Doubts about importing skilled workers

The Jan. 10 opinion piece "Widen the door for skilled foreigners" hit home with me. As a college-educated chemist in a pharmaceutical research organization, I am one of three American-born chemists out of 12 scientists in the lab. Yet, I am contemplating leaving chemistry. Why? To have any chance for advancement would require spending 5 years pursuing a PhD degree.

I would have to compete with a large pool of PhD candidates - many of whom are foreign born - for industrial jobs that do not all require a PhD. After all that, I could expect to earn about the same as a computer professional with a bachelor's degree or an MBA.

I certainly agree that unlimited immigration of skilled workers reduces opportunities and incentives for American workers. This practice is often justified on the grounds that America needs to recruit top talent from around the world to remain intellectually competitive.

This is hogwash. I have yet to meet a chemist from Western Europe or Japan, home to many top-level scientists. The reality is that most of these scientists come from developing countries and Eastern Europe, are less than top level, and are willing to work for much less than their American counterparts for the prospect of receiving a green card.

Robert McLellan Chicago, Ill.

I agree that H-1B visas, which allow skilled foreigners to live and work in the United States for up to six years, need to be eliminated.

I am not a US citizen and have applied for an H-1B. However, this is not a good way to recruit workers or people who want to migrate to the US. Canada, Australia, and New Zealand use a point system, and if an applicant falls below the point scale, they do not qualify to enter. If this were the case in the US, there would be fewer unnecessary, unskilled migrants and more skilled ones.

It is truly frustrating to know that the US probably would prefer skilled workers over unskilledworkers, and yet the US system makes it difficult for skilled workers to obtain permanent residency here.

M. Obaid Kahn Coppell, Texas

Faster is not always better

Regarding your article "In the Web without a net" (Jan. 3): The Internet is a technology that all of us need to grasp.I love the wealth of information, not to mention the ease of shopping.However, while trying in vain to resolve a disagreement concerning a purchase, made coincidentally online, I found that using modern technology is not always the best way to come to a resolution.

I think some of us underestimate the power of an old-fashioned letter.In my opinion, letters afford us the ability to convey a deeper sense of earnestness and still make the best impression in this high-tech world.(By the way, the vendor gave me total satisfaction!)

Doraya Goeppert Lafayette, Calif.

Not just another pretty smell

I agree with your Homefront editor's column "A plea against perfume" (Dec. 29). I recall hearing someone say that the only person who smells a woman's perfume should be the man who is whispering in her ear. Or the reverse: The only person who should smell a man's cologne is the woman in whose ear he is whispering.

Many of these people do not realize that while a cologne or perfume may smell pleasant in the bottle, when it mixes with the body's odors, the result is something like "Evening in the Compost Heap."

Mary Hanks Falls Church, Va.

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