Why Tax Breaks Won’t Stop High-Tech, H-1B Human Trafficking


By ilana mercer

“If the tax reform bill goes through, do you plan to increase your company’s capital investment?”

The question was posed to a sizeable group of CEOs at The Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council, in the presence of White House economic adviser Gary Cohn.

A pitiful show of hands failed to wipe the smirk off Mr. Cohn’s face. But at least the knaves were candid. Tax cuts for American big businesses are unlikely to move corporations to deploy that capital to raise the wages of the little guy, the worker.

The repatriation deal planned for fat-cat multinationals is particularly sweet. But don’t expect the “one-time tax rate of 12 percent on cash returns and five percent on non-cash for corporate money repatriated from overseas” to spur investment in the U.S.

Ideally, policymakers would prefer, as Business Insider quips, for companies to “reinvest in their core businesses, as this holds the most direct bearing on economic expansion.” All the president’s men certainly preach it.

But President Trump’s plan to grant the multinationals, tech titans included, a tax holiday, is more likely to see capital used to tinker with share prices. Repurchasing shares, a share buyback, will boost stock prices and benefit large shareholders.

Where a multinational also traffics in human labor, globally—as do the likes of Apple, Cisco, Microsoft, Oracle, Qualcomm, etc.—a lower tax rate on their repatriated earnings is unlikely to redound to American computer programmers and engineers.

In the event these tax holidays encourage American high-tech to “reinvest in their core businesses”—it will not be an investment in employing American talent, which will continue to be replaced apace with foreign workers.

For accretion in employment among Americans to occur, the president would have to turn off the H-1B (and other visa) spigots. He has not.

Multinationals consider the world their labor market. High-tech traitors will continue to replace the worker bees of American STEM—science, technology, engineering and mathematics—with reliably mediocre, culturally aggressive, foreign workers.

And not necessarily because foreign workers are cheaper. Importing workers from India calls for enormous in-house bureaucracies to handle immigration applications and renewals, attendant litigation, and family importation and resettlement packages for tribes of new arrivals (also known as chain migrants). This isn’t necessarily cheaper than employing your local lass or lad.

The H-1B visa racket is, however, a taxpayer-subsidized, grant of government privilege. Duly, profits remain private property.  The costs of accommodating an annual human influx are socialized, borne by the bewildered community.

Moreover, with the exception of Indian companies, such as notorious H-1B hogs Infosys and Tata, visa holders in “marquee high-tech firms like Google and Microsoft” are not paid inferior wages. That’s against American labor and anti-discrimination law.

From the fact that an oversupply of high-tech workers has lowered wages for all techies, it does not follow that the (average) men and women imported are being exploited. Rather, it is the glut of average worker bees—their abundance—that has depressed wages for this particular, high-tech cohort.

So, please conservatives, quit crying croc over alleged exploitation, in the high-tech industry, of poor, foreign-born, “indentured slave-labor.” Misplacing compassion does not add force to the argument, for these are the facts:

Again, H-1B visa holders are not paid inferior wages; they’re getting a fabulous deal. Remember: Voluntary exchanges are by definition advantageous to their participants. They involve giving up something one values less (life in Calcutta) for something one values more (life in Seattle), and finding someone else with “opposite valuations”: An Amazon or Microsoft CEO who values people from Calculate more than kids from Kent.

Humor aside, ceteris paribus (all other things being equal), the H-1B visa holder forfeits his (unexceptional) labor for a salary many times the salary he’d get in India or China or Pakistan. If he were not incalculably better off than he was in his previous life, he would not have taken a calculated risk … in a plush American office or a well-capitalized US laboratory.

No, it’s the American STEM worker who is stiffed.

Perversely, companies such as Qualcomm, Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft pair aggressive demands for more H-1B visas (those shortages, you know) with a ruthless downsizing of domestic workers—this worker deserves your tears, not his imported replacement.

The price of labor in the high-tech labor market is a function of a political, artificially created, ceaseless supply of immigrants. Prattle about the price at which American workers will do certain work is meaningless without a reference to borders and to the thing they bound—communities. Render asunder the quaint idea of borders—and the world is your labor market; communities be damned.

Realize that this ceaseless supply of labor is maintained not through peaceful market forces, but through the use of political power, wielded by wealthy men and women with access. At work here is their Brave New Borderless World, not the invisible hand we love.

Look deeper before maligning the Profit Motive, as the Left wants you to do. Power, more than profits, is what animates high-tech. Just imagine the thrill of seeing your idea of virtue turned into policy that affects the greatest economy in the world.

For tech superstars are true believers in the borderless multicultural state. These arrogant CEOs and their minions are social-justice warriors, first; giants of industry, second.

Already billionaires, tech execs derive greater pleasure from signaling their virtue (via immigration) than from turning a profit. They aim for stardom in Davos, Switzerland, not Des Moines, Iowa.

 

Ilana Mercer has been writing a paleolibertarian column since 1999, and is the author of The Trump Revolution: The Donald’s Creative Destruction Deconstructed (June, 2016) & Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America From Post-Apartheid South Africa (2011). Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Gab & YouTube.

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One comment

  • Another good essay. But these workers would not be imported unless it were profitable. Surely what we are witnessing is just the revenge of Karl Marx? Capitalism itself seems to be a Marxist conspiracy (ironically). Bear in mind that Marx was only critiquing the system as it worked, and it does seem plain to me that the micro-economic laws applicable to 19th. century industrial capitalism are not dissimilar to those applicable to 21st. century high-technology capitalism: both situations involve capitalists selling goods and services at a price that is higher than the value of the labour-power inputted.

    Thus, “exploitation” in the Marxian sense need not be seen as a value-laden term. It is labour, not investment, that is the key to economic expansion. That is the resource “exploited” for profit. There is no surplus value (i.e. exploitable potential) derivable from technology itself. If there were, we would surely already live in a largely automated society, but in reality we don’t: most mundane tasks have been mechanised in some way, but still require considerable human input. Even sweeping the roads is still a mechanised task requiring labour.

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