Infosys Single-Handedly Destroying America

Following up on More H-1b abuses from American Techno-Politics, wherein it was stated that 2,392 H-1B Programmer/Analyst jobs were approved by the DOL in 2005 for under $30k salary (or $15/hour).

I’ve been playing with those DOL databases myself for a couple of days, and I confirmed the above 2,392 H-1B programmer statistic. But… I found that some interesting information was left out. First, only 217 Programmer/Analyst jobs were approved in 2005 for under $30k in Virginia (which is what I’m interested in). And 200 of those 217 jobs were approved for one company: Infosys Technologies Ltd. Incredibly, widening the search back out to the whole country, Infosys Technologies Ltd. accounted for 2,200 out of those 2,392 H-1B positions mentioned on American Techno-Politics.

This leads me to several conclusions. I noted that Infosys applied for 100 immigrants at a time, whereas the vast majority of other applicants only applied for 5 or less at a time (with most only applying for 1). This makes me wonder if Infosys is actually getting all 100 of those immigrants at a time or if they just drastically overestimate their requirements so they don’t have to keep re-applying. If they’re actually hiring 100 foreign programmers at a time, I think I can categorically say that those must be some greedy, America-hating mofos running that company. (It also must be some of the crappiest software imaginable.) Oh, now I see. Infosys is an Indian company operating in America. That explains it. πŸ™‚

Anyway, with fully 92% of the under-30k foreign programmer jobs going to one company, it puts a small dent in the notion that H-1Bs are seriously compressing the salaries of American programmers.

On the other hand, one could easily imagine Infosys being able to outbid any American competitor for consulting work, since all their programmers work for peanuts. So in that case, who would actually be to blame for outsourcing American jobs? Infosys or the companies who buy Infosys’s services? Things that make you go hrmmmm.

SSIS

At work, I’ve been playing with SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) for use in an upcoming project. (“Integration” is one of those fancy “enterprise” terms that means “getting information from different places and organizing it into something useful.”) There’s some value in SSIS, but overall I’m not terribly impressed. In fact, it’s a bit of a pain. I can see using it for simple tasks like pulling data from one place and putting it into another place, but for anything more complex than that I’d prefer to use something else (like C#). It’s not really a programming tool, in my mind. I’m currently on day 2 of trying to merge data from several different Access databases together into one SQL Server database, a process that might have taken a few hours to build in C#, but using this graphical “flowchart” interface to build code logic is a little nauseating. I suppose it looks pretty on the screen, and a programming n00b might be able to look at it and understand it, but it sure is slow to put together what should be fairly straightforward logic. Hurray for the newest buzzword technology from Microsoft!

Miller\’s Attack Ad

I saw Harris Miller’s attack ad last night, which was described by Jim Webb’s campaign as “brutal, cynical, [and] negative.” (This from the people who always refer to Miller as “Corporate Lobbyist” Miller.) The first part of the ad talked about Miller’s platform (with specifics!) of firing Donald Rumsfeld and something else I can’t remember. And then as an after thought, it added that Jim Webb supported Republicans in 2000. Not exactly the cut-throat negative attack I was led to expect.

I’m honestly curious to see how the Virginia blogosphere will respond if Webb loses this primary, which, setting all issues of character and platform aside, seems distinctly likely for the sole reason that he’s only spent about 65 cents on his campaign so far. Bloggers would be stuck between Miller, the person they’ve spent the last several months hurling vitriolic hate against, and George Allen, a Republican Bush-puppet. If that happens, I bet voter turnout among bloggers will be pretty low. πŸ™‚

Webb’s campaign is currently trying to raise $100k in the next week so they can run a television ad against Miller. I read somewhere (can’t find it now, though) that Webb needed the money because he couldn’t possibly self-finance. Ya’ll may want to check out OpenSecrets.org, where it says he’s already provided $100k for his campaign. (Miller, for comparison, self-financed $175k.)

Where’s The Outrage?

I guess even bloggers have a hard time getting back into the swing of things after a 3-day weekend. The blogosphere seems to be working hard to manufacture outrage today.

My pick for today’s “worst persons in the world” has to go to Michelle Malkin. She’s taking a little time away from Jesse “Incredibly Dead Horse” McBeth to defend American war crimes. Yes, incredibly, today she is trying to defend the so-called Haditha massacre participants: Incident at Haditha, Pt. II. I know technically the reports aren’t finished yet, but come on… they’re totally guilty.

With Yearly Kos just around the corner, Malkin, along with her puppets at Hot Air, are ramping up the snarkiness. Like I always say, if you don’t have anything nice to say about someone, ridicule them until they cry. (I predict Malkin will be revealing a wingnut blogger convention, where Ted Tancredo and Pat Buchanan will be among the featured speakers, if Yearly Kos is even remotely successful.)

Speaking of Daily Kos, thankfully, mar-“I’m not a coward“-kos is blogging again full time, so we’ll only be subjected to fiction from georgia10 and SusanG on the weekends: Standing ovation.

Which naturally leads to this profile of georgia10 in the Chicago Reader. Some notable things jumped out at me: On her part in the dKos citizen revolution, georgia10 “tends to think of it as a dorky hobby.” ‘”I wish I could pay them,” [Daily Kos founder] Moulitsas says,’ referring to frontpage bloggers like georgia10. ‘”Did she tell you if she was going to keep blogging [after graduating from school]?” Moulitsas asked me at a recent book reading. “I hope she does.”‘ And of course, “the trait held in the highest regard in the lefty blogosphere is prodigiousness.”

Memorial Day Observance

I observed over the weekend that there is apparently an unspoken rule that anyone with a blog is required to make a Memorial Day post. So here’s mine, a day late: I don’t know anyone that died in a war. My grandfather was wounded in WWI, but did not die, for which I’m quite thankful. And my father also did not die in occupied Germany, for which I’m also quite thankful. I’m grateful for their service, but I won’t pretend like I’m honoring them or anyone else by writing a few obligatory sentences in a throw-away medium like a blog. I honor military sacrifice in my own private, quirky way.

H-1Bs And The Virginia Senate Race

I saw some comments about me on another blog that made me laugh. Just for the record, I’m not in any way affiliated with Harris Miller, Jim Webb, or George Allen. I’m certainly not an “apologist” for any of them. As with every other topic I write about, I’m just thinking out loud. (Also, I’ve been blogging off and on since about 1998!)

I’ve skimmed over Debunking the Myth of a Desperate Software Labor Shortage, by Dr. Norman Matloff, a link given to me by The Modern Patriot in the comments. Dr. Matloff is an old-school Unix guy and a computer science professor at the University of California at Davis. His paper is basically about how the industry prefers to exploit H-1B programmers rather than hire American programmers. I’ve found it to be a well-written, thoughtful analysis of the industry. I haven’t had a chance to read every word of it in detail yet, though, because, well, it’s really long. πŸ™‚

I agree with most of Dr. Matloff’s points so far. I agree that talk of a “programmer shortage” is bogus, but on the other hand, based just on my own meager experience, good programmers, foreign or domestic, are pretty rare. (Fortunately, the industry works hard to dumb down programming tools for everyone… but that’s another story.) Age discrimination among programmers is indeed real, but I think some of the blame for that lies with young programmers. For some strange reason, all the ones I’ve dealt with seem perfectly willing to work 80-hour weeks without any overtime.

While I have no doubt that the industry (from the big corporations all the way down to small businesses) tries hard to exploit programmers, I also think programmers should have some burden of responsibility for “checking out” the place they intend to work. One shouldn’t just blindly accept an offer from any company unless they’re willing to accept the consequences. I think the IT industry is somewhat like the recording industry in this regard. Young artists will often accept any recording deal just to have a shot at stardom, then find out later that they’ve been screwed out of their life savings. To me, this shows two things: That record executives are greedy and exploitive, and that young artists are gullible and impatient. If the young artists weren’t gullible and impatient, though, I think there would be less exploitation. The solution for that, it seems to me, is education. Not necessarily school education but just a general “awareness” of the problem.

With regard to the Virginia Senate race, so far the H-1B issue doesn’t have much of an impact for me. George Allen voted against the immigration bill last week, which increases the H-1B limit from 65,000 to 115,000, but that’s about the only good thing he’s done in the last six years, so it doesn’t mitigate his basic evil-ness. Harris Miller probably would have voted for the bill, but then again he’s said that he favors a “meaningful law that penalizes employers” of illegal immigrants, which I agree with. Jim Webb is conspicuously silent on immigration, so I have no idea how he would have voted. In any case, it seems unlikely the Senate will be revisiting the H-1B issue again for quite some time, so I don’t see how Miller or Webb could make things any worse at least in the next six years.

The offshore outsourcing issue is a whole different story, though. I certainly can’t compete against a programmer in India making 45 cents a day. So I’ll be investigating that next.

P.S. I ran across an interesting page, A Legislative History of H-1B and Other Immigrant Work Visas, which shows that even the proposed new 115,000 cap on H-1Bs is still less than the 195,000 cap that was in effect in 2003.

My IT Background

A commenter wondered how I could possibly be ignorant of H1Bs and the ITAA.

It’s not that I’ve never heard of foreign workers in the IT field, it’s just that I’ve never experienced it personally. Some background on my computer experience would probably explain. Yes, I’ve worked at small businesses for most of my career, and that’s my preference. At one of those jobs, for some 10 years, I was the president of the company, too. I’m currently working at the largest corporate operation I’ve ever worked at, but it’s still not very big: Our project “team” is only about 6 people and we’re not terribly well-funded.

I don’t live in a technology-rich area of Virginia (not like, say, Northern VA). I don’t read trade magazines (unless you count Slashdot), I don’t keep up with “trends” in the industry, and I’ve never paid much attention to politics until recently. So that’s how I’ve never heard of the ITAA before this year.

As for H1Bs, since I’m a citizen and I’ve never been involved in human resources, there’s never been any particular reason for me to know about them.

Anyway, thanks for the links to the offshoring resources, I’ll be reading them with interest.

Question Authority (and Bloggers)

A commenter wondered what was wrong with DailyKos making money. I don’t mind Kos making money from his blog, but I think it’s important to understand the motivations of any opinion writer (especially ones in positions of public influence). I think most people would assume that a community-driven “revolution,” as dKos is perceived, is a selfless, non-profit effort (I know I would). dKos is also known for firmly backing the Democratic party, and one of the long-time Democratic talking points is that they stand up for the common man, the working poor, etc.β€”in particular, they are known for standing against Republicans that cater to rich corporations and big businesses. I think it’s a little ironic that dKos endorses that thinking, when dKos itself could well be considered a “big business” blog. (This particular irony is not unusual among Democrats, I’ve noticed.) And as dKos grows in wealth and influence, it will inevitably become more and more like the lobbyists his writers so often disparage. Anyway, I’m just saying people shouldn’t blindly trust the idealism shown thereβ€”or anywhere, for that matter.

Yikes! A Strike Against Miller

Much has been made of Harris Miller’s ITAA lobbying career. Since I’m a programmer, Information Technology is probably the single most important issue in any campaign for me, so I did a little browsing on their web site to get a sense of what the ITAA actually lobbies for. From all the negative press they were getting, I was bracing myself for something truly evil.

  • ITAA opposes the FCC “broadcast flag” designed to block digital video copies of over-the-air content. Okay, that’s good a thing… I concur.
  • ITAA supports patent reform “designed to improve patent quality while mitigating the effects of excessive patent litigation.” I concur again.
  • ITAA does not believe peer-to-peer software makers should be liable for copyright infringement by users of the software. Again, I agree. This is looking pretty hopeful.
  • ITAA opposes “requiring Internet service providers to retain records of their users’ on-line activities.” I concur yet. What’s wrong with the ITAA again?
  • ITAA opposes a cap on the number of H1B immigrant work visas issued. Oops. Hrm, okay I’m not crazy about this policy, but I’m not threatened by it either. I didn’t have any idea what an H1B visa was before today, so I’ll briefly explain if someone else reading this doesn’t know. An H1B visa just allows an employer to “temporarily” (for 6 years) hire a foreign “specialist” (ie. skilled worker) to work inside the U.S at “prevailing rates.” And the employer must advertise the job to U.S. workers for 30-days prior to hiring a foreigner, too. An H1B visa holder is not much of a threat to me, because, well, frankly I’m pretty good at my job. IMHO, if someone loses their job to a H1B programmer, it’s probably because they weren’t a very good programmer. BOCTAOE.
  • Ruh roh… this hurts: ITAA also supports “global sourcing,” aka. “offshoring.” Not so cool. This is where Miller is taking all kinds of heat from Webb and the ITPAA, btw. Can’t say I’m too fond of this policy, but on the plus side, I’ve heard that in-house programmers generally have to fix or re-do the work that cheap offshore programmers turn in. Maybe that’s why the ITAA says that offshoring actually results in more U.S. jobs. πŸ™‚ Anyway, this is definitely a strike against Miller, but is it bad enough to be a fatal strike? No candidate can be perfect, especially when there’s only 2 to choose from. But this is something I’ll be pondering a lot more before June 13.

For fairness, I went over to the ITPAA site, which has been the source of some pretty vocal opposition to Harris Miller. They’ve made 3 flash movie “attack ads” against Miller, which are right there on the front page. The ITPAA organization looks basically just like the ITAA to me, except they have a pretty strong pro-American worker agenda. They sound a bit like a worker’s union for programmers, frankly. Overall, I wasn’t terribly impressed by the look and feel of the web page, and the prominent $19.95 membership dues link on the front page was a bit of a turn-off.

Look and Feel Changes

Astute readers will notice that I am once again fiddling with the “look and feel” of the site, especially the blogs. It’s really quite hard to come up with a scheme that works well both with long and short articles, especially when they’re mixed together.