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CS Prof Decries America's 'Internal Brain Drain' 791

Posted by Soulskill
from the aside-from-reality-tv dept.
walterbyrd writes "Dr. Norman Matloff of the University of California-Davis computer science department argues that US citizens are avoiding 'Science Technology Engineering Math' (STEM) careers, because US citizens see those fields as being ruined by massive offshoring and inshoring. 'Despite widely publicized claims that foreign tech workers and scientists represent exceptional ability and are thus vital to American innovation, Matloff called that argument merely "a good sound byte for lobbyists" supporting industry proposals for higher visa caps. The data (PDF), on the other hand, indicate that those admitted are no more able, productive, or innovative than America's homegrown talent, he said.'"
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CS Prof Decries America's 'Internal Brain Drain'

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 21, 2011 @12:12PM (#35560490)

    If it were all about talent, with 95% of the worlds population being from outside the US, we'd see more CEO's dumped for off shore replacements. Its about the money.

    • See http://www.justsharethis.net/indian-ceos-list-in-big-u-s-companies/ [justsharethis.net]

      And there are a bunch of immigrants in executive level roles in Yahoo, Google and Microsoft etc.

      • by mystikkman (1487801) on Monday March 21, 2011 @12:56PM (#35561206)

        The article is overwhelmingly shortsighed. Some of the people(just Indians, forget about Europeans who contributed so much) who would have been not been able to do what they did:

        Don't forget a bunch of companies that have Indian CEOs and have had them as CEO and founders. Hotmail founder was India born...
        Co-Founder of Sun.. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vinod_Khosla [wikipedia.org]
        Motorola CEO: http://www.businessinsider.com/2008/8/motorola-cellphone-ceo-sanjay-jha [businessinsider.com]
        Father of Pentium chip: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vinod_Dham [wikipedia.org]

        A small incomplete list from Wiki:
        Ajit Hutheesing : Founder, Chairman and CEO of International Capital Partners Inc
        Ali Pabrai : Entrepreneur
        Amar Bose : Founder of Bose Corporation
        Sashi Reddi : Founder CEO, AppLabs (World's #1 Software Testing company)
        Arjun Gupta : Silicon Valley venture capitalist
        Ashwin Navin : Co-Founder and President of BitTorrent, Inc.
        Bharat Desai : Founder of Syntel
        Gagan Palrecha : Entrepreneur
        Gurbaksh Chahal : Internet Entrepreneurs
        Mukesh Chatter : Businessman
        Lakireddy Bali Reddy : Landlord, restaurant owner,owns more than 1000 apartments in California
        M.R. Rangaswami : Founder of Sand Hill Group and Corporate Eco Forum
        Murugan Pal : Founder and CTO of SpikeSource
        Narendra Patni: Founder of Patni Computer Systems
        Naveen Jain : Founder of InfoSpace and Intelius
        Pradeep Sindhu : Co-Founder and CTO of Juniper Networks
        Preetish Nijhawan : Co-Founder of Akamai Technologies.
        Ram Shriram : Co-Founder of Junglee.com and board member at Google
        Rohini Srihari : Founder of Cymfony and Janya
        Sameer Parekh : Founder of C2Net
        Sanjiv Sidhu : Founder of i2 Technologies
        Somen Banerjee: Founder of Chippendales
        Suhas Patil: Founder of Cirrus Logic
        Vivek Ranadive : Founder, Chairman and CEO of TIBCO Software
        Vinod Gupta : Founder and Chairman of InfoUSA Inc.
        Vinod Khosla : Co-founder of Sun Microsystems, Venture Capitalist
        Ajay Bhatt : Co-Inventor of the USB. Chief Client Platform Architect at Intel
        Ajit Varki : Physician-scientist
        Amit Singhal : Google Fellow, the designation the company reserves for its elite master engineers in the area of "ranking algorithm".
        Anil Dash : Blogger and technologist
        Raj Reddy : Founder of the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, winner of the Turing Award.
        Arun Netravali : Scientist. Former President of Bell Labs. Former CTO of Lucent. A pioneer of digital technology including HDTV and MPEG4.
        Arvind Rajaraman : Theoretical physicist and string theorist
        Satya N. Atluri : Aerospace and mechanics
        C. Kumar N. Patel : Developed the carbon dioxide laser, used as a cutting tool in surgery and industry.
        Khem Shahani : Microbiologist who conducted pioneer research on probiotics, he discovered the DDS-1 strain of Lactobacillus acidophilus
        Deepak Pandya : Neuroanatomist
        Arjun Makhijani : Electrical and nuclear engineer who is President of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research
        George Sudarshan : Physicist, author - first to propose the existence of Tachyon
        Kalpana Chawla : Female NASA Space Shuttle astronaut, and space shuttle mission specialist
        Krishna Bharat : Principal Scientist at Google - Famous for creating Google News.
        Jogesh Pati : Theoretical physicist at the University of Maryland, College Park.
        Krishan Sabnani : Engineer and Senior Vice President of the Networking Research Laboratory at Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs in New Jersey
        Mahadev Satyanarayanan : Computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University. Pioneered research in mobile and pervasive computing
        Mani Lal Bhaumik : Contributor excimer laser technology.
        Narinder Singh Kapany : Engineer, called the "Father of Fiber Optics".
        Noshir Gowadia : Design engineer
        Om Malik : Technology journalist and blogger
        Pramod Khargonek

        • by hedwards (940851) on Monday March 21, 2011 @01:24PM (#35561602)

          It's not shortsighted, what percentage of the total number that we've imported with the H-1B visas have gone on to such heights? And how many Americans have gone onto do significant things in the field? The point is that by drowning out the homegrown talent with such wage depressing strategies you end up with an equally short sighted situation where there's a disincentive to Americans to even bother to try, because it's not cost effective to get the degrees necessary to compete.

          Plus, what about the other folks like Einstein and Werner von Braun who were already hot shots when they immigrated here? It must be possible to come up with a reasonable compromise where they have to come under the normal process unless they really are filling a position which would otherwise go unfilled.

          • by Plekto (1018050) on Monday March 21, 2011 @03:04PM (#35562976)

            Combine this with the education system in most states being a complete disaster and you the cycle is complete.

            - California (as an example) refuses to expand the community college system to offer basic 4 year degrees. Back in the 1960s and 1970s, the state college system had nominal fees barely above community college levels and so anyone could get a degree for a fairly low amount of money. Now, the prices have skyrocketed to where it's not worth getting a degree unless you are sure that there is a payoff. $5000+ a quarter at UC schools prices any college education out of the realm of the average worker or the under-employed who is looking for a second career to potentially train into. Also, they have limited acceptance to local residents(foreigners are still accepted from anywhere of course), which means you are stuck with one of 2 or 3 possible choices. Which are full for the next 2-3 years as I speak.

            Fully half of the UC and Cal State system is clogged with idiots getting degrees in worthless stuff like political science, ethnic studies, and religion. People who want real degrees can't get in because of the sheer number of useless degrees still offered that only lead to either teaching the same if you are lucky enough, or a job answering phones since it's useless in the workplace now. If you look at India(as an example), there's virtually no wasted space. All of the schools offer a few basic degrees and little filler. Even if you could get in past the waiting list into one of your local schools, the programs are all full.

            To add insult to injury, colleges in many other countries are affordable or are nearly free. For those stuck here in the U.S., even the cheapest options are impossible to afford while the rest of the world essentially floods in and displaces our workers with ones that paid almost nothing for their degrees.

            Your only option then is private schools. But at $20K+ a year, that's impossible short of a scholarship. Re-training is impossible unless you have money already. Catch-22.

            - The employers also feel that they can demand ever-increasing skills at ever-decreasing wages, pretty much because they can get away with it. Why not if all of these fortune 100 companies can do it? There's always some worker from overseas who can do the job for $30K a year. Or some starving ex-employee in their 50s who will work for intern wages. It's now affecting computer fields as well, where jobs have split into two fields - high end database and critical programmers and everyone else who is just a wage-slave in a cubicle or at a workbench. Jobs that used to pay 40-60K a year are now being offered for $12 an hour. With no benefits, 401K, or perks.

            Fact: You can make more money and get better benefits working for In-and-Out Burger than from most jobs these days that require a BS degree. If you have a Masters, you're still in good shape, but that also is quickly eroding.

            The only way to solve it it to slam the doors shut, kick out the temporary visa workers, and force companies to hire only U.S. workers(or those few with permanent visas of course). Note - most OTHER nations do this sort of thing already and help protect their industry.

        • by Jiro (131519)

          The key phrase there is "some of the". It's easy to come up with a list of prominent foreigners, but nobody is saying that these people don't exist--only that they don't do better than Americans. They could do no better than Americans even if there are enough of them to make a list. In fact, they could do worse on the average than Americans, and there would still be enough smart ones to come up with a list.

        • by s4m7 (519684)

          I don't think that anyone is trying to diminish the contributions of India, or Indians, to the modern business/tech landscape.

          I could make a similar list of American contributors to the landscape. Would you want to see what you would lose there? Because that is the argument being made: Americans are choosing other fields because of a lack of opportunity.

          Hotmail founder was India born

          Is that supposed to be a selling point?

          I don't think Visas should be eliminated or any other such thing, however we're facing a jobs crisis so importing t

        • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Monday March 21, 2011 @01:42PM (#35561872) Homepage Journal

          My problem isn't that Indians (or anyone else) are improving their lives. My problem is, our own government and our own fellow citizens (those who are wealthy enough to have employees) are robbing US so that THEY can get ahead.

          I'll tell you where the shortsightedness is. While industry and government are driving wages down, they are also driving down the purchasing power and the tax paying ability of the American public. Both government and industry will one day regret the loss of the relatively "wealthy" American "consumer".

          But, I don't know what I'm worried about. I'm still making about the same wages that I made in 1980. Which is a little less than I made in 1990 through 2000. I should be good for the rest of my life - except that I work for a well known international company that is working real hard to outsource MY job, right now. 4 more years, and my job will be gone. 4 more years, and the wife's job will be gone. I suppose we can sell our home and property to an Indian immigrant then, and get enough money to survive on for awhile.

        • by golodh (893453) on Monday March 21, 2011 @01:55PM (#35562054)
          I'm sorry, but the article really isn't so far out.

          The cases you list are interesting, but they say very little (almost nothing) about what happens "in general". What you're doing, listing a number of foreign born people who made good in the US, is known as a casuistic approach. E.g. you look at a small number of cherry-picked cases.

          Now that's not a bad approach when you want to get a feel for what *can* happen, but the sample you present here is *totally* un-representative for the total population of forein-born engineers. Meaning that it does not allow you to reach any useful conclusions about the population of foreign-born engineers at all.

          If you want to draw conclusions about that population, you need to take a representative sample of that population (or even a census) and study that.

          Now that's what the author of the original presentation supposedly (I didn't check his sampling method) did. For people who don't have his dataset (i.e. his readers) he summarised his data using a linear regression model, the coefficients of which are on page 73 of his presentation, and which I have copied for you.

          The model is like:

          Salary = const. + coefficient_age x age + coef_age_x_age x age x age + coef_MS x I_MS + coef_PHD x I_PHD + coef_highCOL x I_highCOL + coef_origF1nonlC x I_origF1nonlC + coef_origF1chn x I_origF1chn + coef_origF1ind x I_origF1ind

          If we trust the author to handle the mechanics of datacollection and model estimation correctly, this means that he took a representative dataset of wages and explanatory variables like age, degree obtained, location, indications of foreignership, and indications of coming from China or India, and he has checked that there are no other variables in his dataset that have a significant explanatory value (e.g school where graduated).

          The model coefficients he presents are:

          factor beta, marg. err.

          const. -2640 +/- 18429

          age 3369 +/- 865

          age x age -33 +/- 10

          MS 9948 +/- 2177

          PhD 22667 +/- 4509

          highCOL 8692 +/- 1917

          origF1nonIC 4479 +/- 3847

          origF1chn -6190 +/- 5632

          origF1ind -978 +/- 5571

          non-ICs paid > avg., about 0.5 MS eect Chinese paid

          This sums up several aspects of the data as the author notes. In my comments below I have taken the liberty of translating some of the factors (i.e. whether or not you're foreign, Chinese, Indian), into years of career development for easier comparison.

          (1) in general, salary level increases with age, but being too old has a negative effect (the term for age squared is negative)

          (2) people with PhD's reliably get into jobs where they earn substantially more than those with MS degrees.

          (3) in general, foreign-born engineers earn a salary comparable to that of US borns 2 years their junior

          (4) but not if you're Chinese, then your salary is likely to lag that of your peers by 3 years.

          (5) if you're Indian, your salary lags that of US borns by about 1/2 year

          This is how his dataset looks.

          In particular, all other things being equal, Chinese and Indians really do work for lower pay than native engineers or other foreigners (e.g. Europeans). No doubt about that. And that holds for the total population he surveyed (which ought to be the total population of foreign-born engineers in CS and EE).

          This squarely supports the thesis that US companies are using F1B visa simply as a negotiating tool to lower people's salaries, in view of the fact that engineers salaries have flat-lined over the past 10 or so years (meaning there can't be a serious shortage). Ok?

    • DUH (Score:5, Informative)

      by iamhassi (659463) on Monday March 21, 2011 @01:10PM (#35561396) Journal
      This professor hit the nail on the head, what American would want to work in technology after this video [youtube.com] from US attorneys explaining how NOT to hire Americans for IT jobs? Here's the full video. [youtube.com] And how much jail time did these attorneys get for sending millions of jobs overseas? None.

      This is why I left CS. Videos like this and the job market full of fake job ads with fake software you MUST know how to use in order to be hired because companies have to run XX# of job ads in order to get H-1B visas to hire foreign workers. Couldn't find an IT American that knows Windows 10.3 and Microsoft Office Turbo Edition? Then here's your H1B visa's, hire some foreign programmers.

      I went back to school and now I'm in the medical field, hopefully they don't start giving visas out to doctors.... aw crap [workpermit.com]
      • Re:DUH (Score:4, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 21, 2011 @04:51PM (#35564474)

        Aaaaaand once again, this video re-surfaces. It never fails!

        And how much jail time did these attorneys get for sending millions of jobs overseas?

        None. Because they sent a grand total of 0 (zero) jobs overseas.

        This video is about the green card process. Not the H1-B process. If you don't know the difference between those two, you should just shut up. Honestly. Your post is just "waaargbglbghg".

        Of all the H1s a company has hired, it may want to keep some. Because they are good engineers. Because they've grown in the company, are familiar with the product, the process. Because they've shown themselves invaluable. They were even rewarded for being exceptional with raises and bonuses and career advancement.

        Now fire them.

        What's that? You don't want to? You'd rather not replace them with some totally new guy? I understand. Well, The Process says they'll need Green Cards if you want to keep them. And The Process says you'll just have to prove to me this guy is truly, absolutely irreplaceable. How do you that? Why, by placing fake ads in the newspapers, off course! Go ahead, that's The Process that the immigration office set in place!

        Is it stupid? Yes. Is that video in any way shape or form related to your "jobs overseas" rant. No. Stop linking to it.

  • So much better.... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bat21 (1467681) on Monday March 21, 2011 @12:15PM (#35560542)
    I hear plenty of arguments from friends as to how "college is completely unnecessary". Yeah, have fun working at McDonalds for the next 60 years. Better to have problems finding a job than to have no skills at all.
    • by MightyYar (622222) on Monday March 21, 2011 @12:28PM (#35560728)

      Yeah, have fun working at McDonalds for the next 60 years.

      Don't you think it rather depends on the person? Let's say I'm going to start a landscaping business. Do you think I should blow $50,000 and 4 years on a degree in something, or should I put together a business plan and buy some equipment?

      Granted, courses like accounting 101 will help out any business owner - but those can be taken anywhere, even online.

      I went to college and feel that the rest of the "college experience" was valuable to me. But while I was in college, one of my friends was making $60k/year managing a stockyard, and this is in the mid 90s. I came out of school with over $40k in debt - he had a house.

      Sure, 15+ years on I now make more than he does, my debt is paid off, and he's still doing the same thing, and he is back to square one if the place ever closes. But he was never going to be an engineer, no matter how much schooling he had. He's doing pretty well, he got into the real estate market almost a decade before me, and his house is 1/3 paid off.

      In short, different strokes for different folks...

    • by walterbyrd (182728) on Monday March 21, 2011 @12:59PM (#35561248)

      1) McDonalds is not the only choice for those without a college education - far from it.

      2) A huge, and growing, percentage of college graduates are working at jobs that do not require a college degrees. A college degree is no guarantee of a worthwhile career - far from it.

      3) Costco is paying $19 an hour. That is way more than a lot of college graduates earn, even if they do have a job that requires a college education.

      4) People who are highly skilled in trades such as welding, plumbing, heavy equipment, and so on, very often have jobs that are secure and well paid. In California, over 15 years ago, Golden Gate bus drivers were earning $80K a year. Letter carriers also earn very high salaries, and have very secure careers.

      5) Except for health care, and maybe a few other career fields; a foreign degree is just as good as a US degree. So I hope you enjoy training your H-1B replacement, or having your job offshored. Yeah, that degree was sure worth it.

  • Sucks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Antisyzygy (1495469) on Monday March 21, 2011 @12:16PM (#35560556)
    Maybe if they would actually hire STEM people it would help. Ive been looking for a job for 6 months with a MS in Applied Math (signal processing / computational math) and a 3.65 GPA (not super impressive, but I give out my transcript anyway). Nowadays in America, you get MBA's and Finance majors getting all the high paying jobs, and an MBA is a notoriously easy degree to get. I know several people that laugh about how easy it was to get their MBA, because all they did was get drunk, skip class, and screw hookers all the time.
    • Re:Sucks (Score:5, Funny)

      by sribe (304414) on Monday March 21, 2011 @12:20PM (#35560606)

      ...because all they did was get drunk, skip class, and screw hookers all the time.

      Perhaps if you'd worked as hard at training for your future job as they did, you'd be employed too ;-)

    • by CFTM (513264)

      That's because an MBA isn't really about the education you receive but the connections that you make in industry. Do you learn some valuable skills for running a business while pursuing an MBA? Sure, but if you don't attend with the intent of leveraging the connections that you'll make, you're doing your MBA wrong. It's not like being a doctor or an engineer where this is a foundational knowledge that will safe peoples lives.

      This insight has been derived by going through the MBA process, I'm going to the

      • Yes. MBA = Professional Schmoozer. Its a worthless profession of elitist cutthroats and backstabbers that actually serve no purpose in society yet somehow is the easiest way to get rich.
  • In other words ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dkleinsc (563838) on Monday March 21, 2011 @12:16PM (#35560562) Homepage

    The laws of supply and demand still operate: If you want great STEM workers, then you need to pay for them. If you aren't getting as many as you'd like, increase the amount you're willing to pay them, or improve working conditions, until you get them.

    That said, the reason that many US employers prefer foreign labor over US labor have nothing to do with the costs, and everything to do with foreign labor having less ability to go find another job when they get mistreated.

    • by DarkOx (621550)

      Right these guys know they could never pass directive 10-289 so this is the next best thing.

  • by CrazyJim1 (809850) on Monday March 21, 2011 @12:16PM (#35560568) Journal
    Lobbyists have a motive,"To get people to do what they want", then they'll make up the words that sound as reasonably sounding to a regular Joe to make it sound like it is in his best interest. No matter how awful the thing someone wants to do, I'm sure they can always make a bullshit reason why it is in everyone's best interest. It doesn't matter they have a,"sound byte", they can do this stuff in their sleep.
    • by CrazyJim1 (809850) on Monday March 21, 2011 @12:18PM (#35560578) Journal
      Same goes for marketers. No matter how awful your product is, they can find "some study, somewhere" that has something vaguely positive to say. For instance, I'm not sure if you caught it recently, but Lucky Charms was being touted as a health food.
      • by causality (777677) on Monday March 21, 2011 @12:39PM (#35560900)

        Same goes for marketers. No matter how awful your product is, they can find "some study, somewhere" that has something vaguely positive to say. For instance, I'm not sure if you caught it recently, but Lucky Charms was being touted as a health food.

        It reminds me of those toothpaste commercials that say "9 out of 10 dentists recommend our brand X!" What they don't say is that maybe they interviewed hundreds of dentists in groups of ten until they finally found a group out of which nine preferred brand X. I have little respect for mainstream marketers because they spend so much time and effort and money exploring the myriad ways one can use deception without technically lying.

        I've posted it here a few times and it's still relevant. This is a good quote about the subject:

        Television lies. All television lies. It lies persistently, instinctively and by habit. Everyone involved lies. A culture of mendacity surrounds the
        medium, and those who work there live it, breath it and prosper by it. I know of no area of public life -- no, not even politics -- more saturated by
        a professional cynicism. If you want a word that takes you to the core of it, I would offer rigged.

        ...is it dishonest for the presenter to imply that the pundit in the chair is free to offer any opinion, when the truth is that fifty pundits were
        telephoned, but only the fellow prepared to offer the requisite opinion was invited?

        -- Matthew Parris

        Many people are far too easily impressed by the official look and larger-than-life appearance of whatever is given a slick presentation, especially on TV. It distracts them from any serious thought about how and why the show was produced and who benefits from its message.

        I'd say the other dimension of the problem is that knowing the right people is a much better way to advance than having the right skills. Because of that, what we have is far from a meritocracy. What we have is a collection of many small examples of cronyism. Having malleable principles and a willingness to wholeheartedly adopt the agenda of whoever your gatekeeper may be are the traits we most highly reward and encourage. That's part of why so many high-level managers are sociopaths, because such people feel no guilt about being completely phony and have no conflict about putting on a show solely to win the approval of others.

        That and "globalism" and "free trade" always seems to mean "transfer wealth away from the US". It is not the mutual trade and prosperity that was sold to us when NAFTA and other proposals were getting off the ground.

    • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Monday March 21, 2011 @12:28PM (#35560736)

      >>>they'll make up the words that sound as reasonably sounding to a regular Joe to make it sound like it is in his best interest.

      This is why I quit the IEEE. In the early 2000s they kept sending-out newsletters about how we need the Government to allow more Visas for imported workers, and keep America competitive. And I believed them, until I stopped to think - "More workers == more competition when I go looking for a new job. Why would I want that???"

      That's when I realized IEEE was lobbying for the Corporations, not the the electrical engineers they supposedly represented. So I quit renewing my membership.

  • by snspdaarf (1314399) on Monday March 21, 2011 @12:18PM (#35560574)
    Now, if you could just start a multi-billion dollar company and put your words into action.
  • by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquare&gmail,com> on Monday March 21, 2011 @12:24PM (#35560678) Homepage Journal

    foreign geniuses come to study here, our colleges are well-respected, and are interested in setting up shops after college that could employ 100-300 americans in 5-10 years. but because of rabid anti-immigrant american hysteria, they are deluged with harrowing residency/ citizenship requirements that are intended to turn away seasonal farm workers, and are forced to go home, where those companies of the future grow instead

    frankly, protectionism is moronic. even when packaged in the stilted round about way this stupid story packages it

    go ahead and man the borders and prevent the poor immigrants if it makes you happy. but if you force the geniuses to go home after studying college in the usa, you are throwing away hundreds of thousands of jobs in the companies of the future

    we are a nation of immigrants. we always have been, unless you are native american. so enough with the protectionist stupidity. no matter how lamely you package the failed ideology, its still a failed way of thinking that ultimately only hurts the usa

    • I'd hardly characterize the asian/indian students in my graduate and undergraduate institutions as geniuses. They were bright kids to be sure, but the only thing that set them apart from me was the color of their skin. If anything, I'd say they were fundamentally lacking in academic ethics. It got so bad my graduate school had to institute a course to teach incoming foreign students that copying passages verbatim without attribution is plagiarism and not acceptable. This is something every American student

    • by arivanov (12034) on Monday March 21, 2011 @12:41PM (#35560934) Homepage

      Quoting an old Russian joke (from one of their best stand-up comedians):

      An American University is a strange entity where Russian professors teach Chinese students a technical discipline in English language.

  • by Spy Handler (822350) on Monday March 21, 2011 @12:25PM (#35560696) Homepage Journal
    I see this all the time. The bright kids today are going into law or the financial industry, because that's where all the money is. Why bother working your ass off in school studying hard subjects that involve math, when you can party your way through school, get a law degree or something in financial mumbo-jumbo, and make 3 times as much working for Merril Lynch? Not to mention not worrying about having your job shipped to India or China.

    In any sane society this kind of imbalance would be corrected by the rulers. However in our current society the lawyers and the financial industry owns - oops I mean make "campaign contributions" and "lobbies" - the government, so they have all the power.

    I can't really see anything good in the future for a society where a parasitic class, which produces nothing of value, is given such an overwhelming priority over the productive classes.
    • by Antisyzygy (1495469) on Monday March 21, 2011 @12:33PM (#35560820)
      This was my point exactly in an earlier post, though I did not say it as eloquently as you. I have a MS in math and I can't find work. I apply to numerous jobs, I try to do everything Im supposed to do including following up, sending transcripts, etc. but I never get a call back. When I peer over to the other side of the wall (i.e. finance/MBA jobs) Im seeing more of them and higher pay. Finance isn't easy but its easier than math and finance produces nothing, whereas at least math can be used to build bridges that won't collapse, compute the most efficient design for wings, etc.
  • by mschaffer (97223) on Monday March 21, 2011 @12:29PM (#35560742)

    Dr. Matloff's assertion is utter crap! US students aren't pursuing "STEM" careers because one needs to pay a fortune in college tuition to make a mediocre salary. Why bother? Also, nerdy "STEM" careers aren't cool/trendy/whatever.

    US culture doesn't value "STEM" careers. Why should US citizens go against their own culture?

  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Monday March 21, 2011 @12:29PM (#35560746)

    Typical conservative POV:
    1. American exceptionalism
    2. American exceptionalism redux -- we're so freakin' awesome, God's chosen people etc
    3. Strong on national defense
    4. Self-reliance
    5. Sloppy kisses for capitalism
    6. Strong support for the average folk (working people who work for their money)
    7. Everything that's wrong with this country starts and ends with liberals and they're the ones trying to tear it apart from the inside because the black filth of communism is pumping through their veins

    Well, the reality is that America's not all that special. We're being torn apart from the inside in end-stage capitalism where we cease to exploit internal markets and are now cannibalizing ourselves to support the credit binge.

    I would tend to think that a strong national defense begins with a strong national economy. We wouldn't need to be engaging in all these wars in the middle east if we didn't need their oil. Viable alternative power like solar and wind would do more to secure our nation than fleets of F-22's.

    I understand why that sort of thing isn't happening. I just don't understand why these people are too blind to see it. Gay marriage is a threat to the American family? Fuck, no! Two parents having to work 60 hours a week to put food on the table is destroying the American family. Pay enough so that one job-holder can support a full-time parent who stays at home and you'll make one hell of a start towards saving the family. And how about some goddamn affordable health care? No, we can't have health care but we can ban abortion and that's being pro-life. Wait, what?

    I just can't understand how myopic people are. It's like those seniors marching at the townhall meetings carrying signs saying "Government: hands off my medicare!"

  • by mukund (163654) on Monday March 21, 2011 @12:31PM (#35560776) Homepage

    It's not all about top-notch brains. It's also about many not-so-clever brains at lesser salary. This was the reason why US companies hired foreign labor, and this is the reason why thanks to the H1B caps, companies are happy to go east to other countries.

    Most CEOs (especially American CEOs) don't care about how well it will be for the company 10 years down the line. They care about the next quarter.

    More and more jobs are global now in computer science. If there is a programming job, it can be had anywhere in this world, not just in America.

    Plus, isn't America so well off thanks to migrants? Who invented your rockets and your bombs near in the past as 50 years ago? Who makes your microprocessors? Suddenly, you want to stop immigration and be protectionist?

    This professor needs to stop dining and think a little.

    OTOH, there's the big problem of Indian companies gobbling up H1B slots like it was property.. but that's a different problem. There's also the problem of poor quality labour --- programmers who can't code, thanks to sneaky HRs and those who undercut salary, fire the good programmers and hire the cheap ones. It looks good this quarter, but they'll soon find out. Again, this has nothing to do with migration.

    Here, we have Biotech, Commerce students recruited into the CS industry. "Don't worry we'll train you in 4 weeks."

    Why? Because we can sell this to the western company whose CEO is more than eager to pick up this plate because it's cheaper.

    Imagine if a CS worker were hired in an airline as a pilot (Don't worry we'll train you in 4 weeks), or *shudder* as a surgeon. Quality programming is harder and needs more experience than all this.

    In the end, the Indian programmers who actually studied CS and are good at what they do get a bad name on Slashdot and elsewhere, cause they're a part of the lot.

  • by Nethemas the Great (909900) on Monday March 21, 2011 @12:31PM (#35560780)
    As far as I can tell brains are being drained well before anyone starts considering career choices. The sciences are losing, they have been for a good long time. US culture is being groomed away from hard work. We're about being "social" and "amused." I suspect too much focus for too long has been given to providing for a "better life for our children" that the value of maximum effort, and striving has been lost on the last two, probably three generations. Our predecessors have largely achieved their goals of eliminating backbreaking physical labor but no one bothered to keep the momentum of effort moving into the intellectual realm as we've transitioned away from manual labor. Asia knows that it must out think, out innovate to compete with the west and they've been relentless in their pursuit. Time is running out for the western world. Already it may be too late.
  • by hawguy (1600213) on Monday March 21, 2011 @12:35PM (#35560860)

    'Despite widely publicized claims that foreign tech workers and scientists represent exceptional ability and are thus vital to American innovation, Matloff called that argument merely "a good sound byte for lobbyists'

    I hate to say this, but it's true -- sure, there are a few scholastic stars that come out of the USA education system, but the majority of students aren't being pushed (or pushing) themselves to excel. In fact, many do a little as possible to just barely cruise through high school, those that apply themselves and work hard are often teased and goaded for working hard -- and I'm not just talking about the traditional geeks, but that guy on the track team is also called out for sutyding too hard and missing out on the after-school party with the boys.

    There's no stigma to not doing well in high school -- or even dropping out. Parents hold much of this responsibility - sure, public schools are lacking, but the drive to succeed in school comes from home. Many parents can't even be bothered to see that their elementary school students complete required homework - and they'll make excuses for it "Oh, that takes too much time, Sally needs time to play" -- for an hour long assignment that was assigned a week ago. Of course, when a parent doesn't have a high school education it's hard for him/her to see the value of a good education, and harder still to help instill good study habits when they don't know what a good study habit is.

    In contrast, school in Japan (to use one example) is highly competitive - students know that if they don't do well in high school they aren't going to get into their college of choice (which means a high paying job), and may not even get into a college at all are are relegated to trade school. This pressure starts early in their school life - by 7th or 8th grade a student better be on a college track or he/she is not going to make it. The school hours are long, with Saturday schooldays not being unheard of. Parents in turn push their children to do well in school.

    I'm not saying that the Japanese culture is better, but I am saying that it produces better students. If a culture pushes 80% of its kids to excel at school, they are going to produce many more scientists and engineers than one that pushes 10% of its kids to excel, even if it only has 1/3 the population. And that's just one country -- if the USA is importing some of the best and brightest students in the world, then those imports are going to make up a significant portion of USA talent.

    • by cje (33931) on Monday March 21, 2011 @12:55PM (#35561184) Homepage

      Agreed 100%. We live in a society where adjectives like "educated" and "intellectual" are used as epithets rather than compliments.

      The long-term prognosis for such a society is grim, to say the least.

      • by 0123456 (636235)

        Agreed 100%. We live in a society where adjectives like "educated" and "intellectual" are used as epithets rather than compliments.

        Probably because the 'best and brightest' were responsible for most of America's great political disasters of the 20th century. It wasn't the kids who slacked off at school and got jobs stacking shelves who pushed America into the Vietnam War, for example.

    • Out of high school, there's no doubt that the US has been lagging these last few years. Going in a different direction though, I remember when I started grad school, and I was worried that I wouldn't be able to compete against the "best and brightest" that were being sent from all over the world to my (well-regarded internationally) university. I figured out within the first week of classes that my fears were unfounded. Let's just say that there is such a thing as a stupid question, and there were a few dif

    • So westerners are all technological dunces, and all the "best and brightest" tech minds come from India, right? I mean, that is what the lobbyists want us to believe, right?

      Let's examine the evidence, shall we?

      Of the following iconic tech companies, how many come from India? Apple, Cisco, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, Yahoo, Google, eBay, Amazon, Facebook, Intel, Dell, HP, and I could go on. Other than staffing companies, what great tech companies were formed in India?

      Care to count the number of Nobel prizes that

  • by Ecuador (740021) on Monday March 21, 2011 @12:42PM (#35560952) Homepage

    "The data" is a BAD 150+ slide presentation which might be tolerable as a lecture background, but it is certainly nothing close to being as readable as is. Perhaps a link to an actual Paper?
    At least the article filename is interesting "an-internal-bra.html"... ;)

    Anyway, my personal experience at a US top-30 CS grad school can add a data point: The CS undergrads were mostly US students. Of those, even the best ones most often did not go on to grad school, since they could find a good and well-paying job without the grad school hassle. That left around 5 US students in our grad program along with several dozen Asian students and quite a few other of assorted ethnicity. From this I got the feeling (which agrees with what other people from the CS field either in academia or the workplace tell me) that there is a demand for CS workers, so US citizens get absorbed easily, and there is also a demand for highly skilled CS workers for which US citizens that go into the trouble of getting the extra skills are too few to fill it, thus foreigners are hired, who are probably not smarter than the good US students that could go to grad school but did not.
    I don't know if this translates to other science fields though...

  • Another Cause (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Bob9113 (14996) on Monday March 21, 2011 @12:44PM (#35561000) Homepage

    > US citizens see those fields as being ruined by massive offshoring and inshoring.

    Another cause I have been researching -- increasing income concentration. While the common perception is that the high end of the software engineering pay scale is in the "rich" category, and hence are beneficiaries of increasing income concentration, the data speaks otherwise.

    I have extracted the income data from the IRS-SOI going back to 1950. The increasing concentration since the mid-to-late 1970s (it started prior to Reagan -- initially caused by the falling dollar and the failure to adjust the tax brackets) has gone almost exclusively to the top 0.5%, and even there is skewed heavily upward. This has not only affected software engineers, but also entrepreneurs, small to medium enterprise executives, starting to mid-level investment bankers, and a whole host of others who fit the traditional perception of those who benefit from concentration.

    The result, of course, is that anyone who has a sufficiently strong, broad skill set (like understanding engineering and business) has a significant financial motive to go to a fortune 500 and climb the corporate ladder. This is great for the Fortune 500s, as it increases the internal competition for promotion. It has, however, been harmful to smaller enterprises and high skill labor (like software engineers).

    The complaints of a shortage of US engineers are not entirely unfounded, but it is our tax policy and the resulting shifts in income distribution -- not greater engineering skill in foreign countries -- that is causing it. Our talent can easily see where the money is and there is a direct impact on career path. For those from less advantaged countries, the engineer/entrepreneur payscale looks great, despite the fact that within our country it (along with everyone below the engineer/entrepreneur level, though I might argue that below P30 there is another factor at work -- but I digress) it has been relatively inhibited for the past 35 years or so.

    Just another piece of the puzzle. Check out IRS-SOI -- great data to play with.

  • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Monday March 21, 2011 @12:48PM (#35561058)

    You can get a business/management degree from practically anywhere, then get employed with a pretty good salary for some chain store or franchise for good money. Not to offend those with those degrees, but the classes are also easier which means you have the time to work a job to help support yourself through school. When I was under the engineering department in college, I learned that the hours necessary for studying/homework were too much to work a job to pay my bills. The department's head adviser even told me that no one had graduated otherwise.

    The alternative is to get into a technical program that will probably be at a bigger (read: more expensive) college with a $300/semester engineering fee where you're going to need a sponsor to finance your education and living expenses (be that a parent or spouse).

    Just my personal experience, but I'd call this a financial issue.

  • by BigDaveyL (1548821) on Monday March 21, 2011 @12:55PM (#35561168) Homepage

    Is there seems to be an unwillingness to do any type of employee development.

    I've seen job ads that require umteen years of experience in X, Y and Z. It's the old chicken and egg problem - how do you get the real world experience if no one is willing to hire you? This is a problem many college graduates or people looking to move up/change the directions of their careers.

    I know, I know, some of you are going to ask, "Why invest time and money to train people, they are just going to leave?" How about making a less hostile work environment and paying fair market rates (or going out and paying a little more than that)? This even applies to your more senior people - many of them will be willing to jump ship if their voice isn't heard or aren't being challenged, or not being paid enough. Also, this is a very naive approach as many jobs in a lot of places fall under at-will employment. Manangement expects 100% loyalty, but wants the flexibility to fire under-performers and lay people off when revenues/profits are down. Therefore, the "they'll just quit ayways" is just a cop out for bad behaviour.

    Lastly. I've seen/interviewed for positions that want BS degrees, prefer MS degrees, but basically amount to help desk positions. Then the employer is hostile to your salary range, and your long term career goals (i.e. possibility of moving into progect management or development or systems/network admin). Of course, they then complain about not finding qualified people - Duh, most people with the qualifications you'd like are either not going to apply (why work a help desk?), going to treat it as a foot in the door or going to want to be paid comiserate with experience.

    There are people out there who have the education/experience and are willing to learn. However, it makes my blood boil when people claim there is an IT/Engineer/Science/Math worker shortage.

  • by Ironchew (1069966) on Monday March 21, 2011 @12:59PM (#35561250)

    enough with the protectionist stupidity

    Humans:
    -Immigration takes months to process
    -Subject to death: this implies basic needs like food, water, and safety
    -Can be ruined by a lawsuit (not enough money to fight it, will have to settle, go to prison, etc.)

    [Large] Corporations:
    -Ability to transfer wealth in milliseconds across the globe
    -Immortality: The same executives that crash a company into the ground are paid handsomely for it and start another one
    -Enough money to fight court battles indefinitely, above the law

    It's class warfare. Protectionism is needed as long as these vast inequalities between corporations and people exist. Let me know when the United States starts invoking the corporate death penalty and revokes corporate charters from lawbreaking executives.

  • I disagree (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Sir_Sri (199544) on Monday March 21, 2011 @01:21PM (#35561566)

    Admittedly, I'm in canada, but I suspect the perception here is about the same.

    I'm my current grad programme in CS, we have about 120 grad students, (about 60 MSc about 60 PhD), of whom around 75% are foreign - non first world, so I'm not counting US, EU students as 'foreign' for this purpose, since we all face the same problem. The vast majority of our undergrads are domestic students, while the vast majority of grads are foreign. The undergrads can walk out of here and get jobs that easily run 40-50k and usually a lot more than that. Grad student: 20k.

    The foreign grad students have significantly changed the bar for academic excellence. We take the best and brightest from other places, and that means to succeed in grad school you have to be at their level. When foreign students were 10, 15% of the class it wasn't an issue. But now 8/10 of the people in my classes are going to be from the top 5% of wherever they're from, which means to have marks competitive with theirs you pretty much have to be top 5% here. So yes, our grads are just as good, because by swamping ourselves with foreign students we've raised the bar of excellence. I'm not sure that's good or bad. So then why do we need foreign talent? Because foreign talent has raised the bar, and now can only be filled with foreigners.

    There are of course a lot of other issues. If you can learn to do math in-spite of the education system, you can do fine in STEM classes, but you probably won't actually learn to do it properly from the education system. Which makes it both hard, and scary to risk STEM as a career. It's also a lot of work, with a lot of debt, that may not pay off.

    Professor Matloff is specifically opposed to 'flooding the market' with foreign STEM workers. That's missing a few basic problems of economics. First and foremost, those people already exist. If they come here they may keep salaries flat or drive them down, but if they stay home in India or China they would cost substantially less, and in the end make outsourcing even more viable. Bringing them here keeps the global costs of STEM work up, and rewards the best and brightest from their home countries with a chance at much more financially productive life (a good incentive to get your people to work). A simple look at http://www.payscale.com/best-colleges/degrees.asp will tell you pretty quickly that STEM pays well, possibly even too much (compare petroleum engineer mid career to well... anything else. IMO petroleum engineering is not substantially harder to do than chemical engineering, yet it pays 50% more). It's not like we have suddenly driven the price of STEM below that of Drama degrees, the difference between the starting salary of drama and civil eng is about 8k, but and engineering degree only costs about 2k more than a drama degree (around here anyway), so if anything there is room there for some salary depreciation and STEM would still be the best paying place to be.

    IMO what we need is an education system that actually teaches people something about how all this technology stuff they want and use works in high school, so they can choose to pursue that in detail when they get to university. Right now we have first years who don't know what electricity, the internet, a CPU, HTML, or quantum mechanics are. If I have to explain the difference between a CPU and the whole computer to a comp sci student is, they're in serious trouble (and yet some of that crowd can write doubly linked lists when they get here). We have kids who's understanding of electricity is 'some magically thing that is carried over wires and comes out of the wall'. How do you seriously expect them to be interested in designing new batteries or helping to develop new energy technology and so on if they don't even know what electricity is when they start in engineering degrees? That ignorance of basic science, and ignorance of basic technology principles (what is cryptography?) should not be things we teach only to that select few (around here about 15% of our un

  • by bradley13 (1118935) on Monday March 21, 2011 @01:36PM (#35561778) Homepage

    There are several problems intertwined here. Motivated U.S. students are as good as those anywhere. However, they must overcome the following problems:

    • Grade inflation and the whole parental culture that schools must give their little darlings top grades regardless of performance. Lots of college students come to college thinking that they deserve good grades no matter how little they study.
    • Progressivism. College education even for STEM majors is seriously diluted with idiotic courses in multiculturalism. The XXX-studies, sociology, and all of all the other leftist propaganda courses have displaced important core courses.
    • Ridiculous management salaries. Management controls the purse strings and has given itself raises beyond all reason. A top engineer ought to earn as much as a top manager, but this is not the case. In fact, in most companies, salaries from middle management up massively exceed anything an engineer can possibly earn in the same company. Anyone who can pass an engineering curriculum can snore their way through a business degree, so why not study business and have time for partying?

    The combination of these factors makes STEM degrees less attractive than they ought to be...

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