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Joe Guzzardi Penn State University students’ priorities are out of order

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Joe Guzzardi

Posted: Saturday, November 26, 2011 12:00 am

Two weeks ago, thousands of Penn State University students rioted over head football coach Joe Paterno's firing. But unless you live in Pennsylvania, you probably don't know that in February, when Penn State regents announced a 10th tuition increase in 10 years, only about 150 students out of 40,000 protested. During the last decade, Penn State tuition has nearly doubled to $15,000 for instate students.

One of the broad objectives of a college education is to learn the difference between what's important (sharply higher tuition that forces some students to drop out and precludes others from applying) and what's not (who coaches the football team).

What students at Penn State and elsewhere should also be focused on is why, even after paying more money every year, they can't find a job after they graduate. To understand what's led to their looming unemployed status, students would have to buck political correctness.

The major factors that have contributed to 9 percent unemployment are Republican and Democratic political miscalculations that have dried up domestic jobs by sending them overseas while, at the same time, importing foreign-born workers on non-immigrant visas.

Although it's difficult to put an exact figure on how many jobs have been outsourced, one thing is certain: The Department of Labor grossly underestimates the total, which is likely in the tens of millions.

Since 1970, when consumer electronics manufacturers first sent basic assembly tasks abroad, outsourcing has become an increasingly popular corporate cost saving strategy. These jobs that include positions ranging in importance from airline maintenance to handling phone inquiries at credit card call centers are gone for good. For corporate America, doing business abroad is simply more lucrative. In the unlikely event that Congress might reconsider the adverse impact outsourcing has on American workers, the multinational companies have their lobbyists on retainer ready to remind them who funds their campaigns.

At precisely the same time that jobs have disappeared overseas, the federal government invited millions of foreign-born nationals to the United States and facilitated their arrival with a variety of non-immigrant visas, the most popular of which are the H-1B and the J-1 work visas.

The dire consequences of a liberal immigration policy vis a vis employment should be — but is not — readily apparent to anyone smart enough to get into a four-year university. For every work permit, automatically included with most non-immigrant visas, an American job is at risk.

Northeastern University Professor Andrew Sum, who directs the Center for Labor Market Studies, calculated that the impact of legal and illegal immigration on American workers is disastrous. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, from 2008 to 2010, the 1.1 million new migrants who entered America during that three-year period landed jobs even as U.S. household employment declined by 6.26 million over that same period. Said Sum: "Employers have chosen to use new immigrants over native-born workers and have continued to displace large numbers of blue-collar workers and young adults ..."

Ironically, Penn State actively recruits J-1 and H-1B visa holders and offers, through its Global Connections' program, to teach new arrivals English and provide them with tax assistance.

Good luck to anyone trying to make clear to students the connection between more immigration and fewer jobs. The longer students ignore the obvious, the harder it will be for them to become gainfully employed.

Joe Guzzardi retired from the Lodi Unified School District in 2008. Contact him at guzzjoe@yahoo.com.

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