The Lie Of Needing Science and Math Visa Workers

Again, during the CNN Republican National Security Debate, the issue of immigration came up.

Again we were given the standard Sop Line that “America Needs easy visa access for foreigners with math and science degrees” because we just don’t have enough brains or enough educated folks in those areas.

Bull Pucky.

We’re up to our eyeballs in folks with degrees in math and science. I know many of them who are out of work. Often put out of work by CHEAP immigrants on H1B visas. (I’ve been in competition with such folks in many interviews). I have nothing against them. They are often fairly bright folks with decent skills. However, the notion that we NEED Them to be competitive is bogus. We need them to be CHEAP. Often a new guy off the boat from India will work for less than a secretary costs, often about 1/2 to 1/3 the cost of a home grown graduate. It’s simply a desire to import cheap labor, not a need to get a degree that is unavailable in the USA.

What does this do? It discourages Americans from entering that field and getting that degree. It reduces the domestic supply. It puts Americans out of work. How do I know this? It put me out of work on several occasions. (No, I didn’t complain or file a grievance or do much of anything other than move on to the next gig. I’m open to competition.) I then, when counseling my son on career futures, told my son to avoid going into computer science. He had Honors Math and a straight A average. I talked him OUT of going into Math or Science as the field had no money left in it. He now has a business degree, marketing major. That is how a market works. Cut the price, you get lower supply.

But is there any other evidence beyond anecdotal that we have plenty of math and science majors?

Well, yes.

http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos043.htm

The BLS says that we have, as of 2008 employed AS mathematicians, 2,900 people. (More are employed in related areas, such as science teachers where there are, per BLS, 54,000 employed as “mathematical science teachers”)

Mathematicians held about 2,900 jobs in 2008. Many people with mathematical backgrounds also worked in other occupations. For example, there were about 54,800 jobs for postsecondary mathematical science teachers in 2008.

And how about that crying need for math majors in industry? What is the industry that needs all these mathematicians?

Many mathematicians work for the Federal Government, primarily in the U.S. Department of Defense which accounts for about 81 percent of the mathematicians employed by the Federal Government. Many of the other mathematicians employed by the Federal Government work for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) or the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

In the private sector, major employers include scientific research and development services and management, scientific, and technical consulting services. Some mathematicians also work for insurance carriers.

Ah, the government…

Ok, the demand is a total of 2,900 as mathematicians and another 54,000 as teachers in related areas (plus some odd others doing semi-math related jobs as a general sciency sort of degree).

So how many does the US Education System “mint” in any one year? IF the typical career is, say 35 years (25 to get graduated, 35 to work, retire at 60 on average – allowing for some attrition) we would need at least 2900 / 35 ~= 83 per year with good Ph.Ds and at least 54,000 / 35 ~= 1543 “masters or better” per year.

How many do we “mint”?

http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2012/tables/12s0810.pdf

Total students in a Math major at Ph.D. granting institutions in 2009 (given in thousands in the link, I’m adding the 3 zeros here):

Math 20,500
Computer Sciences 29,200
Engineering 101,000
Science and Engineering combined 360,600

Hmmm…. Need under 2000. Have over 10 x that many in school at any one time. Looks like a surplus to me…

Now we do have to allow that 8,000 of the 18,000 Math students and 120,000 of the Science and Engineering students are “foreign” (which just makes me wonder why I’m paying a boat load of taxes to educate the rest of the world…) so “only” about 2/3 of those students are US Students. Still way more than we “need”…

Sidebar on University Goodies

FWIW, the link also includes an interesting chart of “Federal Obligations” for R&D money to various schools. You can see who’s first at the Hog Trough and who doesn’t know how to squeal with the best of them… It’s listed in “Millions of $$$” so the total of 24,991.8 translates to about $25 BILLION dollars in “gifts to friends”… Who wins the “Most Slop” award?

Johns Hopkins at $1,153,200,000 ( Yes, over $1 BILLION… That was in 2006, the first column, the chart has 2007 in a second column)
Next closest is
University of Washington at a measly $612,100,000

My Alma Mater gets a lowly $236,400,000 (more than Berkeley at $228,600,000 and Irvine is a distant third at $161,300,000) but if you add up all three of those U.C. campuses its $626,300,000 and beats out Stanford at $445,900,000. One is left to wonder if the other UC campuses get largess as well (as the chart is labeled “Top 40”) and if the total ‘take’ of the UC system makes it over the $1 Billion mark…

My golly that’s a lot of US Dollars going to places educating a lot of non-US citizens… and we do this because?… Oh, yeah, ‘prestige’ and the desire for the universities to do “research” for which they get to keep the patents that might, somehow, maybe, help the society at large?

But still, that’s a heck of a lot of money. And it is VERY asymmetrically distributed. U. of Virginia got “only” $176,300,000 in the 40th slot. So about a 10:1 ratio between the #1 slot and down near the 50th slot (assuming the drop continues).

Somehow I’m guessing that a lot of this money comes from senators who are “representing” their states well… I think I’m seeing something that can be cut from the Federal Budget here…

Back At Math Majors

What does that BLM site say about Math Majors job prospects?

Job prospects. Job competition will remain keen because employment in this occupation is relatively small and few new jobs are expected. Ph.D. holders with a strong background in mathematics and a related discipline, such as engineering or computer science, and who apply mathematical theory to real-world problems will have the best job prospects in related occupations. In addition, mathematicians with experience in computer programming will better their job prospects in many occupations.

Holders of a master’s degree in mathematics will face very strong competition for jobs in theoretical research. Because the number of Ph.D. degrees awarded in mathematics continues to exceed the number of available university positions—especially tenure-track positions—many graduates will need to find employment in industry and government.

Oh. We’ve got too many already. We’re making more of them “like crazy”. We don’t expect job opportunities to grow “few new jobs”; and the best bet is to get a double major and go into a ‘related field’…

But what about Engineers?

Surely the prospects for Engineers are better than for those pointy headed math geeks? After all, Engineers make products that get sold and make things go…

From the BLS site again:

http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos027.htm

The continued globalization of engineering work will likely dampen domestic employment growth to some degree. There are many well-trained, often English-speaking, engineers available around the world who are willing to work at much lower salaries than U.S. engineers. The rise of the Internet has made it relatively easy for part of the engineering work previously done by engineers in this country to be done by engineers in other countries, a factor that will tend to hold down employment growth. Even so, there will always be a need for onsite engineers to interact with other employees and clients.

Oh… So “give it up” if you want to make any decent money other than as a “sales guy’s brain”, or as a local manager of a remote site to translate between your management and the foreigners.

Yup, that’s what I’ve seen “on the ground” and “in the field”… So they want more H1B visas to be able to bring the foreigners in and replace what few folks here have to be paid American Wages…

It goes on to break it out by field, with some like Electrical and Electronics Engineers having a 1% growth rate projection between 2008 and 2018, while the highest growth rates are projected to be in Biomedical 72% (all those prosthetic limbs from all those wars?), Environmental Engineers at 31% and Civil Engineers at 24%. (Eight categories are single digit growth and one is -2% for Chemical Engineers as all the chemical producers run overseas away from the US Regulatory environment)

So, about all those math and electrical engineers we’re supposed to need?

OK, the total Engineering students we have is 136,000 (call it about 1/4 graduating per year, so about 30,000 / year allowing for some attrition). But we have to add in the folks who are counted as employed in “engineering” but in education counted as a different bucket. Computer Science gets another 45,600 and Environmental Science gets 13,900 (those ‘Environmental Engineers’). Total that up you get 195,500. Even that does not include the folks, like me, with other degrees that end up working as Engineers. (For me it’s an Econ degree and a Computer Software job history)… Do divide that by 4, you get about 48,875 graduated per year. Then with a 40 year job span (need fewer Ph.Ds and more Bachelors engineers than mathematicians) and 1,571,900 employed it is about 39,297 per year that you need. Hmmm… Looks to me like about a 10,000 / year “over supply”… (Roughly 24% “overage” so I sure hope a lot of those foreign students go home for a job or we’re looking at a real wage collapse here…)

OK, I think I’ve illustrated the point enough. There is NO shortage of intelligent, well educated AMERICAN students to work in American jobs. There is only a shortage of dirt cheap FOREIGN Visa Holders willing to work at any wage as long as they can get that magic ticket into the USA. Oh, and some significant number of them will be on ‘student visas’ from Muslim countries dominated by Sharia and Fundamentalism and here to gain residence so they can form sleeper cells. Don’t think so? Well, it already happened…

http://articles.cnn.com/2002-03-12/us/inv.flight.school.visas_1_huffman-aviation-ins-student-processing-center-tourist-visas?_s=PM:US

Six months after Sept. 11, hijackers’ visa approval letters received
HUFFMAN AVIATION
March 12, 2002|By Mark Potter and Rich Phillips CNN Miami Bureau

Six months to the day after Mohamed Atta and Marwan Al-Shehhi flew planes into the World Trade Center, the Immigration and Naturalization Service notified a Venice, Florida, flight school that the two men had been approved for student visas.

Rudi Dekkers of Huffman Aviation, where Atta, 33, and Al-Shehhi, 23, first trained in July 2000, showed the yellow INS forms to CNN during an interview Monday. Dekkers said he was surprised to get the forms at such a late date.

But hey, what’s a little thing like the loss of 3,000 lives when corporate profits from low wage foreign labor is involved…

In Conclusion

There is NO need what so ever for any enhanced visa program for workers with technical degrees. We’re already oversupplied with education for those jobs (why are no American Students getting those slots that are going to foreigners? Hmmm? I know a lot of smart kids with good grades who had to fight their way into some kind of acceptance at a US school. Don’t tell me we don’t have the talent, we do. I know those kids). Even at that, we are producing way more math and significantly more engineering degrees than we need. So much so that I know folks who are telling their kids not to waste their time on just such a degree (i.e. me, for one, and computer science in particular for my kid).

The only reason we “need” H1B visas, especially with unemployment at 20+% for young kids and 9% overall, is to let corporations keep their costs down. It’s a political sop to wealthy contributors, nothing more.

So please, can we get back to the notion that American Public Schools are for training American kids for American jobs? The foreigners have their own countries (with their own taxes and their own schools and payrolls) and we don’t need to be giving them an express pass ahead of our own kids either for seats in school or for jobs after that.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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21 Responses to The Lie Of Needing Science and Math Visa Workers

  1. Nice work. Perhaps this is an example of math hysteria.

    But the six-month-later validation of the hijackers hardly seems to be blamable on corporations. That incompetence is all the government’s own.

    I’ve been involved in the import of someone from Canada — very special circumstances — and it struck me that the game was rigged indeed. It makes immigration lawyers happy.

    ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

  2. Matthew W says:

    YEP !!!!
    I always thought that the idea that we needed to “import” skilled labor was a complete lie.

    I still think that !!!

  3. adolfogiurfa says:

    @E.M. It´s unavoidable!, the same happened all over the world many years ago when people from the country migrated to big cities. But, don´t worry, nature´s economy works in a different way: Real breakthroughs in science, philosophy, engineering can not be neither mass produced nor by government decree, as in the former soviet union: Many years ago they were bragging about the fact they have reached 35 million engineers! but never had a replacement for a Tsiolkovsky…as Nasa never had a replacement for a Werner Von Braun (also a foreigner!) Not forgetting that real breakthroughs, as a rule, are violently rejected by a self indulging mob of “settled scientists”, supported also by a mob of not more intelligent politicians: The addition of a lot of zeroes does not make a single unit.
    Ask yourself: How many Nikola Tesla do we have now? If we had just one it would come a whole army of Dr.S to anathematize him

  4. Matthew W says:

    Forgot to add:
    Haven’t taken the real time to investigate this program, but it sound “funny” to me.

    We need “guest workers”??

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/25/hershey-guest-workers-cetusa_n_936921.html

  5. H.R. says:

    I’m an Engineer and just a few years back got an MBA because the next time I get thrown out on my kiester I won’t be able to get a job as an engineer.

    I have been regularly thrown out of some of the finest manufacturing companies in the U.S. Older engineers have the experience needed for manufacturing but they cost too much.When the time comes to reduce force the newer, cheaper engineers with decent experience are kept. Outsourcing manufacturing is another reason fewer engineers are needed.

    The interesting thing about my current position is I was hired on the basis of age discrimination – my small company was tired of hiring cheap, young engineers who would work 2-3 years to get enough experience to move on to the larger companies. (Note: I’ve got lot’s of hair and when I hired in, very little gray.) In the interview, it was obvious that my boss was trying to tease out my age and I was thinking, “Oh crap. Not again… too old.” It turns out he was worried that I was too young.

    Anyhow, my current job is to stick around until I retire (about 6-7 more years) and develop the next generation of engineers who will continue to build the company.

  6. dearieme says:

    Call me a cynic, but I have long assumed that the purpose of such programmes was to handicap your potential competitors by tempting away many of their bright young men. Of course there’s a price someone must pay.

  7. Jason Calley says:

    Just as the high IQ portion of our national work force is seeing their employment opportunities being undercut by the governmentally sanctioned import of cheaper labor, the same thing has been happening for low skill labor as well. Ever wonder why neither Democrats or Republicans seriously did anything to prevent the massive (ten million? twenty million?) influx of low skilled illegal aliens over the last four decades?

    “They do the jobs that Americans won’t!” Well, yes, but only because the wage scales are being artificially held low through governmental distortion of the market price of labor. This is essentially the same process which you describe above (and yes, I too have seen it happen in the workplace) but in this case implemented by failure to equally enforce the law. Same result, either way; wages driven down, Americans out of work.

  8. P.G. Sharrow says:

    Keeping wages low helps to keep inflation low and profits high.
    Imported cheap labor has been a foundation pillar of this country. I have worked many jobs from the bottom up, and have also been the employer. Don’t remember ever being a shortage of willing workers for any kind of job, just a shortage of willing “cheap” workers. If I couldn’t afford to pay a man a decent wage, I didn’t need his labor. Any MBA will tell you the path to profit is cheap labor first! as that is the largest controllable cost. If you have cheaper costs then you can undercut your competition and make more profit.

  9. George says:

    We hire people from India with masters degrees for application programming that an undergrad could do. Reason? It is cheaper to specify a masters in computer science and hire an H1B than it is to specify a bachelors degree and hire a local. So we have a “bloating” of the degree requirement to do a given job. I see it in other fields, too. I have a friend who has a masters in clinical psychology and she can’t find work because in every job she has applied for, they have hired foreign PhDs. Those jobs didn’t require a PhD and she has more practical experience than they do, but they are cheaper.

  10. GregO says:

    Chiefio,

    Great post – thanks! I am an engineer, worked in industry for 20 years and then started an engineering and manufacturing company 12 years ago. What you have presented here appears to be a market/economic take on the H1B visa issue as well as supply of technical people here stateside. A couple of comments:

    1) Back when I was in school, I had a professor, an immigrant from Greece, who came here to work in the space and rocket-launch industries here. He was such a riot of a guy – a great big tall fellow with a booming voice. Really knew his stuff and if the door to his class was left open he could be heard throughout the physics building when lecturing.

    He would be at the chalk board demonstrating this or that – you know the professor pose, chalk in hand, lecturing, writing really fast with the occasional banging of the chalk on the board to make a point…then he would pause still facing the board, stop writing but keeping the chalk on the board, would tell funny little stories, or make a telling comment and go right back to the lecture without skipping a beat. It seemed like he would do it right about the time he knew we were all getting hopelessly behind in our note-taking.

    Anyhow, one time he paused like that and said, “the American mission to the moon and rocket program didn’t build rockets, it built minds.” In the context, it was meant that all the physics we were learning in that particular here-and-now was nothing more than learning enough to pass the test. Our real mental development would only occur once we had faced great challenges.

    My point. Sure, we have plenty of technical people and plenty too-many more in training. One certainly cannot argue with your math. But during the space program, technical people were actually being challenged to solve problems and do something. I ask, today, where is the technical leadership from our government institutions? Oh, there isn’t much there anymore. OK. You have shown the dismal job openings. What about start up businesses? Is anyone notifying these young hopefuls of their real chances and if they want to work in a technical field (and make any money at it) they may have to start their own company? Just asking. But I think not. I live in a University town, hang out with kids, hire them part time and intern them. They all think there is a great-big wonderful out there for them. Poor souls. They throw themselves at the feet of the corporations and that institution is in the business of making money – not growing someone’s career.

    2) If I understand the HB1 Visa program correctly, the individual does not hold the Visa – the personnel department of the hiring company does. While pursuing my career, I noted that these HB1 types were always quite passive. Sometimes in a Corporate setting, it is the engineers who have to muster the moral courage to speak truth to power and be tough and put their careers on the line so people don’t get injured (or even killed), unsafe practices are halted, and prevent money from being spent foolishly, and an engineer just generally has to once in a while shake up the old guard because they are about to, or currently are doing something stupid. Your HB1 Visa dude is not the one for these essential jobs.

    Summary: I don’t know about other technical fields, but engineering is as much a calling as a job IMHO and if fewer people in this country went into the field, it would probably be OK as long as the hard-core engineering-DNA people held the line. Saying that, an engineering education is a good education for other work as well.

    I too discourage kids from going into engineering. It isn’t the profession it once was in this country. It really is a shame too, because there are plenty of technical problems to work on, but our institutions just don’t get it.

  11. David Dunn says:

    I own and run a systems integration and application development company and have for 17 years. The perspective in your post is interesting and although I agree with and enjoy your posts because of the depth of your analysis, my experience over the last 17 years leads me to a different conclusion on this topic, at least with respect to computer programmers and systems engineers (folks who design and support networks, servers, etc.). I really can’t talk to the rest of the scientific and mathematical fields.

    I haven’t hired any H1-B folks lately but I did so in the dot-bomb bubble largely because that seemed to be where the talent pool was. It was hard to find talented individuals who could survive our technical review process without looking at foreign talent. Cost wasn’t an issue, salaries were pretty much the same for the same level of ability. Note I say ability, not experience. Our hiring process involves a pretty technical interview as well as looking for other skills such as communication skills and ability to think on the fly/under pressure. Experience is great only if the individual stays sharp and current in their field and this is especially true in my industry.

    These days we don’t hire H1-B visas primarily because almost everyone in my company interacts with a customer and communication skills are becoming critical – that’s often a big problem with foreign candidates. We still have issues though filling technical positions and reject many, many job candidates who, on paper, look great but can’t pass even the most rudimentary technical test (which is usually based upon what they say they know on their resume). A paraphrased quote from one of my managers after a frustrating attempt to find qualified candidates who could even pass the basic technical interview went something like “No wonder there is such high unemployment, there are so many incompetent people out there”.

    So my view as an employer is that there aren’t enough qualified engineers and programmers out there. I would gladly support my son if he wanted to get a computer science degree (unfortunately he’s trying to be a rock star). I can’t speak for the Intel’s, Microsoft’s, Cisco’s, etc. of the world that are lobbying for easier entry into the US for qualified professionals but my guess is that they have the same perspective as I do – they can’t find the qualified people they need and they are looking for alternatives. I really don’t think for them it is a cost issue.

    David

  12. DocMartyn says:

    In 2004 I came to the USA on a J1, then switched to a H1B in 2009, and finally got a Green Card in 2011.
    American institutions are able to buy in people from all over the world. They get highly trained people and people who have different scientific traditions.
    Americans also go the other way, quite a few work in Britain.
    Of all the US immigration programs, this one works. You should see the hoops one has to jump through to get the fast-track immigration process. My own one had all my publication and 6 letters of recommendation for US scientific group leaders.

  13. E.M.Smith says:

    @DocMartyn:

    My complaint is not about immigration to the USA. (My mother was an immigrant, after all). It is about LYING about the need for immigration…

    Want some more Indian folks so the local food improves and they have interesting cultural perspectives? So an equal number of US citizens can migrate the other way? Fine. Want it to drive down prices (and I can assure you that in computer science they don’t have as high a barrier as you described – I’ve talked with the guys…) of labor? Fine. Just be honest about it. Like I said, I’m open to competition. I’m just not open to deception.

    @GregO:

    I had a Ph.D in Astronomy working for me on an H1B (great guy, BTW). He was constantly struggling with the fact that his visa was held by the company, not him, so any change of employer could mean either ‘leave the country’ or ‘reset time to green card’… Yes, it leads to folks who do not ‘make waves’ for management. As we saw when the shuttle blew up on launch, Engineers need to ‘make waves for management’ when they are about to do stupid things or ‘stuff blows up’ and people die… I made sure my guy knew I expected him to speak up and make waves and I think he appreciated it. Then again, he was Scottish and not predisposed to passive behaviour ;-)

    @George:

    Saw that at several places. Job posting specifically designed so only H1B folks would qualify and / or local applicant pool would be small enough to assure H1B could get the job. Requirements out of all proportion to the actual work to be done. Many times they were things I’d done for years, but I didn’t meet the paper requirements – like “Ph.D. computer science” for an application programmer. In one case I was interviewing a Ph.D. C.S. for such a job ( I was helping hire the guys to replace me as a contractor). That was when I found out: 1) He had never actually touched a computer. 2) In India, you could basically ‘test out’ to a Ph.D. degree. No need to even attend any class. If you could read a book and pass the exam, you got the degree. 3) He had gaping holes in what he knew that meant he could not actually do the job. (In this case, config a Cisco Router. Had some theory – only modestly confused as the test was a couple of years prior – but didn’t actually have any experience with real configurations or how to do them… )

    I picked a different guy (M.S. from India IIRC) who did have practical configs under his belt as he’d been working for a couple of years. BTW, the recent crop out of India has been better. I think now computers are cheap enough they actually get to use one…

  14. Crashex says:

    Your assessment looks at the the prospects of a graduate with an engineering degree working as an engineer. The error is that it ignores the broader accomplishment. People respect an engineering degree more than many of the liberal arts “studies” degrees. An interviewer knows that the math skill, intellect and commitment needed to attain an engineering degree is more rigorous than many other disciplines. The specific skills needed for most jobs are learned on the job. Work experience will count more teh first job or two.

    The prospects of an engineering school graduate [or STEM programs in general] of getting hired are greater then the art history majors, women studies graduates and general business degree candidates. You might not be working in that particular field, but your prospects of being employed and staying employed are better.

    The trade off is whether you want to work that hard to get through the program successfully and then be working with students that got to the same place along an easier path.

  15. E.M.Smith says:

    @Crashex:

    It’s not an ‘error’; it’s orthogonal to the question. The question was NOT is an Engineering Degree good to have or even better than others. The question was “do we have the capacity to make enough of them and do we have enough of them without special VISA provisions?” The answer to that question is clearly “Yes”. And were it not for the ‘excess supply of cheap engineers’ from overseas (such as India) the extra work and effort to get that “better” degree would be rewarded in the market place. Like it was once…

    We don’t need more H1B Visa Engineers and Mathematicians, we need more US Students sitting in the seats our taxes pay for at our schools… (and don’t tell me there are not enough qualified US Students… my son is an existence proof of the alternative).

  16. Crashex says:

    I stop by your site daily and to review your posts. I admire your insight and analysis skills, as well as the dedication it takes to produce so much thought provoking material.

    Your analysis that we don’t have a direct need for H1B Visas to fill the available slots for engineer, math and comp. sci graduates in the U.S. is fine. However, the current fact of life in the 21st century is that communication and travel are so cheap and efficient that competition is global. Our engineers will be competing with those same persons whether they are in the U.S., working here and paying taxes here, or are in India or elsewhere, doing the same work for a reduced wage in a region with a lower cost of living. I don’t think restricting the Visas is as simple solution as it first would appear. I expect that having the intellectual capital here in the U.S is of a greater long term benefit than leaving it run off to competing countries.

    Yes, that means that only the top 60, 70 or 80% of the engineering graduates will work directly as engineers. But, the natural selection of the above average engineers will make the engineering pool of workers and their results, as a whole, better. And relegating the graduates trained as engineers to others roles, will add better than average math, science and critical thinking skills to those other job pools. I know many people that leveraged that engineering degree to be market analysts, business managers, doctors, lawyers, etc.

    You are right, my prior post addressed only a small part of your analysis. I had fixated on this:
    “we are producing way more math and significantly more engineering degrees than we need. So much so that I know folks who are telling their kids not to waste their time on just such a degree”.

    This is the conclusion that I think is an error. Not an error in the respect that I don’t believe that it is actually happening; it’s an error to discourage intelligent capable students from pursuing a “hard” path because of any such “need” analysis. Every student that has the interest in math and science, the intellect to accomplish the curriculum and the dedication and self-discipline to complete the degree should be encouraged to give it a try. The accomplishment will train them with a degree and skills that are widely respected and broadly applicable.

    The OWS movement is full of students that took an path through college that left them with a poorly marketable skill set and high debt. And such distorted analytical thinking skills that now they think the country owes them some special compensation (debt relief). How many engineer and computer science majors do you think are out there?

  17. adolfogiurfa says:

    @E.M.:As a former GE engineer told me: “It´s about what you got up here-pointing to his head”
    In spanish we say “Lo que natura non da…Salamanca non presta” (What nature does not give…Salamanca (University) does not lend)
    As far as the trouble we are all in….it´s because we believe more in tags than in real knowledge.

  18. Pascvaks says:

    Random thoughts –

    1. Corporations that don’t have a “Police Academy” type accquisition/induction method for young graduates is always going to be looking for talent in his neighbor’s or competitor’s labor pool.

    2. Loyalty of “politicians” to fat cat constituants. Always a problem, best you (the lowly, average voter) can do is never reelect one; is s/he’s real good, OK, reelect once but NOT more than once.

    3. American pay scales are a %itch, cost of living’s a $itch, value of the dollar is #itch, foreign competition an absolute @#%$#$%#. All true! What to do? Hay, whatever you think is better. Be inventive in your own field, no one knows it better; think Batman, Congress isn’t going to do anything. You’re problem, your solution. It used to be called “Good Old American Know-How”.

    4. Government programs, ALL government programs, are 40 years late and a trillion dollars short. If you had a really kind heart, you might say something like “What we have now was the answer to problems when I was a kid.” But that would be a very, very l……….o………n………..g stretch of the real truth. Federal programs never solve the problem, that’s one of Murphy’s Laws.

    5. Foreign Engineers and MD’s educated in US universities stay on, and on, and on; they never leave. This goes back to WWII, was extensively amended during the Cold War, and has seen the “let them stay” clause inserted since the 1989 fall of the Soviet Union by some big hearted idiots. Remember? Government programs never die they’re only amended. Insane isn’t it?

    6. Professions have idiots in charge of Professional Organizations just the way Labor Unions do. Another of Murphy’s Laws. Everybody wants more money, is another. When we blame everyone else, we also need to look closer to home.

    7. Universities are a lot like Professional Organizations. Everybody wants more money and they do what they must to get it. (Prostitutes do not have a monolopy on the market of prostitution; they never have.)

    8. Business Systems change quickly, governments don’t, professions don’t, universities don’t, prostitutes don’t. The US got lazy and didn’t prepare for winning the Cold War. We (our all wise and all powerful Federal Government) ‘a s s u m e d’ too much from our “friends” and “allies” and “dependencies”. We gave away too much during the war and didn’t prepare to win it.

    9. Who are we (the American People) relying on to fix the PROBLEMS? If you saind Uncle Sam you’d be right AND wrong. We ARE relying on Uncle Sam to FIX things and that’s WRONG. Sam can’t fix anything. Remember, Sam’s always fourty years late. He won’t fix this problem until it’s way too late and most of us are dead. If you said, “No One.” You’d be wrong and right. We are relying on Sam so you’re wrong. Sam can’t help so you’re right.

    10. Life’s a beach! (Some spell ‘beach’ with an ‘i’;-)

  19. E.M.Smith says:

    @Pascvaks:

    Well, not exactly a “Mr. Sunshine” day, eh? ;-)

    FWIW, I’ve never depended on anyone else to ‘fix my problems’ unless I was paying them for a service. Dad raised me to ‘do for myself’… (He being of Great Depression Farm and W.W.II Combat Engineer background and of Amish Mother was, er, um, kind of a self reliant sort… “Why buy it if you can do for yourself?”…) One of my first jobs at about 7 years old was straightening the square nails we took out of a barn / garage we were rebuilding; so that we could reuse them. “Easier than making them at the forge and cheaper than buying new ones.” We reused most of the lumber too (other than any rotten ends from ground contact – that were trimmed to ‘good length’ and used elsewhere…. Heck, if we’d had a wood stove he’d have burned the sawdust for fuel and fertilized the garden with the ashes… He always wanted a wood stove again ;-)

    Frankly, IMHO, the core issue we have is way too many people who know ONLY how to tighten the left knob three rows down on something about which they are completely clueless and are thus entirely dependent on everyone else for everything else. Food. Fuel. Home. Gadgets. Clothes. Medicine. You name it. With such utter dependency comes fear, and from fear comes domination by Dear Leader of the Silver Tongue promising freedom from fear and insecurity is you will just put your neck in this nice little noose… won’t hurt a bit… Everything will be safe and orderly… 3 Bowels of kibble a day, and a quick painless end when the time comes.

    It’s a hard thing for a lot of folks to become comfortable with fear and see the opportunity in insecurity. Most folks can’t make that leap… Guess I’m just more of an adrenaline junky ;-)

  20. Pascvaks says:

    I hear Alexander Graham Bell’s mother was Amish, so was Henry Ford’s, and that ‘light bulb’ guy, and a bunch of folks who’s names I seem to have placed in a hole in my grey matter. Funny, too, I heard they all had the same first name, I think it was “Necessity”. There’s something funny about old fashioned self-reliance, you usually don’t know what the answer is until you have a problem, I mean you’re totally blank, thinking of ten thousand other things or looking at the sky, the clouds, the stars, or following some idiot to a ‘happening’ on Wall Street. It just always seems to happen that nothing new ever occures to you until you just absolutely have to solve a perfectly horrendous problem. I’ll bet there’s close to 200 million brilliant inventors in this country, and I’m not even counting the illegal ones, who will never invent anything unless and until they just absolutely have to. Don’t know why it’s like that, but it is.

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