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Chinese Workers Abandon Silicon Valley for Riches Back Home (bloomberg.com)
219 points by thisisit on Jan 11, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 319 comments



I am a Norwegian in Silicon Valley that have spent most of my career with Chinese colleagues, both in academia and industry, and my anecdata seem to indicate that my highly talented China-born colleagues are sadly leaving because;

- China has great opportunities for riches

- Getting a US VISA is hard and painful when you come from a populous country like China or India

- My China-born colleagues seem to in general be more conservative, and Silicon Valley has become violently intolerant of anyone that holds an opinion different than the predominant view

Only the first reason is somewhat objective, while the two others cause stress in their daily life as their ability to provide can at any time be removed due to what is perceived as arbitrary reasons. Everything being equal, many of them have told me they would prefer the less crowded Silicon Valley.


I'd add 2 more anecdata points

- The strong sense of rapid progress, culturally, technologically, socially, infrastructure-wise. Everything transforms every few years and there's still the sense that everyone's hard work goes towards making the pie bigger instead of fighting each other for pieces of the pie. In relative terms, there's more stagnation in the Silicon Valley. I don't know when's the last time there has been a brand new shiny mall built. POS are still routinely being plugged with a card so you revert to using a magnetic stripe. NIMBY movements are still trying to revert society to an agrarian state.

- The comfort feeling that your hard work translates to social approval and your personal wealth vs the feeling at least in the Silicon Valley that your hard work translates to your landlord's wealth and increased vilification of the tech working class.


Yes, I think supply constraints on housing has in the last three decades only made the Bay Area worse. I donate to YIMBY and any other organization that fight to increase housing supply.

I am tired of people claiming to fight for the poor and working class by fighting market rate housing and offices. Their position is objectively wrong and they are at this point inarguably causing damage to vast groups lives.


> Getting a US VISA is hard and painful when you come from a populous country like China or India

Getting a green card is harder if you were born in China or India, not getting a visa, but once you've been on an H-1B for a sufficiently long period of time, you can only keep that status with a pending green card application. Switching employers at this stage is more difficult.


Aren't there rumblings that the current administration wants to actually remove the opportunity to indefinitely linger on H1B/advance parole status while the green card application is pending ? Sounds credible as far as current administration goes, and would certainly be a huge long term problem for the US, but there we are.


There was a rumored proposal, but USCIS announced the other day that it was unlikely to happen, and also mentioned that if it did happen it would not apply to existing AC-21 holders, as their employers could file extensions in one year increments.

The DHS has said that they want to propose the end of the H-4 visa giving work authorization for spouses of H-1B holders.


>Getting a US VISA is hard and painful when you come from a populous country like China or India

Which is funny in the specific context of Chinese people, since you essentially have to get an internal visa to move to the city from the countryside, and it's difficult to get.


> sadly leaving

Why is it sad? They get to go back home instead of on the other side of the planet from the place they grew up, and they don't have to give up nearly as much to do it.

Good for them.

> My China-born colleagues seem to in general be more conservative, and Silicon Valley has become violently intolerant of anyone that holds an opinion different than the predominant view

Had to get that "oppressed conservatives" narrative in.

I keep asking what views people are so intolerant of. Tend not to get real answers.


>Had to get that "oppressed conservatives" narrative in.

>I keep asking what views people are so intolerant of. Tend not to get real answers.

Because this is HN and people are less willing to let you derail the conversation with politics.


For your last point, I think you don't get "real" answers because there are totally different worldviews and perspectives clashing. You'd probably feel that any earnest response was a person just trying justify some "-ism" that you think is worthy of ostracism. They wouldn't see it that way.


As I said below I do not find it useful at all to try to list out the views that are not tolerated as there is no way that you can reduce a huge population groups opinions into neat categories, people can hold both conservative and liberal opinions as well as everything outside those at the same time, and I believe doing so would distract from the real conversation which is the intolerance.

There are also plenty of leaked examples of how people with other opinions are treated to even shock me that generally agree with the predominant view, and I encourage you to look it up and form your own opinion.

> Why is it sad? They get to go back home instead of on the other side of the planet from the place they grew up, and they don't have to give up nearly as much to do it.

As an immigrant myself I can tell you that leaving my network and life here would come at a huge cost. There are benefits of cause, especially since my home country Norway has a much better social support system. In my opinion nobody should have to do this out of fear, and that I perceive fear to sometimes be a contributing reason is what I find sad. Including the fact that I loose great colleauges that I love working with.


But I'm not asking for a comprehensive list, I'm asking what people are afraid to say. I think it's incredibly disingenuous to claim oppression, but also be unwilling to discuss it any further. I also think it does nothing to help the situation.

The obvious answer is "I voted for trump". But then of course, why?


I disagree that it is disingenuous because of the reasons provided and I gave you easy ways for you to find examples of this yourself if you are interested, and also provided more ways in a comment in the above thread.

I am uncertain if you are seeking concrete examples from me because you do not believe there is an intolerance to opinions or if you want them to see if you agree with oppressing some specific views in a list. Considering your response I tend towards the latter interpretation. Again, I do not think it is possible to simplify the opinions of a large group of people into neat categories.


These are both weasel words and willfully ignorant of what the OP is talking about. You don't have to agree with conservative views to understand that certain views are not tolerated (e.g. women are worse workers, etc.)


Intolerant is a hell of a lot better than being jailed or disappearing for saying what you believe to be true.


> I keep asking what views people are so intolerant of. Tend not to get real answers.

I'll give you some real answers. Note the are plenty of exceptions to what I'm about to say, but the views are very commonly held. Also note, in this post generally, and when I say 'Chinese' or 'Chinese community' I'm specifically referring to people who grew up in mainland China and moved to other countries as adults for study/work, not to children of people of Chinese descent who grew up in another country. Anyway, on to the issues:

1) Gay rights/issues - although not likely to be discriminatory to gays they know personally, being gay is generally viewed by the Chinese as a degenerate lifestyle choice and/or mental illness. Not to mention thinking that it spits on the graves of generations of their ancestors (because it has the high potential to end family lines). For a representative and recent (but non US) example, Australia recently held a referendum on whether to legalise gay marriage. The Chinese community was one of the strongest opposing voices to this. There is a common view that general acceptance of the gay community could teach/persuade their children to be gay, which is something none of them want. [0]

2) Trans rights/issues. Take the Chinese community's stance on gay rights/issues and multiply it by 10. That's how they feel on trans issues. Again with a recent Australian example, there is program called 'safe schools' that aims "to create an inclusive and safe environment for their school community, including for LGBTI students, families and teachers". The Chinese community is also vociferously opposed to this, believing (rightly or wrongly) that it is teaching their children to be gay/trans. [1]

3) Traditional gender roles. Chinese are very proud to announce that 'woman hold up half the sky' and that there is equally between men and women. It's a strongly held belief, because they compare things to how they were a hundred years ago when woman had bound feet, couldn't go to school, and weren't allowed outside without a male chaperone, and so yes things are definitely more equal now. Patriarchal Confucianism still has a strong influence on society however and women are generally still expected to do most of the cooking, cleaning and child-rearing in a household (unless the wife is from Shanghai, and then her husband is probably going to be doing all of it), and despite it being illegal for doctors to tell prospective parents the sex of their unborn child, there is still plenty of selective abortion that happens thanks to a cultural preference for males combined with an only recently loosened one child policy. [2]

That's three to start it off - I could go on, but this post is already getting long enough. In short, it's a fair assessment to say that the overseas Chinese community is generally socially conservative (I would also say they are generally fiscally conservative also).

0: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-16/chinese-community-expr...

1: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-08-23/safe-schools-mp-lodges...

2: http://www.scmp.com/comment/insight-opinion/article/2119281/...


> My China-born colleagues seem to in general be more conservative, and Silicon Valley has become violently intolerant of anyone that holds an opinion different than the predominant view

What exactly does this mean? Are they evangelical baptists, libertarians, reactionaries, nationalist, homophobic, misogynist, racist, anti-atheist, pro family-values, pro corporation, skeptical of global warming, pro fossil fuel energy, war hawks, or something else altogether? It's really quite difficult to interpret your statement as anything meaningful without clarification, and there are ten thousand different ways to be "conservative".

And to be clear, "conservative" is anything but a dirty word or something I'm trying to critique here--just a context-sensitive one. It could be a pejorative or a value.

Otherwise it doesn't add much to the conversation--it is itself a reactionary statement.


The comment you're dismissing gave a reason talented Chinese colleagues take themselves elsewhere. (I don't have firsthand knowledge of how true it is.) If true, it's worth knowing, whether or not it's a "reactionary statement".


Exactly :)

Of course, I wasn't dismissing anyone! Read more carefully. And, they were kind enough to actually clarify, and I appreciated their comment.

Not every discussion about political words must be political itself.


Can you please not post political flamebait to Hacker News? It takes threads on destructive tangents, and the comment you're replying to was obviously more substantive than this.


>> My China-born colleagues seem to in general be more conservative, and Silicon Valley has become violently intolerant of anyone that holds an opinion different than the predominant view

> What exactly does this mean? Are they evangelical baptists, libertarians, reactionaries, nationalist, homophobic, misogynist, racist, anti-atheist, pro family-values, pro corporation, skeptical of global warming, pro fossil fuel energy, war hawks, or something else altogether?

That's a long list.

    baptist: no
    libertarians: definitely no
    reactionaries: depends on what you mean
    nationalist: yes, beyond your wildest dreams... btw fuck Japan
    homophobic: no, disapproval of homosexuality is likely, but not phobia
    misogynist: rarely, but routinely sexist
    racist: yes... especially vs Japanese
    anti-atheist: of course not
    pro family-values: absolutely
    pro corporation: yes
    skeptical of global warming: no
    pro fossil fuel energy: not on the radar
    war hawks: only if rightful and historical claims are not respected
    something else altogether: many, many things
Silicon Valley is strident to the point where it's annoying, even for people invested in entirely orthogonal worldviews.


Thanks for the clarification.


Do keep in mind, of course, that not all Chinese people are the same.


> Do keep in mind, of course, that not all Chinese people are the same.

That's a snarky comment.

Obviously not everyone raised in a given country holds identical views, but there are real differences in cultures and beliefs between countries (especially those with centrally managed media).


How's that a snarky comment?

It's a gentle reminder to all who read things like this that Chinese people are individuals too, and don't all subscribe to the same beliefs. The notion that the modern Chinese person is racist towards the Japanese is pretty laughable, for example.


A "gentle reminder" that a 1.4 billion group of people are not identical is about as condescending as it gets.

> The notion that the modern Chinese person is racist towards the Japanese is pretty laughable, for example.

It's hard to see how anyone with any familiarity with China who does not themselves hate Japanese would laugh at this.

Not only is there widespread hatred of Japan (including Japanese people whose parents weren't even born during WWII), but it's fanned by the government[1]. Anti-Japanese specials run on TV during national week and over 200 anti-Japanese films are produced in China every year. In some cases anti-Japanese films are censored for being too moderate. A well known example is the 2000s war film, Devils at the Doorstep, which was nationally banned for including a scene where one Japanese soldier was friendly with Chinese villagers.

Despite your implication that modern China suffers less from this, surveys have shown that anti-Japanese sentiment in China is higher among the current generation than among the Chinese who lived through the war occupation. [2]

Personal anecdote is the weakest form of argument in this kind of debate, but I'll also add that while living on the mainland, I've personally received criticism simply for having befriended several Japanese students during my uni days.

1) https://journals.sub.uni-hamburg.de/giga/jcca/article/view/1...

2) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Japanese_sentiment_in_Chi...


What's really weird about Devils at the Doorstep being banned - SPOILERS eventually the Japanese killed everyone in that village and the Japanese soldiers were not punished because of the ending of World War 2.


I'll try to take a stab at this. I'm Chinese-American and I feel the Chinese folks who come to the US to study or to work have very different mindsets.

I have a friend who is dating a lot in NYC and he told me he notice most of his Chinese-American friends are liberal as in we fight for freedom of expression and social justice. Whereas the girls he met who are newly from China are conservative and support Trump because they are pro-business and more money-driven.

Based on his observation and my own experience I would agree. Most new Chinese visitors or immigrants don't value social rights and freedom of speech. And to be a bit critical, I feel they are so used to having the government or authority telling them what to do that they are comfortable with authoritarian rules and don't understand the importance of having independent thoughts and diversity.


I don't think they value social rights that much less than we do (although it seems local Chinese people seem to tolerate government power more than we do). People who come over from China, especially to work in Silicon Valley, tend to be the more open-minded of the bunch, and people I've talked to from China have told me that they're aware of those "problems" but don't view them too negatively as it's just the cost of running an efficient country.

They do, however, feel very disillusioned with a lot of the current progressive environment. It's less to do with not agreeing with those values, and more to do with disapproval with how we in the West express our dissatisfaction - we're quick to take to the streets, protest on social media, and believe anything our echo chambers tell us, hence where the Chinese insult "white left" comes from, referring to people who are overly emotional and sensitive about things.

China and Asia, in general, has a very conservative "keep it to yourself, fix it yourself" attitude when it comes to problems, which can be very toxic. But this current NA attitude of blaming others and expecting the world to change to accommodate you is incredibly frustrating to the coworkers I talked to, and with the current political environment magnifying this problem to incredible levels some of those same coworkers felt that if they didn't participate in these politics (gender, race, religion, etc) then it would reflect negatively on them, but their opinions differed enough (ie only 2 genders) that they would be crucified if they said anything. It wasn't surprising to hear from some of them that they considered going back to China sometimes.


> China and Asia, in general, has a very conservative "keep it to yourself, fix it yourself" attitude when it comes to problems, which can be very toxic.

I think the attitude is more 'don't stand out' and 'don't be different' attitude. 'keep to yourself' is a behavior resulted from this attitude.

Most native Chinese folks value group experience over individual experience.


> I feel they are so used to having the government or authority telling them what to do that they are comfortable with authoritarian rules and don't understand the importance of having independent thoughts and diversity.

In my opinion you can't value independent thoughts and diversity, without being inclusive of different opinions and setting the same standard of discourse regardless of which viewpoint you are furthering. Because if not who choose what the correct viewpoints are? And are you sure your viewpoints will always stay popular?

Although what we value is very different I am not so sure that we are all that different at this point from China, except for this being enforced by a state sanctioned monopoly on violence in China while its now too often mob-rule violence in the US that I am not confident would be upheld in the courts.

Fighting for what you perceive as justice in a democracy is rarely furthered well by authoritarian means, and should be done through the democratic process and you should respect that the state has a monopoly on violence. Freedom is a fragile thing, and democracy is not the default state of society.


With the risk of being down-voted, I would like to ask does "fight for freedom of expression and social rights" really has to be the polar opposite of "pro-business and more money-driven"? To me, those are answers/attitudes towards two potentially orthogonal questions. To put it another way, is a "pro-business and more money-driven" a good predictor on a person's opinion on "freedom of expression and social rights" and vise-versa? Since there are so many potentially orthogonal questions to ask, it seems to me it tells more about those who ask those questions (which questions are more important to them), than those who answered.


Eh, so I would like to add I lean towards social democracy. And I admit I have a bias view. When I think of pro-business, I think of corporations valuing profit over people, of government valuing control over personal freedom, and of people who assume money can solve all their problems.


Most people who consider themselves "pro-business" prefer less government control vs personal freedom.


Until the US embraces some kind of preferential voting system allowing more than two political parties, yes, it pretty much has to be.


Before I continue I would like to preface that personally I am a classic Norwegian social liberal that fight for people right to speak and a sense of justice, regardless of which group you belong to (e.g. social justice warriors, conservatives, liberals, flat earthers etc).

I do not find it useful at all to try to list out the views that are not tolerated as there is no way that you can reduce a huge population groups opinions into neat categories, people can hold both conservative and liberal opinions as well as everything outside those at the same time, and I believe doing so would distract from the real conversation which is the intolerance.

There are also plenty of leaked examples of how people with other opinions are treated to even shock me that generally agree with the predominant view, and I encourage you to look it up and form your own opinion. I also think people like Tim Ferris and several in the YC leadership amongst others have made salient points on how Silicon Valley has become intolerant of anything but the predominant views, and how it is hurting our competitiveness.


Although there is a certain culture of political correctness in Norway too, I find that people are far more civil and respectful when encountering people with different political beliefs


In Norway I have not observed a propensity to seek extrajudicial measures or ostracisation of people that hold opinions different from the predominant view. Have you seen that?


I'm not sure if you're being sarcastic or alluding to some other country; just saying I generally find Norwegians much more civil toward people whose views they disagree with.


> What exactly does this mean? Are they evangelical baptists, libertarians, reactionaries, nationalist, homophobic, misogynist, racist,

Wonder if there is a nicer way to ask the person to clarify their point without listing all those things.

Or do you honestly think there is a large number Chinese evangelical baptists who come to SF and work in tech companies.


> Or do you honestly think there is a large number Chinese evangelical baptists who come to SF and work in tech companies.

There is a quite sizable evangelical Chinese immigrant community in the Bay Area. Whether they work in tech, I don't know.


Amongst the H1B visa workers? That would be surprising.

It's an interesting topic actually, (and off-topic here) how likely are immigrant communities to switch their traditional religious affiliation after moving to US. In know a Korean family who became Catholic, and often wonder if it is a common thing and if there are patterns.


Well, not all the terms I used were negative :) my point was, I have zero context giving me an ability to consider what a conservative chinese foreign national would look like, value wise.

For instance, I consider myself a technological conservative—I tend to not believe in the inherent good of technological investment. I would not describe myself as “a conservative”. It is a word generally only useful in a one dimensional context.


Conservative socially does not have much to do with religion. Chinese will often claim they “aren’t as open as” westerners for some definition of open. Most of my Chinese gay colleagues in china were in the closet, there was just no way you could be open about that, even in an american company. Otherwise, the cultures are very different, which can’t be discounted. Oddly enough, many things in china would be considered too open for Americans, so it isn’t clear cut at all.


> Conservative socially does not have much to do with religion

It does in the US. Absolutely does.


This is not true. Would you consider James Damore conservative? His views certainly weren't religious.

The rise of "social justice" means that anyone who doesn't agree with those tactics is now conservative. I think you'll find many atheists in those ranks. In fact, their community was one of the first battle grounds in the current culture war.


Okay, so it does in the US, generally speaking, but doesn't have much to do with why Chinese immigrants tend to hold certain views that are considered conservative in America as the vast majority of recent ones are not at all religious in the first place.


It does in certain regions. In others, not so much.


It has a lot to do with religion but individually does not depend on it; plenty of religious people (including in the religous groups dominated by social conservatives) are not social conservatives, and plenty of social conservatives are not religious. That said, there are strong correlations...


Right, making it doubly confusing to use a culturaly bound one dimensional adjective to describe differences between people of wholly different cultures. It’s not a meaningful comparison.

Edit: I suppose my confusion is incorrect...?


I cannot speak for the original poster, but my observation in some of these circles:

Lots of bundling the "others" into one bin/box. If a liberal expresses opposition for DACA, then it is automatically assumed that they are a right leaning person, and several related policy attributes are attached to the person.

Often, simply being undecided and questioning a particular stance leads to the same effect.

I've seen it on HN: A general lack of tolerance for certain viewpoints, with perfectly valid questions resulting in accusations. Unfortunately, more often than I would like. Easy examples would be a lot of threads that involve Trump.

BTW, case in point is this other comment:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16127579

Just because the two are well correlated in the US does not make them the same, and if you come from abroad, you will find many things taken as a given in the US (like the conflation of conservatism with religion, or right leaning tendencies with conservatism) that will confuse you. I suspect their experience in SV has been that when they try to bring it up, they get labeled.

I'm guessing Europe has a lot of radically right wing folks who like their national health care just fine. Imagine they move to a very Republican part of the US, and ask "what's wrong with universal healthcare?" and then are labeled as being liberal. Now do that in reverse in SV.

If you've lived a lot in the rest of the world, you will probably easily find lots of examples where liberals are not acting according to their principles, and the same for conservatives. So when someone tries to be what they think is a "real" liberal (which may imply adopting stances that the "other" side is in favor of), then they'll feel unwelcome.

Some day I'll probably write a more thought-out piece on this. The above is just rambling.


It's not like most of those will be tolerated any better in China. I suspect it's more that some of their opposites are more accepted here, and if that offends you then you're more likely to leave.

The primary non-monetary reasons I hear for Chinese nationals to come to the US is for the air pollution and their children's schools. It's not like cost of housing is much lower in Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen, HK...


Sounds like they aren’t conservative enough for the US!


I think your comment and painting people as "reactionary" proves the point of the parent.


It is reactionary because it is not meaningful; it is just a reaction.


Reactionary is a label thrown at people who do not agree with a particular progressive idea and might have different ideas. People don't generally describe themselves as reactionary; instead it's a way for people to denigrate a particular opinion.


> Reactionary is a label thrown at people who do not agree with a particular progressive idea and might have different ideas

I disagree; it's a word for people who disagree with an idea because it is different, often because it's an easy way to manipulate people or gain favor. One could call the Amish reactionary, but you'd be ignoring an entire philosophy, culture, and context.


see https://areomagazine.com/2017/03/27/how-french-intellectuals...

i.e. they arguee that social justice become the new status quo holder and that become the new conservative point of view, which can't change for better or worse. the old conservatives want change for the worse. I personally think they have a point in this article (about preventing changes for better too) but the reasoning is dumb and falls in the same paradoxal fallacies as the ones they acuse the old-liberals-turned-conservatives.


It is understandable why somebody would want to return to their home-country. The "Bamboo Ceiling" the article discusses is incredibly concerning. It's America's loss for sure.

I'm curious (1) how much of these people's education or experience was subsidized by the American economy and (2) how common the same situation is in China (i.e. US expats training up in China and taking that expertise back to the US).

If (1) and (2) aren't aligned, it could be one of the factors contributing to the growing sense that we pour a bunch of money into higher-ed without seeing much return.

I don't mean this from a US nationalist or political perspective - I'm merely speculating on the economics. Are the incentives for coming to the country aligned for both the person and the country? Many companies will pay for employees to go to grad-school but demand repayment if the employee isn't still with the company N years later. Would such a system for college/work visas make any sense to help keep talent?


We could keep talent if we just allowed people to work here. We don’t. We only allow 65,000 people to work in large corporations, in specific industries, at the behest of the company, under constant threat of deportation and after gambling thousands of dollars on the chance at approval.

My friends went back to China because the US is incredibly unwelcoming to hard-working immigrants and provides no reliable path to citizenship or permanent residency besides fraudulent marriage. Why should intelligent hard working people put up with that? At a certain point dignity and a reliable future are more important than the chance at a higher salary. The more developed China becomes the less reason there is to put up with those hardships.


There is no denying the fact that it's hard to get permanent residency in the US. But immigration should be a two way street, if people decide to stay in the US they should try to assimilate. Is there a "bamboo celing", yes there is; so is a "curry ceiling" and what have you "ceiling". But if you do not push yourself to better your communication skills and other relevant skills required to be successful, you can't expect to shatter this ceiling. This was true for other immigrants too (18th/19th century Irish, Italian etc.)

It's hard not to overlook the fact that a lot of would be immigrants make no effort to assimilate and cluster themselves off from mainstream society; especially in a immigrant welcoming area like Silicon Valley. I bet if you were to go to China/India etc., no one's going to go out of their way to accept you.

(BTW, I'm an Indian citizen on H1B and I'm saying this, you can downvote my post but it doesn't change ground realities)


Indians do much better in SV/tech senior management positions than Chinese.

Also, what does assimilate mean in an American context? It’s not like America really has a strong well defined culture in the first place, it’s been like ever since the country was founded.


I suspect it's because they speak English natively


See my example of assimilation to my reply to "ryanianian" in the thread below.


> Indians do much better in SV/tech senior management positions than Chinese.

Please be careful about making generalizations based on race - they're generally incorrect/unprovable and rarely provide any value to a conversation. You can rephrase this to be "I've seen more Indians do better..."


Huh? This is quantifiable. It’s no big mystery to anyone who works in tech, and is not saying anything about abilities, just outcomes.


I've experienced the opposite in general, but I've seen some huge outliers in both directions on both sides.


It's not a generalization, there's public data for this. Just take a sample of the top N SV companies, go to their Management/Staff page, and do a count. (note, we're talking senior management, not middle management)

I do have some ideas about why, but it requires going into some sociological analysis. (note: I'm a minority so I speak from that experience).


This is an open secret, at least for us minorities.


Actually it's pretty easily provable, you just need diversity numbers.

Doesn't explain the "why" though.


> if people decide to stay in the US they should try to assimilate

This is problematic. If you're a hard-working taxpayer who doesn't receive subsidies or cause a net negative on the economy, why do I care if you "assimilate" to my culture? In fact I'd rather you keep your culture proud and strong since it will make you happier and more productive. You may even encourage your hard-working friends to join you and make the economy even better.

("you" and "me" above are just rhetorical here...)

Instead of "assimilate", you can reframe your thinking to "be overall positive to the economy." I think that's what you intend but I could be wrong.


When I mentioned assimilation, I meant a certain acceptance of the American culture. I did not in any way mean complete abandonment of your "native" culture.

One of the most obvious things I saw different about Americans is their sense of individuality; you'd see a super conservative person living next to a hippie in peaceful co-existence (although these days the media would make you think otherwise).

As an example, I'm mostly vegetarian (for staying healthy, I'm atheist) but I do like the occasional steak. If I say to a fellow Indian (or naturalized Indian American) that I eat beef, I will be mostly ostracized (I'm assuming that this person is Hindu, which may not be the case). I personally don't care what anyone thinks about my personal choices, but this is an example of people not assimilating and accepting what is generally accepted American trait of "individuality".


> If I say to a fellow Indian (or naturalized Indian American) that I eat beef, I will be mostly ostracized (I'm assuming that this person is Hindu, which may not be the case). I personally don't care what anyone thinks about my personal choices, but this is an example of people not assimilating and accepting what is generally accepted American trait of "individuality".

I am not US American, but to me this description rather sounds like that you don't accept his individuality, too.


How so?

The example I used for myself is the typical group/herd mentality that people have (unlike individuality). The assumption is I'm a Hindu Indian, hence by definition I should not eat beef. And if I do I'm a "bad" person/outcast, rather than someone who is different from you despite sharing a similar background.


> How so?

In the sense that you are cautious to accept that the other side is rather serious about religion and vegetarism.


> In the sense that you are cautious to accept

What anyone eats is their own business, me or anyone should not judge. My point was there is a slanderous judgement on one's character based on personal diet choices which is ridiculous.

Let me give you an example; in Texas I once had colleague who was extremely conservative and has a tremendous amount of Southern pride (he has a confederate flag on his Jeep). Professionally speaking, I never had any issues with him whatsoever. I can't say the same about a fellow Indian who despises me (personally and professionally) just because I have a personal choice of eating beef. This is the a subset of American "individuality" I'm talking about; that despite the differences they are willing to work together. In India (and Asian countries, or so I've heard) people conflate personal and professional lives, which IMO is backward and stupid.

Therefore if you choose to be American or live in America, you need to accept that people are different and learn to accept as they are. Just because someone is different from you doesn't make you superior or inferior. Now, I know you can give me examples of tensions between race relations in the US (which I agree totally exists), but people try not to mix professional vs personal lives as much in the US as elsewhere in the world.


City folk often start out camping in designated grounds before moving on to solo trecks in the wild. "modern" cultures that have had more time to assimilate looser and more free conventions don't see how discerning or unsafe certain things are to a more traditional worldview.

There is some compassion for Grandma, but other cultures are seen as "backwards" as not being "developed" enough.


> As an example, I'm mostly vegetarian (for staying healthy, I'm atheist).

That's a weird qualification to me, as if most other vegetarians do it because of their religion. I don't have any data/stats, but environmental destruction based on our farming practices, and cruelty to animals, both factor a lot higher than religion (has been my experience anyway, but it might be an interesting difference in the US given the deeply entrenched state of religion there).


I can bet my bottom dollar that Indians (who are Hindus) give me weird looks and comments, not based on environmental destruction but some moron who came up with this rule that Hindus are not supposed to eat beef (but meat from other animals is okay).

If you look up the original Hindu texts, it specifically says you should not eat meat, respect nature and animals; which means you should NOT eat any kind of meat.


>That's a weird qualification to me, as if most other vegetarians do it because of their religion.

Most vegetarians on the Indian subcontinent/Asia in general do not eat meat for religious/cultural reasons. Growing up in a Hindu/Buddhist-adjacent culture is often enough to cause someone to avoid red meat.


Buddhism isn’t so much veg like Hinduism. Lots of meat eating in Buddhist countries (Myanmar, Thailand) and even the monks eat meat if the elevation is high enough (Bhutan, Tibet).


Sure, there are plenty of meat eating Buddhists but there are plenty of vegetarian(ish) Buddhist schools as well. Full vegetarianism isn't as common as among Hindus, but restricting meat consumption to fish and poultry is fairly common (mostly among schools originally influenced by Chinese Buddhism iirc).


Well, pork is popular in Thailand.


The melting pot is what makes America strong. We are stronger together than any of our constituent parts.

If you wish to become an American, I wish you all the best of luck (sorry for all the paperwork) and welcome you to our country with open arms.


America has never been a melting pot - more like a salad palette, with clear boundaries between constituent parts. Melting pot is but a nice-sounding rhetoric. Racial bias aside, people usually prefer to live closer to their own kind. For minorities, this is usually because of better access to their ethnic groceries and cultural engagements.

I do not disagree with general idea in your post - I would just change the first sentence to "The salad palette is what makes America strong."


> The melting pot is what makes America strong. We are stronger together than any of our constituent parts.

I am not American, so correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the melting pot metaphor about taking people from different cultures and backgrounds and "melting" them together into one much more homogenous culture?


Yes - its the Borg concept of multiculturalism - people come here, add their cultural distinctiveness to the whole and become an American by adopting a certain set of ideals.


In theory, but I'm not actually too sure multiculturalism is actually the case for America, at least not from my personal experience.

The American melting pot rejects plenty of aspects from other culture, and does more along the lines of "this is how we do things in USA, take it or leave it" rather than assimilation (at least from what I've observed in the recent decade). From elementary schools to the workplace environment, things have only been getting harder for immigrants, to the point where I'm not sure if USA can claim to be multicultural by strict terms.

By contrast, a mosaic setup like in Canada, where every cultural aspect brought into the country are welcomed and celebrated, is much more comforting to immigrants. Because multiculturalism is actually incorporated into the Canadian federal policy thanks to, surprise surprise, the previous Trudeau.


> By contrast, a mosaic setup like in Canada, where every cultural aspect brought into the country are welcomed and celebrated, is much more comforting to immigrants.

The point of moving to a country is to make a better life for yourself. We are not trying to comfort immigrants, we are trying to make countries stronger.

There are plenty of abhorrent views held by people out there in the world. What part of the mosaic should that be part of?


like I said, the Borg concept of multiculturalism we add elements from our immigrant cultures, food, some cultural customs, they are woven in like thread into a tapestry, but the whole remains American - no one who came here, even the folks from the UK had their culture in total preserved, instead they add some of their distinctiveness to the whole.


> This was true for other immigrants too (18th/19th century Irish, Italian etc.)

Are you suggesting that the Irish and Italians brushed up their communication skills in order to succeed? The Irish and Italian immigrants weren't considered white initially - I can't say if there is a causal relationship between their success and this perception changing.


No. I used them as an example to highlight them as a group who had to assimilate in a mainly protestant country.


While I agree with both of your points individually; I fail to see how your two points are connected. The complicated process of getting a permanent residency has nothing to do with your willingness to assimilate or degree of assimilation.

What exactly is the connection you are implying between the two?


Yes they aren't, and I'm arguing is that it should. My point was specifically towards "For MS and PhD students staple their passports with a green card immediately", although the op did not use this phrase it is somewhat implied that someone who has a graduate degree should be allowed to stay and work indefinitely.


> But immigration should be a two way street

Why?

> if people decide to stay in the US they should try to assimilate

oh I see.

Apparently hte people who come to the US for school and try to live and work here right alongside you and me (white guy) aren't trying hard enough to assimilate.

> BTW, I'm an Indian citizen on H1B and I'm saying this

So? You're criticizing chinese people pretty explicitly. Don't try to hide behind your race.


> So? You're criticizing chinese people pretty explicitly. Don't try to hide behind your race.

No it's true for Indians too. I said "It's hard not to overlook the fact that a lot of would be immigrants make no effort to assimilate" which includes Indians too.


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Cool so you had to make a "throwaway" account to make your point, very brave. If you see my other posts I am not sucking up to white people or any other people. I call a spade a spade.


> My friends went back to China because the US is incredibly unwelcoming to hard-working immigrants and provides no reliable path to citizenship or permanent residency besides fraudulent marriage.

China is far more unwelcoming to hard-working immigrants and provides no reliable path to citizenship or permanent residency even if one is willing to marry for it. Unless you're very wealthy or famous, it just doesn't happen.

It's not easy to be an immigrant just about anywhere, but as closed as the US may seem, it's not even in the same league. The US grants more people green cards and citizenship each month than China has ever.


At risk of being politically incorrect, China has some of the highest quality human capital in the world per capita. Add in their huge population and they have roughly 20 times the number of people capable of high-level technical research. China, frankly, has little need of immigration. It's technical dominance is assured without it.

This comment from nopinsight goes through the scores:

Key competitive advantages of China are their strength in quantitative skills as well as huge population and the hard working and competitive culture of its populace. An objective measure is PISA results [1]. When comparing with even the best performing US state, Massachusetts, China has many more top performers in Math, as a proportion of population [2].

(In 2015 only four provinces of China participated, but their combined population was 230 million vs Massachusetts's 6.8 million. The math result of Shanghai (24 million pop.) alone would show an even larger gap.)

Since PISA results are scaled such that OECD country's mean is 500 and standard deviation is 100. China's 531 math score implies country mean at 0.3 SD above PISA mean, and US' math score at 470 implies 0.3 SD below mean. If people capable of doing AI research or proper AI implementation need to have math skills at, say, 2 SD above PISA mean, then there will be a tremendous difference in proportion between two populations with 0.6 SD difference. My back-of-the-envelope calculation, assuming above figures, is the difference in proportion will be about five times. But China has more than 4 times the population of the US, so the difference in potential numbers of AI-capable natives could be over 20 times. (Since other provinces may drag down China's mean, it could be a bit less. We'll see soon since China as a whole will participate in 2018.)


> At risk of being politically incorrect, China has some of the highest quality human capital in the world per capita.

Agreed. There's a huge gulf between the coast and the inner provinces, but China has tremendous human capital and that is why I'm bullish in the long term, despite the current crises and issues with its neighbors.


That’s true. I’m not sure being more open than China says much. Just because we have more open immigration than China doesn’t mean our immigration policies are fair, compassionate, or in service of American ideals of freedom and opportunity.


> Just because we have more open immigration than China doesn’t mean our immigration policies are fair, compassionate, or in service of American ideals of freedom and opportunity.

The end goal of any country is to become more powerful. Who cares about fairness and compassion when other countries let people move to you and they don't let you move to their country?

Reciprocity agreements would be find. Just because your country is not pleasant to live in doesn't mean you should live in ours.


> Who cares about fairness and compassion...

(Potential) immigrants care. Attracting skilled immigrants is not just US vs. China (which doesn't really play the game); it's US vs. China vs. Canada vs. Germany vs. ...


> China is far more unwelcoming to hard-working immigrants

I'm sorry, I thought we based policy on what we thought was right and not what totalitarian regimes in other countries do.

Maybe try comparing to Canada or other comparable democracies instead.


The article isn't about abandoning SV for Canada.

It's about abandoning SV for China.


> It's about abandoning SV for China.

Or to be more precise, Chinese émigrés abandoning SV for China. You'll find that China is very welcoming to this population.


The process is ridiculously complicated and not worth the time and effort, when it is possible at all.

I say that as someone who lived in the Bay area for almost a year and loved it. I had a great job, generated tons of wealth, got full-time offers with generous signing bonuses that I would have accepted in a heartbeat if it was not for the fact that not having a degree makes it impossible for me to get a visa.

The process would be a lot better for me if the work visa were simply allocated to the top N people in a priority queue where the weight of each entry is the salary.

Zurich, Toronto, and Montreal are my top choices now.


Optimizing just for salary doesn't add incentives for lower-pay but higher-reward-to-economy jobs (e.g. public-sector, research, etc.). Any sorting criteria is probably going to throw incentives way off.

What seems fair is to ban arbitrary "top-N" quotas. If you can get a job that pays you a living wage (such that you don't have to draw from subsidies), then you can stay without hassle. Tax forms generally give all the information needed to make this decision.


>What seems fair is to ban arbitrary "top-N" quotas. If you can get a job that pays you a living wage (such that you don't have to draw from subsidies), then you can stay without hassle.

Ok. I just know that this won't happen anytime soon. My top-N solution feels like something the current administration would not be too reluctant to implement. It also address the concern that foreign labor pressure downs salaries for US citizens.


Isn't the rationale of the current administration rather the opposite ? E.g., the proposed merit based system explicitly wants to only get the 'top-N' in, whereas your alternative would just deprive upstanding americans from those jobs. I'm not judging either approach, I just want to understand what you propose and how to square it with the conservative viewpoint.


> Isn't the rationale of the current administration rather the opposite ?

Current US admin seems to strongly prefer giving opportunities based on citizenship (which is arbitrary) rather than saying anybody who wants to work an economic-net-positive job can do so.

> whereas your alternative would just deprive upstanding americans from those jobs

My stance is to not treat 'american citizens' as being more (or less!) deserving of US jobs. Anybody who contributes to the economy in a positive way deserves the same opportunity.

This is a rather extreme stance since it would probably lead to wages going down short-term as there's more job-supply than job-demand. The "gamble" in this ideology is that since you're requiring everyone to be a net-positive to the economy, the economy will thus grow and there will be more jobs as a result.


This is an excellent point - if you've got a US education, the US should do everything possible to help you stay to use that education in the US.

As China becomes more developed, presumably the draw of going to the US to study will diminish (probably rapidly). If the US can't attract and retain top-talent from other countries, the US will fail to reap the benefits of a global economy.


> because the US is incredibly unwelcoming to hard-working immigrants and provides no reliable path to citizenship or permanent residency besides fraudulent marriage.

FWIW this is not my experience (GC holder, us educated, mixed south Asian origins). Not saying your friends are wrong, just saying it isn’t inherently unwelcoming, even these days.


In your experience, what is the welcoming part of immigrating to the US?

Unless you have family sponsoring you or $500k or $1m to invest, then there is no reliable path to permanent residence/green card. You are at the mercy of an opaque organization that answers to no one and also at the mercy of having an employer willing to take you on and jump through many hoops.


I got a good education and then got a job I was qualified for and got paid well. Which is how the law is in fact written. Sure I hear anti-immigrant sentiment but not worse than in my wife’s country, or mine, or those of my parents’ home countries.

I could go on at length at what is fucked up about the US, and I could go on at least as long about what’s great about it. Some things are better here, some are...pitiful. My wife never adjusted to the lower standard of living in the US (the 1% don’t live as well as the 50% in Europe for example) while I found it more than compensated by the work and other interesting things.


I can't compare to other countries' immigration processes, and maybe the US's process is good compared to others, but I still don't classify it as welcoming. It seems like an extremely beaurocratic mess that served as a political tool that one is lucky to get through.


> We only allow 65,000 people to work in large corporations

per year. There are many many more than that on H-1B. Plus you have OPT and L1.

The bigger issue is being on an H-1B kind of sucks. If you get fired you're screwed. It's hard to maximize value because switching employers is a pain. You have people who accuse you constantly of being a low paid scrub stealing american jobs. You have the risk that the US government might pull the rug out from under you somehow.

Chinese and Indian people have to put up with this for years. Decades in the case of Indians.

> US is incredibly unwelcoming to hard-working immigrants and provides no reliable path to citizenship or permanent residency besides fraudulent marriage.

From India and China (and a couple other places, to a lesser degree). If you were born in another country and get an H-1B (which is a pretty terrible system) you can get a green card in a couple years.


This is a very valid point and you must not be afraid to be seen as a ‘nationalist’ (whatever that means anyway).

One of my biggest concerns with China - as a a European - is that Brussel allows Chinese companies to buy huge amounts of European IP(eg robots, automotives, AI) but the Chinese government, on the other hand, forbids (or makes it very difficult) that foreign companies buy Chinese IP. So its a one way road !

Luckily some government officials now realized that and are actively trying to combat Chinese acquisitions (eg German foreign minister), but its still a real danger. China essentially takes huge advantage of our openness and our liberal markets but does not return the favour...


Where did you find that Chinese government forbids foreign companies to buy Chinese IP? Market is fair, someone wants to sell, someone has the money to buy, this is how business is done.


Fair market requires working rule of law, while, from what I've read, even major global corporations (ABB if I remember correctly) can be cheated in Chinese courts for billions. I would not want to invest in IP in a country where my competitor can just sue me, bribe the judge and bankrupt my company.


Domestic acquisitions by foreign companies in any sector worth doing business in require approval by MOFCOM.

There's usually a lot of horse-trading that goes on before the formal application to figure out what's kosher to buy, and what's not.


This comment was dead and I vouched for it. I believe (but do not know) that China is more restrictive IRT foreigners and IP but new commenter zhipj is quite reasonable in asking for references, especially for the specific claim.


I'm curious what makes you worry about (1). To me it seems like the exact opposite (foreign students pay the full tuition without any subsidy from the US, and are a critical source of revenue for many American universities)

Example: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/02/us/international-enrollme...


I had a number of Chinese-national friends at university (a big public university) who received significant scholarships from the school.

(It could be it was a subsidy-exchange between the university and a chinese institution but I didn't get that impression. It could have been a private party as well. In any case it was definitely a scholarship by a US institution - not sure if public or private.)

These friends were brilliant and couldn't have afforded to attend without it. However: last I heard, they have all since moved back to China and are doing quite well for themselves.

This is objectively good news for these people, but that scholarship money was effectively just given to China. There are ripple benefits that aren't so tangible (added diversity, the chance that they could have stayed, the impact they had while here, etc).

Overall it seems "fair" that scholarship money should be converted to a loan if the education isn't used long-term in the same economy as the scholarship.


Traditionally, the US have routinely awared stipends and scholarships to foreign students who had a potential to be somebody 10-20 years down the road (influencing politician, diplomat, journalist, scholar etc.). The idea was that these people would be immersed in the American view of the world and would then propagate it in their home country.


Right - the assumption is that in the long run the scholarship will be a net-positive to the US economy. This article kinda says that this assumption isn't valid (or at least is decreasingly valid).


I don't think such geopolitical ploys apply to technical workers.


Why? If those scholarships were awarded on merit (they likely were), why should they be based on where the tuition waiver is "used?" Exceptional undergraduates provide value to the school while being in it as well as what they do after finishing their education.

These scholarships were almost certainly awarded by the institution, not the federal government.


I explicitly called out the value they provide while being in the school. I doubt that they provided $100k in such value, but I could be wrong.

I don't care about where waiver "should" be used as this is subjective, I'm merely talking about what's "fair" economically which is theoretically objective. If the US hands out "good job" money in the form of net-economy-negative subsidies, then it explains a lot of what's going on in higher education.

I wouldn't limit this to just internationals as well. If you get a huge subsidy to go to a US school and then leave the country it's the same situation even if you're a US citizen.


>> If the US hands out "good job" money

>> If you get a huge subsidy to go to a US school

The "US?" The school is the US? In the vast majority of cases, the institution hands out the waiver, not the government. Furthermore, international students are regularly charged a premium to attend.

If Microsoft pays me a huge salary, I learn a ton before contributing significantly back to private software industry, then quit and move to Canada, do I owe... taxpayers... Microsoft?... remuneration?


> In the vast majority of cases, the institution hands out the waiver

This is still (probably) a draw from the US economy on net. Unless the institution is offsetting it somehow or is somehow not a part of the US economy.

> do I owe... taxpayers... Microsoft?... remuneration?

If Microsoft paid a lot to train you up and you leave before they get that value back, then they may want you to repay them.

That's generally not how things are done, but if the learn-and-run thing that this article talks about were to spread more into private industries, I can imagine private companies either paying less during the first N months or having minimum-term work-contracts with early-termination fees.


> If Microsoft paid a lot to train you up and you leave before they get that value back, then they may want you to repay them.

Who's going to pay back societies that send off educated, healthy young adults to the US economy? The value invested in individuals does not accrue all at once while they are at university.

It makes zero sense to try and balance the value at level of individuals. It is better to look at it at a larger scale (tens of thousands to millions) and approximate the value of what's coming in and leaving. There is a lot of guess-work involved, especially around future-value. There are no precise control-knobs to get the exact number and caliber of people you want; the best countries can do is set policies and hope for the best, without accounting for second and third order effects.


What is often lost in discussions is that if the individuals are conservative in thought, they more than likely feel a deep obligation to return home to take care of aging parents. Doesn't speak poorly about the US system per se.


The economics of higher education isn't aligned between personal and societal interest in general. College degrees are a positional good - a good portion of their value is for allocating a job to Peter instead of Paul. Even as people rationally choose more prestigious and more thorough education, we end up destroying value on a societal scale.

Like, even if a daycare worker finds it easier to get a job with a college degree, are we better off as a society if more daycare workers have college degrees? I think not.


You could say the same thing about almost literally anything that you have to pay or work for. If two candidates are otherwise equal and one had a brand new car, I might use the new car as a tie-breaker.

I'd bet having a college degree is much more than a tie-breaker in most cases - it shows a level of work, discipline, and probable intelligence that is genuinely an advantage for most jobs.

(This is problematic because it also shows a huge set of advantages that the degree-holder has had. If somebody has enough advantages to have a degree and is applying for a daycare position, it might mean something is very wrong for this person and maybe it should tip the tie-breaker situation the other way!)


Exactly that: it shows a level of work, discipline, and intelligence. It doesn't cause any increase in the ability to work, be disciplined, or be more intelligent. Society is better off if this is something like a prestigious high school degree, rather than a Bachelor's.


I can't hire for things that 'cause' such increases, I can only use presented-information to make a best-guess about how an employee will perform.

Having a degree is a good indicator that you'll work hard and be disciplined. If I have to break a tie between two candidates, things that show levels of work/discipline/* will help me break the tie.


Again, that's perfectly fine and reasonable in individual situations. It's also not an argument for society getting more education as a whole. The tie-breaking for you is the same whether it's between high school diploma vs bachelor's degree, or a bachelor's vs master's. Making the high school degree holder get a bachelor's and the bachelor's get a master's doesn't help society as a whole.


I agree that a rigorous high-school education could just a well serve as a filter as the higher ed studies do today. Unfortunately, high school is mostly low-quality, low-effort waste of time these days, so finishing it does not signal much to the employees (maybe with exception such as Eton and other elite private schools).


As for (1), flip it around and it’s more realistic (how much of their work in industry or as RAs has subsidized America?). The benefits are in America’s favor still. As for (2), I spent 9 years there and find my experience invaluable. I could have done it elsewhere though, well, it was nice. There weren’t many of us, especially if we are just talking about Americans and not other westerners. But, as an example, one of the best SR/ML researchers I know got his chance in China even though he was European.


Regarding (1), I think it is the opposite. The US benefits from high quality free education paid by the Chinese government when these individuals come to do graduate studies and to work in US companies. In fact the same happens when bright people from all over the world comes to the US: it is known as brain-drain, a process by which the US benefits from highly educated people coming from countries that spent a lot of money to create a public school system.


This is exactly what is listed under the US section of the wikipedia article:

"he country as a whole does not experience large-scale human capital flight as compared with other countries, with an emigration rate of only 0.7 per 1,000 educated people,[199] but it is often the destination of skilled workers migrating from elsewhere in the world.[200]"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_capital_flight#United_St...


I don’t think foreign Chinese would qualify for federal subsidies. Maybe the Chinese gov’t subsidizes their education.

In grad school I knew of several Singaporeans who had their tuition here in the US convered by the govt with repayment in form of returning to a govt job, which in Singapore is a highly prestigious job.


At the graduate level, in computer science, they are funded via research grants but work as RAs. They aren’t exactly subsidized by the federal government, and they do work in return, but they are still majority tax payer funded.


Sure maybe PhDs at public universities. That is a small sliver of total Chinese that come here for undergrad or masters programs...


Also private universities (Stanford).

Grads are a large portion of the Chinese that work in SV.

Many of the Chinese who come to the states and pay for their education out of pocket couldn’t get into a good school back home and are going back after their education finishes. The others are rich, here for the experience, and will still go basic home because of their family expectations and connections.


They certainly used to I worked on an elite campus at my first job early 80's and there was one Chinese exchange student doing a masters or phd of course in those day he did wear the mao uniform and had a flying pigeon bike.


>(1) how much of these people's education or experience was subsidized by the American economy

I suspect that US actually profits off of foreign students, atleast thats what I've heard informally (since we have to pay much higher fees than natives), but I've never checked the fees to be honest.

In a profitable system, its a fair assumption that those who pay the most make atleast some contribution to profits right?


Absolutely - if the cost you pay offsets your cost to the economy it's win-win. My question/concern is primarily around the students who receive some form of net subsidy from the US economy.


TBH, another factor to be kept in mind is that most foreign students are doing a MS in US only for the work visa.. if the possibility of working in US went away (say OPT extension gets terminated and everything else remains the same, or Trump pushes through with making H1B's much tougher\impossible to extend beyond 6 years ), a lot fewer foreign students would come to US which would result in fewer profits..


> I don't mean this from a US nationalist or political perspective - I'm merely speculating on the economics.

"I'm just asking questions"


I think it's interesting that many of those same criticisms can be leveled at China. If you're not Han Chinese you'll never get far in any Chinese company. You will get far helping someone else get rich. Getting permanent residency is similarly stressful. In many ways, China is even less open than Western societies and far less accepting of doing things a different way. Might be great for returning Chinese but I'm not entirely sure they will be able to attract a global talent pool like SV has done. Add in censorship and you've got a pretty toxic environment brewing.

My guess is they'll run into similar (or worse) issues with their own SV.

I don't think that means any of what SV is doing is okay, just interesting that other nationalities there will face the exact same issues that they faced here.


There's one important datapoint in this article: "The Bamboo Ceiling".

When the whole fuzz about gender discrimination started, Microsoft and Google published numbers, claiming women got the same pay at the same positions as men. Knowing there's discrimination from personal experience/feeling, I theorized, that women are discriminated in a different way: they don't receive promotions.

Under otherwise similar circumstances having children does not feel to be enough to explain why of 100 women hired in tech on professional roles less are promoted to higher positions, than of 100 men. That trend is (at least anecdotally for me) observable even before people become parents.

This "Bamboo Ceiling" shows the same effect for another potentially discriminated group of people.


This is the allegation of the Ellis, Pease, and Wisuri lawsuit against Google - that Google does okay at hiring women, but slots them into lower positions and gives them fewer promotions than men. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/14/technology/google-gender-... The NYT's report on the leaked #talkpay spreadsheet seems to show that pattern: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/08/technology/google-salarie...

The neat thing about this form of discrimination is that you can claim to be fixing "the pipeline" all you want and you can still maintain the discrimination, because the leak is after the pipeline. The dominant group isn't threatened by competition if they fund efforts to increase the number of underrepresented groups in grade school or college STEM education, as long as those college graduates aren't later competing for senior jobs on a level playing field.


The higher number of men in senior positions isn't necessarily sexist. I think it's because men are more likely to accept insane work-life balance in exchange for the status, because it increases their attractiveness more than it does for women. A women who is a CEO is not much more attractive to a man than a women who is a dental hygienist; however, a man who is a CEO is much more attractive than a man who is a welder. Take it as sexism or not but lots of men are hellbent on getting that high-status, high-stress job.


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None of this establishes that there aren't other reasons for wanting a high-paying job besides attractiveness (e.g., not wanting to be dependent on finding a spouse with a high-paying job).

Also, this would imply that gay (non-bi) or asexual men, who are not seeking women as partners, would be found in high-status/high-pay positions at rates more comparable to (all) women than to straight men. This seems like a pretty straightforward hypothesis - do we have the data to test it?


True, there are probably many other factors. For some we have the data.

All of them more credible than „theres a giant conspiracy against women“.


> All of them more credible than „theres a giant conspiracy against women“.

Why is that not credible?

Remember that until the 1860s, the United States literally had a giant conspiracy against black people - so much so that huge parts of the US economy were absolutely dependent on black people not having the rights to life, liberty, and property.

Women didn't have a constitutional right to vote in the US until 1920, when the Constitution was changed to add one.

Why is it not credible that there's a giant conspiracy against women? What changed in the last 100-150 years that made humankind more reasonable, given how completely unreasonable humankind was just a couple of generations ago?

(Note that I'm only speaking of the US, which is what I'm familiar with and where the US is based. It's possible that countries other than the US are more reasonable.)


I would be inclined to agree with you if the phenomenon was limited to the US. But its not, it occurs world wide, even in Scandinavian countries.

What you are suggesting is a world-wide conspiracy, across all countries and cultures, and across all corporations. I can't prove you wrong, but Occams Razor tells me this is unlikely.


Because women's lives revolve around maximizing their value to husbands.

Yup, sounds completely reasonable.

Hey, how come so many more women become doctors now? High stress job, takes a long time, I don't think it's any more "attractive" then being a nurse.

I'm gonna go ahead and say that this line of thinking is sexist. I'm not trying to attack you I just think it needs to be said because I think it's actively harmful. It ignores any other reasons behind the gap, and it's a terrible line of thinking for anyone who manages women. "I don't know if I should give her this role, women aren't really suited for leadership".


So you conclude that I have a sexist line of thinking because I dispute that the reason for the pay gap is men's sexism?


[flagged]


> This used to be uncontroversial

Lots of things used to be uncontroversial. Get with the times.


Do you have an argument against women being hypergamous, or are you just going to be derisive in every comment?


[flagged]


No idea but saying "women are <foo>" is dangerous when women as a group are ~3.5bn people.

Without some kind of qualifier it's a shade pointless.


Your post kind of assumes that a fair process would promote women at Google at the same rate as men. If reality is sexist, are we obligated to discriminate against men to fix it?


My post assumes that because there's no good evidence that, as you put it, "reality is sexist" in the relevant ways and that we should reject the null hypothesis. There are plenty of plausible alternative hypotheses (the Damore memo vaguely alludes to them), but I have not seen strong reasons to accept them, just post-hoc rationalizations like "the average woman scores worse/better on $metric, so here's a story for why the job requires more/less $metric". Tellingly, those rationalizations have changed as programming went from a low-status to high-status position: there was folklore several decades back about how programming was obviously women's work because it was like dinner planning.

If you do find a scientific reason to reject the null hypothesis, hopefully such an analysis will come with some specific number other than 50/50 - and we can see if Google's processes match those numbers.


The general opinion online is that women being promoted slower than men is a problem, and in high paying white collar professions, women being underrepresented at any level is a "bad thing". Make sure you dont use your real identity to question that, you might get blacklisted from ever working at Google :P


I am not certain whether this is sarcasm or whether you are just a troll trying to provoke a reaction, but in case it is neither: How is it not bad that when two people are equally qualified but one of them is treated poorly based on gender/ethnicity/orientation?

You can try strawman arguments like "they are not equally qualified" or "reverse sexism" or "they are doing it to themselves by not negotiating", but a cursory look at any reproducible social sciences review disproves those (laziness to not use google or google scholar is a tiresome excuse).


Two engineers placed side by side are never "equally qualified." Their competence will differ. If you look solely at their degrees and work history alone, you'd be ignoring the individual abilities of the engineers.

The parent comment to yours was poorly worded and snarky, so you have a right to be upset. But still, I think your reasoning is flawed. People are generally promoted by their competence and their negotiating/office politics skills, and you can't claim that those are the same across all genders. Why would women, who are fundamentally different than men, have the exact same competence and negotiating abilities as men? There's no reason the two genders should be equal.

If you really have two equally skilled engineers, one male, one female, and only the male is promoted, that's sexism. But two engineers are never the same, so you can't make that argument.


Equally qualified is generally taken to mean they have comparable skills accross a broad spectrum of criteria. Maybe Al knows a bit more about vue.js but Marcy knows react. If I'm doing a project in Vue and I give Al more to do that's fine.

But say I'm doing a project in Java and they are about equal, I keep giving Al the meaty work then use it justify a promotion, which I can't justify for Marcy. It's not that she's that much worse, I just never gave her the chance to prove it (blah blah peter principle, perform at next level, etc...). That just might be a bit sexist.


Comparable skills is not the same as equally skilled. You provide an example of sexism but that's not what happens in the real world - In that scenario, Al is pissed because he has to do all the work when he knows full well Marcy can do half of it. He offloads it to the bored Marcy and tells his manager during standup.


Delegation, sign he deserves a promotion.

Have you really never worked on a project where the golden boy was the face of everything and everyone else was ignored?


Yes, I've been in this type of situation for 9 months. My reaction to it is that, yes, the golden boy is much better than me and he knows what he's doing. I respect his competence.


>How is it not bad that when two people are equally qualified but one of them is treated poorly based on gender/ethnicity/orientation?

"equally qualified" is not an objective, measurable quantity, which is the whole cause of the issue... If dev productivity could be unambiguously measured and ranked, the issue of late promotions,etc would never have been raised.

These are fuzzy metrics, and what you consider poor\unfiar treatment, I may consider fair (and vice versa)..


> social sciences

You aren't allowed to reference social science studies because their aren't enough conservatives to make those fields "fair".


First of all, discriminating against the currently dominant demographic is indeed a stupid way to "fix" anything.

But "reality" does not seem to be sexist, rather our biases and tribalism is sexist (and racist and plenty of other -ist). When high-quality reproducible research has observed phenomena like "stereotype threat" and "implicit bias" it is worthwhile to spend some of our idle time on thinking how to address this unfairness. Even if we do it simply so that we have a wider applicant pool from which to pick high-quality employees.


Links to high-quality reproducible research on "implicit bias"? Last I heard, it was more-or-less debunked.


If you just want a big list: https://www.projectimplicit.net/papers.html

For more digestible information look around their website.

I guess it is my turn: What debunking are you talking about besides the more extremist men's rights advocates (which are different from the moderates that have very valid concerns)? "Implicit bias" is indeed only the start of a discussion, as one needs to consider its predictive value in non-test conditions, but if you are sincerely interested in pursuing this conversation, the website above is a good starting point.


https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15843167

This was a discussion a month ago. I'm mostly basing my opinion on it.


That is a good point, but as I mentioned, this is only the start of the conversation. Implicit bias is an easy thing to measure, but it has predictive issues in non-test situations. However, as it is always in science, it is the flawed experiment that led to better experiments (I am picking up the "popsci" stars, for this conversation to be rigorous we have to include actual meta studies, but you will have to contact the professionals for that):

- the John/Jennifer study http://www.yalescientific.org/2013/02/john-vs-jennifer-a-bat...

- the chairs study http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.465...

- the police shooting armed people in VR study http://www.washington.edu/news/2003/07/08/blacks-more-likely...

- the general idea of "stereotype threat" (which becomes unrelated, not as much of an offshoot)

I am not expecting you to spend the time to vet every single of those links (and admittedly I used google, so some of the links might be overly editorialized), however I do believe these are good resources to consider for inclusion in your intellectual toolkit when you have the time.


Curious - how would gender affect promotion rates?


Two reasons.

Women want children earlier (because menopause) and are more affected by them (because giving birth) than equally family-minded men. As a result, women are more motivated to prioritise having children/family.

In addition, men derive more advantage from more money/power than women, so they're more motivated to climb the corporate ladder (or take risks and fund companies) than women.

I'm generalising, obviously, so "on average" everywhere.


> Women want children earlier (because menopause)

women need to have children earlier.

I don't see 70 year old men eagerly having kids all that often. Most people want to live to see their grandchildren.

> I'm generalising, obviously, so "on average" everywhere.

"I have black friends"


Suppose men tend to work harder to get more promotions out of a fair system that rewards hard productive work. I mean, there's a reason men as a class tend to earn more money and die on the job more often than women - most of my model weight is on "men tend to be more willing to make tradeoffs in exchange for higher paychecks".


> men as a class tend to earn more money and die on the job more often than women

Are these correlated? My impression is that high-paying jobs tend to be low-physical-injury....

(Also, there are no shortage of barriers against women participating in high-mortality jobs - take the rules against women in combat for a particularly obvious example.)


Probably; for equivalently capable/educated people, dangerous jobs like construction, mining, oil rigs are paid much more than "office" jobs such as clerk, waiter, warehouse worker.


>Are these correlated?

Yeah. For one small-scale example, the pay differential between the pizza delivery drivers and the in-store workers who make the pizzas. Roughly equivalent difficulty, drivers make $10-$15 an hour more due to tips and the risk of getting involved in a car accident or robbery. IIRC the gender ratio is more skewed towards men for delivery drivers than for in-store food service workers.


That's a good point (and I think I've also seen a very strong gender bias in taxi drivers, a little less strong in Lyft drivers, and weakest in bus drivers), but also, I think this sort of thing applies pretty firmly to relatively low-wage jobs. Certainly these aren't minimum-wage, but they're also not, like, mid-six-figures. (I think! Given the risks I'd be happy to know that these jobs do actually get to mid-six-figure wages.)

I suspect that white-collar senior management jobs contribute a lot more than pizza delivery jobs to the fact that men make more money than women in total. (But probably this is also true for median or first-decile wage?)


> Are these correlated? My impression is that high-paying jobs tend to be low-physical-injury....

Just intuitively, longer working hours (which may correlate with higher pay) and later average retirement age (which may correlate with higher paid jobs, especially with less physical demands), may contribute to greater probability of death from non-work causes, including age-related causes, happening while at work.


> you can still maintain the discrimination

But what is their incentive to "maintain" discrimination. Even under a charitable interpretation, it seems to imply there is a group at the top which actively hates women and wants to suppress their influence? Maybe there is, Google is pretty scary and is in bed with the government https://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/clientsum.php?id=D00006782..., but I think it would be good to dissect that statement to see what it points to.


Less competition? Discrimination can be perfectly rational.

Going back to the subject of this article, we generally find it morally permissible for a country to have employment / visa policies that strongly incentivize companies to find qualified but mediocre employees from the same country instead of hiring exceptional workers from other countries, even if the foreign workers would be better for profit / GDP / economic growth. (That is, the country might decide to have more or fewer visas based on whatever policies it wants to implement, but we don't think that the zero-visas option is immoral.) And the overt and stated intention is to protect the employment opportunities of the countries' own citizens.

This doesn't seem fundamentally different, to me, from discrimination on sex / race / whatever to protect the employment opportunities of members of the more politically powerful sex / race / etc. - it's just that we tend to find it morally impermissible to discriminate between a countries' own citizens on those categories if we believe that membership in those categories is irrelevant to aptitude, but we find it perfectly permissible to discriminate between one countries' citizens on another despite knowing full well that citizenship is pretty irrelevant to aptitude. (I am personally leaning towards the viewpoint that actually both are morally impermissible, and protectionism in visas is justifiable only as the lesser of two evils as long as it's necessary for a country's economic stability, and no longer.)


> Less competition? Discrimination can be perfectly rational

I was mostly referring the point about women. The slots in the management hierarchy will get filled anyway, and I can see how people can have implicit biases, but it seemed the comment was more about an active and explicit suppression.

Based on what I've heard about Google, and I have been critical of it before, it still just doesn't seem like a company with a pervasive active sexism with managers suppressing women because they need to empower their own gender (male) group.

> (I am personally leaning towards the viewpoint that actually both are morally impermissible, and protectionism in visas is justifiable only as the lesser of two evils as long as it's necessary for a country's economic stability, and no longer.)

Agreed there, especially on gender, race, sexual orientation. But not sure completely on nationality. Ideally citizenship would be just a passport and a label and people with matching abilities and skills could freely move and find better lives elsewhere. I think that is the idealized version the term "globalization". However it eventually ended up meaning that only multinational companies and wealthy people get to travel and take advantage of regulatory and labor cost arbitrage.

As long as countries exist, I don't see each country trying to protect its own citizens first as a terribly bad thing. In particular in this case, the people seem to get great offers at home in China. I kind of like seeing China do well and being able to offer such opportunities. Perhaps at some point US will find itself falling behind and will have to work harder to compete, and that's not a terribly bad thing either.


You do not need to hate women to be sexist. You do not even need to be aware that you have biases for those biases to be affecting how you act.

Check out the literature on "implicit bias". While there are problems in some social sciences, this particular research area has a lot of high-quality reproduced studies. Of course, it is only the start of the conversation and there are many caveats, but I believe it will address your comment.


There's no evidence that one's implicit associations affect their behavior. Also the Implicit Associations Test used to determine your implicit associations in the first place is unreliable. Implicit bias testing and training is pseudoscience at best, especially when you consider that 95% of the professors in that field of study lean left.


> Implicit bias testing and training is pseudoscience at best, especially when you consider that 95% of the professors in that field of study lean left.

This strikes me as kind of like saying that evolution is pseudoscience because 95% of professors in the field are not evangelical Christians, or something.

There may be other reasons to believe that implicit bias is pseudoscience, but "People who believe certain things about it tend to end up with personal worldviews that are consistent with their research" doesn't seem like one.


You're right, it's not a good reason. I'm just skeptical how social sciences can come to fair conclusions when is almost no representation of the political right in their field. However you might be able to say the same about tech CEOs and underrepresented female gender, so I don't have a good argument here. As an aside I feel much less comfortable arguing this point after checking out your personal site and seeing that you write Debian packages. I really enjoy Debian, especially the reproducible builds work that's going on over there. I respect your opinions on this matter.


> I'm just skeptical how social sciences can come to fair conclusions when is almost no representation of the political right in their field.

By applying empiricism.

The fact that the political right is ideologicslly opposed to doing that in social science fields rather than accepting dogma (an attitude which also applies to an increasing number of areas of the physical sciences) is problematic, to be sure.


If empiricism was the interest of the social sciences, they would abandon all work on implicit bias, for you cannot reliably test for it and there is no evidence that IBT affects one's behaviour in any way other than making them more prejudiced.

I'm not making a claim about what the political right is opposed to.


"If empiricism was the interest of social science, they would abandon all work on $X" is a pretty silly-sounding statement for any value of X.


I do believe that the links in this sibling comment prove you to be a bit too extreme in your opinion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16128390


Conservatives: "fair" is more important than factual or correctness.

> As an aside I feel much less comfortable arguing this point after checking out your personal site and seeing that you write Debian packages. I really enjoy Debian, especially the reproducible builds work that's going on over there. I respect your opinions on this matter.

Are you trying to mkae some sort of point?


In my argument I was more making the claim that you're going to see more research supporting the left if all your researchers lean left. Also, you could make a much stronger argument that liberals value 'fairness' over factual correctness. Regarding Debian, my point is that I respect someone who supports open source software and code that can be reliably built from source, as it protects our freedoms.


> especially when you consider that 95% of the professors in that field of study lean left.

But they do research that should be repeatable and thus it doesn't matter.

Unless you think they have implicit bias.


> You do not need to hate women to be sexist. You do not even need to be aware that you have biases for those biases to be affecting how you act.

I am aware of that, good to point out though. However I was wondering because the wording "you can still maintain the discrimination" implies awareness and perhaps conspiracy. For example if I was talking about "implicit bias" I might have said something like - "it doesn't modify existing implicit biases and institutional constraints, which have been responsible for ...". But even then it would be good to see what exactly those biases and constraints are at Google.

On the topic of "implicit bias", it's also useful to add that it doesn't have to be just a personal "implicit" bias, it could institutional as well, incentives and rules that combine to exclude certain groups more than others, in this case women. Though then it's not clear how they would fix it, given that it's implicit. Maybe hire an outside consultancy which will be able to identify it better (since they are not part of the culture and not affected by same incentives)...


It'd be nice if you could link to the studies so we can check them out. I've seen a decent amount of criticism on this topic: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Implicit-association_test#Crit...


In one of the sibling comments I linked to a good page on those.

There is valid concern on how predictive the implicit bias test is in non-test conditions. But "implicit bias" is only the start of the conversation - it is one easy thing to measure in a sea of difficult to measure issues. If you want to jump into this rabbit hole, I have found the researches that work in this field to be eager to describe their more up-to-date work on addressing them (I do try to play a devil's advocate in such conversations and have gained much respect for their rigor). Regrettably, as usual in academia, the easies way to be exposed to those conversations is not that easy: going to talks given by those researchers.


Thanks, I'll take a look.


Claiming implicit bias is a very well greased slope towards a bad end because it lets you say (your opinion is that) someone else's actions show a pattern of whatever-ism and that they are not credible because of it and they cannot defend themselves because their whatever-ism is not consciously applied.

Just because brogrammers want to promote other brogrammers does not make them whatever-ist. Claiming that implicit bias is a type of whatever-ism is just BS doublespeak like "if you're not the solution you're the problem".


I recommend watching Jordan Peterson's explanation on this re: women in higher positions. It might change your view.

https://youtu.be/eieVE-xFXuo?t=2m50s

He also makes the argument that the issue isn't why there aren't more women in these jobs, but why are there so many men insane enough to spend 80 hrs a week doing them? Money != Happiness.


I think cultural mastery is similar to skill mastery. They both take a long time to master. So once you start allowing parity at the bottom levels it takes many years before parity at the top is reached.

Affirmative action often involves discussion on reducing quality or creating self-fulfilling prophecies by have no role models at the top.

I think a deeper issue is that leadership as an idea is still "masculine" in nature, reflecting a heroes journey to conquer something in the wild and bring it home. Heroines are just females still going out on a hunt. Instead there is much and underappreciated value in the maintenance of hearth and home. In learning how to live and creating wealth and complexity out of relationships between objects and people rather than extracting some sort of value from the environment.

It's just that such types of created wealth don't have the exponential explosion of conquered wealth.


I would think that ceiling exists in almost all countries, and US (and especially SV) does pretty well in terms of having non-natives in the higher rings of management. For example, Germany might have 20+ millions people with foreign roots (20%+ of population) and might look very welcoming to them, but you'd be hard pressed to find many in higher management roles.


Uhm, it’s quite easy to find foreigners in top positions at German companies, especially international ones. How many of SAP’s C-suite are even German? Not hard pressed at all.


Foreigners as in British, American, Swiss or Austrian? Or people from bulk of the immigrant population (Turkey, Romania, Poland, Greece..)


The former, but also throw in lots of Indians. Vishal was CTO of SAP before moving over to infosys.


Interesting - are there any particular studies about this in Germany?


Not sure, I’m going about it anecdotally, since I’m aware of foreigners in power at German companies, so at least it isn’t “hard pressed.”


I have the opposite observation, women do tend to get promoted to managerial roles fairly quickly.


Good managers have empathy. Women are traditionally more empathetic.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/19476221/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5110041/


Consider treading more carefully. Your statement, with gender role reversed, caused people to get publicly fired as recent as 2017.


Perhaps the issue isn't the posters statement, but the prevailing wisdom that there are absolutely no difference between genders in practical functionality.

Differences should never lead to inequality - women are better at some things, conversely so are men, but you need to treat (and pay) people equally - and this next part is the most important part - you also need to ensure that you have positions for all kinds of people in your organization - and that culturally, you allow for diversity, and have an organization that allows people from diverse backgrounds an experiences thrive.

The latter part is a key flaw of geek culture (most often seen in engineering organizations) - we often fail at inclusivity, because we've spent our whole lives being left on the outside, so we develop a fundamental distrust of people unlike us (look at the interplay between sales and engineering in most old line companies), and have not learned the skills to create an inclusive environment.

Because of this we tend to create 'old boys clubs' that are full of people who are remarkably like us.

But, we can do better, and should - however shutting down the discussion is not how you solve these problems, it just makes them worse in the long term by creating a new culture even more intolerant of dissent.


Yeah, amazing what can happen when you make an argument poorly and without thought to how your audience will react.

Oh but citations. Good for you, that's a good bit of research. Sure the facts seem cherry picked and don't necessarily support your conclusions. You also presented them in an entirely tone deaf manner, you seem to imply a number of negative things, you perpetuated stereotypes, and you didn't explore any possible alternative explanations, but you definitely cited some research papers. B+ for effort, F for execution.

F as in fired with cause.


Yikes. I’d regret having to be corporate legal counsel having to defend firing “for cause” in these political correctness scenarios to a jury of 12.

More like go directly to S as in seven figure settlement package.

EDIT: Direct reference to Google's incident.


We've banned this account for repeatedly violating the site guidelines. Would you please not create accounts to do this with?


I didn't. I created an account for discussion.


That's fine. But you need to use the site as intended. That means remaining scrupulously respectful of others, not using the site for flamewar or ideological battle, and the other things at https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html.


I work at a traditional enterprise. My (non radical) opinions don’t get me fired (versus the greater tech community).

It’s amusing to see these comments fluctuate wrt karma so quickly for the simple thesis that women might have traits that allow them to be better managers. I even come with study citations!

My condolences to those of you who might work somewhere where your livelihood is threatened for freedom of thought. The job market is great right now FYI.


I don't get it: do comments get downvoted on HN whenever there's any mention of or opinion on difference between genders? Disagreement shouldn't lead to downvote.


> Disagreement shouldn't lead to downvote

Actually PG said the opposite. I used to have the comment saved, but lost it in a format.

Anyway, people also downvote because they are sick of talking about this.


I'm surprised if PG did say that. If disagreement should lead to downvote, then unpopular opinions would not see the light of day.

Also, if one's sick of discussing a topic, s/he can simply don't read about or discuss it. Why prevent others from discussing it?


Things pg said about downvotes:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=117171

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=392347

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=658691

It's how HN has always worked, and in my opinion needs to. A site that cares about discussion quality needs those white blood cells.


Thanks for sharing the threads. I always think that downvoting is for discouraging bad arguments from DH0 to DH3 [1] (for discussion quality as you mentioned). Now I realize that even convincing arguments at DH6 can be downvoted as long as one disagrees with it.

[1] http://www.paulgraham.com/disagree.html


H-hold on! Didn’t we agree that there’s no difference between the two genders’ inherent capabilities?

Stop rocking the boat, thank you!


Janet Damore?


Can't say for everyone else, but from my observation, ppl from big china cities are more likely to go back while ppl from small cities are more willing to stay. The reasons is that moving to big china cities is as hard if not harder than staying in SV.

For myself, I'd like to stay here even I came from a big city like shanghai as I enjoy the freedom in US and agree with american values.

Besides, china is getting worse in every aspect I care about such as speech freedom, news freedom, human rights, food and air safety, etc, under Xi's administration.

Unfortunately the waiting time for a green card is too long, I don't want to sacrifice some of the most valuable years in my life just waiting here while I can achieve more if I'm able to work on my own project.

So I am moving back as well in the near future and hope someday I can make an achievement and get back to US.


Last paragraph is terrifying, does China not have privacy laws at all?

More interesting than prospects for some may be the sheer volume of intimate data available and leeway to experiment in China. Tencent’s now-ubiquitous WeChat, built by a small team in months, has become a poster-child for in-house creative license. Modern computing is driven by crunching enormous amounts of data, and generations of state surveillance has conditioned the public to be less concerned about sharing information than Westerners. Local startup SenseTime for instance has teamed with dozens of police departments to track everything from visages to races, helping the country develop one of the world’s most sophisticated and extensive surveillance machines.


People don't view privacy the same way we view them in the west. The government is obviously not too keen on passing Privacy Laws that itself has no intention of obeying.

I still attribute the success of Tencent and Alibaba significantly to both the public perception of privacy as well as what I expect to be a tacit compliance with the government on making available the data that they gather.

The Chinese government can find ways to shut down any company pretty much at will. I can't imagine Tencent or Alibaba or Baidu got to where they are today without playing ball with the government.


Are you truly having a hard time understanding how life under a Communist dictatorship and a Representative Democracy would differ for the average citizen?

It's really confounding to me that the younger generations seems to have such a hard time with this.

Do they not teach comparative history in schools anymore?


In my experience as a non-American, a lot of younger Americans have adopted a sort of dark, distorted view of history that casts the US as a villainous entity. For these people, any suggestion that other states, particularly non-Western ones, are even more villainous is met with scepticism.

Maybe they understand the differences between a representative democracy and an authoritarian regime in theory but believe there's no real difference in practice. It's a deeply unfortunate type of cynicism.


Every generation goes through this; it's not just this one. It's naive idealism sparked by learned helplessness, fueled by a lack of maturity/experience and amplified by foreign influence.

It used to be every generation of Americans had its subset of youth who become infatuated with Communism, for example. They generally grow out of it and come to appreciate their global standing once they graduate college and accumulate some wealth.

Europeans are accustomed to being more mobile and studying abroad seems to be almost expected. America is a very insular culture by comparison; depending on academic program a lot of schools don't have meaningful study abroad programs ("let's go spend a week attending some lectures in London then go home") and support for things like working holiday visas is pathetic. We don't have anything like Erasmus. The only people I ever seem to meet who have traveled more than a few hundred miles from home have only done so on deployment with the military.

In aggregate we know virtually nothing about the rest of the world, so it's easy for disillusioned kids to be convinced that their minor dissatisfactions are on the level of human rights violations and that North Korea or ISIS-held Syria are favorable by comparison.


Yes, very true. I suppose the internet just amplifies something that's been around for decades. To add to your examples, it amazes me that people favourably compare Russia's fixed elections with the failings of the Electoral College.


I wonder if this was also true of the 'Great' Britain back in the day.

Note that there are bad people and bad emperors and everything in between, having vastly different abilities to affect people. They are hardly equivalent, though bad they all are.


> a lot of younger Americans have adopted a sort of dark, distorted view of history that casts the US as a villainous entity

Or they have adopted a realistic view of history. The US has done loads of shitty things.

They have never had stalin like purges or a hitler like dictator.

An educated person, old or young, might look at Iran and be less likely to think "horrible regime hell bent on the destruction of Israel and the west" and more likely to think "huh, we probably shouldn't have fucked with their government decades ago".

Also that whole thing about voting being worth less for huge chunks of the country. Oh, and getting constantly screwed over by previous generations.

Being cynical doesn't make you naive.


The US plays a unique role in the world and has not played it perfectly, that's very true. But it is nowhere close to being the primary villain of the 20th century. I would indeed say you are naive to think so.

Every generation everywhere feels they've been "screwed over" by their parents, or their parents' parents. You lack perspective.


Sorry, are you saying "it's the cost of doing business"?


> Are you truly having a hard time understanding how life under a Communist dictatorship

While its certainly at least authoritarian and perhaps an actual dictatorship, and I recognize that the ruling party still calls itself “the Communist Party of China”, still we wouldn't be talking about Tencent if it actually was a Communist (defined, most centrally, by the prohibition in private ownership of the means of production) dictatorship.


> Are you truly having a hard time understanding how life under a Communist dictatorship and a Representative Democracy would differ for the average citizen?

The difference aren't that great. The most heavily surveiled society on earth is britain.

> It's really confounding to me that the younger generations seems to have such a hard time with this.

And it's confounding how the older generation thinks the west is any better.

> Do they not teach comparative history in schools anymore?

They do but just a lot better than they did in the past.


> It's really confounding to me that the younger generations seems to have such a hard time with this.

Oh look, more ageism on hacker news.


You're not asking the right question. The answer was right in what you quoted:

> generations of state surveillance has conditioned the public to be less concerned about sharing information than Westerners

They are already so used to being watched that they don't find it odd to be watched.


That has been my impression. Sometimes people find little ways to insulate themselves (I know a guy who doesn't put his license plate in the right place so his car can't automatically be tracked when he drives around the country), but in general lack of privacy is just the way it is. Kind of like taxes in the US. People may be annoyed with how much they pay and some people use dubiously clever means of reducing it, and people have concerns about the details, but not many people really think taxes overall are a bad thing and should be abolished or greatly restricted.


in china nothing is private, not even your medical info. Your employer can see your medical records if they want and often force employees to get yearly medical checks that are forwarded to HR and it is often used to figure out which female employees are pregnant and they will try to get rid of them rather than pay maternity leave. There are laws against all this but not enforced


Why is this? Is it a cultural thing?


I think it's cultural and lack of technological awareness

1) People aren't raised with a mind to combat discrimination. Despite recognizing and celebrate some 50+ ethnic groups, the majority of Chinese are Han and look like each other. There are some laws in place to protect against discrimination against certain classes (e.g. Gender/Ethnicity) but they're not strongly enforced. The legal system simply isn't there for individual plaintiffs to succeed against corporations or government.

2) Chinese have culturally accepted authoritarian rulers as "heaven's mandate". As long as people can be fed, clothed, have a roof over their heads and even prosper, then the ruler continues to carry "heaven's mandate", regardless of what Machiavellian means by which the ruler achieves prosperity for the majority. If the government has to read my letters in order to find evil schemers to keep me safe then so be it. But if the government did all these things and the safety/prosperity of significant communities are still constantly at risk, then the ruler has lost the heaven's mandate, and it's time for a revolution to install a new ruler.

3) Chinese people are raised on family, piety, and harmony, not individualism. Many place a sense of family/community acceptance above individual will. I think most are protective of the very private -- maybe on the class of secrets -- what I say to my friends or my own journals as private, but there are very few that even think that the metadata about how they carry out their lives should be considered private. Ultimately I think most people's mindset is that if I went to a restaurant and ordered food and they kept a record that I went there and ordered XYZ off the menu then it's no longer a secret. People haven't really come around to the power of what can be done when enough information has been gathered by simply going about your everyday business.


What would you say if a Chinese national asked you the opposite question: Why is data privacy the de facto standard all humans should enjoy?

Just because we're American and we sort of have that here? No privacy allows for greater systems efficiency and easier time in law enforcement investigations.

Doesn't make it right either; I'm a US citizen after all and abhor state-based intrusions of privacy more than even the average HN reader, but projection of societal norms is kinda silly.


Huh, it is kind of hard to make an argument for the self evidence of our inalienable rights.

Especially int he context of talking to someone who lives with tyranny and doesn't really care.

> but projection of societal norms is kinda silly.

It's not when you are talking about basic human rights. China is wrong about this.


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