Tuesday, June 17, 2008

What does business need from "The Government"

That - specifically about EDA, but it applies more widely - was the thorny issue tackled by some brave souls at one of the numerous panels at DAC last week. It's good I wasn't on that panel. My answer to the question tends to be a more or less (usually less) polite version of "To have them get out of my face and let me get on with running a business." In particular, the visa issue they discussed is always a raw nerve for me. It's not just that I myself am an immigrant. It's the fact that my US clients, owned by US shareholders, with lots of US employees, paying US taxes, are crying out for good technical people to make more money for those shareholders, employ more of those US folks, and pay more US taxes, but can't find enough of them because the immigration policies of their own of-the-people-by-the-people-for-the-people government are:
  1. Blocking foreign talent who want to come here from doing that and, as a result
  2. Scaring the local talent away from engineering (because they think all the jobs are going to India)
The first point is particularly frustrating. Put it this way. There is very little question as to whether the amount of VLSI engineering being done by Indian, Chinese and other "foreigners" is going to increase. It is. The only question is, where are they going to be doing it: India or China, on the one hand; or, on the other hand, here. And as current policy stands, it's not going to be here.

It reminds me of a survey in which I participated earlier this year. Somewhere in "The Economist", I'm on a list of people to whom they send such surveys from time to time. As a reward for participating, they'll send me books and let me see the results. This one was on how immigration rules were affecting business in the US. And they appear to have published the results more widely than usual. I'm not sure how long these links will stay live, but here's the press release:


and here is a graphical version:


Personally I think they're being overly hard on the Americans. I mean, the UK isn't exactly open-armed to the world either. And Europe as a whole - not exactly the land of immigration opportunity, is it? (Just say "van der Elst Visa" and stand back.) No, the real criticism I'd have to reserve for those who although clearly understanding the principles of "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness" choose to ignore them; those for whom the terms jus soli and jus sanguinis should be mere Olde Worlde artefacts, never to be used in anger, but instead are baked right into the zeitgeist. The real criticism is reserved for any nation which, despite being:
"...conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal",
despite knowing that - to misquote Lincoln:
"They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary [job security], deserve neither liberty nor [job security]."
and despite having stapled to a big bloody statue the words:
"Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free."
still choose a policy that is the modern equivalent of the common ownership of the means of production.

Did I mention this was a raw nerve for me?

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