Wow. My column last week proposing to grant citizenship to immigrant developers, "Open the floodgates to IT immigration," generated a torrent of comments from readers (83 and counting). Many were emotional, some were flames, almost all were opinionated, and the vast majority was – drumroll – thoughtful and rational, and they made me sympathetic to their point of view. As one person wrote, "there's a lot of layers to this onion," and our readers peeled them all back. Thanks, everybody, for taking the time.
However, it's tough to wade through all 83 comments at a sitting and find the highlights. So I've done that for you below, separating them into the key themes. Next week I'll respond to some of these comments, but for now, I'll let them speak for themselves.
And one more thing: I'm excluding the personal attacks ("you're overpaid and arrogant, and need an attitude adjustment") and antimedia invective ("blatant agenda of your advertisers and owners").
Yes, I was deliberately trying to be a bit provocative with my proposal last week, but I do believe we need some bold steps to get this country back on track. No, InfoWorld's advertisers and owners had nothing to do with my column. Overpaid? I wish. And arrogant? I like IT because I'm biased toward and have enormous respect for people who actually build things, make things. IT developers build and make things, writers just write. I'm not trying to pretend otherwise …
So here's what the bulk of the comments boiled down to:
Reader theme: Immigrants will drive Americans away from IT careers.
Itsborken: "Why would today's young students want to go into debt for an IT degree only to be forced out in 5 to 10 years? Universities cut their teaching staff because no one signed up."
Dugcat11: "If you want to end Comp Sci student interest as we know it – do something stupid like this. No college student with any idea of paying off his student loans or getting anything other than a minimum-wage job would ever sign up to study the subject."
Brownte: "The number of technologists in the U.S. is shrinking, not because of laziness or a lack of ability, but a pragmatic look at the viability of a career path."
Celp: "You'll have a hard time finding young Americans who want to spend $100,000 and four years on a college education to enter a field where they'll be paid and treated like third-world peasants."
GregMan: "Bring in more immigrants, depress salaries still further, and give college and high school students even more reasons not to go into IT."
Kbergmann: "The price of obtaining an MBA (both undergrad and grad courses) is approximately the same as getting a BS in Comp Sci and an MSCE certification … but the potential earnings and job flexibility of a person with an MBA is MUCH greater."
Reader theme: The H-1B system is bad.
Spinner88: "The H-1B system is basically indentured servitude. If we were given the power to move around and work freely where we want, companies could not depress wages."
DonnaConroy: "Reform the H-1B guest worker program so that employers are required to seek local talent for these job openings."