Third Party & Independents Archives

Silicon Valley and Immigration - Sunny Bill V. Nauseous Marc

The only people who were perhaps even more NeverTrump than the intelligence and diplomatic community were the tech owners in Silicon Valley, and elsewhere of course. Silicon Valley is a state of mind, or better yet, a state of bank account (Huge), and not just a location. And they are still largely hostile to Trump. Excellent. Another powerful group lined up in stubborn opposition to the President-Elect.

Why? Immigration of course. But Jeremy Carl writing in, of all places, the National Review, exposes a fundamental hypocrisy in Silicon Valley's righteous anger (or nausea if you're Marc Andreessen who claims that Trump's immigration promises make him sick to his stomach.) According to a WSJ survey, the companies in tech are not equal opportunity employers in any sense. Asian Americans are over-represented. White Americans slightly over-represented. And other ethnicities, like Hispanics (which is in fact not an ethnicity but a linguistic category but surveys and studies tend to group Latinos/Hispanics as somehow ethnic groups) or African Americans are very under-represented.

And that is an education problem of course. An undergrad degree is a bare minimum for most job openings in Silicon Valley; better yet a post-grad degree with a relevant specialization in areas of knowledge most of us can't even pronounce correctly. Much less know what they're about.

So while Silicon Valley exec's would like us all to picture them linking arms with Hispanic immigration activists on the southern border to stop a work crew putting up some wire fencing, they're really interested in over-educated tech talent that will work harder, and yes, a little more cheaply than their domestic competitors in the labor market. They don't want best people. They want pretty-darn-good-but-still-a-bargain people. And yes, best tech people will also find plenty of work. But they tend to be a smaller group. It's the H1-B class that interest Silicon Valley, and any threats to that flow of skilled workers gets them in a lather.

And yet Bill Gates has been a little more diplomatic. Of course, he's kinda made his money, rather than still working 80 hours a week to make sure your cutting-edge-money-loosing start up gets to the next level. But regardless, he knows a lot more than most about how to create wealth, and how to create lots and lots and lots of jobs. Way more than Andreessen has ever been able to generate. So when Bill Gates gives an optimistic spin to the possibilities of technology under a Trump administration in an interview on CNBC, one has to take note. Even if the comparisons to JFK and the Space Race are a little bit much. Gates still has a point.

So, who's right? Sunny Bill or Nauseous Marc? JFK or Sartre? Given that tech does not have much skin in the game of southern border control, but does want to ensure that skilled tech workers can still come to America, cooling down the rhetoric and taking on some of Sunny Bill's optimism might not be a bad strategy. And actually working with the new administration would help as well.

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