Clause 61: The Pushback Blog

Because ideas have consequences

Archive for April 2013

Guestworkers in the High-Skill US Labor Market

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If you think that there really is a shortage of skilled science and engineering talent in the US, justifying the expansion of the H1-B program, read this paper:

The authors show that:

  • There is an ample supply of domestic labor available in the IT industry;
  • Use of H1-B labor has expanded out of proportion to market signals;
  • Colleges are producting more science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) graduates than can find employment in STEM-skilled jobs.

Abuse of these guestworker programs is well-known by those of us who live in these industries and see first-hand what is going on. For example, I worked in Chicago in 1995, where my then-employer posted a job that was intended to be filled with an H1-B worker, as was required by law. The job was for a C++ programmer and paid $33k/year, which was laughable in an environment where trading firms were snapping up these skills. Best of all, this job was publicly posted — in the break room of the sales floor, where the programmers would never see it.

The standard economics are that you will pay $10-15k for the immigration lawyer. In return, you get someone who you can pay below-market wages to and cannot leave for a competitor.

When I was managing, I never hired anyone who could not work in this country without sponsorship.


Written by srojak

April 30, 2013 at 8:26 pm

Posted in Economics

Tagged with ,

A Message from the Russian Ambassador

with 2 comments

This clip is the third of three segments capturing the presentation made by Ambassador Alexander Konuzin to the Belgrade Security Forum on 15 September 2011. The part I want to comment on occurs between 0:50 and 1:00.

Maybe you object to the way he conducts himself, and the message is by its very nature designed to advance the interests of the Russian government. However, I am asking you to ignore all that for now.

Focus, instead, on this statement, which is brilliant:

“Are you prepared to be a subject of international relations, or only an object?”

It is the essential question. I want to ask every adult American citizen: Are you prepared to be a subject in your economic and political life, or only an object? Are you someone who does things, or just someone to whom things are done?

Because being a subject requires much more purposeful action than being an object. The default is to be an object.

The surety barons who signed Magna Carta had to decide to be subjects rather than objects. So did the parliamentary forces in 1642. So did the American patriots in 1775.

Written by srojak

April 30, 2013 at 6:58 pm

More Real Than She Expected

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In honor of Take Your Daughter/Son to Work Day, I am recalling this story from 1995.

An Ohio man was terminated with his daughter in the building on Take Your Daughter to Work Day. They were both separately escorted from the building and sent home before lunch.

A company spokesman said, “The timing of the dismissal of Mr. Means was regrettable.” You betcha.

The incident made Fineman Public Relations’ list of top PR blunders for the year, but didn’t make #1. That prize went to a public housing agency that announced a drug raid a day early, thereby telegraphing its punches to the suspects.

Written by srojak

April 25, 2013 at 8:40 pm

Posted in Fun with Orgs

Tagged with ,

The Aggressive Sorority Sister Resigns

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Here is the original story:

The PR heat got too intense, and she had to leave the kitchen:

My purpose here is not to pile on the author. Plenty of comments have already covered all the things wrong with her mail.

What specifically interests me is the sorority’s attempt to circle the wagons:

My name is [redacted] and I am the current president of Delta Gamma at the University of Maryland. It has been brought to my attention that you recently published an unsavory email that was sent out over my chapter’s list-serve. Is it possible for you to either remove the article or just remove the names “Delta Gamma” and “Sigma Nu” from your article? This email absolutely does not reflect our chapter’s values nor Sigma Nu’s and any assistance you can give us is greatly appreciated.

That didn’t work, so the author had to fall on her keyboard:

Delta Gamma has accepted the resignation of one of its members whose email relating to a social event has been widely distributed and publicized through social media and traditional media channels.

The tone and content of the email was highly inappropriate and unacceptable by any standard.

No matter who released it to the public or how it reached such a mass audience, the email content should not reflect on any sorority woman in general or any fraternal organization at large.

The author wasn’t just some random pledge; according to the Gawker article, she was a member of the executive board. The sorority’s announcement identifies her as a junior. So there she was, quitely biding her time for three years, working her way into positions of even greater responsibility, until one day she could suddenly and unexpectedly reveal her true colors?

No sale. The email completely exposes the chapter’s values for all to see. How embarassing.

This email should not be depicted in any way as standard or routine or tied to any official sorority voice. It is not an official voice or message and should not be construed as such.

I’m sure it was routine for that organization. She didn’t get in trouble for having been a crass, abusive bully. She got in trouble because her mail circulated, making the organization an object of ridicule for the whole country. I am confident that her tone was not completely inconsistent with the culture of the organization. She just had her mail blow up in her face.

For the young woman who wrote it, we can only express our regret and concerns for landing notoriety in this manner.

Whereas, what we really want to say is, “Thanks for landing us in notoriety in this manner.”

We now consider this matter closed.

You might consider the matter closed. Good luck getting others to agree.

Written by srojak

April 25, 2013 at 6:20 pm

I’m with Stupid

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There is a trend of long standing for intelligent people to work from the assumption that most people are stupid and need to be told to do right. This is a dangerous viewpoint and one must guard against it.

Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.
— H. L. Mencken

Mencken rose to public attention at a time when urbanization and modernity challenged the traditional and comfortable beliefs of the nation. Like Sherwood Anderson and Dorothy Parker, he tested limits and broke new ground. They had the excuse of being pioneers, with no success model. It was inevitable that they should throw the baby out with the bathwater sometimes.

Mencken’s coverage of events such as the Scopes Monkey Trial shows him going beyond defense of free speech and thought, demonstrating contempt for those whose priorities differ from his own. His identification of the intellectual threat posed by Bryan is largely correct, but he does not attempt to examine it or its attractiveness to his followers. Mencken simply dismisses them all as stupid, backwoods rubes, deserving only to be mocked.

Mencken provides an early example of intellectual smugness, inviting the reader to join him in looking down their noses at the vast herd, the “booboisie.” While his assertion of the threat posed by groupthink and conformity is valid, his tone can lead one to conflate being merely different with being superior. In this, he has not been alone.

Some ideas are so ridiculous that only an intellectual can believe them.
— George Orwell

Examining the stupidity that has gone down in the past years since Mencken’s day, one finds that supposedly intelligent people have originated much of it, and fallen for even more. Witness the willful romanticism of Communism that peaked in the 1930s and surged again in the 1970s.

Meanwhile, what happens to the Republic? If power is derived from the consent of the governed, and the majority of the governed are stupid, aren’t we screwed?

Based on my experience, I am prepared to say that the majority of the people in this country are not fundamentally stupid. They have been told repeatedly that they are since first grade, and many have come to believe it. Still, they have a sense that something is not right when the wool is pulled over their eyes. They may not be able to articulate why something is wrong, but they intuitively apprehend the difference between right and wrong.

The intelligent person must resist the temptation to believe that s/he has the monopoly on truth and reasoning power. This leads to the thinking Thomas Sowell describes in The Vision of the Annointed, where one begins to see “the masses” as the raw clay with which s/he will fashion a new and perfect world. In the best outcome, this leads to failure. In the worst, it has led to totalitarianism, misery and death.

Too many among today’s intellectual elite see themselves as our shepherds and us as their sheep. Tragically, too many of us are apparently willing to be sheep, in exchange for being taken care of, being relieved of the burdens of adult responsibility and being supplied with “free” stuff paid for by others.
— Thomas Sowell, “Shepherds and Sheep” (

Kamenev and Bukharin likely thought that they knew better than the common people about what was good for them.  Trotsky surely did; he called Stalin, “our party’s most eminent mediocrity.” Stalin was helped to power by all three and ultimately had all three killed. Some mediocrity. All three, and others who participated in Stalin’s rise, were caring, committed men who believed in what they were doing and the good that would come of it. The thinking person must know the stories of these men, what went wrong and what is to be learned from them.

Written by srojak

April 23, 2013 at 6:52 pm

Posted in Ethics, Primose Path

Whatever Happened to Fareed Zakaria?

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I first encountered Fareed Zakaria in 1996, when I read this intelligent analysis of communitarianism he wrote:

Since then, Zakaria has become an editor for Time and a host on CNN. He has also become a shill for internationalism and panderer of happy talk. Here he is in 2012 telling Harvard graduates how wonderful everything is:

Or it would be if we would just let our government keep buying votes as it was meant to do:

OK, he does identify entitlement spending as the real driver of public debt. But no one has the political will to cut that. So, until we find the perfect solution, what do we do?

Then there was his piece on CNN Sunday (21 Apr) where he claimed that gold was due for a downward correction. No worries, everything is under control.

It’s impossible to imagine Zakaria today writing anything like, “Along with serious scholars like Michael Walzer and unserious publicists like Amitai Etzioni, …” Did he have half his brain removed somewhere between then and now?

Written by srojak

April 22, 2013 at 6:54 pm

Posted in Blowing Sunshine, Media