In 1994, AIG became one of the first companies to give a large number of Americans the H-1B boot. About 250 American computer programmers were replaced by H-1B workers supplied by Syntel. The Americans had to train their replacements in order to collect a severance package and unemployment.
At the time, the finance and insurance giant boasted that this change was going to save them tens of millions of dollars a year.
But things did not work out as planned.
A couple of years later, I worked as a consultant at AIG to help clean up the resulting mess. The H-1B workers turned out to be completely incompetent. Imagine a major corporation turning over its computer systems to a junior high school. All of the H-1B-written code had to be "renovated" (i.e., rewritten) in order to figure out what it was doing before modifications could be attempted to the system.
While I was at AIG, CIO Magazine published an article on how outsourcing to Syntel could save a company money. The article was hilarious because adding up all the claimed savings from the companies in the article did not amount to a fraction of what AIG had to spend to clean up their mess.
Everyone doing the cleanup had a copy of this article pinned to the wall of their cubicles. CIO Magazine was always good for a laugh.
Seeing this waste of hundreds of American losing their jobs to incompetents is what set me on the path to law school. That was just my first encounter with the incompetence that is H-1B programming.
I write this historical account so that you can appreciate the humor of a blog post on the Wall Street Journal website written by the former publisher of CIO Magazine.
The blog laments the drop in H-1B workers, celebrates the talent from India and China, and whines about a "widening skills gap".
Yet it is the countries that supply H-1B workers that have the skills gap.
American computer programmers are much higher skilled than their Indian and Chinese counterparts celebrated in the Wall Street Journal blog. Employers can find higher skilled workers at average American schools than they can among the elite schools in India and China.