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Is the IMF at Fault--or Its Clients?
Regarding the World Bank/International Monetary Fund meetings and accompanying protests ("Backlash: Behind the anxiety over globalization," Cover Story, Apr. 24): It seems to me that some of the protests are misdirected. While I agree that these organizations need reform in their approach to development issues, a real problem in achieving any progress is the unwillingness of leaders in most recipient countries to address fundamental reform in their own societies. These include high taxation levels, high government wages, the lack of fair business and marketing regulations, etc. No amount of benign donor assistance will change these basic social and economic issues.
Robert W. Resseguie
The Apr. 24 cover story is immensely one-sided. Granted, the majority of your readers live in the U.S., but wouldn't they want to know about comparable workers in Mexico and other countries? Myself and several fellow divinity students visited the border region in Texas and northern Mexico over spring break. We toured the grounds of factories owned by Seagate, Converse, General Electric, and others. Yes, jobs have been created, but the plants employ people at wages that cannot sustain life as it would be defined by U.S. citizens.
Each family we visited lived in a hut with walls built from forklift pallets and sealed with sheets and garbage bags. The floors were mud and the one bed held the parents and their children. Children were scouring a nearby dump for food and items to sell on the street. NAFTA has passed the test of business interests but not human or environmental rights.
Brite Divinity School
Fort Worth, Tex.
I read with dismay your editorial "What's behind the global backlash?" (Editorials, Apr. 24). You describe opponents of globalization as technophobes for whom "science and innovation are seen...as threats, not solutions." The misuse of technology is not a movement of reactionary Luddites--the concern exists for many such as myself with technical backgrounds who recognize technology's ability to improve our lives. Yet, 21st-century technologies such as genetics, nanotechnology, and robotics are so powerful that they can spawn whole new classes of abuses. We must approach technology with cautious critical judgment.
San Francisco, Calif.
I am dismayed that while you report being "startled" by the figures revealed by the Business Week poll on globalization, you appear unable to acknowledge the breadth of such backlash sentiment. You point out that the environment is a high priority among the young, students, and high-tech workers. I think we can include nonstudents, workers in the Old Economy, and people of all ages. Environmental issues are here to stay as a top priority.
Merry Point, Va.Return to top
"It's Time to Close the Gates" to U.S. Immigrants
Regarding "Keeping the hive humming" (News: Analysis & Commentary, Apr. 24) on immigration: It may come as a shock to you, but some things are more important than economic expansion. Everywhere I go in this country, more shopping malls, office buildings, and subdivisions are being built. Every day we continue to lose wetlands, forests, and prairies to development. It has gone too far. America was getting overcrowded in the 1950s. It's time to close the gates, not to discriminate but simply because the country is full.
Regarding "Give me your yearning high-skilled professionals" (Economic Viewpoint, Apr. 24), Gary S. Becker's argument misses the point: Companies are bringing in immigrants rather than retraining good workers. This is particularly acute in the information technology field. There are tens of thousands of U.S. IT professionals with many years of experience, but they aren't trained in the most recent technologies. Why should a company bear the expense of retraining these people when they can get pretrained immigrants?
There is a shortage of computer workers in part because of the working conditions we often experience. Many organizations expect us to put in long hours of unpaid overtime in order to meet unrealistic schedules. Silicon Valley wants to hire new grads, work them very hard for a few years, then throw them away and hire new ones. This may have worked when the baby-boom pig was working its way through the economic python, but it is a recipe for disaster now that the baby busters are coming through.
Want solutions? Bring money. Lots of it. And be nice.
Gary Becker missed an opportunity to highlight the difficulty foreign-born professionals face when trying to establish themselves here. Few Americans may realize that little to no financial aid is available to assist international students who wish to attend U.S.-based graduate programs. Globalization of business should lead to globalization of opportunity. In this respect it does not. Why are nearly all financing programs in the public and private sectors marked "foreign need not apply"?
Your suggestion that the cap on H-1B visas be raised or lifted to alleviate a shortage of high-tech workers is a short-term solution with long-term negative consequences ("Ease the way for skilled immigrants," Editorials, Mar. 6).
Admitting H-1B workers undercuts the law of supply and demand. The way to increase the pool of American technical workers is to let market forces drive up compensation. Depressing wages by the use of lower-paid immigrants can only lead to fewer Americans being attracted to technical careers.
Tristan D. Lory
Principal Engineer (Ret.)
Garden Grove, Calif.Return to top