Skip to comments.(Vanity) Why Johnny Can't Add, or The Hell of Gates
Posted on 03/28/2007 6:16:00 AM PDT by grey_whiskers
One of the most controversial topics of the past few years (and yet, one which has flown under the radar of many of the mainstream media) has been the topic of outsourcing, or more specifically, offshoring. This is the practice of major corporations sending large number of jobs to be done in low-cost locales, while laying off thousands of previously well-paid Americans. The reasons given by the companies are many and varied, from we need a presence in emerging markets to the industry is consolidating, its no longer a specialized skill to no American has a right to a job to Americans just cant do math and science. (The truth of course, is that most of the jobs are too complicated for managers to understand, so they revert to going with the lowest cost they can, and hoping nobody notices.)
The example of Bill Gates in particular is instructive. Microsoft made it from a fledgling garage type of operation, all the way to one of the most profitable companies in the history of the planet, all in the last 25 or 30 years. A single lifetime. And if you look at old photos of the earliest members, you notice one thing. They are all Caucasian that is, Americans, and not Russian, Chinese, Vietnamese, or English. Why is this important? Am I racist or something? No, but it raises some other questions. And who is that little twerp in the lower left corner? ;-)
In the past couple of weeks, Bill Gates has testified before Congress that we (that is, he) needs (that is, wants) essentially no limits on the number of H1-B visa holders allowed into the United States on high-tech visas (especially those with advanced degrees from U.S. schools). This is for several reasons, according to him. -- without the flow of highly-trained (cheap) talent from overseas, Microsoft is doomed to fail -- Microsoft cannot compete in the highly competitive world market without it -- Americans are just too stupid to do math and science At this point, my response is pretty much this. Look again at the photo of the Microsoft founders. How did Microsoft get so big in the first place, without a preponderance of overseas talent? And if Microsoft cant compete in the world market, where are the other PC software companies waiting to eat its lunch, who *are* based overseas? Mittal Steel? Cognizant? Baloney.
On the other hand, after seeing the programming Americans put out (err, TV programming that is), I am inclined to agree. Except that the gifted Americans arent the ones watching all the TV! They represent the low end of the bell curve. If you look at the low end in India and China (apparently the preferred locations), you have something far worse than that! He is making an apples and oranges comparison.
But there is one other little matter for Mr. Gates. He says Americans are too stupid to do math and science. He has called for massive increases in funding for K-12 education in math and science to rectify this. Funny, every 20 years or so about the time it takes for a generation of new college grads to reach their mid-40s and need to be downsized to cut costsall the pundits and politicians start shouting about a critical skills shortage. But the odd thing is this. In Bills own home state of Washington, there is an initiative on mathematics teaching. The education establishment is floating a proposal to eliminate testing in math and science, because Johnny cant add. Does Bill Gates really want more mathematically literate US students? If so, what does *he* think about this proposal? Or is he secretly happy since it bolsters his case for bringing in more cheap foreign workers?
HI-B visa's are a no-brainer for politicians. Who is going to care if they agree to it? You can explain it all day to the low end of the bell curve, but they won't understand- all they will hear is 'cheaper prices for goods' and jump on board.
I have seen the inside story of this- I have known HI-B visa holders who were making half what I was making. It is true they are used, and they know it, but they are grateful to be in this country.
After a few years they get a little annoyed of this, though.
We have also tapped a major portion of the top people from these countries already, and the latest arrivals are not nearly so hot, and with the best and brightest leaving their country they are going to go further downhill.
>>>The example of Bill Gates in particular is instructive. Microsoft made it from a fledgling garage type of operation, all the way to one of the most profitable companies in the history of the planet, all in the last 25 or 30 years. A single lifetime.
I don't like that example.
Gates didn't even "create" Microsoft. He bought QDOS from Tim Patterson of Seattle Computer Products' and renamed it MS-DOS, then shipped it to IBM.
Bill Gates is to Microsoft as Al Gore is to the Internet
Gates did not create MS-Dos, but that doesn't mean he didn't create Microsoft. Even before the invention of the IBM PC, Microsoft had produced a number of products, most notably the Basic interpreter found in many early microcomputers.
Further, I think it should be noted that DOS very quickly shed its QDOS roots. Although DOS 2.0 retained support for QDOS-style FCBs, it introduced a new set of system calls that used file handles instead; I don't know that any new software has been written to use the old-style FCBs in the last twenty years.
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