The Upside of Coronavirus

Like most of you, I get a lot of spam. It sucks. Just cleaning out the junk mail folder can be time consuming because the auto-detection sometimes auto-detects the wrong thing. Here is a piece of spam which made me smile.

h1b petition image
Spam for a petition to extend h1b visa grace period

This is something I didn’t really know. The length of the grace period between being canned and being sent home. I did know after going home one could have to wait up to a year before re-applying. This made me smile. Companies have been wholesale replacing IT workers with foreign workers. In many cases illegal foreign workers. In 2013 IBM, Tata, and Infosys quietly agreed to fines for their use of illegals.

Let me be clear here. If you are in this country on a visa which doesn’t allow you to receive payment for work, (i.e. a non-work visa) and you take a paying job of any kind you are now doing something that is illegal. To many this makes you an illegal alien because you are illegally working in this country when your visa says you came to spend money being a tourist or something.

Uber even ramped up foreign labor use while in the midst of a big layoff. Then there was Southern California Edison.

It’s not just China that steals technology. Have a read about Tata (TCS) stealing intellectual property from Epic Systems.

MBA programs are so void of ethics, they will throw national security under the bus for a fast buck.

On the bright side, according to this petition, if the country stays on lock down for 60 days, Disney might have to re-hire American workers. In fact many companies will, including AT&T. This program is seriously abused.

I guess you can simply look at this list of the top 25 H-1B visa sponsors to see who will be most impacted by a 60+ day nationwide lock down.




Is California a Modern Day Jim Crow State

On New Years Eve, like many geeks, I set about doing some year end backups and OS upgrades. It also lead to some experiments with OpenMandriva and OpenSuSE Tumbleweed, but that is fodder for another post. I bring it up to set the stage for why I ended up surfing to the UseNet group “Political Euwetopia” and being entertained by people who obviously haven’t been taking all of their meds. You can’t really do much else with a “live” disk while it is installing.

A pair of individuals, or possibly the same individual or possibly two people sharing half a brain were ranting and frothing about the mouth demanding to abolish the Electorial College because they didn’t get their way. Well, I didn’t either. Compromise is the art of not getting what you want. The venting of these inflated sheep’s bladders and their “logic” <cough><cough><hack><hack> did send me down a path of research and thought though. Has California become the modern day Jim Crow state?

Think about it. By some counts there are now over 800,000 visa workers in the United States and most of them are in California. None of them have the right to vote and they are locked into a job getting paid roughly 1/3 the going market rate. Locked in because they have to continue working for their sponsor until the visa is up. U.S. workers are being replaced by visa workers with wanton abandon at California companies. And those who bother to interview the visa workers who have been here a while find them saying “It’s modern-day slavery, more or less.” The displaced STEM workers have finally forced a Senate hearing about the gag orders being placed on them so no criminal investigations can happen.

It is not just the tech workers being oppressed in California, but the traditional manual labor jobs of lawn care and agriculture.

In February 2016, California officials announced that more than 600,000 undocumented people were granted driver’s licenses in 2015 (the first year after AB 60 took effect)

California is home to more than two million undocumented immigrants.

By some estimates using payroll tax information the actual number appears to be more than twice that. Many of them will be counted for purposes of assigning Electoral College votes but none will have the opportunity to actually vote. Unlike the Jim Crow days, they are counted in whole not as three fifths so slaves in California have at least made that much “progress.”

The Return to Program Hiring

If you live long enough, everything comes around again. Well, hopefully not leisure suits, but it appears some things from the 70s are making a comeback. In this case it is mass hiring of tech workers from college.

During the 60s and 70s there was a massive software development effort under way. There, quite literally were not enough programmers to go around. Large corporations needing order entry, inventory, accounting, warehouse management, payroll and any number of systems people just think “exist” were being written for the first time at most companies. Programmers at many companies belonged to a group called SHARE  which helped develop much of the early IBM mainframe software.

Please do not confuse SHARE with the Linux Open Source groups of today. While SHARE was sharing source with members the focus was on creating maintainable business class software for production environments. This is a completely different mentality from the “hurl it and burn it” mentality of most Linux distros. If you have used Linux distros for about a decade, you are all too familiar with the vast quantity of single release packages. These packages are rolled into one release then are simply never maintained – or – they get completely rewritten by someone else because nobody wants to maintain someone else’s code, especially the tweens and teens writing most of those packages.

Corporations were forced to manufacture the programmers they needed. Many developed internal training programs where they would hire 30-100 college age kids and run them through various programming courses teaching them how to develop software for this particular corporation. At the end of the training program those who did well would be given full time jobs within various units of the corporation. For most corporations these were not unpaid training courses, they were actual salaried positions which lead to hire paying positions within the company. In today’s world, most corporations are intent on replacing all of their U.S. workers with H1-B or other visa workers in a race to the bottom.

It is actually very telling if you can find out just how many visa workers a corporation has because as that number climbs the well being of the corporation seems to directly decline. It is also next to impossible to identify just how many visa workers are at a company without interviewing the token few U.S. citizens they still have employed. You see, most subcontract these visa workers through various services firms.

Before you paint the previous paragraph as a slam at visa workers and those who employ them, you should take a look at this recent article.

Companies which are Wall Street darlings today have massive program hiring practices. Facebook, Intuit and many others have brought back forms of this practice with gusto. Conversely companies like IBM and HP who have massively embraced off-shore workers are headed down the soil pipe and into the sewer.

The lesson is clear. You can either race to the bottom and an inevitable bankruptcy (ala the GM bailout of several years ago after they massively chased off-shore IT workers) or you can build what you need and rocket over the top.

Do not just lay this at the feet of the visa workers though. Management at companies pursuing this path to riches are simply incompetent. This seems like a “quick fix” to “cut costs” for a short term bonus, and it might well be. The trouble is this line of thinking sacrifices any future the company might have had. In truth, the race to embrace visa workers is a red flag for investors that upper management is routinely making horrible decisions. Those decisions might not yet show in the financials or the stock price, but, when they do it will be like trying to hide an ocean liner in a bath tub.

Job Killing is Back in Vogue

It’s funny how things go full circle. During the early arguments about Obamacare when those against it were spouting what an ordinary citizen would consider nothing short of criminal fraud but politicians call “talking points,” one of their favorite buzz phrases was “job killing.” That was until Congresswoman Gabby Giffords got shot in the head, then they had to come up with a new phrase which wasn’t so “insensitive.”

Election campaigns make it difficult to watch or listen to supposed “news” broadcasts. So much of the air is polluted by talking heads spouting talking points, most of which have little to no basis in fact, that the programs shouldn’t really be able to call themselves “news” programs. They should be re-branded “partisan entertainment shows.”

I flipped on some news show the other night just wanting to find out how the market did without looking it up on my computer and stumbled into yet another republican talking head claiming something was “job killing.” I find it quite odd republicans mention anything about job killing since, as a party, they have killed more jobs than anyone. Who pushed through the tax breaks for companies to off-shore American jobs? Who blocked a vote on a bill which would give American companies who “insource” jobs?  Who voted to raise the visa cap so tech companies and off-shore consulting firms could import what, for all practical purposes, could be considered slave labor?

Before you go arguing about the slave labor statement do some digging. While there is supposed to be protection in place so visa workers have to be paid as much as a U.S. worker, it goes both ignored an for the most part unenforced. The New York Times reported there is no shortage of U.S. technical workers, only a shortage of wages. Those companies paying the actual market rate instead of a manufactured market rate based mostly on wishes and questionable surveys aren’t having any trouble getting the people they need. They want the visa workers because they are dramatically underpaid. We aren’t talking about being paid the low end of a regional range, we are talking about multiples below the range. There are stories circulating many of these workers are being billed out at around $20/hour when actual market rate is $70-80/hour. We aren’t talking about the person being paid $20/hr either, but the firm billing them out. Do the math and figure out what the worker is actually making.

I find it quite odd that the republican party, which sent sons and fathers into war to end slavery in this country, now does everything in its power to bring slavery back in all but name.

Before you go branding me a democrat, know this. I was born a republican and was a loyal voter until the party went completely off the rails after the Ronald Regan era. They’ve either lost their way or sold their soul.

Watching it Spin Out of Control

Could it just be me? When I watched the video clip for this news story showing the woman testifying, I kept waiting for her to “go ghetto” on him ala “The Jeffersons.”

For those of you too young to remember “The Jeffersons”

While some today might resort to calling the show racist, there was a large cross section of America made up of all nationalities which considered it side splitting entertainment. In many ways, calling it a black version of “All in the Family” wasn’t unfair since it fit the model and actually spun off from that show. Though most didn’t realize it, both shows dealt with a lot of social and political issues over their long lives. (11 seasons for “The Jeffersons”) Because both shows adopted the “Equal Opportunity Offender” they could take on any issue not caring about who it offended. Barriers and boundaries were meant to be crushed for these shows. Nothing was too sacred to be poked at. “The Jeffersons” even featured TV’s first inter-racial couple. Neither of these shows could ever get put on the air in the pathetic society that exists today.

Quite simply I couldn’t get the image of George Jefferson being the one up at that microphone gyrating and screaming

We told our children for generations that once we had a black president things would be better, our people will have finally arrived. Well we did alright! We arrived at the conclusion that you ain’t any better than honkeys we stuck in that office before you, and some say you’re worse. You know what, when it comes to putting them down, I’m all outa ammo because life’s worse for everybody and ya just can’t hide it anymore! They used to say the same things about how once we got a woman president things would be better. Well thank you Mr. President, without being the woman running for office, you done shot her chances out of the saddle. It was a two for one sale and we got what we paid for! And by-the-way, thanks for opening up your seat creating an opportunity for the Illinois governor and Jessie Junior to make headlines yet again! Thanks a bundle for that!”

You see a lot of political commercials complaining about sending American jobs overseas. While that may very well be true for factory workers, it’s the loss of the really high paying technical jobs which has bankrupted the country. (Search this blog for “The Recession That Gartner Built.”) You heard oceans of complaints about H-1B visas and the abuse of Vacation visas, but the mother of all rectal penetrations felt by the American worker is the L-1 and blanket L-1 visa. The blanket L-1 allows any company the ability to bring in a virtually limitless number of foreign nationals with almost no background check what-so-ever. When Congress created this visa they created the al Qaeda Super Highway into the U.S. While wikipedia is never a great or reliable source of information just take a look at the L-1 article:

There is no cross checking done. Companies are free to pay these workers $10/day and stack them eight deep in a studio unit at Homestead Suites (as many do). There is a simple method of fixing this, while helping the economy. Change the L-1 single application fee to $150,000. Change the “blanket” L-1 fee to $1billion per year and charge $80,000 for every visa issued under the blanket. If companies really needed the skills those people provide they will continue to pay, if the L-1 visa is nothing more than legalized slavery, it will fade from existence. You can do a lot of training for $80,000 and even more for $150,000.

The majority of these workers pay little to no tax while in the United States yet consume our freedoms and services while here. They are also putting American workers out of jobs because not one company can prove there wasn’t an American technical worker with the required skills. Oh yes, they can generate reports from their Vendor Management System showing such things, but only because their Vendor Management System allowed them to commit a RICO crime by putting a wage/billing rate cap and having a system which blocks all submissions above said cap. Having such a system in place is at best, a price fixing charge. When you use the results of said system to bring in an H-1B or L-1 worker instead of a higher price American worker, you have just joined the wonderful world of racketeering.

Most corporations have been abusing the Vendor Management System reporting loopholes long enough now that any investigator can audit the system and find a pattern of criminal activity. Some has been done, but not nearly enough. Instead of focusing on the low end, Federal Prosecutors need to focus on the Fortune 500.