TED, the annual gathering of the most pretentious people from the fields of technology, entertainment, and design, just got punk'd. Microsoft chairman Bill Gates released a swarm of mosquitos into the crowd. Ending malaria is a particular passion of Gates's, whose Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has spent millions fighting the disease. But he apparently didn't feel like TED attendees were taking the threat seriously.From a January 2004 review of Bill Ayers's memoir:
"Not only poor people should experience this," Gates said as he let the bugs loose on his audience [...]
[...] America deserved hatred, Ayers explains. He thought the government fascist, its leaders obsessed with bombing foreign countries (from Hiroshima to Hanoi), and its society a sick class system run by loathsome whites.On a Sunday afternoon in March, the RBO blogger, Brenda J. Elliott and I got into an email conversation about Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and globalization. After I told her a couple stories she suggested I write an essay on the topic and offered to research background articles for the piece. I replied:
[A FBI informant remembers Bill Ayers]:
Larry Grathwohl found Ayers hard to love; he seemed self-important, a controller of subordinates, the type who loved to give orders. Ayers was a key leader [of the Weatherman and Weather Underground radical organizations]. Grathwohl, a government informant, wrote that Ayers had helped direct a pair of attempted police building bombings in Detroit in February 1970:
After doing his assigned job in reconnaissance, Grathwohl disagreed with Mr. Ayers over the placement of one bomb, which could easily kill black patrons who favored an adjacent restaurant, but Ayers dismissed such sentimentality as unrevolutionary.
The informant was glad to be dismissed from the operation by Ayers. Forty-four sticks of dynamite were then formed into two bombs and put into place before Grathwohl’s information allowed police to dismantle both. Ayers’ memoir -- which freely admits to incompleteness -- says nothing of this episode, or Detroit, or the month of February 1970.
"There is one thing you can do for me, although if you can find this information I'll keel from shock because I and one of my readers tried to find it on the internet and failed. A couple weeks there was a debate about protectionism on cable (Fox, CNBC or maybe CNN) in which one of the debaters said that 68 percent of the jobs for scientists and engineers in the USA were held by foreigners.
When the other person said that there weren't enough Americans to fill the jobs, the first man returned that this was not the case; it was just that U.S. companies wanted to hire foreigners.
He also said that when Microsoft and other companies were confronted about this, they replied in essence, 'We're not accepting TARP money so we can hire who we want and we want to hire foreigners.'
By the time I decided to make a note of the discussion I wasn't certain about the number the man quoted. The 68 percent was so staggering I worried I might have remembered it wrong. I haven't been able to find data that supports what he said -- and, no, I didn't get the man's name or his opposite in the debate."
Within moments of my request articles began appearing in my email in-box. As Brenda continued to tear up the internet looking for the quotes I'd mentioned, I read with a mounting sense of concern the articles she found. The following passages from an August 2008 column jumped out:
Wealthy advocates of H-1B visas have industriously worked to keep this employer-designed program hidden from middle-class Americans, who are outraged when they learn how it harms them.The transcript that Brenda found from a Lou Dobbs show on January 7, 2009, which I post at the end of this essay, helped fill in more of the story.
In 2002, Nobel economics laureate Milton Friedman correctly identified the 1990 H-1B visa program as a "government subsidy" because it allows employers access to imported, highly skilled labor at below-market wages.
False allegations of worker shortages have been a popular approach. But American colleges and universities graduate four to six times the number of students needed to fill openings in technology fields that are generated by retirements and business expansion.
Consequently, since 1960, there have been more than 30 million graduates with bachelor's degrees who are qualified to work as scientists, engineers, computer programmers and mathematicians (the STEM fields) pursuing approximately 8 million "high tech" positions requiring this level of training. The importation of foreign technical professionals further swells the job-seeker ranks.
Between 1975 and 2005, more than 25 million admissions were approved in just five highly skilled visa programs.
Former Microsoft lobbyist Jack Abramoff helped direct $100 million in political expenditures between 1995 and 2000, enabling Microsoft and other employers to procure employer-friendly changes to H-1B visa legislation in 1996, 1998 and 2000. As a result of this work force glut, real wages in STEM fields have remained flat since at least 2000.
Contrary to Stuart Anderson’s claim, this program prevents innovation since American citizens are typically discarded by employers by age 35 — before their inventions can be turned into practical revenue generators.
It facilitates hiring discrimination against Americans. In the April 15, 2007, edition of the New York Times, Indian Commerce Minister Kamal Nath called H-1B the "outsourcing visa."
This program also undermines national security, as 200,000 U.S. science and engineering jobs have already been lost to communist China.
In the late 1980s, bureaucrats at the National Science Foundation found that they could increase the supply of technical professionals by importing them — offering foreign nationals the prospect of remaining in the United States.
This increase in supply depresses wages — an important policy objective.
One measure showing that this government intervention was successful (at least from the employers' perspective) is that a typical postdoctoral research or teaching position in a STEM field (requiring 12 years of education after high school) offers pay and benefits comparable to what a high school graduate earns managing a fast-food restaurant.
For all the wealth of material she turned up Brenda never did find the debate I mentioned because I was paraphrasing. But she came close enough to validating my key question; from various sources, it's a good guess that roughly 68% of the scientists and engineers working in the USA are indeed foreigners.
Yet the full story didn't come into focus until that Sunday afternoon. The story is that Americans who own many of the nation's most successful companies began dismantling the American science and engineering communities more than a decade ago.
And they did everything within their power to destroy the impetus for Americans to study science and engineering subjects; they did this in part by slashing wages in those fields to the point where the time an American invested in education for such careers translated to salaries that could be earned for a fraction of the educational investment.
The CEOs could get away with their actions because the foreigners they hired would work for peanuts -- and sometimes almost literally so; they would even work for free.
Yet these same American captains of industry, among them Bill Gates, lavished hundreds of millions of dollars in donations on American public education and lectured on the need for America to increase its investment in science and engineering education.
Why did Gates and his fellow travelers act in the way they did, when there were other ways to cut U.S. labor costs to stay competitive with foreign companies (e.g., offering stock to highly skilled American workers to make up for lower wages)?
Why did they open the floodgates for industrial spies who report to foreign governments, so the spies could easily steal U.S. research and technology?
Why did they betray the country they were born and raised in, and which protected them all their lives? Why did they betray the Americans who chose to work in engineering and science fields?
You might as well ask why Bill Gates found nothing unethical about helping to support his foundation's charitable giving to the world's poorest by investing for profit in vaccine research.
You might as well ask why he found nothing wrong with releasing mosquitoes, which carry diseases other than malaria, because he wanted a wealthy audience to turn out its pockets more.
He did it for the same reason Bill Ayers and his cadre found nothing wrong with the idea of murdering innocents to protest the Vietnam war.
They did it because they wished to do it; they did it because their wishes form their concept of morality and ethics.
That might be another way of describing a sociopath. But looking at the Fortune 500 companies that followed the Microsoft employment model, and at Bill Ayers's American sympathizers and apologists, that would mean America has raised up so many sociopaths during the past half century that the term is a poor guide to understanding what happened to us as a nation, how we go to this point.
That was what Glenn Beck tearfully asked, on the day he first showed a video of White House interim communications director Anita Dunn praising Mother Teresa and Mao Zedong in the same breath; this, while she stood in a cathedral and lectured American schoolchildren on striving to overcome great odds.
So how did we get to this point, where Americans could show such poor judgment they'd proffer the name of a mass murderer as a guide for schoolchildren? And where their wishes are the only moral guide that makes sense to them?
I believe the unvarnished answer is found in a segment aired by the "60 Minutes" TV news show a decade or so ago. An internet search for the transcript came up dry (I'm not in Brenda Elliott's research league), so you'll have to rely on my memory:
A series of murders occurred at a wildlife preserve in Africa -- this might have been in Kenya. The victims were different kinds of wild animals on the preserve. We don't usually refer to such deaths as 'murder' but the killings were so gruesome, so wanton, that to speak of them as anything other than murder isn't descriptive.
The preserve's authorities assumed at first that the murderers were poachers but on further investigation they realized that nothing was taken from the corpses -- not skins, glands, or tusks. The victims had simply been horribly mutilated.
So when the murders continued the police were called in and they set up clandestine surveillance. They didn't have long to wait before they discovered the identity of the murderers. It wasn't humans; it was a gang formed by all the young male elephants on the preserve. They sneaked around the preserve at night, then ganged up on the most defenseless animals they could find and ruthlessly slaughtered them, just for entertainment.
The investigators were incredulous. It was unheard of for elephants to act in such manner. They were acting in the manner of the most depraved human juvenile delinquents. Yet this kind of behavior was thought impossible for elephants, who are highly civilized.
The authorities separated the juvenile delinquents from the rest of the animals. Then they called in the psychiatrists and wildlife experts to study the perps, in the attempt to understand why the elephants, and just the males, had seemingly gone crazy.
All that the experts could figure was that the preserve lacked an old male elephant, which were in short supply; the available ones had been shunted to other preserves. The complexity of elephant society means that much elephant behavior isn't instinctual, it's learned.
So the experts theorized that without a respected elephant patriarch to show them proper behavior for a male elephant the youngsters had descended into a Lord of the Flies situation. Left to their own devices, perhaps the young elephants had fallen behind the most aggressive one among them, and thus soon turned to gangsterism and murder.
To test the theory an old bull elephant was imported and placed with the perpetrators. He immediately commanded their respect and affection. Then he quickly got them in line, showing them how a civilized male elephant acts. With that done, the young elephants were returned to the preserve (under close surveillance). Lo and behold their juvenile delinquency and murderous ways were a thing of the past.
The "60 Minutes" episode concluded with the observation that there might be lessons for humans in the tale of the murderous young elephants. Ya think?
I know this is unwelcome news for feminists. But there is much in addition to the elephant tale to suggest that unless young human males have a very strong patriarchal influence in their lives, they tend to rely on their wishes for moral guidance. This doesn't always work out well for society.
(I interject this doesn't let females off the hook; it's just that in general we're less aggressive than males unless we've had special training or been indoctrinated into a violent gang.)
The postwar Baby Boomer era in America saw public schools stuffed with many children and few adults -- usually one adult teacher to a room full of child students. This reversed the atavistic order of human society, where children were surrounded all day by many respected adults bossing them around and in the process teaching them appropriate behavior.
Particularly in the large cities, American Boomer public schoolchildren fell greatly under mob rule -- the rule of their peers -- a very unsettling situation for children and particularly males. Then, with the end of military conscription and the lessening of the authority of religious institutions, two more struts to a strong patriarchal influence on American males were kicked out.
That is why so many American males are converting to Islam. Whatever can be said against its practices and beliefs, the religion has retained a strong patriarchal influence, with rigid rules covering just about every aspect of human conduct. The rules at least provide guide wires for how males should act.
And that is also why American children schooled on military bases in the USA are remarkably free of the neuroses and behavioral problems that afflict so many children in American public schools. The children are always surrounded by highly respected male authority figures -- and female ones.
And because the schools are on the base, at least one parent can drop in on their child's classes or lunch periods every day, if only for a few minutes. This social order mimics the atavistic human tribal one: the young are constantly getting moral guidance from respected adults while at the same time they feel greatly protected -- not only from the worst of life in the adult and natural world but also from each other's worst sides.
To put all this another way, you can only thumb your nose at Mother Nature so much before you end up with large numbers of human specimens, both male and female, who bear a psychological resemblance to Bill Gates and Bill Ayers. Intelligence is not the issue here; character is.
Assuming for the sake of discussion my answer to Glenn's question is the ballpark, how do we back away from the abyss? The same way our society got so close to the edge: one step at a time. There's no going back to our tribal roots and we can't all raise our children on a military base. But there are several easy fixes that can be instituted in public schools, and which mirror the best aspects of tribal society to give children a sense of order and help instill good character. I'll discuss those fixes in a future post.
And we can recognize that American children who're placed in public school situations and exposed to classmates and teachers from a multitude of national and ethnic backgrounds and cultural assumptions need a unifying, shared core knowledge base. A good place to look for inspiration for such a base for all American schoolchildren is the work of education reformer E. D. Hirsch, Jr.
Surely the best introduction to Hirsch's accomplishments is written by Sol Stern, a political scientist who writes extensively on American education issues, and whose criticism of Bill Ayers's education ideas is well known to those who were reading htis blog last year.
Writing for this month's issue of City Journal, Sol observes in his essay titled E. D. Hirsch’s Curriculum for Democracy: A content-rich pedagogy makes better citizens and smarter kids:
At his Senate confirmation hearing in February, Arne Duncan succinctly summarized the Obama administration’s approach to education reform: “We must build upon what works. We must stop doing what doesn’t work.”A bonus is that Sol's article on Hirsh breaks down into simple English the 'Progressive' approach to public education, which for a quarter century has sown no end of confusion in young American minds.
Since becoming education secretary, Duncan has launched a $4.3 billion federal “Race to the Top” initiative that encourages states to experiment with various accountability reforms. Yet he has ignored one state reform that has proven to work, as well as the education thinker whose ideas inspired it. The state is Massachusetts, and the education thinker is E. D. Hirsch, Jr.
The “Massachusetts miracle,” in which Bay State students’ soaring test scores broke records, was the direct consequence of the state legislature’s passage of the 1993 Education Reform Act, which established knowledge-based standards for all grades and a rigorous testing system linked to the new standards. And those standards, Massachusetts reformers have acknowledged, are Hirsch’s legacy. If the Obama administration truly wants to have a positive impact on American education, it should embrace Hirsch’s ideas and urge other states to do the same.[...]
Not content with confusion, Bill Ayers wishes to use the American public education system to accomplish what the Weatherman's violence couldn't, which is the destruction of American democracy.
So it's wise for parents with school-age children to learn about Ayers's education reform ideas and the inroads they've made in teacher education. After reading the article on Hirsch, parents might want to study Sol's writings about Ayers's education ideas and the writings of law professor Stephen Diamond's on the same topic. Between them, Steve and Sol raised the alarm last year, yet the general public has a way to go before it's aware of the ideas taught by Ayers and his cadre.
While Steve's 2008 reports about Ayers were focused on his relationship with Barack Obama, they're invaluable aids to understanding the complex 'race-based' ideas of Ayers's education cadre, and which Sol doesn't address separately from the cadre's interpretation of "social justice."
See Steve's May 21, 2008 essay, The "Monster in the Room": Does Obama Support Reparations? at his Global Labor blog and the October 06, 2008 The New York Times Magic Act!
1) January 7, 2009 Lou Dobbs show transcript:
LOU DOBBS: [...] Also, corporate America's aggressive campaign to drive down the wages of American scientists and engineers. That's not what they've been telling everybody. We'll tell you the truth, next.
LOU DOBBS: New evidence tonight there are enough American scientists in this country to fill job openings in science and engineering and in science and engineering companies, despite many industry claims to the absolute contrary. Those companies actively discourage American workers by keeping wages lower than they would otherwise be without foreign workers being imported. They keep wages low by exploiting visa rules and bringing cheap foreign workers into this country. Bill Tucker has the report.
BILL TUCKER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This fact from the National Science Foundation highlights a serious problem. "The number of foreign post-docs has increased by 52 percent since 1996, whereas the number of U.S. citizen and permanent resident post-docs has grown by nine percent."
The conventional wisdom is that that data shows a shortage of scientists and a dire need to bring in as many foreign scientists on H-1B visas as we can. Science professionals see it very differently. Beryl Benderly writes a monthly column for science careers on science labor force issues.
BERYL LIEFF BENDERLY, SCIENCE CAREERS COLUMNIST: There is no shortage of people. There are thousands of people who cannot find careers as scientists after they've been through years of training.
TUCKER: Studies from the Urban Institute, the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation all agree, the United States produces more scientists annually than science jobs. There is no shortage reflected in the pay they receive either. Ellis Research Services (ph), which has been doing wage studies in the science and engineering fields for 20 years, has consistently found pay for scientists to be in line with or lower than the average for all fields.
RON HIRA, ROCHESTER INST. OF TECHNOLOGY: There's no premium to these careers, and at the same time, what's happened is that there's been an increase in the risk to those workers, right, as employers cut, for example, benefits, as employers start to look to move work overseas, and a lot of science positions are vulnerable to being moved overseas.
TUCKER: In other words, there's a disincentive for choosing a career in science.
PROF. NORM MATLOFF, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA: The first thing the Obama people should do is take a hard look. Ignore the PR and take a hard look at what's really going on in terms of wages and job opportunities and science today.
TUCKER: There are winners. Just not the scientists.
TUCKER: A typical post-doc in their early 30s, after years of school, earning a PhD will earn about 35,000, maybe $40,000 a year in a research position. Helping keep those wages low, the fact that research institutions have unlimited access to H-1B visas. And according to Ron Hira, some 60 percent of post-docs are foreign students, Lou, here on guest worker visas.
DOBBS: I'm not sure I quite understand this. You're telling us that a person with a doctorate in this country, roughly 30 years of age, late 30s...
DOBBS: ... early 30s -- I mean late 20s, early 30s is making just about the same as the median household income in this country?
TUCKER: They're making about 35 or $40,000 a year, after all of those years of schooling...
DOBBS: That's incredible.
TUCKER: ... which really is below what a Bachelor...
DOBBS: So let me ask a question.
TUCKER: ... make.
DOBBS: Why would it not occur to geniuses like Bill Gates, who's had the tamari to stand in front of Congress and demand an infinite number of H-1B visas, why would it not occur to such a genius as Bill Gates and others in corporate America and in academia to perhaps offer greater pay for higher education in corporate America?
TUCKER: Well I can't speak for them, but they're the ones who benefit from the lower wages, Lou, so I would imagine they're acting as they would say in their own self-interest.
DOBBS: Well a horrible -- a horrible construction of self-interest, denying an incentive for people to move into those jobs and give them a living wage, outrageous.
DOBBS: And I really would love to hear from the Chamber of Commerce -- the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable. We invite you to come here and demonstrate to us the error of our ways because you've been among those, Chamber of Commerce, Business Roundtable, and Bill Gates, I want to invite you too, Bill, because you and I have known each other a long time and you know I'm a straight shooter and I know that you can be when you're wrestled to the ground.
So why don't you come here and we'll talk about what's really going on, and how the American interest and American middle class workers can best be served. Because it looks like, frankly, folks, you're doing the nation a great disservice by distorting what is happening in this country for higher education, graduates, particular post-docs in corporate America.
Well there are right now 23 guest worker programs. By the way, I know you're one of those people, I'll bet you, who like me has listened to the president say we've got to have a guest worker program. Well, let me repeat that number. We keep trying to keep -- to figure out how many there are. And the number right now is just 23 guest worker programs.
So, Mr. President, I know you only got a couple of weeks left, a little less than that, but I want you to hear me loud and clear. As you've been going around the country saying this nonsense, there are 23 guest worker programs, folks. Foreign workers enter here under an alphabet soup of different visas in those guest worker programs.
In addition to the H visas there are also the E, the G, the I, the O, the P and there's an R-visa as well. There's also a visa for workers covered under NAFTA. In total, almost 810,000 foreign worker visas were issued in 2007. H-visas accounting for more than 400,000 of those workers and eight of the top 20 companies requesting H-1B visas last year -- are you ready -- those American companies looking for that skilled talent that Bill Gates talked about and the Chamber of Commerce wants, well, eight of the top 20 -- that's right, they were based in India. They were outsourcing jobs. Just thought we'd bring that to your attention as well, Mr. Gates.[...]