Men vs. Men, and STEM vs. STEM

After decades of simmering on the back burner, the topic of immigration and how it affects American society has finally been moved to the front burner, and the heat is getting turned up higher and higher. Pundits of all persuasions have explored the pros and cons of immigration in every way imaginable, except one: its effect on men.

In the bad old days, America spread across a continent but was undeveloped. Lots of grunt labor was needed. The beauty of grunt labor is that anyone can do it. There is nothing preventing any able-bodied person from performing unskilled labor, but since men tend to be bigger and stronger, the immigrant work force was predominantly men. Some brought their wives and families along but many left them in the old country and sent money home. Even today, this is often true.

The more men you import to do the scut work, the less you have to pay to have it performed. The labor market, like any other market, is subject to supply and demand. But experience shows that markets can be rigged; specifically, the labor market can be rigged by artificially increasing the number of working men through mass immigration.

In the 19th Century, Chinese men (often referred to as coolies) were imported to work in mines and build railroads in the western U.S. (and Canada). American politicians and labor leaders understood that Chinese willingness to work for lower wages was not in the best interest of American workers – many of whom were immigrants themselves, albeit from Europe. So the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 came to pass. The “diversity is our strength” mantra was yet to be coined.

Was the Chinese Exclusion Act motivated by racism or economics? I wouldn’t dismiss the former, but I think the latter tipped the scales. Then as now, the following question should be posed:

If diversity bestows benefits on a nation, do those benefits outweigh lower wages (hence a lower standard of living) for native working men?

Put another way, if immigration were a prescription, would the benefits be worth the side effects? If pressed for an answer, globalists would probably answer in the affirmative, but union leaders, though usually associated with leftist politics, are more pragmatic than ideological. They’re more concerned with better wages and working conditions for their constituents than utopian ideology. Even Cesar Chavez, an unimpeachable leftist icon (just go to Wikipedia and check out ”List of places named after Cesar Chavez”), feared that illegal immigrants would provide an almost limitless source of scab labor in the event of a farm workers’ strike.

Today, however, mechanization and robotics have greatly reduced the number of grunt jobs. Contemporary toil is more likely to be mental than physical. Physical strength has little value in today’s job market unless you have superlative athletic skills to go along with it.

Ah, but those cerebral jobs require education, skills, and training! Not just anybody can do them, right? True, but if Country A has a surplus of people capable of doing those jobs, then Country B takes note, and reaches out to them when the need arises. In the United States the H-1B visa program is such an outreach program

Under H-1B, U.S. employers may bring in foreign workers for jobs “requiring theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge in a field of human endeavor.” That’s a wide-open window, but for the most part it means science, technology, engineering or mathematics, mercifully abbreviated as STEM. As feminists have taken pains to point out, STEM is dominated by men. Consequently, H-1B visa applications are top-heavy with men.

ST and E depend on M. Mathematics, however, can stand on its own. It is abstract and universal. Different nations have different laws, customs, languages, religions, cuisine, and histories, but math is the same in the USA, Pakistan, Korea, or Luxembourg; and pure mathematics existed long before the scientific method, the marvels of modern technology, and the feats of modern engineering.

Obviously, a STEM applicant for the H-1B visa program should have an aptitude for math and a degree or two or three to complement his inborn talents. In common with old-style grunt labor, however, the STEM labor pool is global. Given the bulging populations in Asia on both sides of the Himalayas, it is hardly surprising that American corporations (more accurately, global corporations headquartered in America) are always beating the drum for a higher ceiling on H-1B visas.

As with the Chinese in the 19th Century, contemporary H-1B tech workers are overwhelmingly male. Typically, the workers they displace are not unionized, but the H-1B workers are a sort of scab labor. Thanks to the universalism of mathematics, one can replace a domestic STEM worker earning an upper middle class salary with a foreign STEM worker earning a mere middle class salary.

STEM wages are still attractive in the United States, but how much more attractive would they be if the H-1B visa quota was minimized? Would that not force corporations to compete for STEM workers, hence elevating wages for American men? Assuming they could not fill all the positions, would it not force corporations to institute apprenticeship or training programs? Of course, that would benefit men more than women. The wage gap would widen! The horror!

With fewer H-1B visas, American men with STEM jobs would have more economic power than they do now. They could pay off their student loans faster or have more funds to save and invest. If they are MGTOW-inclined, they would have more discretionary income to indulge their fancies; if they are family-minded, they would be better able to support families. The economic well-being of men (a key aspect of manhood) is expendable. In some circles, that would be considered a good thing, lest men grow too independent.

Diversity is a warm and fuzzy concept, but at the end of the day, filling a job opening is serious business, and the stakes are high. Corporations routinely object that there aren’t enough qualified American applicants to fill their job openings, so they must go abroad. As a result, immigrants are way over-represented in tech. Strangely, there are no activists advocating affirmative action program for American tech workers.

While corporations import tech workers to hold down wages, they likely dissuade a number of American men from taking up STEM majors? I’m sure there are a number of guys out there who take up STEM majors because they like it or it comes easy to them. But I think a sizable percentage of them are into it because they know a STEM degree will be more likely to result in a living wage after graduation. When they see their older brothers pulling in big bucks on tech jobs, younger men giver more consideration to majoring in STEM subjects. When they see STEM wages stagnating (or shrinking), they give less consideration to it.

You can’t blame the H-1B visa applicants for trying to better themselves any more than you can blame Mexican illegals for crossing the border in search of a job, no matter how menial. Being a working stiff is a grind, but it’s better than grinding poverty.

In point of fact, the H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa and subject to all sorts of bureaucratic rules and regulations. The H-1B employee can’t come and go as he pleases or change jobs whenever he want to. I hesitate to call it exploitation, since the worker was not shanghaied, but life under such circumstances is not a piece of cake, though it is not as dismal as the lot of the Chinese laborer in the 19th Century.

So we have foreign men dueling domestic men for jobs with no clear winners…other than big business. It’s the same old story of let’s you and him fight. Paradoxically, tech employees fighting their way to the top are racing to the bottom…unless they own a big bundle of company stock.

Of course, if one were to advocate minimizing H-1B visas, one would likely be accused of nativism, racism, xenophobia, and possibly white privilege, even though such restriction would benefit all American men no matter what their ethnicity. Of course, politicians know that advocating high levels of H-1B visas is a surefire way to virtue signal. Better than that, such grandstanding assures the continued flow of corporate donations to political campaign war chests.

No matter how much money flows into their coffers, neither the Democratic party nor the Republican party is a friend to working men, just as neither party is a friend to men. One suspects that if the H-1B visa program was depressing wages for predominantly female jobs, the H-1B program would be terminated.

Amidst all the blather, ideological, economical, or political, one natural law of economics stands out. It may be implied in Economics 101 but no one wants to come right out and say it:

        The working man’s best friend is a labor shortage.

        It was true yesterday, it’s true today.

        And it’s true if you work with your hands or your head.

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