Necessary Imports

Every Trump supporter I’ve seen interviewed or read interviews with seemed to have one main complaint that they believed Trump could fix (because he loudly told them he would): they want better jobs that pay more money. Some of them just want their old jobs back that they lost in a changing economy, for which they blame the Obama administration. So, they want the government to get them better jobs, which sounds suspiciously like a government handout and dangerously close to a socialist society. (For the record, I am not opposed to socialism, but I don’t believe this is the reason for the Trump mentality.)

For over 30 years, I have worked in the software industry. I am a woman who went to college, spent 8 years working my way through, and then found a good job in the fledgling technology sector. In those 30 years, I have worked shoulder-to-shoulder with wonderful immigrants imported from countries all around the world to fill the desperate need for skilled talent. I’ve been privileged to have colleagues from China, India, Vietnam, Iran, Sri Lanka, Guatemala, and others. One of the things I have truly loved about my work is the diversity of people I have known as a result.

These people learned skills that were of little use in their own countries and then were willing to leave behind their families, friends, and culture to travel and live thousands of miles away – all for the chance to have a good job that paid well. They came to America, where perhaps they didn’t know anyone, didn’t understand the culture, maybe didn’t even speak the language very well. But they were highly capable in the skills related to software engineering and became valuable resources in our country.

Looking back, I see that at least half, maybe more, of the colleagues I have had in 30 years were people who were far away from home on a work visa or earning a green card for the privilege of living the American dream and supporting the families they left behind. And let me tell you–these were all phenomenal, wonderful people to work with. Gracious, grateful, humble, and intelligent. I’m such a better person for having known them.

Why did the tech industry become such a large importer of foreign talent to fill the many open jobs? Because there simply weren’t enough Americans willing to learn the necessary skills. Today, there is still a huge shortage of resources in the madly growing tech sector and we continue to import workers to fill that need. Headhunters and recruiters are constantly looking for people to fill the void, fighting over the available pool of talent. Even after 30 years in the business, I still get at least a weekly inquiry from some well-meaning recruiter wanting to know if I’m interested in a new job.

So when I hear some Trump supporter complain about their low wages, their struggle to make ends meet, forgive me if I just really can’t understand. This is America and we’re famous around the world as the land of opportunity. Get off your ass and get the skills you need to get a better job – don’t just sit around and blame the government for your woes. This isn’t a socialist country where the government provides for you – this is a republic built by self-made men and women, envied around the globe for our abundance.

When did Americans become too lazy to pursue the American dream, I wonder?

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