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High-Tech Workers: A Controversial Import

As they often do when the subject touches on immigration or work visas, readers flooded our message boards after we posted "Another Wave of H-1Bs on the Way" (BusinessWeek.com, Mar. 31). The online story cited the efforts of giants like Google (GOOG) and Microsoft (MSFT) to raise the cap on the number of high-tech visa holders allowed into the U.S. each year, and many U.S. tech workers wrote to worry aloud about losing out (especially in a recession) to lower-cost H-1Bs. We also heard from companies desperate to fill jobs. And from visa workers themselves. Two questions stirring the pot: Wouldn't higher salaries ease America's tech labor shortage? And why are U.S. subsidiaries of outsourcing firms permitted to apply for H-1B employees?

It's funny how Bill Gates and company complain about not enough Americans pursuing degrees in computer science and engineering technology while suppressing wages with H-1B visas. We need to put in place a mechanism where foreign workers (skilled and unskilled) are used to fill true shortages instead of a system that suppresses wages.

Screen name: Joe

I'm on an H-1B visa, and I finished my undergrad and graduate [degrees] here. I'm against U.S. companies driving down wages and trying to exploit workers. However, you'd be fooling yourself if you think foreign workers don't help the U.S. economy. If you have the very best of the world's talent, you are bound to be the leader. Besides, are you forgetting how many billions of dollars the economy gets from all the foreign students in school here?

Screen name: GS

For many years I watched as my [high-tech] employer got rid of talented people to hire off-shore resources. Plain and simple, they're cheaper to employ. The real problem is that we are wholesaling the intellectual capital of the U.S. so that shareholders remain happy. This is not about quality. This is not about availability. This is about economics and corporate greed.

Screen name: George

The H-1B debate goes hand-in-hand with [issues in] our education system. Both are antiquated and in need of progressive change.

Screen name: Kevin

The largest beneficiaries of the H-1B visas are not American companies but the "body shoppers." If such outsourcing companies are found to be abusing the H-1B visa system by undercutting the prevailing wage rate, they should be blacklisted or banned [from the program]. This will help American companies like Google and Microsoft to get their skilled workforce and will also protect immigrants from exploitation.

Screen name: Indian Techie

I am no big Gates fan. But on the H-1B visa he is bang on. It is only by hiring and retaining the best in the world that America can hope to protect its leadership, face the slowdown, and inspire a recovery.

Screen name: Sridhar

Instead of complaining about the lack of skilled workers in U.S., we should retrain existing workers for the tech skills needed.

Screen name: Gary

Policymakers need to wake up to the reality that Americans are avoiding higher science-and-technology education because graduate students work for 10 years with measly wages, sparse benefits, and no job security. It's a great opportunity for foreigners, but anyone can see that it's better to be a doctor, dentist, lawyer, or subprime loan officer in this country than to be an engineer, chemist, or physicist.

Screen name: american in science

The Musical Chairs of Manufacturing

I want to welcome Chinese entrepreneur Tim Hsu, reportedly suffering from the restructuring of manufacturing, to the party ("China's Factory Blues," In Depth, Apr. 7). I've spent 25 years in the Ohio manufacturing business and have watched thousands lose their jobs. Isn't it funny that GM (GM), Ford (F), and Chrysler are moving manufacturing to Asia and Mexico, while Toyota (TM), Honda (HMC), and Hyundai are moving manufacturing to the U.S.A.?

Bruce Miles

CLEVELAND

The Uses (Not Abuses) of Business Centers

As someone who has worked for an office business center for more than 30 years, I am concerned about the unfair portrayal of our respected business as a haven for fly-by-nights and scammers ("Suite Scams," In Depth, Apr. 7). Thousands of companies have had their starts at office business centers. Many companies would not have succeeded had it not been for the advantages of starting small and having staff and service resources usually reserved for well-established corporations.

Ed Bungert

NEW YORK

Scientists, We Have an Image Problem

No wonder this country is behind in science. The personality cult is directed toward movie stars and sports figures ("Science? What's Science?" BTW, Apr. 7). If they are mentioned at all in movies, scientists are portrayed as narrow-minded nerds and ridiculed.

Guy Olbrechts

SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ.

Bernanke: Doing What He Was Hired to Do

Why label it "revolutionary" when Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, uses the bank to do what it was created to do in 1913 (The Fed's Revolution," Special Report, Mar. 31)?

The Fed was meant to provide reserves to banks so they could continue lending when borrowers are no longer refilling the banks' coffers. And that is exactly what it is doing now. Bernanke is just focusing on the central bank's original and most important mandate.

Paul A. London

WASHINGTON

Just wanted to say how great your cover is of Bernanke as Lenin. Never have I seen a better graphic distillation of a critical story.

Hope Heyman

NEW YORK

Noncoms Have Management Talent, Too

There are many people in the military, outside of former military officers, who should qualify for MBA attention ("From the Battlefield to B-School," Personal Business, Mar. 24). As an active-duty senior noncommissioned officer, my husband deals with many managerial issues such as mentoring and supervising staff while in a cycle of constant military deployment and shortage of manpower. He has no formal "leadership" training such as the officers that you mention have received. But I hope the MBA opportunities you wrote about also target such prospective talent.

Amanda Jordon

CAMDEN, DEL.

Tax Rebate: Give It to Teens—They'll Know How to Spend It

If the federal government was serious about stimulating the economy, it would give the suggested tax stimulus rebate to teen-agers ("Recession Time," In Depth, Mar. 24). As every parent of a teenager knows, the check will be spent as soon as it arrives. And this spending will be new spending, not simply consumers paying down the debt for goods already purchased.

Paul Humes

PICKERINGTON, OHIO


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