Though we’ve still been under the weather, Satchel gutted it out and competed in two tournaments this weekend, the first the Grappling Gobbler in Johnstown CO Saturday, the second the Hall of Fame Classic in Broomfield on Sunday. As some of you in the past have (incomprehensibly to me) noted that you have no interest in this kind of stuff — and would prefer I just post things of interest to you — I respectfully ask that you try to refrain from making public your complaints of how I’m using my site (when clearly what I should be doing is servicing your needs and your needs only).
In the Johnstown tournament Satchle took first in his weight class at 50, then wrestled up at 56 and finished fifth in the 8 man bracket. Kids on the tournament circle tend to be more evenly matched than kids who wrestle just duals; consequently, Satchel’s having to give up 8 lbs in the 56 bracket really hurt him, particularly against the eventual second place winner, who cut weight to move to the 56 bracket and was likely closer to 58 when wrestling began (Satch weighed in at a whopping 48.4!). Satch took a nice shot on him off the whistle but was unable to turn the corner and lift — not because of technique but because the bigger kid was able to simply overpower him and drive him back, pancaking him and getting a head and arm pin.
There’s a reason, after all, that weight classes exist, and this was a clear example of why that is. That being said, I don’t mind Satchel wrestling up against bigger kids, because it toughens him up and makes going against kids his own weight that much less grueling — and he’s routinely beaten a number of kids in the low 60s and even the 70s. But this particular 56 lber was very skilled — and had it not been for a freakish kid (one who my guess is will be the eventual state champion in the 55 or 60 class this) — Satch’s 56 lb opponent would have won the tournament outright.
Wrestling continued on Sunday at a Hall of Fame tournament in Broomfield, this one sanctioned by a different body and requiring the use of headgear (Satchel almost never wrestles in headgear, though I bought him a nice Cliff Keen Tornado this weekend, which he didn’t mind wearing — a good sign).
Satch took first in the 55 division — though he only had to face a single opponent — 3 times — and whom he beat in all 3 matches with 3 quick pins. She was tenacious and had a very nice bridge, but Satch was too quick and strong for her, though they were evenly matched in weight (a benefit, as I noted earlier, of spending so much practice and dual time wrestling kids that significantly outweigh you).
My wife wasn’t around for the first match, but it looks remarkably like the other two, the videos for which we do have:
Gun ban surprise — with a complicit (or is it just ignorant and opportunistic) GOP helping lead the way?
Say it ain’t so, Orange Johnnyius! From Dudley Brown, National Association for Gun Rights:
Will your Congressman vote to let President Barack Obama ban wooden stocks and to allow a massive crack-down on firearms manufacturing?
I hope not, but that’s what the Republican-controlled House may be on the verge of doing in a vote that could come later today.
Let me explain.
Last week, I told you about how Chuck Schumer tried to pull a Thanksgiving trick on gun owners.
Schumer was caught red-handed trying to sneak a massive gun ban expansion through the U.S. Senate.
Schumer’s plan calls for extending the so-called “undetectable” gun ban of 1988.
Additionally, he wants to expand it to crack-down on 3D-printing and outlaw manufacturing certain types of receivers, gun moldings, and plastic magazines.
Fortunately, Schumer encountered a set-back.
It sent the gun-grabbers scrambling to find a new strategy to get this anti-gun legislation passed before a crucial December 9th deadline.
The bad news: Insiders are now telling me they’ve found one.
Republican House Speaker John Boehner is prepared to bring it up for a vote in the House on Monday afternoon.
If Boehner allows it to come up for a vote and pass, it would give Chuck Schumer, Harry Reid, and the rest of the anti-gunners in the Senate the vehicle they need to tack on all of the expanded gun control they’re hoping for.
But it gets worse.
If the so-called “undetectable” gun ban is expanded at all, experts warn that the Obama administration is prepared to use it as an excuse to outlaw as many firearm components as possible — even wooden stocks.
With twenty-five gun control Executive Actions taken so far, President Obama and his disgraced Attorney General Eric Holder are holding their breath.
They’re hoping House Republicans will sign-off on renewing the so-called “undetectable” gun ban.
If they do, then Holder and Obama will be free to unleash another tidal wave of Executive Actions and regulations to crack down on as many firearms and components as possible. [my emphasis]
Please contact your Congressman immediately and urge him or her to oppose extending the so-called “undetectable” gun ban.
*** The congressional switchboard can be reached at (202) 224-3121. Ask to be connected to your Congressman.
When you speak to them, let them know that a vote to reauthorize the so-called “undetectable” gun ban is a vote for more gun control and less freedom.Urge them to reject Barack Obama and Chuck Schumer’s anti-gun agenda by refusing to allow the so-called “undetectable” gun ban to come up for any vote.
The left is constantly looking for ways to massage a law – by removing from it its prior historical context and legislative intent (see my previous post for more of this “fundamentally unserious” carping on our failure to address the systemic perversions of language and hermeneutics that keep moving us ever leftward, but which are not nearly important to discuss or consider as, say, Chris Christie’s potential popularity with overweight Hispanic voters who didn’t like their teachers) — and so it is unsurprising that our feckless GOP leadership, hoping to look “strong on reasonable gun control” and fearing how the press would spin their refusal to support an “undetectable gun ban” (HOW CAN YOU EVIL PUPPETS OF THE PRO KILLING MACHING GUN LOBBY ALLOW ICE BULLETS AND PRINTED PLASTIC ZIP GUNS THAT WILL BE USED TO MURDER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL STUDENTS TO BE LEGAL?), either can’t or won’t see the opening this provides the anti-second amendment forces that need the slow and steady repeal of firearm ownership by private citizens if they are, in the end, ever to “nudge” us into Utopia.
Because, well, some people just don’t nudge easy, it turns out.
No worries, though. Bill Ayers had a solution for that and, though he’s just some guy Obama knew from the neighborhood, chances are Obama’s study of subversive leftwing radical groups, inculcated in him during his time as a campus Marxist and critical race theory adept, brought him face to face with Prairie Fire, just as sure as it left him with a well-worn, likely heavily dog-eared copy of the works of Alinsky and Cloward-Piven.
– My mentioning of which is, of course, unhelpful. But, you know, deal with it. Pussies.
Without beating you over the head too much with an explication of the failings of textualism as an approach toward legitimate (rather than expedient and self-serving) interpretation, I’ll try to place it in some — ahem — context, especially for those who believe a “critical reading” of a text like that of the “Gettysburg Address” can be shorn of its context and read in a populist manner based on how reasonable people, kept ignorant of context and the historical and social complexities of the time of its composition, delivery, etc., might conceivably be able to “re-imagine” the “meaning” once freed from all that ancillary stuff that is, like, over 100 years old and such.
From the WaPo, Valerie Strauss:
Imagine learning about the Gettysburg Address without a mention of the Civil War, the Battle of Gettysburg, or why President Abraham Lincoln had traveled to Pennsylvania to make the speech. That’s the way a Common Core State Standards “exemplar for instruction” — from a company founded by three main Core authors — says it should be taught to ninth and 10th graders.
Let me interrupt here to note that, pace the headline of the WaPo piece, such instruction on how to teach the address is not an “odd approach,” but is rather an intentionally incoherent and illegitimate one, designed — and yes, designed is the correct word here, because the purpose of such curricula as exemplified by this example is to strip, deconstruct, then re-imagine an intended, historically-specific and intended text, from a particular contemporary political stance that, were the actual historical and social context appended, would prove nonsensical (and this applies even if the contemporary political stance is merely to remove the historical political realities that surrounded the construction and delivery of the original utterance — to retrofit the meaning of the original into the usurped meaning of the leftist rewriting of that original.
The unit — “A Close Reading of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address“ — is designed for students to do a “close reading” of the address “with text-dependent questions” — but without historical context. Teachers are given a detailed 29-page script of how to teach the unit, with the following explanation:
The idea here is to plunge students into an independent encounter with this short text. Refrain from giving background context or substantial instructional guidance at the outset. It may make sense to notify students that the short text is thought to be difficult and they are not expected to understand it fully on a first reading — that they can expect to struggle. Some students may be frustrated, but all students need practice in doing their best to stay with something they do not initially understand. This close reading approach forces students to rely exclusively on the text instead of privileging background knowledge, and levels the playing field for all students as they seek to comprehend Lincoln’s address.
First, before I grow annoyed, let me say this: there are perfectly legitimate reasons for teaching “close readings” of texts “with text-dependent questions” and without — initially, at least — providing any historical context. But those reasons are rather advanced, and speak to things like learning how to construct an argument, how to create a narrative voice, how the text’s narrative is designed to function — often on multiple levels — depending on speaker voice, tone, and specific machinations reserved for the study of, say, narratology. Which is to say, the legitimate reasons to work such an assignment should be relegated to advanced studies in composition and argument — and certainly not to “History/Social Studies,” where the very names of the discipline suggest that to ahistoricize and de-socialize an important document is to do it violence from the perspective of those areas of study. Learning, say, how someone like Hayden White approaches an historical text, or how a geneology differs from a narrative for purposes of ascertaining potential bias in a written history — these are questions that fall outside the purview of examination of a primary text for purposes of history / social studies, at least if the objective is to try to deliver a true “close” and “critical” reading of that text.
What is happening here, however, is that Common Core seems to be, for whatever their reasons (be they ignorance or cynicism, political naivety or political opportunism), intentionally conflating questions of compositional bias with questions of historical and social importance — a conflation that makes no sense when the object is a primary text being studied in a discipline that necessarily militates against such perversions.
The Gettysburg Address unit can be found on the Web site of Student Achievement Partners, a nonprofit organization founded by three people described as “lead authors of the Common Core State Standards.” They are David Coleman, now president of the College Board who worked on the English Language Arts standards; Jason Zimba, who worked on the math standards; and Susan Pimental, who worked on the ELA standards. The organization’s Linked In biography also describes the three as the “lead writers of the Common Core State Standards.”
The unit is listed on the Web site under History/Social Studies Lessons. However, Appendix B of the Common Core English Language Arts standards lists the address under “Informational Texts: English Language Arts.” The lesson is available for teachers around the country to use; it is, for example, on New York State’s Common Core Web site, Engage NY, as an exemplar for teaching the Gettysburg Address to ninth- and tenth-grade students. (When you click on the document, the unit is labeled as a “draft.”)
The unit reflects the overall approach to the Common Core standards, which emphasize the “close reading” of text in order for students to be able to analyze and gain meaning for the written word [my emphasis]. This mission is clearly stated in the “Revised Publishers’ Criteria for the Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts and Literacy, Grades 3 – 12,” written by Coleman and Pimental to help education publishers create new resources for the standards. It says in part:
At the heart of these criteria are instructions for shifting the focus of literacy instruction to center on careful examination of the text itself. In aligned materials, work in reading and writing (as well as speaking and listening) must center on the text under consideration. The standards focus on students reading closely to draw evidence and knowledge from the text and require students to read texts of adequate range and complexity. The criteria outlined below therefore revolve around the texts that students read and the kinds of questions students should address as they write and speak about them.
The standards and these criteria sharpen the focus on the close connection between comprehension of text and acquisition of knowledge. While the link between comprehension and knowledge in reading science and history texts is clear, the same principle applies to all reading. The criteria make plain that developing students’ prowess at drawing knowledge from the text itself is the point of reading; reading well means gaining the maximum insight or knowledge possible from each source. Student knowledge drawn from the text is demonstrated when the student uses evidence from the text to support a claim about the text. Hence evidence and knowledge link directly to the text.
– All of which sounds high-minded until one recognizes that there is no “text itself” without the presumption that behind that text was an intentional agency whose meaning will on the majority of occasions be best understood by recognizing that, in the example of a public address by a President, the meaning the speaker wishes to supply is tied to context of its delivery, its stated intent, and its historical situatedness.
Therefore, to claim that we can draw evidence of anything other than that which respects how texts can be structured to achieve a particular goal of either making clear or disguising the intent behind it, is silly: learning how words can be used outside of their specific contexts — and that involves the intent that created them and placed them in that context — is merely a primer on how to learn to “interpret” without appealing back to the production of the text and the agency of that production.
Or, to put it another way, it is a crash course in creating “close readers” who are being trained to kill the author in order to claim that a text’s “plain meaning” can be ascertained without acknowledgment that behind it lied some agency intent on communicating a desired and intentional meaning.
I ran a post last year by an English teacher who was getting professional development in teaching the address to students. Jeremiah Chaffee wrote in part:
This gives students a text they have never seen and asks them to read it with no preliminary introduction. This mimics the conditions of a standardized test on which students are asked to read material they have never seen and answer multiple choice questions about the passage.
Such pedagogy makes school wildly boring. Students are not asked to connect what they read yesterday to what they are reading today, or what they read in English to what they read in science.
The exemplar, in fact, forbids teachers from asking students if they have ever been to a funeral because such questions rely “on individual experience and opinion,” and answering them “will not move students closer to understanding the Gettysburg Address.”
(This is baffling, as if Lincoln delivered the speech in an intellectual vacuum; as if the speech wasn’t delivered at a funeral and meant to be heard in the context of a funeral; as if we must not think about memorials when we read words that memorialize. Rather, it is impossible to have any deep understanding of Lincoln’s speech without thinking about the context of the speech: a memorial service.)
Precisely correct: close reading of “words” must first assume that the words are words — are language — and with assumption comes the prerequisite of acknowledging intent. Having acknowledged intent, we allow that the possibility exists that a writer or speaker is breaking from contemporary convention and reworking language in a way that defamiliarizes it — something we find often times in great and transformative works of literature.
But in specifically occasional addresses or speeches meant for public consumption and built on the hope that the message as intended is clearly understood and so clearly delivered, removing the context and pretending the words exist in what Chaffee calls an “intellectual vaccuum” is, as I noted above, not only incoherent, but rather obviously intended to legitimize as intepretation something that is nothing more than an act of creative writing, the end goal of which is historical revisionism.
It is important that we see this and immunize ourselves against it.
Lincoln wasn’t an egret. And his address wasn’t etched on a shoreline by the talons of some feeding birds. Yet to read the Gettysburg Address in the way Common Core advocates is to approach the text just that way.
It’s wrong when opportunistic prosecutors or justices do it. And it’s wrong when it is allowed to pass itself off as “critical reading” or “close reading, ” the implication being that it delves more thoroughly into a text by disallowing the author of that text any control over what it means.
That way lies madness. Or at the very least, the progressivism we see now.
Which, I told you so. But fuck if you’d listen, you networked lawyers who have conspired to keep our eyes on the local and not really examine the structural that continues to drive us toward tyranny. Because traffic!
More’s the pity.
…The outfit Mitch McConnell and Karl Rove find much more important to hector, malign, and vilify than they do Democrats — who as we know by now, the convenient myth-making and propagandizing to the contrary, are Democrats only in the sense that they aren’t establishment Republicans.
Establishment Republicans are the new Democrats (mostly of the JFK variety), while today’s Democrat party — often unbeknownst to those who vote for it out of traditional, laziness, or rote fidelity — is the product of the New Left’s takeover over the Party that, a mere 40 years ago, they decried as hopelessly bourgeois and ideologically putrid, impotent, and vapid. Asks the Hobbity arsonistic anarchist terror-front on the fringes of society:
As the 2014 Republican primary elections near, an interesting question has been raised in party politics.
Should all Republican senators be re-nominated after each term?
The Republican establishment in Washington thinks so. In fact, the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) recently announced it will oppose all conservative candidates who challenge Republican incumbents in primaries regardless of the circumstances.
RINOThe NRSC believes that once a Republican is elected to the U.S. Senate, that senator should be re-nominated after each term. They don’t think voters should ever elect someone new who better reflects their views.
They don’t care how long the senator has been there, what their record is, or if they’re unpopular back home and could cost the party the seat. They believe in lifetime nominations and would probably eliminate primary elections for incumbents altogether if they could.
The goal of the NRSC is no longer to win back the Senate, but rather to protect incumbents no matter how liberal they are and regardless of whether they are likely to be defeated by a Democrat in the general election.
Instead of building a new Senate, they’re working to protect the old one.
What do you think? Take our short “Republican Primary Survey.”
PRIMARIES ARE GOOD
We strongly disagree with the establishment. We believe primary elections are good for the party because they empower voters with choices.
We also believe primaries are good for incumbents because they provide accountability. As Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) said, “primaries are good” because “they make us all better.”
We don’t object to the establishment taking sides in primaries, but we believe it’s bad for America when they blindly support all incumbents.
Being a U.S. senator is not an entitlement; it’s a privilege that must be earned in each election.
Some senators have been in office for decades and have lost touch with the voters and their principles. Many have voted for bailouts, more debt, tax increases, and funding for Obamacare.
If we want to save this country from the career politicians who are destroying it, we must elect new leaders. It’s that simple.
Change in Washington means changing the people we send there, and that sometimes means changing the Republicans we send there.
This is what we believe, but we want to know what you think.
We also want to know which Republicans should be replaced by conservatives and whether you think conservative Americans should refuse to donate to the NRSC given its bias against principled candidates.
Your feedback will help guide us as we make more candidate endorsements and work to change the Senate in 2014
We needn’t continue to fool ourselves with labels –nor let those invested in “rebranding” old labels confound us or confuse us with their rhetorical sleight of hand: Karl Rove and his attendant corporatists – many of them tech industry liberals, many of them big business lobbyists looking to work with whatever party to diminish their own competition and lobby for propitious law and regulation to solidify their power and profit — have taken to forming groups with the name “conservative” in the title. Jeb Bush, who not too long ago noted that he used to be a conservative (that is, until the TEA party extremists coopted the title from him), is now once again calling himself conservative — as is Governor Chris Christie — this despite the fact that they represent big government solutions, embrace the idea that “compromise” is an end in itself, are enamored with “across the aisle” coalition building with rank leftists that forever move a conservative country leftward, and are distrustful (and often openly hostile) to the base of the Republican party who make up the majority of actual conservatives and erstwhile Reagan Democrats, the very constitutionalists and adherents to a stable rule of law and checks on government and the separation of its powers that today marks them as “potential domestic terrorists.”
The modern GOP ruling class is shameless and shameful. And this insipid and rather hamfisted attempt to simply start calling themselves conservatives — with the express intent to “rebrand” center-right big government statism as “conservative” while marginalizing the conservativism of constitutional government, free market capitalism, individual autonomy, federalism, and a tri-partite separation of powers that are at odds with one another, creating stalemates and impinging on change (as the Framers hoped would be the case in an adversarial system) that is based in classical liberal philosophy and Enlightenment principles, not the debilitating and proto-authoritarian projects of a permanent entitled ruling class and their army of bureaucratic social engineers.
– Which headline, I take it, is supposed to ooze of irony — but which misses the central fact that Obama, by dint of being black, can’t commit a racially insensitive faux pas. Nor be a racist.
I know this because, if he’s taught me nothing else, Spike Lee has taught me this.
And Spike Lee is, like, the late-twentieth-century’s very own Frederick Douglass. Except without the having been subjected to slavery-thing, and with a rather uneasy fetish with Michael Jordan’s shoes, not to mention a rather unhealthy public distrust of Whitey, without whom he’d probably still be some broke ass wannabe film maker.
Really. I expect better of Andrew Malcolm, who must certainly know that no standard is so sacred to the race-baiters and the identity politics aficionados as is the double standard. Without which the whole enterprise would be revealed for the manipulative, immoral, cynical, and often times criminal racket it is.
Unfortunately, it turns out the major media — in addition to being an activist arm of the progressive movement — are also given to bouts of (well-deserved) self-loathing, and being treated like lowly useful idiots by someone so Historic and Transformative as Barack Hussein Obama….well, that’s like letting Madonna take a shit on you on stage, or getting to sniff and then cuddle one of Kurt Cobain’s vomit-riddled t-shirts! Sure, it’s humiliating and dehumanizing. But dude: it’s Madonna and Kurt!
– And it’s Obama, who is half black, and who hangs out with domestic terrorists, communists, and the radical chic among the anti-Jew movements of the world — and that’s when he’s not having Jay-Z over for spritzers, or Sarah Silverman over for a game of pin the tail on the teabaggers!
Honestly: How many people can say they’ve been personally pissed on by a guy in an iconic poster (that was, of course, ripped off from other iconic posters. But still)?
Few, the answer is. Vanishingly few. So. Sometimes being the gimp ain’t half bad, something Mr Franken needs to take heed of. And which is something you mortals who’ve never been soiled by the utter disdain of GREATNESS will never understand.
THANK YOU SIR MAY I HAVE OBAMANOTHER!
As whatever it is that has infested our intestinal tract here at casa de protein wisdom continues to ebb and flow — with an emphasis on the flow — we as its hosts and servants continue to muddle on and through, serving as parent volunteers on school field trips, wrestling coaches, tournament-grade wrestlers, and an extraordinarily powerful 19-month old who, though he’s been battling the the runs, continues to amaze the rest of us by moving chairs, lifting boxes, and finding ways to (swear to God) open up plastic clamshell packaging to get to a cinnamon roll he simply had to mutilate with a plastic fork.
Honestly, if he came home one day with a stable of baby hooker and was their baby pimp daddy, it wouldn’t surprise us in the least (though as parents we would naturally disapprove).
Anyway, December marks the end of protein wisdom’s 12th year, each one bringing new achievements to the art of hyperbole and scaremongering, and each one showing a dogged tenacity when it comes to putting off readers. And yet, it’s still here — poisoning the political discourse and hopefully giving some of the more successful folks in this field a bit of headache when they do, in fact, deserve one.
This last month has been a rough one, and nothing in my belly makes me feel like December is likely to be a whole lot better. But I’m going to try. And if that’s good enough for Sisyphus, it’s good enough for me.
Thanks in advance for your contributions!
I have no idea if this is a staged parody or for real. Doesn’t seem to matter, though.
Today’s must read, Silicon Chasm.
Master and servant. Cornucopian wealth for a few tech oligarchs plus relatively steady but relatively low-paying work for their lucky retainers. No middle class, unless the top 5 percent U.S. income bracket counts as middle class. Silicon Valley is a tableau vivant of what many economists and professional futurologists say is the coming fate of America itself, a fate to which Americans, if they can’t embrace it as some futurologists hope, should at least resign themselves. [...]
In other words, what is coming is the “new feudalism,” a phrase coined by Chapman University urban studies professor Joel Kotkin, a prolific media presence whose New Geography website is an outlet for the trend’s most vocal critics. “It’s a weird Upstairs, Downstairs world in which there’s the gentry, and the role for everybody else is to be their servants,” Kotkin said in a telephone interview. “The agenda of the gentry is to force the working class to live in apartments for the rest of their lives and be serfs. But there’s a weird cognitive dissonance. Everyone who says people ought to be living in apartments actually lives in gigantic houses or has multiple houses.” [...]
The big names in tech might be awash in capital and might have made their founders billionaires (New Economy founders typically retain large blocks of their own stock), but they employ surprisingly small numbers of U.S. workers. [...]
Furthermore, the oligarchs of Silicon Valley seem intent on keeping the social pyramid stacked in exactly the same layers in which it’s stacked right now. After decades of political quietism during which Silicon Valley entrepreneurs expressed libertarian sentiments but mostly voted Democratic and funded Democratic candidates who shared their elite-class social and political views, Silicon Valley has finally mobilized—for immigration expansion. In April Mark Zuckerberg, with help from Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman, and venture capitalist John Doerr, launched FWD.us, a $25 million-and-counting lobbying group aimed at lawmakers in both political parties. FWD.us, unlike other pro-immigration groups, isn’t much interested in amnesty for illegal immigrants or easier border-crossing for lettuce-pickers. Its chief interest is in expanding the H-1B work visa program for “highly skilled” workers that’s mostly used by tech employers to hire temporary guest-workers from foreign countries, usually from East and South Asia. Valley executives have been calling for decades for H-1B expansion (the current cap is 65,000 visas annually, although thanks to loopholes and related programs, it’s actually about double that). During the 1990s the argument was that native-born U.S. programmers were set-in-their-ways oldsters (translation: men and women in their forties) whose brain cells couldn’t make the transition from, say, COBOL to more up-to-date coding languages. The new argument is that tech workers are in dangerously short supply, especially “the best, brightest, and hardest workers,” as New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, an H-1B expansion advocate, testified before Congress in February.
FWD.us certainly has allies in the bay area’s substantial Indian community. At a gym in Fremont, a middle-income suburb directly across the bay from East Palo Alto that counts 40,000 Indians among its 222,000 residents, I interviewed 38-year-old Nikesh Kalra, Santa Clara-born of Indian immigrant parents, who, with an MBA from Oxford, is an executive for Equinix, a cloud-storage landlord headquartered in Redwood City. “The perception is that Indians are taking away good American jobs,” Kalma said. “The reality is that you Americans can’t turn out engineers fast enough.”
The anti-H-1B faction has a response to that: statistics. One of them, from an April 24 briefing paper produced by the liberal Economic Policy Institute, is that only one out of every two U.S. college graduates with a degree in engineering or computer and information science is hired into those fields, despite a doubling of the number of homegrown computer-science graduates between 1998 and 2004. Others argue that employers mostly don’t use H-1B workers to fill “best and brightest” jobs, but, rather, relatively low-paying routine programming positions, and that the most avid users of the visas are India-based outsourcing companies that use the visas to provide a few months of U.S. training for their employees, who then return to India.
Most damning of all is that, despite persistent claims of tech-worker shortages, programmer salaries overall have inched only slightly higher from what they were 20 years ago: from $60,000 a year to about $75,000 a year in 2012 dollars, according to the Economic Policy Institute. Engineers fare somewhat better: The average annual starting salary at top valley employers such as Google is about $100,000, with the median for experienced engineers at about $150,000. Even with the stock options many employers offer, that doesn’t go far toward buying even the smallest million-dollar valley house. A group of software engineers has a pending lawsuit alleging that four of the biggest employers—Apple, Google, Intel, and Adobe Systems in San Jose—violated federal antitrust laws between 2005 and 2009 by agreeing not to “poach” each other’s employees with offers of higher pay.
On top of those perhaps deliberately depressed salaries and the high cost of existing housing are a raft of California “green” laws—enthusiastically supported, as one might expect, by the valley’s tech elite in a post-manufacturing economy—that make life there even more expensive, and family-friendly housing even less attainable. Renewable-energy mandates drive up utility costs, and environmentally driven land-use restrictions and “smart growth” plans have made the construction of new single-family homes in the valley all but impossible for everyone except those affluent enough to own a large-lot teardown.
UPDATE: California’s media trying to blow happy happy joy joy smoke about the states so-called recovery
The media erupted with delight last week when the Legislative Analyst’s Office announced that California could expect a $5.6 billion budget surplus by mid-2015. After years of seemingly nonstop fiscal crisis, the LAO’s forecast came as welcome relief. Sunshine and lollipops for everyone!
Until killjoy Mac Taylor went and snatched the lollipops back. “Despite the large surplus that we project over the forecast period,” the legislative analyst said, “the state’s continued fiscal recovery is dependent on a number of assumptions that may not come to pass.”
In other words: first, let’s assume we have an uninterrupted economic recovery. [...]
Our unemployment remains persistently and stubbornly above the national average, which was 7.3 percent last month. And most of the new jobs were in government, health, education, and the fairly low-paying leisure and hospitality sectors.
Meantime, the state last month lost another 5,600 high-skilled, well-paying manufacturing jobs. California has lost 618,000 manufacturing jobs since 2001. The jobs that didn’t head offshore are going to Texas and the Gulf Coast. Sorry, but that’s nothing to cheer.
Finally, a new study by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis underscores what anyone who’s been paying attention these past few years should already know: California’s recovery, such as it is, is largely a coastal phenomenon. San Francisco and the Silicon Valley cities are riding high, ranking second and third respectively in per-capita income among major U.S. metropolitan areas. Yet California has a worse poverty rate than Mississippi.