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02 December 2011


D. King

“For some reason we don't see all the resulting 'social disturbances' on China's evening news.”


Affirmative action changed the playing field in the mid 90’s. I watched it happen. Suddenly the “or equivalent experience” disappeared from the prerequisite requirements to apply for a position. All of the sudden you have a crises. “We can’t find qualified people.” No shit Sherlock!

Russ Steele


Very interesting. Ellen and I set the timer tonight so we would not miss your presentation. You sounded great on the Bose.

Now to the real issue. Two news programs to day reported on the lack of trained people for the job opening across the nation, with hundreds of multiple manufacturing jobs, read machinists and NC machine operators open. In searching an online data base I found 10 machinist jobs open with in 25 miles of Sacramento, all posted in the last week.

As you mentioned Apple can not find enough IT people for it’s new server farm. One of the news programs this morning was about the lack of women in IT profession. Only about 15% of working women are in technical fields. I was fortunate to have two women engineers at the TRW Lab in Sacramento, one senior project leader and one software engineer out of Sac State. Both excellent performers.

Our youngest daughter got her Masters in Writing in Publishing, and worked for two book publishing companies as a book designer, but transitioned into IT were the money was. Where did she learn her IT skills? In ROP at Nevada Union and her own initiative to master Macs and the Ethernet.

The lack of trained technical people was recently discussed by Andy Grove, former Intel CEO and Board Chairman.

Paranoia in management involves trying to anticipate who intentionally or unintentionally will slow you down, or who will derail you. Usually this attitude is not taught in school, which is why I wrote my book. Now, as for vocational education, do you recall the words of the presidential report on education [A Nation at Risk] from 1983? It started out by saying, “If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war.” Is this paranoia?

Well, the same thing applies to vocational education—only doubly so. Most people don’t even realize the need for more highly trained workers. The assumption remains that technical education is for less intelligent people.

Our education system pushes students toward college, rather than considering occupational training, somehow technical training is looked down on, as it it is only approbate for those with lower IQs and limited ambition. The result is many students go off to college to get non-technical degrees, and the only jobs they can get are government paper shuffling jobs. Not many of those these days with shrinking government.

In our experience, having both ROP hands on skills and a college degree paid off big time for our youngest daughter. She has leveraged both in her career.

D. King

Russ said:

"As you mentioned Apple can not find enough IT people for it’s new server farm."

I wonder how hard they are looking, and what the pay is for those positions.

This sounds like a ploy to bring in low cost foreign workers (H1-B visas).


Oh, my eyes are broken; I can’t see any qualified people here. Please!

George Rebane

DaveK - if that is a "ploy" for H1-B visa holders, then Apple blew it. They got free advertizing for those jobs all across the country. I bet all workers even remotely qualified have applied for those jobs by now.

D. King

"…then Apple blew it. They got free advertizing for those jobs all across the country."

Yes, advertizing for the jobs here is a requirement to request the visas. And they got it for free!
So, all those low salary (a recurring cost) H-1B folks are now in the FIFO ready to get popped off the stack.

George I just don't trust them; I’ve seen it from the inside.

D. King



"Likewise, the foreign worker must possess at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent and state licensure."

"...or its equivalent..."

Jeff Pelline

"Advertizing" (Sic). Do you mean "advertising"? BTW, a Master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University has served my family well over the years. We have supported ourselves quite nicely.

D. King

Yes, advertising. Sorry.

RL Crabb

Now that we've settled the spelling bee segment of the conversation, let's get back to the real issues. It should be obvious that the way things stand right now, we are all going to have to get by with less. The problems were caused by the excesses of socialism and capitalism. The solutions will not be solved by strict adherence to one ideology or the other.

Todd Juvinall

I first started paying attention to labor issues when the steel industry was losing its business to foreign steel companies. Over time it became obvious the unionized American steel industry could not compete since a dollar a day in China or Bangladesh was big wages and as we all know money seeks its own level. Instead of learning the lesson though, our country and its educators said it was better to train a gazillion people here in "rehab" and feel good jobs, welfare experts and regulators rather than train car mechanics and the rest. We saw the results in the construction industry. Millions of foreign workers came here and worked pounding nails and hanging Sheetrock. Not because in my view they were cheaper (which is a factor), but because we had decided everyone here should go to college and a construction job was beneath our people. So the vacuum was filled by foreigners. No, we screwed ourselves in the job sector because there was a desire in our system, run by the left, for everyone to be a college grad and the car mechanic and sheet-rock hanger were forgotten.

The only part of the system which prospered was the financial sector and now even that is outsourced to India. We did this to ourselves because we did not want to hurt our little chillins feelings by telling them it is OK to be a a plumber.

I think college can be and has proven to be very important but my desire for a well rounded populace means not all can be a brain surgeon.

George Rebane

DaveK 1054pm - Search RR with 'H1-B' for past discussions. My most recent experience with H1-B was just before moving here in 2002. Bizrate.com hired many H1-B professionals and was an 'international company' in the sense our employees came from many countries. On any given day you could hear at least six different languages spoken in the offices. None of these hires earned less than the rest of us, but after I left, we did lose several of them back to their native countries due to the visa's provisions.

BTW, some dictionaries consider 'advertize' and 'advertise' alternative ways of spelling the word in the US, although we prefer the 's' and Great Britain and their offshoots prefer the 'z'. I usually use 's', but sometimes flip. However, I never spell 'theater' as 'theatre', must be my phonetic upbringing ;-)

George Rebane

BobRL 715am - Capitalism and socialism have different instabilities and are naturally drawn toward different 'attractors' as systems theory uses that word (e.g. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attractor). Unbridled capitalism seems to prefer ending up in a state of anarchy, and socialism degenerates through autocracy into tyranny. As a conservetarian, even though it gyrates through business cycles, I believe that capitalism is easier to regulate, and by far provides a more beneficial economic organization for society. Socialism, even with the best of intentions as we witness in Europe, has a terminally faulty economic model and ultimately collapses into the next draconian form of collectivism. As we know, the progressives believe none of this.

Dave Cranfield

Guest editorial in Saturday 12/3 The Union. The writer believes we need Vo-Tech high school in our area.


RL Crabb

Both systems have their flaws, and efforts to contain them may work for awhile, but as time passes and memories fade the excesses resurface. In large complex societies it may not be possible to eliminate 'a little socialism' to keep the peace. Turning the social safety net over to churches and charities may work in the short term, but they also are run by human beings. When there are large sums of money involved, corruption and fraud will follow as sure as moths gather at bright lights.

RL Crabb

The best solution I can see to contain excessive behavior is to put more responsibility (and money) on the local government. The closer you are to the problem, the easier it is to see and correct.

Bob W

George, I didn't know you were looking for an editor for your comment section. This must have been a no-bid arrangement.

Mikey McD

Being a youngster I have never been able to participate in a free market/capitalist economy. By the time I was born the 'disease' had already killed most (all?) of the virtues of a free market system. It is obvious to any thinking human that the move towards enslavement/socialism has been detrimental to everyone (except the elitist central planners).

I hope that a cure doesn't require killing the host.

George Rebane

BobRl 842am - yes, both contain the flaws that are human, and I've seen no one on these pages argue for unfettered capitalism (least of all me). Finding the right level of government oversight of markets and capitalism should be our collective quest. No one has yet found the 'little bit of socialism' that is stable, because 'democracy' is the tonic that soon grows it into a monster. One cannot say that for capitalism, for there are no examples of where capitalism was able to grow into an oligopolistic anarchy. (BTW, great cartoon in today's Union; I'm planning on filching it for piece on expanding this discussion.)

BobW 907am - It was indeed a no-bid arrangement. I accept all volunteer editing efforts, and do not reject trained journalists no matter the public's opinion of that profession.

Steve Frisch

I'm wondering Mikey if you could tell us what year we would need to return to to have the brand of free market capitalist economy you deem virtuous.

Paul Emery

Good question Steve. And what would the journey along the way look like. There's a big difference between theory and reality. Mikey, if we plug in that toy and turn it loose what would things be like.

George Rebane

Mikey - if you're of a mind for submitting a piece on expanding my 1015am of how we should construct/corral the state so as to return to a more freer, productive, and responsible capitalism, I would invite it and add some words of my own to anchor what looks like a good discussion as evinced by SteveF's and PaulE's above questions to you.

D. King

The fact that congress has given itself an exemption from insider trading laws should be an indication of the level of work we have to do!

Otherwise, well, click below.


Greg Goodknight

H-1B's bring in low cost, docile engineers in to fill the immediate need. Turns out there just aren't enough kids in the US who want to work hard to get degrees in Engineering and Computer Science and then compete with H-1B visa holders.

A given office might pay H-1B holders the same as the rest, but in general, when you increase the supply, the price goes down. The profession as a whole suffers.

D. King

This is an interesting look at the numbers from Lou Dobbs.


Greg Goodknight

I'm not a Lou Dobbs fan but it looks like he had H-1B figured out.

There's no shortange, never has been. Just a shortage at the salaries they'd rather pay.

Americans used to pick crops but even the poor and unskilled would rather not compete with the even poorer and unskilled from south of the border. "After all, even in Egypt the Pharaohs had to import Hebrew Braceros" --Tom Lehrer, "George Murphy"

George Rebane

DaveK and GregG - From my own many years in industry that included working with and hiring H1-B engineers and programmers, I found very little to agree with in the linked video. I hired H1-Bs only because I could not find an American with the skill sets I needed, regardless of the pay. The problem got worse as time went on (I left industry in 2002). And I never ran into a "docile" H1-B engineer - those guys were pros and deported themselves as such.

My anecdotal experience may be due to the area of systems sciences and engineering in which I worked - we were at the bleeding edge that took a dim view of even the 'A- students'. GregG's observations may be on the mark for more staid areas of engineering.

In any event, one thing is for sure, we are not graduating a sufficient number of STEM people to maintain our lead as the world's technology innovators. The cited surveys of engineering jobs are now beginning to exhibit the chicken/egg syndrome. Employers are also anticipatory critters, and are providing for the dearth of STEM graduates by having a lot of their technical stuff being shipped overseas or performed in their offshore units. Hence, fewer STEM jobs in the US.

As an IEEE and ACM member I am bombarded with dire news of the ongoing STEM shortages. In sum, we should hire as many H1-Bs as our on-shore industry needs to fill its citizen worker shortfall. And then we should treat these H1-Bs at least with the same deference as we do our illegal aliens, then maybe more of them will stay here to become citizens, work, and build their businesses.

D. King

I don't know what to say George, except, I don't believe that Apple can't find enough people here to staff a data center in North Carolina. Why North Carolina? I mean, talk about cheap!

George Rebane

DaveK 340pm - Could it be that North Carolina is a right to work state, and Apple does not want its critical data centers shut down by a unionized workforce? And then there are probably a whole slew of other regs that NC doesn't have which recommend it for locating an operating unit having a staff that doesn't require palm trees outside their office windows. I'm puzzled too, since the techies they need are not leading edge development types, but people who know server farms and can write reliable job control language code.

Greg Goodknight

George, had you raised your offered salaries by a sufficient amount, qualified American or permanent residents would have been found. H-1B's are rewarded by lottery, not GPA. I know of one Brit H-1B (a great guy, by the way) who chaired one meeting I was present at and were told to keep quiet about... he had run afoul of some immigration regulation and was spending a quarter out of the country and without business contacts. Wink wink.

Sorry, but no, even at the higher strata the specter of a hundred thousand or so extra engineers being dropped in every year makes a difference. And it makes a difference in what students decide to study.

Greg Goodknight

There is a lot of grunt work in Silicon Valley that I've avoided. The average H-1B may not be a warm fuzzy puppy willing to do anything, but they are less likely to jump ship for more pay and if they get laid off or fired they have very little time to find another job. Tends to keep the uppity from making waves.

Greg Goodknight

Don't be puzzled about North Carolina. They have a strong tech presence, low cost real estate, less taxes and cheaper electricity. The last is probably the biggest single item for a server farm.


George Rebane

GregG - my 'puzzle' was not about the benefits of North Carolina, but why Apple couldn't find about 50 qualified techies (not rocket scientists) to run their server farm. And who claimed that H1-Bs were allotted by GPA? Re salaries, the H1-Bs were offered the same as the equivalent positions filled by gringos, until we ran out of gringos. I learned early on not to play the resentment game with my H1-Bs who were expected to be solving our problems literally 24/7. How many times have your eyes slammed open at 3am with a solution? We needed the same performance out of the H1-Bs.

Greg Goodknight

"My anecdotal experience may be due to the area of systems sciences and engineering in which I worked - we were at the bleeding edge that took a dim view of even the 'A- students'. GregG's observations may be on the mark for more staid areas of engineering."

Staid- "marked by settled sedateness and often prim self-restraint"

Really, George, this pyramid you've constructed with Systems Engineering at the top is a fantasy. I assure you that computer, software and network engineering has been anything but "staid" in the past 25 years, and systems engineering was never driving it.

Here's a college friend of mine who joined Cisco in their top science slot just a bit before I jumped to the dark side. Had lunch with him a few times early on before voice over IP had the full attention of management, and I was hoping to transfer over to him after voice had a good launch. A personal and professional loss when he died so young in '99.

I'd not be surprised if a high powered systems engineering guy or three weren't somewhere, but they weren't running things. And we were still bleeding edge. Imagine that.

D. King

This may come as a shock!


D. King

...and there are others.

How's this for creating U.S. jobs?


Bill's global wife! Read the comments below.


George Rebane

GregG 608pm - you misunderstand and are defending hills not attacked. Nowhere have I said or implied that the systems sciences is the only tech area where bleeding edge advances are made. Nevertheless, all areas of engineering also have their staid sides. The systems sciences do however encompass a number of engineering areas (e.g. network algorithmics being one) in which applied math toolsets are developed that exported throughout the engineering and science fields. (The first of these were control systems and estimation theories which launched the systems sciences and quickly made seminal contribution to ALL other fields of science and engineering. It appears that your friend/colleague was a systems engineer in the sense used here.)

In the sense that I and my colleagues have been taught and practiced it, it is a broad field about which one of my clients at a government lab once remarked that systems engineers are the only ones who were never allowed to step away from a development project with the excuse that it wasn't in their field. That didn't mean that a system guy can solve all problems by himself, but he is supposed to be able to structure and manage all manner of multi-disciplinary development projects. And he does this by bringing in the appropriate domain experts in areas that require it, but he's supposed to know what these are.

In any event, it seems to me that you think that I am in some way discrediting all other technology areas. I am not. None of us can do it all alone. The shoreline of human knowledge is way to long and convoluted to be wholly embraced by any one discipline.

George Rebane

DaveK 611pm - This does indeed come as a shock, and totally out of my own experience. We/I have never done any of this when looking for tech employees. I didn't even know that these games were being played in such an organized way. Do I feel like a naif.

D. King

I feel like a naif.

DON'T! You are not alone. I first noticed this in the 90's. Can you imagine how much time people have wasted sending out CVs. How their hopes and dreams were crushed by these ___________ (you fill in the blank!)

Greg Goodknight

George, at Mudd even math majors took an intro to systems engineering class as a general ed requirement. What is needed has long been pushed into the curriculums, in a more domain-specific form than would be called for in a specific systems degree.

I've seen fake ads for decades (Intel is a major source of these) where it's obvious they have a foreign candidate in place that will get the job as soon as they reject everyone else who applies for a picayune lack of experience that would be covered by a day of study. A dead giveaway was a response to be sent to a governmental entity, not the employer, and a low and fixed rate of pay.

Why would engineering be the only profession in the world where supply doesn't have an effect on price? While I would prefer a world with borders open for all of the peaceful, engineers would be better off if our border wasn't porous only for engineers. Yes, large employers have been playing that game for many years.

George Rebane

GregG - Again, to show my naivete in this, I have never placed nor known of fake ads used in the manner described. By no means am I denying any of this happening, it's just that in my own business circles we were too busy working and trying to make a buck to play in this league.

And re "... systems engineering class as a general ed requirement."?! I believe this indicates that we have been talking past each other in this area of technology. For the record, I have never taken a "systems engineering" course in my life, nor have any of my many peers in the forty years that I have been in the field. I'm not sure that I know what someone would teach in such a class, except maybe survey a compendium of general principles for people who plan not to work as systems engineers or scientists (kinda like teaching a 'physics' class for history majors?). Probably best to leave it there.

D. King

Redistribution comes in many forms.

What amazes me is how many Americans will sell out their fellow countrymen / family.
Most are too stupid to know what they’re really doing.

Greg Goodknight

Actually George, it was systems engineering for people who *were* planning on ending up as systems engineers, physicists, chemists, mathematicians and other kinds of engineers. Biologists and computer scientists, too.

Yes, even if you wanted to end up in pure mathematics, you still took all that other stuff your first three semesters. They still have a similar 'common core'

I also took p-chem as a general ed class, unfortunately bounced from the common core when biology was added as a major in the '90's. My own little (well, not so little any more) chemical physicist was amazed his mom and I both took pchem as a general ed requirement.

Mikey McD

George, such a subject is worthy of a book! My first couple of attempts at addressing the subject matter were too lengthy. My thoughts seemed to circle back to State's rights (10th Amendment), Competition (among states and corporations), shackling the federal government in a manner not permissive to the whims of Corporate/Union lobbyists.

Imagine an economic stage whereby states could set themselves aside by their regulatory (and tax) climate? Today the states are owned by the Federal government and the special interests that own the feds.

Imagine if each regulation had to be passed by our elected state level representitives (and not a blanket permission given to an agency- think CARB or SEC) AND that each such law would have to be re-passed every year. And of course the ability for each state to accept or deny a law passed by the feds.

regarding ?'s from:
Posted by: George Rebane | 03 December 2011 at 11:24 AM

D. King

From the [4dec11 update] In response to increasing job riots in China...

What? With all our jobs and money going over there; where is all the money going?


I guess the 99 million aren't getting to party.


"Tsinghua University Professor Patrick Chovanec alludes in his latest blog post to three paragraphs in the FT that are "too explosive to reprint in a blog authored in China."

Tsinghua? Why does that name ring a bell?
Hey Frisch, you know anything about this?


Todd Juvinall

Dave, we can always depend on you cutting through the leftwingnut propaganda spewed by liberals like Frisch (he still keeps secret who paid for his trip). The reason he likes the Chinese is probably because he sees some government grants to help fund his 99% taxpayer funded organization.

D. King

The Clintons?

D. King

Here Todd.


Douglas Keachie

Left wing FACTS;

145 million in labor force in 2005

140 million in labor force in 2010,

even though the USA population has gone up.

George Rebane

Actually the US workforce was about 150M in 2005 (Dept of Commerce) and was about 154M in 2010 (CIA World Factbook). But the fraction of working age adults in the labor force has declined (about 64% now), and will continue to decline as I have pointed out. Technology, globalization, and encroaching socialism are all taking their toll.

Perhaps the Leftwing has its own facts, which has been a theory of mine for some time now.

D. King

I feel like I'm in a big dark room holding a candle!

This stuff is all interrelated, or is it me?

Douglas Keachie

The stats were lifted from good ole Left Wing Bloomberg tv, which I've had on in the background for the last two hours. BITV, channel 203 on Dish Network.

D. King

This is from 2008

"What Did Bill Clinton Mean By “We Just Have to Slow Down Our Economy” to Fight Global Warming?"


Global warming???

Wow, this would be a good time to redistrubte labor / wealth.

D. King


Douglas Keachie

I notice that you went to two different sources to get numbers, George. After ten minutes nosing around dept of Commerces Stat site and the Dept of labor as well, no easy answers. You'd think that coming up with such numbers would be a no brainer, since the private sector only hires about 100,000,000 folks, leaving 50,000,000 in government to compile them...

D. King

This is 10 min.s long.

From the Clinton Global Initiative


It ties things together and to this post.

Douglas Keachie

I watched the video. So the unions are making loans from their pension funds to allow folks to do energy conservation projects, to the tune of 10 billion dollars. This is a problem for some of you? Please explain. I must have missed something.

George Rebane

DougK 134pm - I'm glad you asked. Please go to http://rebaneruminations.typepad.com/rebanes_ruminations/2011/12/say-what-slick-willie-strikes-again.html .

And thanks DaveK for the heads up on this little bamboozle.

D. King

You didn't miss anything Doug. The problem, as I see it, is that the utility payback to the pension funds will be made, not from savings (remember AB32), but from the utility customers increase in energy costs. That is the only way to get a timely payback. So, not only are the public paying the pension in the first place, but they are paying interest to barrow their own tax money. If you look around the world, there is no green energy model that works. My fear is that, like the 401k in 2008, these pensions are in danger of being raided; that’s a big pot of money.

Douglas Keachie

"but they are paying interest to barrow their own tax money." 1/2 half of what is in my pension fund came directly out of my paycheck. The other half was paid by the District as part of the pay package agreement. We settled for less in direct salary in exchange for the District paying into our retirement. NONE OF THAT CASH BELONGS TO NO DAMN TAXPAYERS! Be clear on that or be a thief.

D. King

What ever!

It's all yours, just like this:

"The California Public Employees' Retirement System bought Portland's KOIN Center in 2007 for $108 million. CalPERS and its investment partner, CommonWealth Partners, lost the property after defaulting on the $70 million mortgage in July."


That's right Doug, it's your money.

You can burn it if you want!!!

 Douglas keachie

More comments at the newer thread. I don't quite understand why the installer should be on the hook, unless he screws up the install. That makes no sense to me.

D. King

Clinton, in the video, states that the savings are guaranteed.

 Douglas keachie

LED lights, purchased as Xmas lights and used year round indoor, will save substantial amounts of electricity, and are currently far cheaper than the official in the store bulbs.

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