H1-B follies

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No one in their right mind could possibly believe we don’t have enough laid-off Americans to fill these jobs.

The White House has established a $100 million program that endorses fast-track, boot camp IT training efforts and other four-year degree alternatives. But this plan is drawing criticism because of the underlying message it sends in the H-1B battle.

The federal program, called TechHire, will get its money from H-1B visa fees, and the major users of this visa are IT services firms that outsource jobs.

Southern California Edison, for instance, is in the final phase of cutting 500 IT jobs as it shifts work to two India-based offshore providers. Many of the IT workers at the utility have had to train their visa-holding replacements.

Another source of controversy will be the White House’s assertion that there are 545,000 unfilled IT jobs. It has not explained how it arrived at this number, but the estimate will likely be used as a talking point by lawmakers seeking to raise the H-1B cap.

Good news

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Of course, the number of teabaggers with 20 or more guns has probably increased:

WASHINGTON (AP) — A major U.S. trend survey finds that the number of Americans who live in a household with at least one gun is lower than it’s ever been. That decline is paralleled by a reduction in the number of Americans who hunt.

According to the latest General Social Survey, 32 percent of Americans either own a firearm themselves or live with someone who does, which ties a record low set in 2010. That’s a significant decline since the late 1970s and early 1980s, when about half of Americans reported a gun in their household.

How Ferguson got privatized

So it turns out that Ferguson Mayor James Knowles, nominally a Democrat, is really a libertarian who was gung-ho to privatize as many law enforcement functions as he could to make “users” cover the cost of law enforcement.

Take the shocking “discovery” — actually years in the making — that Ferguson shifted many of its revenue burdens away from taxpayers and onto something the New Yorker described as the city’s “offender-funded” justice system, designed to “shift the financial burden of probation directly onto the probationers…. charging petty offenders — such as those with traffic debts — for a government service that was once free.”

Many decades ago, libertarian author Robert Poole, one of the leading brain bugs of libertarianism and one of the Koch brothers’ longest-serving lieutenants, proposed exactly this sort of system in his pioneering handbook on government privatization, “Cutting Back City Hall” published in 1980:

“Make the users (i.e., the criminals) pay the costs, wherever possible.”

Poole’s book is considered by many the first American policy handbook on mass government privatization. (Poole’s and Reason’s claims that he “coined” privatization have been challenged, most recently in the Journal of Economic Perspectives, which made the case that “privatization” was first coined and implemented in Nazi Germany in the mid-late 1930s.)

Poole’s writings in the mid-late 1970s for Reason magazine (which he edited) and the Reason Foundation (which he co-founded, both with the Kochs’ support) provided the neoliberal blueprintsfor Thatcherism, as recounted by one of her advisers and hagiographers:

“The intellectual case for ‘contracting out’ came from an American MIT-trained engineer turned policy wonk, Bob Poole, head of the Reason Foundation in Santa Barbara and author of a little book called ‘Cutting Back City Hall.’ In this book he explained how all you needed to run a city was a CEO, a lawyer to review contracts and a secretary. Everything — literally everything — could be outsourced and he littered his book with examples and figures….[Thatcher advisor Michael Forsyth] translated Poole’s work into an English context and, led by the Westminster City Council, ‘contracting out’ spread like a contagious disease throughout the country.”

The libertarian Reason magazine also came up with the “St. Louis Solution,” whereby St. Louis and their suburbs privatized streets as a way to keep black people from traveling through. Go read it, it’s quite enlightening.

Dems, public not happy with Iran talks sabotage

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Think how frickin’ out of touch these Republicans must be, that they didn’t anticipate this kind of outcry:

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) hit Senate Republicans right between the eyes by accusing them of an act sabotage in an attempt to start a new war in Iran.

In a statement, Sen. Sanders said:

It appears that for most of my Republican colleagues in the Senate, a war in Afghanistan and a war in Iraq were not enough. They now apparently want a war in Iran as well. President Obama is working with the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China to try to negotiate a peaceful means to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. These negotiations must be allowed to continue and, hopefully, will succeed. It is an outrage that my Republican colleagues are trying to sabotage that effort.

Sen. Sanders’s statement came after White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest accused Senate Republicans of trying to undermine President Obama, “I think the other thing that is notable here is that when you have a letter that is signed by forty-seven senators of the same party being sent to a leader of a foreign country, it raises some legitimate questions about the intent of the letter…It’s surprising to me there are some Republican senators who are seeking to establish a backchannel with hardliners in Iran to undermine an agreement with Iran and the international community.”

The Republicans have so grossly miscalculated the public reaction to their letter that even Iran’s Foreign Minister called it propaganda. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said, “In our view, this letter has no legal value and is mostly a propaganda ploy. It is very interesting that while negotiations are still in progress and while no agreement has been reached, some political pressure groups are so afraid even of the prospect of an agreement that they resort to unconventional methods, unprecedented in diplomatic history.”
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CNN’s Jake Tapper grills GOP senator: ‘Why are you sabotaging Obama’s Iran deal?’

CNN’s Jake Tapper grilled GOP Senator Tom Cotton today on the letter he and 46 of his colleagues sent to Iran, reminding them that they will do everything they can to undermine Obama’s efforts for a nuclear deal. Tapper asked Cotton if Republicans are “trying to sabotage this diplomatic effort,” to which Cotton replied that all… Continue Reading →

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