537: H1B Mission Creep

The H1B Visa program was originally intended to make sure that American tech companies had access to enough computer programmers to fix the Y2K bug before the stroke of midnight. Mission accomplished. But then the H1B program found a new mission. Kevin Lynn of U.S. Tech Workers explains how the program expanded and the effect that it continues to have on the culture of Silicone Valley and on the fate of Americans who have the aptitude and the skills to do the work that US firms would rather give to foreign workers.

Check out the GEBB webcomic and KMO's YouTube channel.

Liked it? Take a second to support KMO on Patreon!

3 Comments

  1. L33tminion on January 23, 2019 at 9:40 am

    The audio on this one is garbled starting around 4:25.

    • KMO on January 26, 2019 at 1:29 pm

      Still? I thought I fixed that. If your podcatcher downloaded this episode automatically, you might try deleting the episode and downloading it again manually.

  2. L33tminion on January 26, 2019 at 12:34 pm

    I agree that like most economic regulation in the US currently, worker visas are regulated primarily for the benefit of employers. But I don’t think preventing people from entering the US to work is going to be so effective in preventing multinational corporations from playing divide-and-conquor. Okay, sure, if you reverse the maximum that “what’s good for business is good for America”, you should oppose whatever corporations want just to slow them down! But some of the same people would end up working for the same companies or industries elsewhere otherwise, and I still think all else equal, America may gain from having them work in America instead. (As opposed to assuming that population growth can’t be positive-sum, or that only born Americans can have net-positive effect on other Americans.)

    I certainly don’t like the sort of analysis of American immigration policy that puts a zero weighting on the effects on anyone else. Not saying that Lynn is that kind of nationalist, just that his statements in this episode didn’t seem to stray far from that sort of analysis, which definitely makes it less interesting than I expect he could manage. (You got at this a bit with questions about China, if I recall correctly.) I don’t have the answers here (predicting the future is hard), but I think if you want to know what immigration policy is best for technically-minded high school students 4-8 years out, you’d need to consider effects of policy on the global tech industry over at least 4-8 years.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.