Monthly Archives: April 2007

The End of Imus

Posted by Deepish Thinker on April 12, 2007
Current Events, US Culture / No Comments

Yesterday the “Imus in the Morning” show was canceled after a prolonged and entirely predictable insensitive comment scandal. The well known ‘as long as you don’t offend anyone’ clause of the first amendment was invoked and formerly popular radio host Don Imus lost his job. Chalk up another victory for over the top moral outrage.

Ordinarily I wouldn’t care, but this particular case got me thinking, how should the Rutgers basketball team have responded to Mr Imus’ mortal insult?

This is the news conference I would like to have seen:

“Ladies and gentlemen of the press, on behalf of the Rutgers women’s basketball team I would like to formally respond to the comments made by Mr Imus.

I believe I speak for the team, the coaches and the fans when I say that nobody at Rutgers gives a damn what that cantankerous old fool has to say. We are too busy celebrating a fantastic run in the NCAA championship to spare even a moment’s consideration for the asinine opinions of a washed up radio hack.

This is a free country, which means that Mr Imus is perfectly entitled to hold and express any dumb ass opinion he likes.

And we are free to treat that opinion with the contempt it so obviously deserves.

Sticks and stones may break our bones, but the moronic ramblings of aging radio shock jocks will never hurt us.

While we would like to thank Jesse Jackson for his interest, he can take his moral outrage dog and pony show somewhere else. We are not fragile little flowers in need of his protection. Rutgers University takes pride in turning out strong confident young women who aren’t going to wilt in the face of a few unkind words.

If Mr Jackson is really interested in supporting the team he is more than welcome to purchase season tickets.

Regarding Mr Imus’ specific comments about the appearance of our team we will make one comment only. They were somewhat ironic, coming as they did from someone who has, to be brutally frank, a great face for radio.

I will now take questions about basketball.”

H1B Economics

Posted by Deepish Thinker on April 07, 2007
Economics, Immigration, US Politics / No Comments

Last week this year’s allocation of H1B visas was exhausted on the day that applications opened. Tech employers led by Microsoft are loudly demanding an increase in, or better still the elimination of, the H1B visa cap. Unfortunately with the increase in protectionist and anti-immigrant sentiment in Congress a cap increase is unlikely.

H1B visa opponents are obsessed with the idea that H1B visa holders put downward pressure on skilled wages and occupy positions that might otherwise go to Americans. This is an economics 101 type argument. As far as their argument goes the critics are correct.

Figure 1:

US Skilled Labor Market

Consider figure 1. If supply 1 is the total supply of skilled labor (natives plus H1Bs) and supply 2 is the supply of native skilled labor then removing the H1Bs would clearly increase the price of skilled labor. Notice also that the number of Americans holding skilled jobs also increases if the H1Bs disappear (from Native Jobs 1 to Native Jobs 2).So if the H1B visa system were scrapped more Americans would have higher paying jobs. What is not to like?

Unfortunately the world is not so simple. To understand why excluding foreign skilled labor might not be such a hot idea all we need to do is apply a little more economics 101.

Figure 2:

US and ROW Skilled Labor Markets

Consider figure 2. By adding a second set of skilled labor demand and supply curves for the rest of the world we can develop a fuller understanding of the impact of ending the H1B visa program. Since H1B visa workers removed from the US labor pool don’t simply evaporate, the supply of skilled workers in the rest of the world increases and rest of the world price for skilled labor decreases. This increases the skilled labor price differential between the US and the rest of the world. This differential is a nice incentive for US employers to offshore their high skill work.

To put it another way, if US employers can move work to India and employ the same people they wanted to employ in the US for less money, what do you think is going to happen?

The point is that keeping foreign high skill workers out of the US is a very simple minded way of trying to improve the lot of skilled Americans. Long term it is likely to result in a decline in American competitiveness and the large scale export of high skill jobs.