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March 20, 2006

H1B Visas, and The Tale of Two Jimmys

It's apparently a top priority for Microsoft is to greatly increase the number of H1B visas. At first glance, one could say that Gates just wants to hire "cheap foreign labor" rather than pay "a real living wage to real Americans."

The more I get around, the more I'm coming to understand that Gates has done a short-circuit evaluation of the current state of affairs and reached a conclusion far more radical than any of our politicians or populace are ready to admit.

I was in China a few years back, walking through a park with my daughter in tow. A group of Chinese kids was coming out of their school, all in their bright school uniforms, for recess. As we were walking past one, I said, "Hello."

He replied, "Hello."

"What's your name?" I asked.

"My name is Jimmy," he said in with a perfect American accent, "What's your name?"

"My name is Scott." I said with a smile. "How cute," I thought. We kept walking, and about 2 blocks later, I realized, "HIS NAME'S NOT JIMMY!!! THERE ARE NO JIMMY'S IN CHINA!!!"

Back in the states, I have a Jimmy for a nephew. My Jimmy absolutely doesn't care if he gets Ds and Fs in school. He gets all offended if you tell him that a D isn't good enough, because, "He tried, and as long as he tries, that should be good enough." He'd rather argue for an hour, rather than do 15 minutes of homework. In his world, homework is unimportant, because Plan A is to get sponsored for riding skateboard. Plan B (the fall-back) is to be a rock star.

He can almost land a kick-flip.

China's Jimmy is probably doing calculus by now.

Is it my Jimmy's fault? Viva La Bam isn't telling him he's screwed. It seems obvious, just looking at him, the disconnect from reality that is his daily existence. No one is going to pay him six figures for his ability to listen to an iPod. Isn't it obvious? Why can't he see?

Us grown ups are living in the same reality distortion field. Government squanders money, so starve the beast. When's the last time you heard a politician say, "You get what you pay for." No on has the balls. Here in Oregon, we voted about a decade ago to slash our property taxes. Woo-Hoo. High-fives all around. My Jimmy's in a classes with 36 other Jimmy's. The school year is so short that it's questionably whether universities would even count it as a full educational year. Score one for the tax payers.

Our All American Jimmy can't add fractions in 8th grade!

I think the conclusion Gates has jumped to, well before the rest of us, is the futility of trying to "solve the problem." He's not going to waste one second hollering about the need to fix America's educational system. He's not going to pound his fist in front of the House of Representatives and say that we're failing our kids. You don't have a conversation with people who don't care.

Bill's decided that the so-called leadership in this country is worthless, our kids are screwed, and no ones going to tell them until it's way to late. Bill's idea is, let the rest of the world force a good education into their children, and then entice them to live in McAmericaLand. It's the happiest place on Earth.

The only tweak I'd put on the plan is I'd make it more of a cap and trade system. For every Jimmy that we bring in, we have to send a Jimmy out. McAmericaLand has nothing left to teach our Jimmy, but maybe if he lived a couple of years abroad, maybe if he rubbed elbows with the people who will be handing him his ass in a few years, maybe he'd come back with a vengeance. Maybe he'd give our Distinguished Gentlemen the backbone to fix the problem for the generation that follows. Maybe he'd even be willing to pay for it.

Posted on March 20, 2006 at 09:32 AM | Permalink

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