Government Of the People, By the People and For the People?

“Government of the people, by the people and for the people” was President Abraham Lincoln’s eloquent way of describing the relationship between the citizens of the United States and their government in his Gettysburg Address.

That famous quote is often repeated but there seems to be scant attention paid to what those amazing 11 words really mean.

In this day of frustration and anger that many of our fellow citizens feel about our political leaders, do we really believe that we have a government that is comprised of our fellow citizens who are truly seeking to do the best for the most of our fellow Americans?

On May 12, 2011, ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) issued a news release touting the following headline:

“ICE announces expanded list of science, technology, engineering, and math degree programs – Qualifies eligible graduates to extend their post-graduate training”

The news release stated the following:

WASHINGTON-U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) today published an expanded list of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) degree programs that qualify eligible graduates on student visas for an Optional Practical Training (OPT) extension-an important step forward in the Obama administration’s continued commitment to fixing our broken immigration system and expanding access to the nation’s pool of talented high skilled graduates in the science and technology fields.

The announcement follows President Obama’s recent remarks in El Paso, Texas, where he reiterated his strong support for new policies that embrace talented students from other countries, who enrich the nation by working in science and technology jobs and fueling innovation in their chosen fields here in the United States, as a part of comprehensive reform.

By expanding the list of STEM degrees to include such fields as Neuroscience, Medical Informatics, Pharmaceutics and Drug Design, Mathematics and Computer Science, the Obama administration is helping to address shortages in certain high tech sectors of talented scientists and technology experts-permitting highly skilled foreign graduates who wish to work in their field of study upon graduation and extend their post-graduate training in the United States.

Under the OPT program, foreign students who graduate from U.S. colleges and universities are able to remain in the U.S. and receive training through work experience for up to 12 months. Students who graduate with one of the newly-expanded STEM degrees can remain for an additional 17 months on an OPT STEM extension.

Last week Senator Charles Schumer, the Senior Senator from New York and Chairman of the Senate Immigration Subcommittee, conducted a hearing into the H1-B Visa Program which enables foreign, high tech workers to come to the United States and take jobs in the high tech industries. The aim of the hearing was to find ways of bringing still more high tech workers to the United States.

What is unfathomable is why would our nation’s leaders insist on encouraging more foreign students to acquire educations that would qualify them to take high tech jobs and, in fact, come to the United States to compete with Americans who are losing their jobs at a time when our economy continues to plummet and our nation teeters on the bring of insolvency?

The Space Shuttle program has ended, and, as a direct consequence, thousands of American scientists, engineers, technicians and computer programmers have lost their jobs in this once shining example of American engineering prowess and leadership, as have other such high tech professionals engaged in other jobs. Yet, rather than focusing on enabling these high tech professionals to keep their careers alive, our government appears determined to bring in more competition for our own citizens.

When a high tech worker loses his (her) job, if they don’t find a job within the high tech industries in which they have been employed, they may lose their viability because technology keeps advancing. It is a bit like stepping off a moving sidewalk. Step off the moving sidewalk and you will have a hell of a time keeping up with the advances being made. When an engineer or computer programmer loses his (her) job, more than a job may be lost – in a relatively short amount of time, the loss of such a job can render such a highly educated and highly skilled professional their competitive edge in the industry they may have worked for decades. That loss can cost these professionals their very careers.

We are told about the unemployment rate which, incidentally, fails to reflect the large numbers of Americans who have run out of benefits and have given up looking for jobs, but we never hear about “under-employed” Americans who have lost their careers and now work on jobs that pay a fraction of what they had previously earned in their high tech careers, before the “bottom dropped out.”

Virtually nothing is being said about how importing foreign workers can have a devastating impact on the professional lives of our fellow Americans who may have helped our nation maintain its leadership in critical areas of science and technology.

Is this a demonstration of “Government of the people, by the people or for the people?”

The goal of foreign workers is to send as much of the money they earn in the United States back to their families in their home countries. This makes perfect sense for them but does tremendous harm to the economy of our country when more than $100 billion per year is wired from the United States to the countries from which these foreign workers come. Still more money is transmitted in other ways. This is money that is not earned by Americans or resident aliens and money that is not spent in America or invested in America.

On April 30, 2009, Senator Schumer conducted a hearing into the need for Comprehensive Immigration Reform – a proposal that the vast majority of American citizens are strongly (and wisely) opposed to.

Schumer invited Alan Greenspan to provide testimony at this hearing. Greenspan’s policy of pushing subprime mortgages and other such policies are believed to have been behind the economic crisis that confronts our nation. In his prepared testimony, Greenspan made it clear that he has America’s Middle Class in his sights.

I ask that you consider this excerpt from Greenspan’s testimony at that hearing over two years ago:

The quantity of temporary H-1B visas issued each year is far too small to meet the need, especially in the near future as the economy copes with the forthcoming retirement wave of skilled baby boomers. As Bill Gates, the chairman of Microsoft, succinctly testified before Congress in March 2007, “America will find it infinitely more difficult to maintain its technological leadership if it shuts out the very people who are most able to help us compete.” He added that we are “driving away the world’s best and brightest precisely when we need them most.”

Our skill shortage, I trust, will ultimately be resolved through reform of our primary and secondary education systems. But, at best, that will take many years. An accelerated influx of highly skilled immigrants would bridge that gap and, moreover, carry with it two significant bonuses.

First, skilled workers and their families form new households. They will, of necessity, move into vacant housing units, the current glut of which is depressing prices of American homes. And, of course, house price declines are a major factor in mortgage foreclosures and the plunge in value of the vast quantity of U.S. mortgage-backed securities that has contributed substantially to the disabling of our banking system.

The second bonus would address the increasing concentration of income in this country. Greatly expanding our quotas for the highly skilled would lower wage premiums of skilled over lesser skilled. Skill shortages in America exist because we are shielding our skilled labor force from world competition. Quotas have been substituted for the wage pricing mechanism. In the process, we have created a privileged elite whose incomes are being supported at noncompetitively high levels by immigration quotas on skilled professionals. Eliminating such restrictions would reduce at least some of our income inequality.

Greenspan’s statement makes it clear that he believes that Americans are overpaid! If you doubt this, please reread that final paragraph from Greenspan’s testimony.  In calling for Americans to compete with foreign workers to “…reduce at least some of our income inequality” is immoral and illegal.

For Greenspan to refer to Americans who have skills and/or education as being the “privileged elite” shows just how much he resents his fellow citizens who have pursued the “American Dream!”

He also claims that ultimately the skill shortage of America will be addressed over time as more Americans become more educated. That is absurd! Once wages are driven down, why would anyone waste time and money acquiring a very costly education to earn little more than a high school graduate? (Remember, his goal is to reduce the income inequality between those with an advanced education and those who don’t have such an education?) Indeed, in all too many instances, foreign high tech workers are not better qualified than the American counterparts; it is that they are willing to work for far lower wages!

Greenspan noted that an influx of aliens would enable houses that are vacant to be sold to these foreign workers – perhaps there he is correct! As Americans lose their homes to foreclosure these foreign workers who will take the jobs of Americans they displace will move into the homes vacated by Americans driven into poverty when they lost their jobs that they were unable to replace!

The American Dream was the embodiment of the idea that, in America, anyone could succeed if he (she) acquired a good education or specialized skills and worked hard. While it is true that our nation was built by immigrants, what is ignored is that what truly distinguished the United States of America from all other countries was our nation’s large and upwardly mobile Middle Class. This is what opened the doors for all Americans irrespective of race, religion, ethnicity or gender! In the most recent rendition of the Superman movies, Perry White truncated the statement about “Truth, Justice and the American Way” and reduced it to “Truth, Justice and all that stuff!”

The “American Way” was egalitarianism promoted by education, diligence. Chutzpah and luck certainly did not hurt! Certainly this a bit more significant than “all that stuff!”

Destroy the Middle Class and you destroy our nation! America’s Middle Class has not only been the envy of the world, it provided an unparalleled consumer base that bought the stuff companies cranked out! Destroy the Middle Class and the nation that served as the role model to the world will be a world power no more! The decline of the Middle Class will also end the greatest consumer nation the world has even known. As more companies close their doors because the consumer base they counted upon for their profits has evaporated, our nation will continue its downward spiral!

Today American kids and their futures are being ignored by our politicians. Many politicians promote a bogus “DREAM Act” that they claim would help illegal alien children – never mind that the age cutoff is 35.

Yet no one talks about seeking American kids of all races, religions and ethnicities who have the intellect and the fire in their bellies to excel but because of economic issues will likely never see the inside of a university unless they get a job sweeping the hallways of the building on those universities campuses.

When talented and highly motivated American children of all races, religions and ethnicities fail to live up to their potentials, they suffer and America suffers.

The way to break the cycle of poverty in America is to provide pathways to success for American workers and their children before we provide “pathways to United States citizenship” to illegal aliens.

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