Whose Country is It Anyway?

by Patrick J. Buchanan – August 18, 1998

In the national argument over the rules and regulations that should govern the U.S. economy, there was always one agreed-upon principle: We must decide based on what is best for Americans.

Economic patriotism, however, is dying in America. If you do not believe it, consider the impending sellout of America’s high-tech workers — to appease the computer titans of Silicon Valley.

A decade ago, Silicon Valley demanded and got what is known as the H-1B program, granting U.S. residency to 65,000 high-skilled foreign workers every year to fill jobs in the industry. Two-thirds of a million “computer braceros,” mostly Chinese and South Asians, have snapped up these jobs that would otherwise have gone to U.S. citizens.

So addicted has Silicon Valley become to its braceros that this year it is demanding that Congress raise the annual quota to 115,000. Why not hire Americans for these jobs where the average pay is $50,000? Not enough Americans can do them! comes the reply. Well, why not hire from the pool of 1 million legal immigrants who enter the United States yearly? They don’t have the skills either! is the retort.

Now, when one considers that the defense industry has laid off tens of thousands and the United States is the most technologically advanced nation on Earth, the wail of Silicon Valley seems absurd. Out of 265 million Americans, they can’t find 50,000 qualified Americans?

The truth is that Silicon Valley, if it has to, will find and train Americans for those jobs. It simply prefers foreign workers. Why? Because they’re younger, their expectations are lower, they can be paid less and are content with less, they are totally dependent on the company to keep them in the country, and they are less trouble than independent-minded American workers.

So widespread is the practice of hiring foreign workers in the computer industry that American applicants are sometimes asked if they would feel comfortable working in an “Asian environment.” On a few occasions, American programmers have been asked to help train the foreign workers brought in to replace them.

Now, if one’s highest loyalty is to the bottom line on a balance sheet, what Silicon Valley is doing in de-Americanizing its labor force makes sense. And there are two ways to get rid of American workers. One is to export their jobs and factories overseas and hire foreign labor there. The other is to keep the factory here but bring in the foreign workers to replace Americans in their own country.

U.S. corporations, which now proudly call themselves “global companies,” are pursuing both strategies. What is astonishing is to see a Republican Congress collaborate with these globalists and help facilitate the de-Americanization of their labor force.

Before Congress adjourns in October, it will vote on whether to raise the annual quota of H-1B foreign workers to 115,000. The Senate has approved. But the White House, to President Clinton’s credit, has said that it will not sign an expansion of the H-1B program unless the bill contains provisions whereby companies “attest” that they have not fired an American to hire a foreign worker and the firms agree to set up a program to train Americans for future openings.

Well, this has really set the cat down among the pigeons of Silicon Valley. Before hiring foreign workers, these firms would have to attest that they have been telling the truth, i.e, that there are just not enough qualified Americans around.

But that is going to be difficult to do, since the industry has been laying off Americans, there are an estimated 50 applications for every job opening in Silicon Valley, and computer courses in U.S. colleges are jammed with young people. The truth is the U.S. free market will solve any labor shortage Silicon Valley has, if only we will let it work for Americans. Before bringing in foreign labor to take jobs that could provide a wonderful future for hundreds of thousands of our young people, why not let the market work?

Again, the GOP is facing a stark choice: Will it stand with the rich of Silicon Valley, who provide much of the soft money at election time? Or will it side with the American workers whose birthright is being taken from them and given to folks from foreign lands?

Who is the American economy for, if not the American people? And which comes first — our countrymen or the Global Economy? The H-1B program should be phased out, which would force Silicon Valley to do what it ought to have been doing for a decade — hiring, training and promoting Americans.

After all, whose country is it anyway?