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[P]
Why there will always be a shortage of programmers

By Dacta in Op-Ed
Wed Dec 27, 2000 at 03:29:10 AM EST
Tags: Software (all tags)
Software

It seems that the great programmer shortage is a continuing theme in discussions everywhere these days. In the popular press as well as on web sites like kuro5hin, people argue over everything from whether the shortage is a myth, to potential solutions such as increasing visas for high-tech workers, better computer science education in high school or college, and trying to encourage more girls to become programmers.

It seems to me, though, that an important issue has been missed.


I believe there is a shortage of good programmers. While many people complain about the lack of opportunities for retraining, and about ageism in hi-tech industries, it seems to me there is an awful lot of jobs available even if you dispute the definition of a shortage.

Given that (and if you don't agree with that, then this story probably won't be too interesting for you), I wondered why it was so. The most obvious thing to investigate further was education. It is difficult to measure if computer science courses have improved in the last ten years (In fact, many would argue that a CS degree is the incorrect education for a software engineer, anyway, but that is another story). However, it does seem that lots more people are getting CS degrees now than ten years ago.

However, my hypothesis (based on personal experience, no any real research - hence this story being an Op-Ed) is that many of these "programmers" move out of programming roles and into management roles as soon as they can, because they aren't really suited to programming - they simply don't like it.

Back in April, kuro5hin ran a story called Personality Types, relating to an online Myer-Briggs test. To no one's surprise, those who posted their personality attributes on K5 weren't exactly representive of the population of as a whole: a majority of the temperament posted included the "NT" trait. The NT trait is described as

"analytical" and "systematic" -- as "abstract," "theoretical," and "intellectual" -- as "complex," "competent" and "inventive" -- as "efficient," "exacting" and "independent" -- as "logical" and "technical" -- and as "curious," "scientific," and "research-oriented."

Interestingly, research from many sources (including the online survey) shows that NT's make up less than 10% of the general population.

It seems that (in general) people with NT traits make good programmers, and (more importantly from the point of view of this story) people without a disposition towards the "rational" personality traits find programming either difficult or boring.

Other sources seem to back up this hypothesis. A recent Microsoft research paper talks about creating a new programming idiom which will:

will change the skill mix required for software production to better match the normal distribution of general skills. Some programming ("transformation programming") will be as demanding as any system programming is today. But the greater part of programmers will work using the domain specific abstractions which will be much more domain intensive and less computer science intensive than programming is today. Today we have the uniform category of "programmer" who must understand computer science, implementation choices, and the application domain, but who is in fact busy mostly with repeatedly encoding and decoding between computational intent and high level language representation. In the future we will have, on the one hand, a smaller number of IP specialists who concentrate on the computer science and implementation parts, and on the other hand a wider range of domain specialists who can better satisfy the domain requirements - a much better distribution of skills.

If this theory has some merit (and I believe it does), what can be done to change it? As far as I know there is no way to change the general personality trait distribution of the population. That means there are few options left open:

  • Increase the number of programmers by allowing immigration from overseas (which does nothing to decrease the world wide shortage of programmers)
  • Decrese the numbers of programmers needed (I'm not sure how this could be accomplished).
  • Invent ways for non-programmers to program.
  • Accept the situation, and pay more money to good programmers. (I like this option, but hey, I'm selfish!)

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Poll
My Myer-Brigg Temperament is:
o Guardian (ST) 13%
o Idealist (NF) 29%
o Rational (NT) 51%
o Artisan (SF) 5%

Votes: 72
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Related Links
o Kuro5hin
o awful lot of jobs available
o Personalit y Types
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o online survey
o Microsoft research paper
o Also by Dacta


Display: Sort:
Why there will always be a shortage of programmers | 46 comments (32 topical, 14 editorial, 0 hidden)
Programmer shortage (4.11 / 9) (#2)
by boxed on Tue Dec 26, 2000 at 08:55:17 PM EST

I believe the programmer shortage is formed by two things:
  1. Management people often can't tell a programmer from a script kiddie.
  2. Non-programmers believe that they are programmers (because they can do some stuff in VB or do some HTML) and are very willing to spread the idea.
This is a problem I at least see in dotcoms here in sweden. It is more rule than exception that so called programmers spend months for something that should take days and still coming up with a horribly poor piece of software. I don't know about the rest of the buisiness and the world but I can guess that a lot of the shortage on programmers come from the fact that dotcoms recruit people like there was no tomorrow, without caring about their skill level.

Ungh, that was pretty incoherent, hope you understand what I mean anyway :P

I agree, but..... (2.50 / 4) (#8)
by Zepno on Tue Dec 26, 2000 at 09:21:14 PM EST

I do agree that many companies are rushing to get so called "programmers" on bored even though the people who are getting these jobs may have little or no actual real programming knowledge (I am far from being a programmer, and I do realize that. Sure, I've fooled around with some C and C++ code, as well as learning HTML and VB, but that does not make me an expert. I play around with code during my 'off time,' but most of my programs have no purpose, etc.). However, I must also pose a question. How do you get the qualified people that this [IT] world needs? Personally, while I'm not totally against computer classes, etc., I do believe that hands-on experience is the best way to learn. Sure, I can sit in a programming class and learn how to write "Hello World" on the screen and diagnose problems with my code, but in the real world, who needs soemone who can do that (most anybody can)...

[ Parent ]
Not necessarily (2.50 / 4) (#29)
by psicE on Wed Dec 27, 2000 at 10:28:29 AM EST

According to Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary (online):

Main Entry: pro·gram·mer
Variant(s): also pro·gram·er /'prO-"gra-m&r, -gr&-/
Function: noun
Date: circa 1890
: one that programs: as a : a person who prepares and tests programs for devices (as computers) b : one that programs a mechanism c : one that prepares instructional or educational programs

CLearly Definition B is what we want. That means that anyone who `prepares and tests programs` is a programmer, so even the most basic VB for Applications (Word macros) or ECMAScript author is a programmer. However, an HTML designer would not be, because they are only creating documents.

[ Parent ]
The perception must be altered (3.25 / 4) (#3)
by rebelcool on Tue Dec 26, 2000 at 08:59:43 PM EST

Computers have only recently become mainstream, and as such alot of people (that is, the majority) do not know how they work and are leery of those who do. Why is this? It's the typical fear of the unknown. Not sure of what a tool can do, but it seems very powerful and can take your credit card number..can someone who knows how to use a computer really well get your credit card number? These are the questions asked by Joe Blow.

Programming is still considered nerdy and for people who have no lives or social skills. Granted, there are alot of people who fit this description, but no more than any other science.

Women are amazingly lacking in science and engineering fields as well.. why this is could be explained by a dozen different theories. I think if we as a society encouraged our girls to learn about technology as much as we encourage our boys to build things with legos and what not, the gap would close. I grew up with a brother, so I have no idea how girls are raised...

It's a society perception that will change, though slowly.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site

can solve any problem with enough layers (3.25 / 4) (#12)
by cpfeifer on Tue Dec 26, 2000 at 10:29:44 PM EST

In the future we will have, on the one hand, a smaller number of IP specialists who concentrate on the computer science and implementation parts, and on the other hand a wider range of domain specialists who can better satisfy the domain requirements - a much better distribution of skills.

We already have the makings of this right now. VB is a good example (VB abstracts you from all sorts of details of how things happen, and allows you to concentrate on building the app, not dealing with HWND's.) but a better example are all of the 'packaged' apps out there: Siebel, SAP, Oracle Financials... These apps do all of the heavy lifting in terms of persistance, security, and basic business logic, and leave the customization (a far far less complex and computer science-y task) to armies of consultants. These consultants are intelligent people, but their focus is on solving the client's business problem, not the best way to normalize the schema or the best thread scheduling model. There's far more people that are qualified to do 'customization work' than are qualified to do systems programming.

--- "What's the point of waking up in the morning if you don't try to match the enourmousness of the known forces in the world with something powerful in your own life?" - Don Delillo, "Underworld"

VB (2.66 / 3) (#32)
by delmoi on Wed Dec 27, 2000 at 12:14:45 PM EST

VB is a good example (VB abstracts you from all sorts of details of how things happen, and allows you to concentrate on building the app, not dealing with HWND's.)

But GOD does it suck. I've found VB useful for writing little apps that, say, moved files around. But for anything with anything more then the most basic functionality its painful (crappy object model, poor, if existent threading model, piss-poor exception handling). Yeah, you don't need to worry about HWNDs, but you don't really need to worry about HWNDs when programming C++ either (or Java, HWNDs are more an API problem then a Language problem). But what's great about C++ on windows is that you *can* muck around with the ugly stuff, and tweak it into something cool.

The reason
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Re: VB (3.50 / 2) (#39)
by bearclaw on Thu Dec 28, 2000 at 03:32:33 PM EST

But GOD does it suck. I've found VB useful for writing little apps that, say, moved files around. But for anything with anything more then the most basic functionality its painful (crappy object model, poor, if existent threading model, piss-poor exception handling).

Well, I've used VB for three years now, taking a break to do a full year of intense VC++ programming, and I like VB much better. I think the object model is pretty decent, but it does lack c++ style exception handling (I think this is fixed in VB7).

My experience with VB (as is the case with almost 90% of VB programmers) is inconjunction with some sort of RDBMS (in my case, Oracle). It's worked great. Complex queries, report generation, and performance was not an issue. I think a lot of the time, people dislike it just because it allows non-programmers to "get in the game", so to speak. Use the best tool for the job, I say. And I think VB is a great Windows development tool.

-- bearclaw
[ Parent ]
Delphi, or something like labview or quickbooks (none / 0) (#46)
by bored on Thu Jan 04, 2001 at 07:29:01 PM EST

Two things:

First if you don't like VB (your right it 'sucks') try Delphi. It has a 'real' compiled language not a pseudo compiled/interpreted one. It has a real and very consistent object/component model that is far cleaner than any other windows UI development model I've tried or used. The component model is open so you can get source for all the cute little components so you can fix bugs in those little black boxes when they appear. This is one of the most annoying problems with VB is that getting component bugs fixed is damn near impossible. Object pascal interfaces to windows pretty well so there really isn't anything that is 'easier' to do in C/C++ because it has a lower level access to the windows API's. I could go on about this but there are plenty of other references.

Secondly, I don't think that M$ is really taking about a cooler VB when they describe programmers vs application behavior details. I think they are talking more about application specific software written so that a business expert comes in and makes some high level changes to the application to fit a particular need. I think software like Labview or maybe Quickbooks ,where its a software package for a specific use but it requires a decent amount of 'expert' configuration to conform it to a unique environment, is a better example.

[ Parent ]
I don't think this problem exists (3.50 / 4) (#16)
by enterfornone on Tue Dec 26, 2000 at 11:21:16 PM EST

There is certainly an IT skills shortage, particularly in new and emerging technologies (not just programmers).

What you describe is a shortage of people with IT apptitude. I don't think there is such a shortage. In my experience there are plenty of potentially talented IT workers who are unable to find jobs because they do not have experience in the area's that employers are after. The fact that they may be able to pick up these skills on the job is not relevant, they don't have these skills now and that's what employers are after.<P>

There is a huge shortage of people with experience in new technology such as (for example) WML. Sure people with the right apptitude and experience in HTML or XML would have no trouble picking up WML, but employers don't want to have to train someone. They want someone to be able to get to work right away.


--
efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
Apptitude shortage (2.33 / 3) (#18)
by Dacta on Tue Dec 26, 2000 at 11:38:22 PM EST

I think there is an apptitude shortage. While I have heard of cases of programmers who can't find jobs, all the good programmers I know have more offers of jobs than they know what to do with.

On the other hand, the (few) programmers I know who have been temporaily out of work were all people who (a)I wouldn't recommend because I didn't think they were good and/or (b)people who wanted to get out of programming as soon as they could because they didn't really enjoy it. (Ignoring those who decided to take a break from working, of course)



[ Parent ]
These people are already programmers. (4.00 / 2) (#20)
by enterfornone on Tue Dec 26, 2000 at 11:50:53 PM EST

These people are already programmers. They already have skills.

Does your company hire experience (say) Cobol programmers to do Java work just because they potentially have the aptitude to program well in Java? Does your company hire non-programmers and train them to program?

--
efn 26/m/syd
Will sponsor new accounts for porn.
[ Parent ]
Hiring & retraining programmers (3.00 / 2) (#23)
by Dacta on Wed Dec 27, 2000 at 12:54:48 AM EST

Yes to both. They hired me (a Delphi programmer) to do Java and we hire lots of graduates and train them.

I think you need to note, too that there is something of an attitude that "if you are still a COBOL programmer, you need to show some inititive yourself in order to be hired". To some extent, I agree with this - if COBOL programmers couldn't see that their job prospects were becoming more limited, I'm not sure I want to work with them because it doesn't show a great deal of understanding of technology.

The only reason people don't hire people with other skills to fill gaps is because they don't understand technology better. For example, I've got 3 years of database experience on Oracle, SQL Server and Sybase. I once had a recruiter nearly turn me down for an interview because the company was looking for 2 years SQL experience and the recruiter only saw 6 months SQL Server.



[ Parent ]
Possible solution (3.33 / 3) (#21)
by driptray on Wed Dec 27, 2000 at 12:09:35 AM EST

If only 10% of people are the right type, make sure that you get all of that 10%! So, give personality/aptitude tests to kids in school. Those with the right personality/aptitude should be encouraged into computer science.

Actually the problem may be harder to solve in that the rational, analytic 10% are probably suited to quite a wide range of jobs - science, mathematics, law, academia (in most disciplines) etc. But programmers earn more than most of them, so it shouldn't be a hard sell to get them into programming.


--
We brought the disasters. The alcohol. We committed the murders. - Paul Keating
Might as well use astrology (3.75 / 4) (#22)
by elenchos on Wed Dec 27, 2000 at 12:35:15 AM EST

The Myers-Briggs, or the Sanford-Binet IQ test, or any of the other canned personlity/aptitude measuring tools, are not valid enough for a purpose like that. They are fine for parlor games, or trivial first approximatios, or grist for one's own mill. They are worse than useless if you try to use them to compare two people, or to guide the decisons of anyone. Do you know anything about Linux's "bogomips" statistic? Same deal.

Adequacy.org
[ Parent ]

Re: Might as well use astrology (3.00 / 2) (#28)
by psicE on Wed Dec 27, 2000 at 10:24:36 AM EST

I'd think that the MBTI is at least a little more reliable than astrology, given that it actually measures the person's personality instead of making guesses based on birth time; especially for temperament. If you can give someone both the Temperament Sorter II and the Character Sorter, and both times they come out as the same temperament, and (more importantly) you give them the same tests a number of years later and they're still the same, you can be reasonably sure (obviously not positive) that you've found their temperament.

[ Parent ]
It sounds good, but it ain't science. (3.00 / 5) (#31)
by elenchos on Wed Dec 27, 2000 at 11:21:02 AM EST

The Skeptic's Dictionary entry for the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator gives an exhaustive debunking of the test and its relatives, and includes a fun history of personality typing. It concludes with fully referenced citations and further reading. Truly admirable work.

Adequacy.org
[ Parent ]

I am INTJ? (2.50 / 4) (#25)
by skim123 on Wed Dec 27, 2000 at 03:52:18 AM EST

Took the test at http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/JTypes2.asp and it said I am INTJ... that means NT, I assume?

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


Nope (none / 0) (#44)
by Matrix on Tue Jan 02, 2001 at 08:24:52 PM EST

IN is Ideallist (which seems to be a respectible chunk of geeks). The first two letters are the overall type, the second two are the specific type.


Matrix
"...Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions. It's the only way to make progress."
- Lord Vetinari, pg 312 of the Truth, a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett
[ Parent ]

No... (none / 0) (#45)
by hkeith on Wed Jan 03, 2001 at 03:01:56 PM EST

"IN is Ideallist (which seems to be a respectible chunk of geeks). The first two letters are the overall type, the second two are the specific type."

That's incorrect. The inner two letters refer to overall temperament: NT (iNtuitive Thinking) refers to the Rational temperament. NF (iNtuitive Feeling) is an Idealist.

(from www.keirsey.com/matrix.html; description of the NT temperament is at www.keirsey.com/personality/nt.html)

So to answer skim123's original question, yes, INTJ is the NT type 'Mastermind'.

-hk (an INTP)

[ Parent ]

No hope. Get used to being rich. (4.16 / 6) (#26)
by elenchos on Wed Dec 27, 2000 at 04:02:08 AM EST

The "NT personality type" is just a pseudo-scientific way of saying "geek." Nothing done in schools will make non-geeks into geeks. You can give a non-geek an MIS degree, but that won't do anything to fix all the unsolved technical problems that are piling up in the world, especially in software. Education can take a hacker and make an engineer, resulting in something valuable being gained but something else that was valuable being lost. Either way, the net quantity of good programming that gets done is the same.

Microsoft's proposal sounds like a rational way out of the problem, by essentially leveraging geek-power as much as possible and allowing non-geeks to contribute as much as possible. I think that it is a fundamentally unsound idea, however. You have a set of problems that demand flashes of genius to solve. A pedestrian intellect might solve one of them if the problem were re-framed in different terms, but that task of re-framing the problem in itself requires a flash of genius and cannot be automated. If you could spare a brilliant person who could do that, that person might just as well solve the problem itself.

Should we allow more programmers from overseas? Absolutely. But not because it will do anything do overcome the worldwide deficiency of programmers but because it is immoral for us to continue exploiting the labor of non-citizens while not giving them the same rights as citizens. The same applies to the way we exploit migrant farm workers. All workers deserve decent treatment and the chance to negotiate the conditions of their employment fairly because they are human beings, not just because they happen to be US citizens.

Inventing ways for non-programmers to program suffers from the same theoretical flaw as Microsoft's approach. Like previous attempts to increase the efficiency of programming (structured programming, OOP, Open Source, extreme programming), there might be some real benefit to be gained, but it is of marginal size, and cannot keep up with the rate at which the number of unsolved programming problems is increasing.

We should basically accept the situation as normal. In terms of the big picture that implies not relying so much on software to keep the world running the way we like. This is more or less equivalent to decreasing the number of programmers needed.

I don't see much chance of this happening, because people find the present over-reliance on low-quality software tolerable. Short of a huge disaster caused by some kind of terrorist attack on the software infrastructure or the kind of Y2K failure that never materialized, there is little reason to expect any change in the public's appetite for more computerization the foreseeable future.

So I guess we can safely predict that programmer salaries will continue to rise. Darn. :)

Adequacy.org

wouldn't get too complacent.. (3.33 / 3) (#27)
by gregholmes on Wed Dec 27, 2000 at 06:06:16 AM EST

I wouldn't get too complacent if I were you. I'm sure there was a good argument that there would always be a shortage of good telegraph operators. I can just see them sitting around complaining about the inefficiency of voice transmission as their jobs evaporate!



Two main issues here. (3.66 / 6) (#30)
by psicE on Wed Dec 27, 2000 at 10:51:50 AM EST

First, I'll address your points.

Increase the number of programmers by allowing immigration from overseas (which does nothing to decrease the world wide shortage of programmers)

Abolutely right! Granted, we should be more liberal in our immigration policies anyway, but nothing about this particular issue demands we change now (and we wouldn't anyway).

Decrese the numbers of programmers needed (I'm not sure how this could be accomplished).

You can only decrease the shortage of programmers by decreasing the number of different programs customers need (demand), or increasing the number of programmers (supply). Given that geeks == Rational (NT), and the current requirements prohibit anyone but Rationals or borderline Rationals from being a programmer:

  • Consolidate multiple programs into one, or otherwise eliminate the redundancy in the market we have now. Good for addressing the problem, bad for competition.
  • Eliminate or greatly reduce people needed for IT or other non-programming positions. This can be achieved by centralization (Sun's SunRays are a good example) or simplification of the tool, so less support is needed (MSN Web Companion). If you look closely, there's not much difference between those two other than the target market, so Sun and Microsoft must be onto something.
  • Simplify the programming process so much that non-geeks can do it. VBA, Python, etc. are all good examples of this, although even Python (I can't say for VB; is it any easier?) requires some knowledge about how to program, especially for GUIs, where VB lets you design them visually.

Invent ways for non-programmers to program.

As shown by the MBTI (although the temperaments are actually made by David Keirsey), if you can get an accurate test of someone (as in repeated results on multiple different forms), you have a pretty good idea of who the person is. The reason, therefore, that Rationals naturally become geeks, INTx especially, is because being Introverted doesn't exactly help their social life :) and they are forced to turn to computers (the more extreme ones at least), the Thinking means they're more logically oriented, and the T combined with iNtuitive means they are more inclined to be able to understand computers from a very young age, and learn how themselves. If you could somehow separate the process so that some people (the NTs, or even ISTxs who were taught how) could do the actual programming, and other people (xNxxs, or any iNtuitives) could supply the ideas for what it should do, and how.

Accept the situation, and pay more money to good programmers. (I like this option, but hey, I'm selfish!)

Depending on how you define the programmer shortage, that's not exactly a solution. However, it is what we're doing now. <hr> For the record, I'm an INFJ. Also, x in a personality attribute means borderline, or as I used it above means it doesn't matter.

Non-programmers programming (3.33 / 3) (#35)
by Fred Nerk on Wed Dec 27, 2000 at 11:31:37 PM EST

Invent ways for non-programmers to program.

The suggestion is that creating other ways for non-today's-programmers to write a program will decrease the shortage.

What's to say that non-programmers will enjoy it, even if they can understand it easily?

I'm a programmer, my brain fits very well the problems a programmer faces every day, my logical thought process helps enourmously, but I do it because I enjoy it.

According to my school teachers a number of years ago, I also have musical talent... My whole family are very musical, so it follows that I am too... I don't play in a band, or even pick up my guitar anymore, simply because it doesn't interest me.

[ Parent ]

That doesn't always matter (3.33 / 3) (#38)
by psicE on Thu Dec 28, 2000 at 10:53:49 AM EST

My guess is that a very large percentage of people (at least in the US, hopefully it's lower in the rest of the world) take jobs that they don't like, simply because it's a source of income. No matter how hard we try, there will never be that many professional programmers, so the job will still command many times more money than your average minimum-wage job at McDonalds. If we can create more opportunities in the programming field, it's virtually guaranteed at least somebody will take them.

As per your musical talent but non-interest, I can only say that I believe in nurture over nature. If every kid was exposed to computers at the age of 2, and learned programming as soon as they understood algebra (let's say they could learn both around 6th grade), we'd have a lot more aspiring programmers, and also a lot more NT Rationals.

Granted, no matter how hard you try not everyone could be an N (Introspective). That's a good thing; the reason we have so many more S's (Observers) than N's (Introspectives) is because in a society of all introspectives, nothing would get done. We need some people cooking, some people cleaning, some people working at assembly lines, but also some people who come up with all these ideas in the first place.

[ Parent ]
Young and stupid..... (1.71 / 7) (#33)
by cryon on Wed Dec 27, 2000 at 09:29:45 PM EST

...tis a long road that has no turning. You believe the propangda that the monied class puts forth for your consumption, just as the peasantry always have down through the ages. Their vehicle? The mass media? Their ways? Multifarious...
KIngs rallied you to their causes, and eventually to your death, the military-industrial complex was last in the thread of the call to patriotic duty, and now that has been replaced by corporate capitalism with a new call, not for the love of country, but to "fairness" and anti-bigotry, etc., all of the pantheon of political correctness is the avatar of the new brand of peasant manipulation.

Allow me to tell you how it should work:
WE own this country. It is our place of business. We are in a defacto sense shareholder-citizens. The benefits of this ownership accrue to us as joint owners. Our place of business is this country. We control it to maximize our own benefit. The situation is analogous to the everyday business partnership. If a group of people acquire a property with considerable business advantages, such as a good location, near good infrastructure, then improve uponit with more infrastructure, and offer goods and servives from this location, then that is what we have here. If one of the owners of this hypothetical joint partnership decides that a new owner should be brought in, without having to pay to get in, to buy in, and this new owner would compete with current owners for business, then you can see, I hope, that some of the owners would lose in this scenario. Of course, there has been a VAST propagation of propaganda to soften up the American citizen-shareholders for the mass importation of competition for themselves. Thanks to media putting out the themes that being against immigration (being against bringing in competition) is tantamount to racism. It has been a masterful campaign, but then again, the vast majority is just oo musy breeding little copies of themselves, or too busy playing the social status game, or the mating game, to be able to read enough about history etc to grok the big picture. They have no idea most of them, about the effort devoted in the businss world to reduce competition, and to evaluate competition in targeted markets, etc. They cannot translate the idea that success may depend upon the degree of competition ( a pure and valid business idea) to the idea that we all as citizen-shareholders are in business here in the USA.
The USA offers much to attract capital: we have a great market connected by a great infrastructure, we are relatively non-corrupt (the recent betrayal of USA programmers by Congress when they sold out our jobs to imported labor after being bribed by I.T. money), and we do not nationalize assets.
There is something to be said grabbing all the smartest scientific minds in the world, but what about grabbing all the doctors (we could train many more overseas for a fraction of what it costs here, and have plenty more left over to work overseas), but the doctors are too smart for that; you see they are *truly* smart, not just IQ test smart, like most programmers. THey know that they lose money when more compettition comes in. Programmers don't know that. I suspect however, that as more foriegn programmers flood the market, native programmers may finally wise up....
HTGS75OBEY21IRTYG54564ACCEPT64AUTHORITY41V KKJWQKHD23CONSUME78GJHGYTMNQYRTY74SLEEP38H TYTR32CONFORM12GNIYIPWG64VOTER4APATHY42JLQ TYFGB64MONEY3IS4YOUR7GOD62MGTSB21CONFORM34 SDF53MARRY6AND2REPRODUCE534TYWHJZKJ34OBEY6

Hu? & bad assumption (5.00 / 1) (#34)
by Dacta on Wed Dec 27, 2000 at 10:43:13 PM EST

I didn't understand the first part of your comment (and the second part was pretty hard to read).

Also, I'd like to point out that I'm Australian, and I was actually talking more about importing programmers into Australia than into the US. I guess the discussion is equally as valid there, too, but HOW DARE YOU ASSUME I'M AN AMERICAN!. I've got nothing against the US, only against people who assume they are the center of the earth. I'm tempted to say that if your HTML skills are representitive of your programming skills, no wonder you are worried about your job - but that would be rude, so I won't say that.

Also, you missed the whole point of my article. It wasn't about whether there should be more hi-tech immigration, it was about the cause of the fact that few people are good at programming.



[ Parent ]
Reasoning by analogy and other pitfalls. (4.50 / 2) (#36)
by elenchos on Thu Dec 28, 2000 at 03:39:25 AM EST

We are in a defacto sense shareholder-citizens.

There is no basis for this claim to be taken literally. You make an analogy between being a business and a nation, but it is only an analogy. Citizenship may be like being a shareholder, but it is exactly the same as nothing except citizenship. The meaning of citizenship is not such a weird concept to a normal person that they need it explained to them in terms of an analogy. It is therefore unnecessary to extend the analogy as far as you do, nor to insist that what might be true about a business and its owners is also true about a citizen and his or her country.

Looking at a nation as nation and a citizen as a citizen, and not as a "shareholder," it is easy to ask, "Have citizens benefited or been harmed by mass immigration?" In the case of the US, looking at our nation from colonial times all the way to the present, the answer is that we have almost always gained something. Cheap labor. Intellectual capital, people with drive and ambition. Many immigrants have actually been middle class or even rich, and brought that capital into the US and created jobs with it. The Cuban-American community in Florida is a shining example of that kind of economic boon.

The only thing that really harms American workers is the way that non-citizens have their rights as workers limited, so that companies that hire non-citizens get a docile indentured servant who can't talk back, or leave to seek better opportunities. They are like the metics of the ancient Greek city-states. If the law applied equally to both citizens and non-citizens, a native-born worker would have no trouble competing in the job market, given the overwhelming advantage of being a native speaker of the language, and the additional advantages of cultural familiarity, an American university education and a pre-existing social support network. If you still can't find a good job with all these factors working in your favor, you have no one to blame but yourself.

Besides insulting the Australian writer of the original article, you offend millions of others with your unsupported claim that those who disagree with you are being duped by a media conspiracy, rather than arriving at their opinion through the hard work of research, careful thought and honest self-criticism. I may well be in error, in fact I am almost certainly mistaken about something, but at least allow me the dignity of being responsible for my own errors, and rather than putting the blame on my television set.

Adequacy.org
[ Parent ]

a hollow shell of argument? (1.50 / 2) (#37)
by cryon on Thu Dec 28, 2000 at 10:35:03 AM EST

You wrote:

"We are in a defacto sense shareholder-citizens. There is no basis for this claim to be taken literally."

Yes, there was a basis offered by in my post, but you chose not o quote it. I offered evidence. You offer nothing.

" You make an analogy between being a business and a nation, but it is only an analogy.Citizenenship may be like being a shareholder, but it is exactly the same as nothing except citizenship. The meaning of citizenship is not such a weird concept to a normal person that they need it explained to them in terms of an analogy. It is therefore unnecessary to extend the analogy as far as you do, nor to insist that what might be true about a business and its owners is also true about a citizen and his or her country."

You remember what I said about propaganda? You substitute programmed responses you learned from it for logical reasoning. You use circular logic: You say citizenship is what it is. Your argument is hollow. It relies upon itself. I showed how citizenship is like a business partnership. You "refute" it by ....what? Nothing!

"Looking at a nation as nation and a citizen as a citizen, and not as a "shareholder," it is easy to ask, "Have citizens benefited or been harmed by mass immigration?"

It is a well-known, time-tested aspect of business practice that competition is harmful to any one business. We are all businesses, individually. We own and maintain a place of business jointly. We compete against each other, and our jointly owned business partnership competes against other large cooperatives (known in the old parlance as "countries").

Practices that overall help the financial well-being of the cooeprative partnership may HURT certain individual citizen-shareholders or groups of them.

Doctors know this. THey act accordingly as a group to take action to prevent harm to themselves as a group. They organize.

They are able to do this because many of them are older, and therefore wiser. Programmers are younger and therefore stupider. Therefore other groups that BENEFIT by importing labor in the form of foreign programmers (such as the relatively small percentage of citizen-shareholders who are RICH, and the *managerial* section of citizen-shareholders, or those who make a living *recruiting* foreign programmers) are wiser and much aware of the true dynamics of the business world, can easily organize and take action to BENEFIT themselves. They do so by paying large sums of money to Congress who in turn pass laws to bring in more competitors to lower prices.

In a way, what happened in the recent past, where the military-industrial complex benefited from the wars such as the Vietnam war by feeding off the lives of the young men who fought, is being repeated here. Young programmers are being sacrificed to benefit the interests of the software industry. This war is economic, but then again, those wars were economic, too.
HTGS75OBEY21IRTYG54564ACCEPT64AUTHORITY41V KKJWQKHD23CONSUME78GJHGYTMNQYRTY74SLEEP38H TYTR32CONFORM12GNIYIPWG64VOTER4APATHY42JLQ TYFGB64MONEY3IS4YOUR7GOD62MGTSB21CONFORM34 SDF53MARRY6AND2REPRODUCE534TYWHJZKJ34OBEY6

[ Parent ]

What a warm welcome (4.50 / 2) (#41)
by tchaika on Thu Dec 28, 2000 at 07:58:03 PM EST

Thanks for your comments. Having recently moved to the USA I find them heartwarming.

Yes, I have moved to the USA to live and to work in IT. But guess what? I'll be producing SOFTWARE. AMERICANS will use the software to make MONEY (financial trading systems). So I will be contributing to the economy in vast disproportion to my consumption of the country's resources.

Not only that, but my home country heavily subsidized by education which America now gets to leverage for free.

And if my presence is to the slight financial detriment of the hordes of clueless web developers making six figure salaries on wall st and wherever else, I don't think the world will be much worse off.


[ Parent ]
You are not welcome in my house (none / 0) (#42)
by cryon on Thu Dec 28, 2000 at 09:23:38 PM EST

I and 250 million other citizen shareholders own this country and make our living here. Yes, if you and 200K other people want to come here and compete with me, so that I may not even be able to get a job, then that is theft

Yes, it hardly hurts the vast majority of American shreholder-citizens, and some small fraction will benefit from it, but I and the other current shareholders who make our living iat it will be damaged financially.

Unfortunately, those will benefit from your coming here have much money, and they bought Congress, and to add to that, most of my fellow programmers are too young and naive to realize the truth (it goes much deeper than that, but time prevents my further explication...), and the typical persoanlity and motivations of my fellow programmers also makes it easy for those who make their livings off of programmers to fool them.


HTGS75OBEY21IRTYG54564ACCEPT64AUTHORITY41V KKJWQKHD23CONSUME78GJHGYTMNQYRTY74SLEEP38H TYTR32CONFORM12GNIYIPWG64VOTER4APATHY42JLQ TYFGB64MONEY3IS4YOUR7GOD62MGTSB21CONFORM34 SDF53MARRY6AND2REPRODUCE534TYWHJZKJ34OBEY6

[ Parent ]

You are not welcome in my house (none / 0) (#43)
by cryon on Thu Dec 28, 2000 at 09:27:48 PM EST

I and 250 million other citizen shareholders own this country and make our living here. Yes, if you and 200K other people want to come here and compete with me, so that I may not even be able to get a job, then that is theft

Yes, it hardly hurts the vast majority of American shreholder-citizens, and some small fraction will benefit from it, but I and the other current shareholders who make our living iat it will be damaged financially.

Unfortunately, those will benefit from your coming here have much money, and they bought Congress, and to add to that, most of my fellow programmers are too young and naive to realize the truth (it goes much deeper than that, but time prevents my further explication...), and the typical persoanlity and motivations of my fellow programmers also makes it easy for those who make their livings off of programmers to fool them.


HTGS75OBEY21IRTYG54564ACCEPT64AUTHORITY41V KKJWQKHD23CONSUME78GJHGYTMNQYRTY74SLEEP38H TYTR32CONFORM12GNIYIPWG64VOTER4APATHY42JLQ TYFGB64MONEY3IS4YOUR7GOD62MGTSB21CONFORM34 SDF53MARRY6AND2REPRODUCE534TYWHJZKJ34OBEY6

[ Parent ]

shortage maybe - lack of focus for sure! (4.00 / 3) (#40)
by lleukkun on Thu Dec 28, 2000 at 03:57:27 PM EST

I doubt that there is a _real_ shortage of programmers. It is just that most of the time we are wasting our energy on the not-so-important projects which are then left running and consuming maintenance resources. The biggest problem is figuring out which project would be the one worth the effort but this is an almost impossible problem due to corporate politics most of the time. People really really love to run their little empires and feel very insulted if someone suggests that their pet is a no good waste of time.

The problem is made worse by having these non-programmers generating even more work by building totally unmanageable disasters (yes, even using the 'solutions' offered here: SAP/R3 & co). It is not the fault of those who can't build the systems but of those who still allow/force them to.

This is especially true for in-house projects but it affects the 'real' sw development by consuming insane amounts of money and people. I don't know but I would imagine that most of world's programmers (or people wearing a programmer's hat) are building these customized systems.

I read from somewhere that IE was built by 50 programmers and the Linux kernel is made by similar number of developers (I know there are more contributing but the core is that size I believe).

It is very mind-expanding to compare these development projects to some 'customization' projects involving a few hundred consultants, lasting a decade and delivering something that nobody expected.

The majority of managers seem to be thinking that everything that can be 'automated' must be even when the sw may take 6 months to create, requires regular maintenance and the task they are trying to optimize only takes 5 hours a month to do.

Very likely 50% of all sw being developed today could just as well be not developed at all and nobody could tell the difference.

Why there will always be a shortage of programmers | 46 comments (32 topical, 14 editorial, 0 hidden)
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