proposals have no chance. On
the contrary, the reaction of most university presidents to Benderly’s
piece would be that Congress should fund even MORE research.
Among other things, those presidents would cite the “need” to keep up
with China. Yet that nation is engaged in equally destructive research
behavior. Upset by the poor showing by its universities in world
academic league tables, the Chinese government found that most formulas
for such rankings relied on counts of research papers! So it is now
pressuring its professors to produce as many publications as possible.
Similarly, a recent Washington Post article noted “China is also the
leading source of what are known as ‘junk’ patents.” A colleague of
mine from China finds it so demoralizing that he now only rarely visits
The author notes:
# For scientifically trained young people from abroad, though —
# especially those from low-wage countries like China and India — the
# calculus of opportunity is different. For them, postdoc work in the
# U.S. is an almost unbeatable opportunity. Besides the experience and
# prestige of working in the world’s leading scientific power, a postdoc
# research position is likely to pay many times more than a job at home
# would. Beyond that, many foreign postdocs erroneously believe that the
# temporary H-1B visa that admits them to the U.S. will eventually lead
# to permanent residency. These drastically different opportunity
# structures explain why more than half of what the National Science
# Board has estimated as 93,000 postdocs in the U.S. are now foreigners
# on short-term visas.
The assumption of eventually getting a green card is actually not
“erroneous” at all. True, the foreign postdocs are squeezing through
the same cruel funnel as the Americans, and very few of them will end up
with the type of position the funnel is ostensibly preparing them for: A
tenure-track appointment at a U.S. research university. But those who
want green cards will get them, treating their postdoc work as a
steppingstone. You’d be amazed, for instance, at how many biologists,
chemists and even geographers get jobs as computer programmers, with
green card sponsorship, in work that has nothing to do with their
academic credentials. They’re hired by co-ethnics, relatives, friends
of friends etc., or simply by employers out to save a buck or impressed
by a prestigious alma mater.
Another common route is to get hired and sponsored for a green card by a
small rural college that is thrilled to acquire a good researcher–and
then quit the job a few years later once the green card comes through.
And if all else fails, there is the classical route of entering into a
(legit) marriage to a U.S. citizen.
On the other hand, the key phrase above is “those who want green cards.”
In China in the 1980s and 90s, the desire to emigrate to the U.S. was
nothing short of hysteria. It was the old 19th-century Chinese gushing
that even the moon is larger in America, with that gushing now on
steroids. But nowadays, as I’ve written before, the attraction is not
so keen. Those who wish to do engineering now know that careers in that
profession tend to be short-lived in the U.S., and those who wish to do
science are fully aware that the odds are against them. (They also know
that both of these problems are largely due to H-1B.) In the words of
Yogi Berra, more and more scientists in China feel that American science
“is so crowded that nobody goes there anymore.”
Though the article makes excellent suggestions on reforming the system,
it does not address the major issue of perception. Right now, the
perception among young Americans, including those who major in science as
undergraduates, is that a career in science is not for them. Even if
the system is reformed, perceptions last a long time.
The article devotes the obligatory passage to the allegedly poor
performance of American kids in international math and science tests.
The article does correctly explain why this is highly misleading, noting
for instance that the discrepancies are largely due to our sad failure
to deal with our underclass. But I wish the article had brought up the
statistic that most clearly shows that we are actually doing OK after
all: In the TIMSS test cited, on the eighth-grade science test, the
scores achieved by Colorado, Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts,
Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, Utah, Vermont,
Wisconsin and Wyoming were quite good. Had these states–none of which
has a substantial underclass–been treated as separate nations, each of
them would have been outscored only by Singapore. See David Berliner,
“Our Schools Versus Theirs,” Washington Post, January 28, 2001. The
article might have also noted that China and India, the main sources of
the postdocs, refuse to participate in TIMMS, undboubtedly because of
the same underclass issue.
The article is long and rather repetitive, in need of editing in my
opinion. But it is priceless, an outstanding piece of work. President
Obama, nail this article to the Oval Office wall!
June 14, 2010
The Real Science Gap
Beryl Lieff Benderly
The Real Science Gap
It’s not insufficient schooling or a shortage of scientists. It’s a
lack of job opportunities. Americans need the reasonable hope that
spending their youth preparing to do science will provide a
By Beryl Lieff Benderly
For many decades, and especially since the United States attained
undisputed pre-eminence in science during World War II, a parade of
cutting-edge technologies has accounted for much of America’s economic
growth. Countless good jobs now ride on whether the Next Big Thing —
and the several things after that — will be developed in America and
not, as many fear, in China, India, the European Union, Japan, Korea or
another of the powers now producing large numbers of scientists and
Brilliant advances and the industries they foster come from brilliant
minds, and for generations the United States has produced or welcomed
from abroad the bulk of the world’s best scientists, engineers,
inventors and innovators. But now, troubling indicators suggest that —
unlike the days when the nation’s best students flocked to the
challenges of the space race, the war on cancer, the tech boom, and
other frontiers of innovation — careers in science, engineering and
technology hold less attraction for the most talented young Americans.
With competitors rapidly increasing their own supplies of technically
trained personnel and major American companies outsourcing some of
their research work to lower-wage countries, an emerging threat to U.S.
dominance becomes increasingly clear.
Congress and successive administrations have responded with steps they
have been told will solve the problem. But some of the solutions they
have adopted and hope to continue — in particular, large increases in
funding for research and graduate training — will, experts in the
scientific labor market believe, have the opposite effect, ultimately
discouraging high-achieving Americans from committing their working
lives to scientific innovation. The solutions that will attract the
nation’s brightest young people back to science, these experts argue,
are not even on the table.
July-August 2010 The current approach — trying to improve the students
or schools — will not produce the desired result, the experts predict,
because the forces driving bright young Americans away from technical
careers arise elsewhere, in the very structure of the U.S. research
establishment. For generations, that establishment served as the
world’s nimblest and most productive source of great science and
outstanding young scientists. Because of long-ignored internal
contradictions, however, the American research enterprise has become so
severely dysfunctional that it actively prevents the great majority of
the young Americans aspiring to do research from realizing their
To remain competitive against rising rivals, the nation must
reconstruct this system so it once again guides the best of America’s
large supply of young scientific ability into research and innovation.
This process, experts contend, begins with identifying the real reason
that scientifically gifted young Americans are increasingly unable and
unwilling to pursue scientific careers. It is not, as many believe,
that the nation is producing too few scientists, but, paradoxically,
just the opposite.
“There is no scientist shortage,” declares Harvard economics professor
Richard Freeman, a pre-eminent authority on the scientific work force.
Michael Teitelbaum of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, a leading
demographer who is also a national authority on science training, cites
the “profound irony” of crying shortage — as have many business
leaders, including Microsoft founder Bill Gates — while scores of
thousands of young Ph.D.s labor in the nation’s university labs as
low-paid, temporary workers, ostensibly training for permanent faculty
positions that will never exist.
Back when today’s senior-most professors were young, Ph.D.s routinely
became tenure-track assistant professors, complete with labs of their
own, in their late 20s. But today, in many fields, faculty openings
routinely draw hundreds of qualified applicants. The tiny fraction who
do manage to land their first faculty post are generally in their late
30s or early 40s by the time they get their research careers under way.
Today’s large surplus of scientists began in the life sciences but is
now apparent in fields as diverse as astronomy, meteorology and
high-energy physics. These surpluses, Teitelbaum notes, hardly
constitute “market indicators signaling shortages.”
The shortage theorists and the glut proponents, however, do agree on
two things: First, something serious is wrong with America’s scientific
labor supply. A prime symptom noted by all: a growing aversion of
America’s top students — especially the native-born white males who
once formed the backbone of the nation’s research and technical
community — to enter scientific careers. Increasingly, foreign-born
technical and scientific personnel on temporary visas staff America’s
university labs and high-tech industries.
The second point of agreement is that, unless the underlying problem is
fixed, it will seriously impair the nation’s ability to recruit
top-flight homegrown talent — both for domestic innovation and for the
high-level, classified, technical work vital for national security.
But disagreement rages about causes and cures. Is the influx of
foreigners a cause of high-achieving Americans’ reluctance to become
scientists, as the labor force experts assert, or an effect, as the
industry interests insist? Once all the political rhetoric and verbiage
of blue-ribbon panels is cleared away, the data clearly support those
arguing for the existence of a glut of aspiring scientists.
America’s schools, it turns out, consistently produce large numbers of
world-class science and math students, according to studies by Harold
Salzman of the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers
University and his co-author, B. Lindsay Lowell, director of policy
studies for the Institute for the Study of International Migration at
Georgetown University. But the incentives that once reliably delivered
many of those high scorers into scientific and technical careers have
gone seriously awry.
If the nation truly wants its ablest students to become scientists,
Salzman says, it must undertake reforms — but not of the schools.
Instead, it must reconstruct a career structure that will once again
provide young Americans the reasonable hope that spending their youth
preparing to do science will provide a satisfactory career.
“It’s not an education story, it’s a labor market story,” Salzman says.
“No one designed the present system. It just happened,” says Maxine
Singer, a former president of the Carnegie Institution of Washington
(now the Carnegie Institution for Science) and a researcher who, in the
late 1950s, became an independent investigator heading her own lab at
the National Institutes of Health at the age of 27. Indeed, the current
system of funding scientific research arose, essentially by accident,
from a set of choices made shortly after World War II.
Before the war, America’s research enterprise had been small and
sparsely funded. The struggle against Germany and Japan, however,
showed Americans that science could be a mighty force for solving
problems. The nation had witnessed the atomic bomb, developed in secret
by a government program called the Manhattan Project, abruptly force
Japanese surrender. Such wartime innovations as radar and penicillin
also conspicuously saved American lives.
In November 1944, months before the war ended, President Franklin
Roosevelt wrote to Vannevar Bush, a Ph.D. engineer who was instrumental
in organizing the Manhattan Project and who directed the top secret
Office of Scientific Research and Development, which coordinated the
wartime research effort. “What,” Roosevelt asked, “can the government
do now and in the future to aid research activities by public and
Bush answered with a July 1945 report to Roosevelt’s successor,
President Harry Truman, titled Science, The Endless Frontier. In it,
Bush outlined the basic structures of civilian research that remain to
this day. Central to his scheme was a proposed National Research
Foundation to organize and oversee funding across all fields of
civilian science. In 1950, after several attempts, Congress created the
National Science Foundation. As the war ended, furthermore, the
National Institutes of Health, then a small agency, began its
transformation into the world’s largest funder of civilian research,
with an annual budget exceeding $30 billion.
Bush’s report listed “Five Fundamentals” that he believed must guide
government support of civilian research. Congress has never fulfilled
the first, which called for stable, predictable funding for science. It
did, however, enact the other four: Research funds are awarded and
administered by nonpartisan experts; civilian research is funded
primarily “through contracts or grants to organizations outside the
federal government”; the universities receiving grants control “policy,
personnel, and the method and scope of the research”; and while the
funding agencies retain “independence and freedom” in regard to the
research carried on in institutions receiving public funds, they are
responsible to the president and Congress.”
Government-funded civilian research thus became largely the province of
research universities, and that research is the major activity and
income source on many campuses. In 2008, more than 700 universities and
research institutes, and more than 50,000 grant-winning professors
(called principal investigators or PIs), absorbed $16 billion in grants
from NIH alone. The recent stimulus package devoted $10 billion to
short-term NIH research grants to universities and colleges.
Bush’s report also enunciated a federal responsibility for training
scientists, initially to make up “the deficit of science and technology
students who, but for the war, would have received … degrees.” But,
in a piece of advice that went unheeded, he advocated designing plans
“to attract into science only that proportion of youthful talent
appropriate to the needs of science. …”
The system devised after the war has proven efficient, economical and
flexible, with principal investigators proposing and carrying out
research projects and universities administering them and taking a
portion of each grant as overhead. Government has come to depend on the
universities for results and the universities on the government for a
portion of their income. And the system didn’t just advance science; it
also supported education by employing graduate students in
government-funded research, with the implicit assumption that after
earning their degrees, doctorate-level scientists would generally
become faculty members themselves, ultimately winning their own grants
to support their own labs and graduate students.
All went well for a number of years because postwar American higher
education expanded exponentially after the war, creating many new
faculty jobs. First, the GI Bill flooded the campuses with millions of
veterans-turned-students. Then, as the great veteran wave was ebbing,
Sputnik launched a vast increase in funding for college-level science
and math study. Colleges were also expanding their faculties and
facilities to prepare for the enormous baby boom generation.
But the system had a basic flaw that was revealed only gradually, as
the expansion of academe slowed in the early 1970s: The system’s
central feature — the “self-replicating” professor who produces a
steady stream of new Ph.D.s as a byproduct of grant research — had no
control over the job prospects for those graduates.
Before the mid-1970s, U.S. science and engineering graduates could look
forward not only to intellectual challenge and the excitement of doing
important and admired work, but to security and, ultimately, an
upper-middle-class income. Aspiring scientists could climb a clearly
defined ladder from graduate school to stable and reasonably lucrative
careers. Able students could finish a doctorate in four or five years,
generally supported by a fellowship or assistantship.
A handful of the most talented new Ph.D.s might then spend a year or
two as postdoctoral fellows, generally following a particularly
promising line of inquiry in the lab of a prominent professor. Marked
as rising talents, they would proceed to especially prestigious
assistant professorships. Postdocs, as such researchers are still
called, would work on projects of their own devising under the guidance
of some of their field’s leading figures; it was considered not quite
proper for professors to involve such fellows in their own research.
More commonly, however, new Ph.D.s would move directly from grad school
into permanent posts, whether on a university’s tenure track, as a
researcher in a government scientific agency, or in the research
laboratory of a large corporation.
Today, only a handful of young scientists — the few lucky or gifted
enough to win famous fellowships or score outstanding publications that
identify them early on as “stars” — can look forward to such a future.
For the great majority, becoming a scientist now entails a penurious
decade or more of graduate school and postdoc positions before joining
the multitude vainly vying for the few available faculty-level
openings. Earning a doctorate now consumes an average of about seven
years. In many fields, up to five more years as a postdoc now
constitute, in the words of Trevor Penning, who formerly headed
postdoctoral programs at the University of Pennsylvania, the “terminal
de facto credential” required for faculty-level posts.
And today’s postdocs rarely pursue their own ideas or work with the
greats of their field. Nearly every faculty member with a research
grant — and that is just about every tenure-track or tenured member of
a science department at any of several hundred universities — now uses
postdocs to do the bench work for the project. Paid out of the grant,
these highly skilled employees might earn $40,000 a year for 60 or more
hours a week in the lab. A lucky few will eventually land faculty
posts, but even most of those won’t get traditional permanent spots
with the potential of tenure protection. The majority of today’s new
faculty hires are “soft money” jobs with titles like “research
assistant professor” and an employment term lasting only as long as the
specific grant that supports it.
Many young Americans bright enough to do the math therefore conclude
that instead of gambling 12 years on the small chance of becoming an
assistant professor, they can invest that time in becoming a
neurosurgeon, or a quarter of it in becoming a lawyer or a sixth in
earning an MBA. And many who do earn doctorates in math-based subjects
opt to use their skills devising mathematical models on Wall Street,
rather than solving scientific puzzles in university labs, hoping a
professorship opens up.
For scientifically trained young people from abroad, though —
especially those from low-wage countries like China and India — the
calculus of opportunity is different. For them, postdoc work in the
U.S. is an almost unbeatable opportunity. Besides the experience and
prestige of working in the world’s leading scientific power, a postdoc
research position is likely to pay many times more than a job at home
would. Beyond that, many foreign postdocs erroneously believe that the
temporary H-1B visa that admits them to the U.S. will eventually lead
to permanent residency. These drastically different opportunity
structures explain why more than half of what the National Science
Board has estimated as 93,000 postdocs in the U.S. are now foreigners
on short-term visas.
To be sure, this predicament — the reality that a once-desirable
career path for the best U.S. scientific talent has become a route to
penury, frustration and disappointment — is not the dominant cultural
narrative. For decades, America has been worried that it will fall
behind in the technology race because of a looming shortage of
scientific researchers. “Pronouncements of shortages in American
science and engineering have a long history,” the Sloan Foundation’s
Teitelbaum writes. “They date at least to the late 1950s, around the
time the [USSR] launched Sputnik.” Stunned that its nuclear-armed
archenemy had apparently grabbed the lead in missile technology and
space flight, America leapt to the false conclusion that its science
was inadequate. Federal money swiftly poured into science and
engineering scholarships and so successfully attracted students that,
by the early 1970s, the market for young scientists and engineers was
Shortage predictions surfaced again in the 1980s, when a policy office
in the National Science Foundation produced a flawed demographic
analysis predicting a shortfall of technical talent. Testifying before
Congress about that study in 1995, NSF Director Neal Lane stated that
“there was really no basis to predict a shortage.” Nonetheless, the
dot-com boom of the 1990s brought another round of dire forecasts that
were advanced by an industry group, the Information Technology
Association of America, but harshly criticized on methodological
grounds by the U.S. General Accounting Office.
The shortage scenario’s most recent incarnation is Rising Above the
Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter
Economic Future, a highly influential report published by the National
Academies in 2005. Touted by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman,
Gathering Storm immediately attracted media attention far beyond what
the usual wonkish Academies offering receives. Written in response to a
congressional request for proposals to bolster the nation’s
competitiveness against the rising scientific prowess of India and,
especially, China, Storm claimed U.S. science education was not keeping
pace with the nation’s needs; the report became the basis of the
America COMPETES Act of 2007 (technically the America Creating
Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology,
Education, and Science Act of 2007). This law seeks to increase the
nation’s competitiveness by increasing investment in research and
raising the number of students at all levels studying science.
(Congress was debating a reauthorization of the law as this article
went to press.)
The Academies published another report on the science labor force in
2005, Bridges to Independence: Fostering the Independence of New
Researchers in Biological Research, but it went essentially uncovered
outside the science press. Bridges examined the ominous “crisis of
expectation” among the thousands of frustrated young scientists unable
to move into suitable career employment. The report was motivated by an
alarming fact: The average age of scientists winning their first
independent NIH grants — a major career milestone that once tended to
come in a researcher’s late 20s or early 30s — had risen to 42, well
past the period widely considered a researcher’s most creative.
“Current career structures and opportunities,” Bridges noted, “…
adversely affect the future of the biomedical research workforce as
well as the success, productivity and research directions of
individuals who do pursue such careers.”
But in the national arena, Storm’s outsized influence drowned out
Bridges` message. Storm pushes for more Americans earning undergraduate
and graduate degrees in what it calls the science and math “areas of
national need,” without ever specifying which specific fields those
areas may encompass. Storm also states that “the number of people with
doctorates in the sciences, mathematics and engineering awarded by U.S.
institutions each year has not kept pace with the increasing importance
of science and technology to a nation’s prosperity.” But the report
provides no metric to judge that importance or the numbers of
scientists or engineers needed to serve prosperity.
Storm does acknowledge “much debate in recent years about whether the
United States is facing a looming shortage of scientists and engineers
… [but] there is not a crisis at the moment. …” Still, Storm urges
upgrading K-12 science and math instruction because “the domestic and
world economies depend more and more on science and engineering. But
our primary and secondary schools do not seem able to produce enough
students with the interest, motivation, knowledge and skills they will
need to compete and prosper in such a world.”
This claim, however, is “largely inconsistent with the facts,”
Teitelbaum declared in 2007 congressional testimony about Storm and
another similar report. In reality, he said, “students emerging from
the oft-criticized K-12 system appear to be studying science and math
subjects more, and performing better in them, over time. … Nor are
U.S. secondary school students lagging far behind comparable students
in economically-competitive countries, as is oft-asserted.”
In fact, three times as many Americans earn degrees in science and
engineering each year as can find work in those fields, Science &
Engineering Indicators 2008, a publication of the National Science
Board, reports. The number of science and engineering Ph.D.s awarded
annually in the U.S. rose by nearly 60 percent in the last two decades,
from about 19,000 to 30,000, the report says. The number of people
under 35 in the U.S. holding doctorates in biomedical sciences,
Indicators notes, rose by 59.4 percent — from about 12,000 to about
19,000 — between 1993 and 2001, but the number of under-35s holding
the tenure-track positions rose by just 6.7 percent, remaining under
Storm does make one criticism of American education that hits the mark:
American students on average make mediocre showings in international
comparisons. Closer analysis, however, reveals no threat to the supply
of potential scientists, who come not from the average but the top
scorers. In this regard, “the U.S. is not at any particular
disadvantage compared to most nations, and the supply of [science and
engineering] graduates is large and ranks among the best
internationally,” write Salzman and Lowell in a rejoinder to Gathering
Storm pointedly titled Into the Eye of the Storm: Assessing the
Evidence on Science and Engineering Education, Quality and Workforce
Demand. “The notion that the United States trails the world in
educational performance misrepresents the actual test results and
reaches conclusions that are quite unfounded,” they continue.
On the widely cited Trends in International Math and Science Study
test, for example, the national rankings of fourth- and eighth-grade
students fail to take account of the size of the differences separating
the scores of various countries. “The U.S.’s 5th place in 2003 is
statistically identical to 4th and 3rd places,” Salzman and Lowell
note. Although “the U.S. has not taken first place in math or science,”
it is “one of the few countries that does consistently perform above
the international average.” In addition, internal analysis reveals that
American TIMSS scores have been improving over time, a feat duplicated
by only two other countries.
Much attention has also centered on the apparently poor showing of
American 12th-graders in math and science testing. But, Lowell and
Salzman note, the TIMSS “high school” exam did not test students of a
particular age or grade, but rather those in their final year of
secondary school — 12th grade in the U.S., but up to three or more
years later in some other countries. “The U.S. has not performed
`poorly’ in a statistical sense,” University of Pennsylvania education
professor Erling Boe and co-author Sujie Shin write in an analysis in
the Phi Delta Kappan education journal. The math and science results,
they conclude, don’t separate the U.S. from other developed countries,
but Western countries from Japan, Korea and Hong Kong. “The U.S. is
quite comparable to other Western nations,” none of which matches the
East Asians, they write.
Very significantly, American students are by far the most diverse of
any industrialized country, with a “substantial gap in the U.S. between
the achievement scores of white students and those of black students
… and Hispanic students,” according to Boe and Shin. White Americans
on average substantially outscored Europeans in math and science and
came in second to the Japanese, but American black and Hispanic
students on average significantly trailed all other groups. Raising
America’s average scores therefore doesn’t require repairing an
educational system that performs poorly overall, but boosting the
performance of the students at the bottom, overwhelmingly from
low-income and minority families.
And Americans’ interest in math and science doesn’t flag in college.
“The proportion of all bachelor’s degrees awarded in [science and
engineering] has been relatively stable over time, as has the
proportion of freshmen in [those majors],” Lowell and Salzman found. A
new study, however, reveals an increasing share of the very best of
those students opting not to pursue science careers after graduation.
In regard to science- and math-based careers, Salzman says, “Everything
shows that wages and working conditions and career prospects have …
American universities still focus intensely on the academic research
career as the highest and best ambition for science students.
Opportunities do, of course, exist beyond the campus. For generations,
most chemists have worked in industry. Biotech, computer technology and
other emerging industries create other scientific jobs. For a variety
of reasons, however, many Ph.D.s find the transition from academe to
private business hard to accomplish. And at the university,
“alternative careers” — that is, becoming anything other than a
professor — generally get the lip service worthy of distant second
This traditional value system does not persist only because of
professorial cluelessness. In his recent book, Lives in Science,
University of Georgia sociologist Joseph Hermanowicz documents the key
role that this mythology plays in recruiting students for graduate
programs. “Professors rely upon these people to carry out their work,”
he says, “and one way in which to get that accomplished is by training
people in the ideals of science, which include these notions of
Back when today’s senior scientists were starting their careers, this
mythology formed part of an implicit bargain, labor force economist
Paula Stephan of Georgia State University has pointed out. Academic
science functioned as an apprenticeship system, with graduate students
and postdocs accepting meager pay and long hours, knowing that their
teachers took personal responsibility for launching their careers.
Indeed, the success of senior scientists’ students was an important
measure of their professional standing, notes Vincent Mangematin of
Grenoble Ecole de Management in France, an expert on scientific career
Starting about three decades ago, however, this long-standing agreement
began to unravel. In a number of fields, placing students in desirable
faculty jobs became more and more difficult, and several years of
postdoctoral “training” gradually became the norm for nearly everyone
rather than, as formerly, a mark of special distinction. It was, in
fact, a form of disguised unemployment. “Simply put, there are not
enough tenure-track academic positions for the available pool of …
researchers,” the Bridges report says.
Whereas new Ph.D.s had formerly spent a year or so applying for perhaps
three or four faculty openings before accepting a job, they now spent
multiple years sending out scores of applications, often without
success. Graduate students and postdoctoral “trainees” were less and
less the protégés of mentors morally responsible for their futures,
Mangematin points out. They morphed instead into highly skilled, highly
motivated and invitingly inexpensive labor, doing the bench work needed
for professors to keep their grants. Winning those grants gradually
came to outweigh placing their students in good jobs as a major mark of
The obstacles facing today’s young scientists therefore don’t
constitute temporary aberrations but rather are structural features of
a system that evolved over a period of 60 years and now meets the needs
of major interest groups within the existing structure of law and
regulation. Essentially, this system provides a continuing supply of
exceptionally skilled labor at artificially low prices, permitting the
federal government to finance research at low cost. Based on federal
statutes, regulations and appropriations, the system can be
fundamentally altered only by congressional action.
The groups that benefit from the science labor glut include senior
professors, who receive the great bulk of federal grant funding, and
the research universities that employ them (and the graduate students
and postdocs) while receiving overhead payments from the grants. Change
that could substantially relieve the plight of young scientists seems
especially difficult to effect. The groups supporting the current
situation are well organized, with strong and effective lobbies and are
seen, both by themselves and by society at large, as representing major
social goods: The established researchers and their scholarly
associations claim to speak for “science,” and thus for technological
progress and the hope of cures for dread diseases. The universities
represent education and opportunity.
Young scientists, meanwhile, are not only impecunious and unorganized
for political action, but generally don’t even view themselves as an
interest group apart from the larger scientific community — despite
having interests that are at odds in major ways with those of their
professors and universities. The National Postdoctoral Association,
which ostensibly speaks for postdocs, is a creature of the American
Association for the Advancement of Science, a major representative of
organized academic scientists. Postdoc unions exist on a handful of
campuses, but they focus on local workplace conditions rather than
national issues like the structure of careers.
By the early 1970s, periodic surveys of the biomedical labor force by
the National Academy of Sciences were noticing more and more new Ph.D.s
accepting temporary postdoctoral appointments instead of proceeding to
permanent jobs. Before long, the Academy’s reports were calling this
demoralizing trend disguised unemployment, and the pool continued to
grow relentlessly for the next 30 years.
During the 1990s dot-com boom, as the market for information technology
workers began to tighten and salaries to rise, information industry
interests agitated in Congress for admitting more high-skilled foreign
workers. According to Teitelbaum, lobbyists for the tech industry
struck a deal with those of the research universities: If the
universities would support a higher visa cap for industry, industry
would support an unlimited supply of H-1B visas for nonprofit
organizations, essentially giving universities the right to bring in as
many foreign postdocs as they wished.
Since then, tens of thousands of Ph.D.s, primarily from China, have
arrived to staff American university laboratories, and the information
industry has padded its ranks with temporary workers who come largely
from India. The transformation of postdocs from valued protégés to
cost-effective labor force was complete.
Harvard economist George Borjas has documented that an influx of Ph.D.s
from abroad reduces incomes of all comparable doctorates. Although some
people argue that advanced education assures good career prospects,
“the supply-demand textbook model is correct after all,” Borjas says.
It turns out to work as powerfully on molecular biologists and computer
programmers as on gardeners and baby sitters.
The director of postdoctoral affairs at one stellar university, who
requested anonymity to avoid career repercussions, puts it more acidly.
The main difference between postdocs and migrant agricultural laborers,
he jokes, is that the Ph.D.s don’t pick fruit.
According to a recent post on the blog of a well-informed physicist,
eight people have already accepted postdoc positions at Princeton in
the field of particle physics for the coming year. That is one particle
physicist shy of the total number in that field hired nationally as
faculty members this year.
So what can be done to rescue the American scientific labor market from
Obviously, the “pyramid paradigm can’t continue forever,” says Susan
Gerbi, chair of molecular biology at Brown University and one of the
relatively small number of scientists who have expressed serious
concern about the situation. Like any Ponzi scheme, she fears, this one
will collapse when it runs out of suckers — a stage that appears to be
approaching. “We need to have solutions for some new steady-state
model” that will limit the production of new scientists and offer them
better career prospects, she adds. At this point, however, the policy
options become slim. There has been relatively little attention given
to possible solutions for the scientist glut — in no small part
because the scientific establishment has been busy promoting the idea
that the U.S. has a shortage of science students.
Any change in the science labor market would, of course, require
dismantling the current system and erecting something that would value
young scientists for their future potential as researchers and not just
for their present ability to keep universities’ grant mills humming.
This would mean paying them more and exploiting them less. It would
also mean limiting their numbers by both producing and importing fewer
scientists, so incomes could rise to something commensurate with the
investment in time and talent and the high-level skills of a Ph.D.
Assorted critics of the present system have suggested various models.
Generally these involve staffing labs with permanent career employees,
from technicians to Ph.D. senior scientists, on a long-term basis
rather than depending on low-paid transients. Some institutions have
used variants of this model. They include the Howard Hughes Medical
Institution’s Janelia Farm in Ashburn, Va., and the legendary, now
essentially defunct, Bell Laboratories, which belonged to the monopoly
telephone company and produced seven Nobel Prizes.
Scientists-in-training also need effective means of preparing
themselves for the careers that exist outside the academy. This will
require universities to provide resources and time during graduate
school and postdoc years for learning unrelated to an ever-narrowing
focus on a single research question.
But dismantling the current system would require overcoming the
powerful vested interests that now benefit from the inequities and
exploitation of young scientists. Well before that could happen, there
would have to be an honest recognition of today’s labor market
realities, the forces that caused these distortions and the damage they
Whether the nation can overcome the interests of those who benefit from
America’s current policy of doing science on the cheap is not at all
clear. Due to recession-related financial difficulties, Yale University
recently announced small reductions in the number of graduate students
it would admit. Science departments objected, according to the student
newspaper. The Yale Daily News reported: “Professors in the Computer
Science Department are conducting federally funded research projects —
research that must be conducted with the help of graduate students,
computer science chair Avi Silberschatz said. If these projects are not
delivered, he said, it may be difficult to win future grants.”
But unless the nation stops, as one Johns Hopkins professor put it,
“burning its intellectual capital” by heedlessly using talented young
people as cheap labor, the possibility of drawing the best of them back
into careers as scientists will become increasingly remote. A nation
that depends on innovation for its prosperity, that has unsurpassed
universities and research centers, and that has long prided itself on
the ingenuity and inventiveness of its technical elite, must devise
ways of making solid careers in science once again both captivating and
attainable. There’s no shortage of American talent. What’s in
critically short supply are the ideas and determination to use that
talent wisely. From: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sent: 8/11/2010 5:34:45 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time
Subj: Schumer bill is blatant scapegoating
To: H-1B/L-1/offshoring e-newsletter
As some of you may have read, Senator Schumer has introduced a measure
that would fund beefed-up border security through a new H-1B employer
fee, imposed on the rent-a-programmer “body shops.” He used the
pejorative term “chop shops” to describe them, and said that they “don’t
play by the rules,” implying that the mainstream employers of H-1Bs act
responsibly. Most of the body-shops are owned by ethnic Indians. As
pointed out in the articles enclosed below, they are offended at what
they consider a discriminatory bill–and I agree with them.
Some H-1B reform activists were quite pleased to find that Schumer had
finally taken some action against H-1B, after consistently being a very
vocal supporter of expansion of H-1B and employer-sponsored green card
programs. But I consider it a setback for reformers, as well as
scapegoating and worse.
This has long been a tactic of the industry lobbyists and their allies
in Congress–blame the Indians. I first noticed this back in 1998, when
Rep. Zoe Lofgren made disparaging remarks about the Indian firms at a
hearing on H-1B. Since then there has been a constant theme from the
lobbyists that the Wipros and Tatas of the industry abuse the H-1B
program while the Intels and Microsofts don’t.
For those readers here who are not techies, let me state–once
again!–that abuse of the H-1B program is not limited to the Indian body
shops, nor to body shops in general. On the contrary, ALMOST EVERY
EMPLOYER OF H-1BS IS ABUSING THE PROGRAM, definitely including the
household-name mainstream firms. The latter may be more subtle about it
and often hire a higher class of worker, but they are basically all
abusing the system, hiring visa workers instead of U.S. citizens and
permanent residents, in order to save money.
The problem, as usual, is not failure to “play by the rules,” but on the
contrary aggressive exploiting the rules, using loopholes. I think
Schumer knows this, not only because he’s part of the body that wrote
those rules, but also because if he really felt it was a rulebreaking
problem, he’d move to punish the rulebreakers, rather than paint all the
Indian firms with such a broad brush. No doubt about it; this is
deliberate grandstanding and obfuscation.
Now concerning those rules, I’m sure most people would readily believe
that any firm such as, say, Intel makes aggressive use of loopholes in
the tax code. Well, the same is true for loopholes in the immigration
code, as I’ve shown before, such as the Intel case in
I’ve shown the irresponsible behavior in foreign labor programs of
Microsoft, Cisco, the Bank of America etc. See for instance:
So while the Indian firms are hardly blameless, they are only a small
part of the general H-1B problem–12 per cent, to be exact, according
to the Washington Post figures below. Moreover, as Ron Hira points out
an additional fee of $2,000, whether imposed just on the Indians or the
field as a whole, would have no impact anyway, since the salary savings
accrued by hiring H-1Bs are far greater than that even in one year, not
to mention multiplied by the six-year-plus life of the visa.
As mentioned earlier, the industry lobbyists love to scapegoat the
Indian firms, to shift the spotlight away from themselves. That’s what
makes the Schumer proposal so insidious: It gives Congress a chance to
wash its hands of the H-1B issue, declaring victory and leaving the
scene. Schumer, who announced several months ago plans to introduce
legislation to expand the H-1B and employer-sponsored green card
programs, can now do so and say that he took care of the abuses.
This bill is misleading at best, and exhibits an unhealthy racial
attitude at worst. H-1B reform activists should not be making common
cause with Sen. Schumer on this legislation.
Indian government calls H1B visa fee hike ‘discriminatory’
By Ariana Eunjung Cha
The government of India is protesting a bill in Congress that passed
the House Tuesday and the Senate last week that would significantly
raise U.S. visa fees for skilled workers.
In a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, India’s Commerce
Minister Anand Sharma said the bill unfairly targets Indian companies
and estimated it would cost the country’s firms an extra $200 million a
“It is inexplicable to our companies to bear the cost of such a highly
discriminatory law,” Sharma wrote.
The additional fees from the popular H-1B and L visas programs would be
used to build operating bases and deploy unmanned surveillance drones
to better secure the U.S.-Mexico border–one of the rare issues both
Democrats and Republicans have agreed on.
The legislation targets companies that lawmakers say “exploit” U.S.
visa programs. A summary of the Senate version listed Wipro, Tata,
Infosys and Satyam as such firms, saying that they fly thousands of
employees to the U.S. to work at as technicians and engineers for their
The Indian government argues that the bill, which raises fees by $2000
from $2500, is discriminatory because it will primarily impact Indian
firms even though they account for fewer than 12 percent of the total
visas issued. U.S. companies, such as Microsoft, use these visas in
larger numbers but there’s a loophole in the bill that says they will
only see an increase if 50 percent of employees are on H1B or L visas.
Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) inflamed Indian media outlets in
debate in the Senate on Thursday when he called Infosys, the IT
outsourcing giant, a “chop shop”–the term often used for the place
where stolen cars are dismantled for resale. He said such companies
outsource high-paying American tech jobs to immigrants willing to take
less pay. He said he did not want the bill to affect companies that
employ Americans and “play by the rules.”
The USTR and Schumer’s office did not immediately respond to requests
By Rama Lakshmi
Washington Post staff writer
Saturday, August 7, 2010
NEW DELHI — Representatives of India’s booming information technology
industry said Friday that a border security bill passed by the U.S.
Senate would promote protectionism and flout international trade
The bill, approved Thursday by the Senate, calls for boosting
surveillance along the U.S.-Mexico border by deploying more enforcement
agents and aerial drones. The House could take up the measure next
Indian technology executives are rattled that the $600 million funding
for the additional measures proposed in the bill, introduced by
Democratic Sens. Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.) and Claire McCaskill (Mo.),
would be raised by increasing the visa application fees of companies
that employ 50 or more non-immigrant, skilled foreign employees.
This would affect companies that bring into the United States highly
skilled workers under “H-1B” visas or “L” visas. The proposal would hit
Indian IT-outsourcing companies that send thousands of workers to the
United States to work on short-term projects that extend from three
months to three years. For long-term projects, Indian companies hire
locally within the United States.
Schumer and McCaskill say the bill would improve border security
without adding to the deficit. “America must do a better job of
securing our borders. This bill will help in a big way,” McCaskill said
in a statement after the bill’s Senate passage.
“We do understand that the U.S. needs to secure its borders. But the
notion that Indian IT companies should pay for sealing their border
with Mexico is incongruent,” said Som Mittal, the president of the
National Association of Software and Services Companies in New Delhi.
“This is a populist measure that is protectionist and discriminatory
and is not compliant with the practices of the World Trade
He said that mixing trade and immigration issues is a mistake. “You are
running on thin ice if you curb trade to talk about immigration,” he
The booming IT services industry has contributed a big chunk to India’s
impressive economic growth in recent years. Industry representatives
say the new law is likely to impose an additional expense of more than
$200 million annually. Last year, out of the 121,000 H-1B visas issued
by the United States, Indian companies got 12,000.
The bill, which affects renewals and transfers as well as new visa
applications, was passed quickly by the Senate just before senators
left for the August recess.
Sent: 8/12/2010 9:27:19 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time
Subj: update on Schumer bill
To: H-1B/L-1/offshoring e-newsletter
Yesterday I reported on a bill by Sen. Schumer that would fund
enhancement of border security by a new H-1B employer fee. See
I made the following main points:
1. Schumer gave the impression that the main abusers of H-1B
are the “body shops,” the rent-a-programmer firms. This is FALSE,
and the mainstream firms are just as culpable.
2. Point 1 has been a common theme with industry lobbyists since at
least as far back as 1998, a strategy by the mainstream firms to
distract Congress’ attention away from them.
3. The proposed fee, imposed only on the body shops, would have
basically NO impact, as employers would still save far more in salary
costs than the amount of the fee.
Senator Schumer amplified on his bill today in a speech to the Senate.
I urge those of you readers who are concerned about the H-1B program
(many of my readers are not programmers or engineers, but instead are
journalists, academics, congressional staffers and others with a
professional interest in this topic) to watch the video of his speech,
Schumer’s remarks on H-1B start at around 16 minutes or so into the
video. He spends about 10 minutes on H-1B, trying to justify his fee,
in response to complaints from Indian-American and Indian owners of body
Almost all of what he says deals with Point 1 above. He claims that the
mainstream firms (he cites Microsoft, IBM, Intel, Cisco and so on) are
using the the H-1B program responsibly, to the benefit of the American
people. He contrasts that to the body shops, who he points out don’t
produce products of their own and are merely temp employment agencies,
which he regards as an egregious violation of the spirit and intent of
the H-1B program. (Unlike his remarks of the last few days, in which he
said the body shops are “breaking the rules,” he now says that they are
not doing anything technically illegal.)
Schumer stated repeatedly in his speech today that the body shops hire
the H-1Bs as cheap labor, and claims that the mainstream firms do not do
so. The mainstream firms are the Good Guys, he keeps saying, while the
Bad Guys are the body shops.
Well, even a 10-year-old would see the fallacy there. (Which, sadly,
doesn’t mean the politicians and the press would see it, though in the
case of the politicians, they don’t WANT to see it.) If the mainstream
firms are the Good Guys, why are they hiring from the Bad Guys???? Just
look, for instance, at a list of clients of TCS, one of the largest body
We see Agilent, Cisco, Motorola, Microsoft, Prudential and so on.
And now that Schumer agrees that the body shops are operating lawfully,
how can they get away with paying below-market wages? The answer, as
I’ve said, is huge loopholes in the legal definition of prevailing wage.
But again, a 10-year-old would wonder why the mainstream firms don’t
make use of those same loopholes, and in fact, they do. (I’ve shown
this in dollars-and-cents terms for various mainstream firms, e.g.
Schumer also says in his speech to the body shops, “…you should pay a
higher fee to insuring American workers are not losing their jobs [to
H-1Bs]…” But again, as they say these days, “Do the math.” The H-1B
employers are saying many tens of thousands of dollars over the six-year
span of an H-1B visa, so $2000 is nothing. Once again, a 10-year-old
could see that.
As I mentioned, I’ve been seeing this demonizing of the body shops for
more than 10 years now, and have been warning H-1B reformers that in the
end Congress would come up with cosmetic “reform” that focuses on the
body shops while allowing everyone else to go scot free–and even the
body shops will be able to conduct “business as usual.” (I’ve warned
H-1B reformers about this partly because some of them are caught up in
that same invalid focus on the body shops.) But this is the most overt
movement I’ve seen in this direction.
Since I’ve been expected this, Schumer’s remarks in general did not
cause much of a reaction in me. As I keep saying, although obviously I
have strong opinions on H-1B, it has no personal impact on me. But two
specific remarks of his really did irk me:
1. In an obvious allusion to the Durbin/Grassley bill, Schumer
claimed that the authors of that bill agree with him that the body shops
are the Bad Guys and the mainstream firms are the Good Guys. I know
this claim of Schumer’s is false. At least it used to be, and I hope
nothing has changed.
2. As many of you readers know, I’ve emphasized repeatedly that the
underpayment of H-1Bs is done in full compliance with the law, due to
loopholes. Well, Schumer hijacked that loophole concept, saying that
the loophole was the fact that H-1B law doesn’t ban an H-1B employer
from renting his workers out to other firms.
This is one of the most misleading speeches I’ve seen in quite a while.
- AABR is pleased to sponsor the following up coming events. Where registration is required, please be
- sure to register early.
|CONFERENCE: Employee Stock Ownership Plans (“ESOP”):|
- The Tax Efficient Exit Strategy for Private Business Owners
- Asian Pacific American Heritage Month
- As we take time to reflect on the numerous contributions of Asian Pacific Americans, we at AABR
- hope you will too.
|Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (MAY)|
|Article: Asian Business Owners Gaining Clout – By Jim Hopkins|
|The Diversity that is Asia|
|Asia and Pacific Islands|
|Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus|
NATIONAL FILIPINO AMERICAN COUNCIL
SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF WW II
March 22-23, 2002
South San Francisco Conference Center
255 South Airport Blvd. South San Francisco 94080 (650) 877-8787
Thursday – March 21
A.M. – P.M. FPACC-NFAC Corporate Business; Committees
12:30 Golf Tournament- Monarch Bay, San Leandro
Organizers: Zenaida Campos and Thomas K. Stern
Evening – Cocktail Reception Proposed
FACCSF – President: Carmen Colette
Friday – March 22
All Day Registrations – All Day Breakfast Buffet for Delegates
1:30 p.m. TOWN HALL MEETING
Chair: Dr. Sonny Carlota – President, NFAC; Presidential Advisor – Commission on Asian American and Pacific Islanders
1. Filipino Veterans Issues and Where We Stand Between Two Bills
2. Strategic Plans for Elective and Appointive Offices
3. Legislative Issues and How To Influence Changes
4. Funding our Mouths for Mutual Benefit
5. Community Centers: How to establish them and how to run them.
FELLOWSHIP NIGHT DINNER AND ENTERTAINMENT!!!!!
Meet New Partners and Share Perspectives!
Chair: FACCEB President: Jose Pecho
Saturday – March 23
All Day Registration – All Day Breakfast Buffet for Delegates
1. Contracts Procurement and How to Compete For Them
2. Businesses Serving the Community
3. Funding Your Needs
4. Computerizing Your Business for the 21st Century
5. Investment Opportunities in the Philippines
6. Lakbay Aral – A US-Philippines Partnership for Young Adults
7. Dual Citizenship and the Absentee Vote
8. The World Confederation to Serve Our Needs
FIESTA NIGHT DINNER – DANCE !!!!!!
Come in your favorite “Island Outfit” – Any Island in the World!
Use your imagination and humor us!
Dear Sir or Madam:
In an effort to increase internal awareness of web design/multimedia contracting options throughout the Smithsonian Institution (SI), the Institution plans to host a Small Business Web Development/Multimedia Vendor Information Fair (the “Fair”), accessible to SI staff and other possible venues in the Washington, D.C. museum and arts community. We expect to have approximately 250-300 Webmasters, Multimedia and Information Technology Professionals, Curators, and other Technical and Program personnel participate in the Fair. As currently projected, the Fair will be held as follows:
Date: April 30, 2002 Place: Smithsonian Institution Ripley Center (the Quadrangle), 1100 Jefferson Drive, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20560
The Fair will target the following:
Approximately 50-75 small, disadvantaged, women-owned, HUB Zone, and/or Veteran-owned businesses specializing in web design and multimedia services that have not done business with the Smithsonian Institution for the past two years.
In addition, small businesses that have worked with any Smithsonian Institution museum, gallery, or other programmatic unit in the past two years are encouraged to submit capabilities information about their firms, indicating projects completed during the last six months, for the purpose of providing information to participants at the Fair. Representatives may be allowed to publicize their individual firms at the fair depending on the space available.
SI reserves the right to employ a panel of webmasters to select vendors for the Fair. All participants and the criteria for selection will be at the sole discretion of, and will be announced by, the Smithsonian. Participants will be permitted to cite their Fair selection, in conjunction with selection criteria, on their vendor resumes. In addition, selected vendors may be given a special opportunity to make a 15-minute presentation in the Marion & Gustave Ring Auditorium.
The Smithsonian will identify and group participating vendors by category. To be considered for any of the categories in the left-hand column below, vendors must provide no less than three (3) examples (URLs, electronic portfolio examples, etc.) of independent work created in each given category during the last 12-month period. Although each category asks that vendors identify no less than three samples for consideration, the same sample may be used as an example of work that meets the criteria for more than one category. A web-design project, for instance, may involve database programming and a flash-animation interactive qualifying in several categories. The right-hand column below indicates categories of small businesses as defined by the Small Business Administration (SBA). Please indicate whether your firm can be designated in any of the following categories:
Web/Multimedia Category:q Web Design – plumbing /back-end programming/CMSq Web Design – GUI/Front-end designq Multi-media/CD/DVD Kiosk (Stand Alone)q Animationq Audio/video productionq Streaming media/Audio/video Downloadq E-commerce engines Small Business Categoryq Small businessq Small disadvantaged businessq Minority-owned businessq Woman-owned businessq Historically Underutilized Business (HUB) Zoneq Veteran-owned businessq Service disabled veteran-owned small business
All information obtained for the Fair will become the property of the Smithsonian Institution. It will serve as a resource base for web development and multimedia-based projects that may be implemented as funding becomes available
Firms interested in being considered for participation in the Fair should respond to Rudy D. Watley, Supplier Diversity Program Manager ( email@example.com) or Bruce A. Falk, Contract Negotiator/Attorney ( FalkB@si.edu) by March 20, 2002. The Smithsonian reserves the right not to consider late submissions. The Smithsonian will make selections on a rolling basis on or beforeApril 5, 2002, and will follow up on participation logistics with all selected firms. SI will make facility space available gratis; provide access to a targeted, interested audience as well as possible additional recognition to selected vendors. In addition, SI anticipates a seminar focusing on contracting at the Smithsonian Institution. The Institution cannot, however, accept responsibility for travel, per diem, or other costs associated with participating in the Fair.
A public announcement shall be made the week of April 8, 2002, regarding Fair participants and the final selection criteria. SI reserves the right to cancel this vendor Fair opportunity should there be insufficient vendor response. Participation in the Fair is not a criterion for consideration in Smithsonian solicitation No. IDIQ F0236SOL0012 for multimedia/web design activity services.
E-mail responses are preferred; however, any hard copy submitted should be addressed as follows:
Contracting Officer, Office of ContractingP.O. Box 37012750 Ninth Street, N.W., Suite 6200Smithsonian InstitutionWashington, D.C. 20013-7012ATTN: Bruce A Falk
Whether or not you and your firm participate at the Fair, the Smithsonian invites you to include your firm in the Supplier Diversity Program Vendor Database, which will be made available to SI program offices upon request. Even though your name may currently be in the Office of Contracting database for web design/multimedia activity services, you may still desire that information on your services be made available to Smithsonian museums, galleries, and unit offices. Go to the following Internet web site: http://www.opp.si.edu/oeema to register electronically to increase the visibility of your firm’s capabilities.
If you have any questions, please contact Rudy D. Watley (202-275-0145) or Bruce A. Falk (202-275-1602).
We invite you to offer your firm for participation in the Fair, and look forward to increasing the opportunity for doing business with your firm as a result of this outreach initiative.
Sincerely,Rudy D. WatleySupplier Diversity Program Manager
Between The U.S. Department of Agricultureâ€™s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization And The Asian American Business Roundtable
This agreement is entered into by U.S. Department of agricultureâ€™s (USDA) Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) and Asian American Business Roundtable, herein Referred to AABR.
The agreement is being established to enhance USDAâ€™s outreach efforts to Asian and other minority small businesses to provide increased information exchange regarding program and contract opportunities relevant to the nationâ€™s small businesses. The objectives of this agreement are designed to stimulate interest in doing business with USDA; increase the pool of qualified small businesses that can successfully compete for USDA contract and program opportunities; and improve the quality, timeliness and effectiveness of information concerning USDA programs and contract requirements and opportunities.
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AABR was established in 1989 to help Asian and other minority-owned businesses access federal procurement, expand their market base with the Federal Government as well as the commercial sector by providing information that is accurate and timely to enable them to make informed decisions beneficial to their companies. The U.S. population is becoming more multiracial. There are 22 million people who claim to be Asian Americans on the 2000 census. Minority businesses face tougher times in the years ahead. The dollar value of prime contracts owned by minorities declined by 33% in 2000. In addition, these companies declined to their lowest level since 1993. Asian-owned businesses increased nationwide by 30% to 913,000 from 1992 to 1997. Their problem is exacerbated by their immense diversity. Their numbers could have been higher but many fell by the wayside for their inability to survive the highly competitive American market. Its vision is that of an America that is the realization of an achievable dream as a â€œLand of Opportunity,â€� unfettered by the problems of racism, skin color, national origin and/or socioeconomic status.
The main purpose of this agreement is to establish a working pro-active partnership between the OSDBU and AABR regarding improvement in communications and outreach to the minority small business community.
A. AABR Responsibilities
AABR will provide the following effort and information in furtherance of the objectives of this agreement:
(1) Invite USDA representation at AABR business events.
(2) Share information that is relevant to USDA information to targeted membership. Transfer Program announcements and additional resource information in the most expeditious manner available.
(3) Participate in an OSDBU emphasis program designed to increase the number of Asian and other minority business vendors in USDA programs. Work with OSDBU to develop methods to apprise firms of contracting opportunities at USDA, specific to their capabilities and experience USDAâ€™s needs.
(4) Provide OSDBU content space to outline available service and program assistance through the AABR Business Bulletin.
(5) Direct Asian and other minority small businesses that are interested in USDAâ€™s programs and Resources to the appropriate federal or local OSDBU office.
(6) Establish links between AABR and OSDBUâ€™s web-sites.
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B. OSDBU ResponsibilitiesOSDBU Responsibilities In furtherance of the objectives of this agreement, OSDBU, in accordance with its statutory and regulatory authorities will:
(1) Provide technical expertise in market research, selling to the Federal Government and sourcing capital.
(2) Provide AABR with access to database information for targeted areas to assist with outreach and promoting AABR events.
(3) Provide access to USDA technical and assistance programs, as well as information about contracting opportunities and USDA lending programs
(4) Provide technical support and assistance, and participate in AABR business events.
(5) Establish links between OSDBU and AABRâ€™s web-sites.
(6) Provide, in electronic format, USDA program announcement that impact Asian and other minority-owned businesses.
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4. Financial Responsibilities
This is not a financial or funding obligating document. Each part will direct its own participation under this agreement.
Any activity that involves payment for services related to this agreement will be effected in an appropriate funding document.
All activities under or pursuant to this agreement are subject to the availability of appropriated funds, and no provision herein will be interpreted to require obligation or payment of fund.
5. Term of Agreement and Right of Termination
This agreement becomes effective on the date of the signatures of both parties. Either party may terminate this agreement, without liability, at any time and for any reason. This agreement shall expire four (4) years from the date of signature of all parties
6. Signatory Authority for Modification
Any modification to this agreement will be executed in writing and signed by an authorized representative of each party.