Monday, May 17, 2010

BP Plugging Oil Leak: The Unsustainability of Cheap Labor and Cheap Oil

(Very Special Thanks to Monty Python)

H-1B Gluttons Gushing Out of Control (on the U.S. Taxpayer Dime)

More Adventures for the H-1B Program

v. glut·ted, glut·ting, gluts
1. To fill beyond capacity, especially with food; satiate.
2. To flood (a market) with an excess of goods so that supply exceeds demand.
To eat or indulge in something excessively.
An oversupply.

glut [glʌt]
1. an excessive amount, as in the production of a crop, often leading to a fall in price
2. the act of glutting or state of being glutted
vb gluts, glutting, glutted (tr)
1. to feed or supply beyond capacity
2. (Business / Commerce) to supply (a market) with a commodity in excess of the demand for it
3. to cram full or choke up to glut a passage

Imagine that you put one end of a hose in your mouth and kept threading it through until it came out of your butt. That's more or less what the alimentary canal is. You put food in one end of the tube and it's processed during its journey to the other end of the tube, where the waste material comes out. Now, let's abuse the process and imagine it gets CRAMMED with more food than it can accommodate leading to the eventual gushing and puking and exploding of its excess. Still with me?

As yours truly reported in The Unsustainability of Cheap Labor and Cheap Oil  and in The Politics of Ocean Trash and Educated Middle Class Trash, corporate America's incivility toward its local community and their greed are literally destroying our ecosystem. The socioeconomically unsustainable H-1B visa program is just like the BP Oil disaster gushing cheap foreign labor into an already over-saturated local labor pool of unemployed and underemployed American white collar citizens. Like BP Oil's uncontrolled attempts to conceal the gusher now creeping to Florida's coastline, when will America's corpulent, corporate gluttons abandon their insatiable appetite for cramming Burnt Fries down corporate America's choked labor alimentary canal? Why are U.S. corporations still importing dubiously skilled, “best and brightest” workers when there are not enough jobs for educated young and experienced Americans schooled at our finest universities?

With the unprecedented rise of U.S. unemployment and white collar jobs being outsourced/insourced to Indian nationals, outsourcing and the H-1B visa program originally intended to fill skilled job openings when no American professionals can be found should have gone the way of the dinosaur. Oh – but that might force a few sociopathic corporate managers and CEOs to reform the current corporate culture of greed and neo-feudal overlording and begin rebuilding local civility and economic sustainability into our own communities. Can't have that! Charity, after all, begins in the man-crush bedroom boardroom.

In his excellent new CIS report entitled More Adventures for the H-1B Program, David North cites a study that quotes Michael Teitelbaum, vice president of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation (which funds basic scientific, economic and civic research) who has confirmed the great labor shortage lie. Teitelbaum said:

Over the past few years that there are “substantially more scientists and engineers graduating from U.S. universities than can find attractive jobs.”

The socioeconomically unsustainable, wholesale sell-out of local U.S. jobs  and plummeting wages doesn't stop with STEM jobs and now includes journalism, marketing, healthcare, and the legal professions. With a glut of educated unemployed and underemployed U.S. citizens, why hasn't our government scrapped the legalized visa practice designed for corporations to displace American workers? Although there are laws on the books in place to investigate visa abuses, North has found that the U.S. Labor Department has now decided to do something about them by “mounting a series of 25,000 investigations of the H-1B operation.”

So why the sudden uptick in this massive number of investigations to monitor H-1B abuses?

North notes esteemed UC Davis computer science Professor Norm Matloff's summary of the H-1B program's intent who “has reminded us from time to time, that the program is designed quite specifically to allow employers to hire high-tech talent at below-market rates.” As Matloff puts it:

The law ITSELF is the problem, not lax enforcement. If the law were to allow drivers to go 80 mph in a residential neighborhood, you wouldn't blame the police for lax enforcement, would you? The law itself would be the problem, not the police.”

Indeed, the (gluttonous) H-1B law itself is the problem. Rather than budget millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars to investigate H-1B visa fraud, why not just scrap the whole socioeconomically unsustainable practice of importing a glut of workers? The H-1B visa program, has,  like the BP Oil disaster, over-saturated our fragile and scarce supply of jobs like giant plumes of oil mixed with water in the depths of the finite gulf. 

A closer look into North's investigation reveals “a bit of information on the funding of these H-1B investigations” which he uncovered this past week into a Congressional Research Service report which “managed to escape Capitol Hill secrecy.” North explains:

The most interesting point to me, perhaps well known to others, was that most of the congressional funds set aside for the investigation of fraud in the H-1B program have been diverted by the Executive Branch to other programs. There are $500 and $150 fees, per petition, that are supposed to be going into the "Fraud Prevention and Detection Fee Accounts" and DoL's nominal share of those moneys has been $31 million a year in recent years.
"However," the report continues, "DOL reportedly used only $6.7 million in FY 2007, $5.5 million in FY2008 and an estimated $5.5 million in FY2009 for H-1B, H-2B [farmworker] and L visa [international exchange of managers] fraud investigation activities." (See pp. 21-22 of the Wasem document.) There was no discussion of what happened to the non-DoL share of these funds, which apparently was about $62 million a year.
The Obama Administration is estimated to be using $12.5 million of these funds for fraud detection in FY2010.”

Fox guarding Hen House? While a “moratorium on such visas might be prudent” and even an understatement, North reveals that the budget for this massive number of H-1B investigations may have an economic imperative/profitability motive. He concludes that getting the Congress to fund fraud investigations in non-immigrant programs won't do much good if the Executive Branch (hey, Obama?) diverts most of the monies to other activities. The open question is, where/to whom are they being diverted to?

But the gluttonous parallels between the socioeconomically unsustainable and destructive H-1B visa program /outsourcing disaster and the BP Oil disaster are striking. Below, insert “H1-B” for the BP Oil gushing disaster and, well, you get the picture about the whole unsustainable practice of human labor arbitrage and exploitation that has to be stopped.

In the decisive words of Janet Napolitano, it's time to also extend her oil clean up  vision for America to permanently plug this gushing well of cheap imported labor siphoning U.S. jobs and to restore local labor civility to U.S. citizens:

The right thing to do is permanently plug this well, and that’s what we will do,” Mr. Suttles said.“We want to slowly optimize it to try to capture as much of the oil and gas as we can without taking in a large amount of seawater,” he said. Ms. Napolitano and Mr. Salazar cautioned that the tube was not “a solution.”“We will not rest until BP permanently seals the wellhead, the spill is cleaned up, and the communities and natural resources of the Gulf Coast are restored and made whole," Ms. Napolitano and Mr. Salazar said in a joint statement on Sunday."

Party on, plebes!



Dunedin said...

The main story here is BP's interest in limiting its liability in the long run is at hand.

What do they know about the flow rate indicators regarding the actual the extent of the spill? Is it really their stated 5000 barrels a day or ...100,000 barrels a day?

Anonymous said...

Speaking of cutting corners, BP is a big outsourcer to Indian Wipro, Tata, and Infosys.It was reported on April 27 BP cut 5,000 jobs and saved $4 billion in operating expenses,but there was no mention about whether those 5,000 job cuts were US IT workers and engineers.

Anonymous Tipline: If you work for BP or a contractor on a rig in the Gulf, or anywhere else, we'd like to hear from you. Tell us about your work conditions, your management, and your observations of what is happening. We will not publish your identity. Call 917-512-0254, fax documents to 212-514-5250 or e-mail Abrahm.Lustgarten

2Truthy said...

Hustling Neo-frat boy corporate state mantra:

profitability/efficiency = cheap labor/low cost

safety/quality = CEOs/investment bankers

Whether a lack of scientific leadership and oversight or the stress of being understaffed or both, care for quality in product and service delivery has gone the way of the dinosaur in exchange for corporate profitability.

Technology driven companies used to be founded and actually run by real scientists and not led by poseurs with MBAs and wasteful data mining obsessions like they are now. The neo frat boy corporate state is in it for short term wins instead of long term quality product/service delivery planning.

BP had the wrong diagram to close the blowout preventer.

Where in the business process chain did that deadly and costly negligence get bungled? Maybe if BP had let go 4,999 workers and just kept ONE competent, trusted and valued worker on the team, this wouldn't have happened. Or maybe they should have kept all 5,000, who knows?

Too bad that that even the high stakes oil industry has been hijacked by the spreadsheet driven, neo frat boy corporate state that has ruined other industries.