Every morning I wake up and thank God that we still have some Republicans in Congress. Representative John Shadegg (R) from Arizona, is one of those blessings. He has introduced a bill in Congress called the Nursing Reform Act of 2009. The bill calls for increasing work visas for foreign nurses (and their spouses). When passed, it will eliminate the nursing shortage!
This bill is great on so many levels. For one, everyone knows that healthcare is costing us an arm and a leg (pun intended). The biggest causes are obviously nurses and nursing unions. Nurses are way overpaid, but unfortunately the healthcare corporations have not been able to break the nursing unions because of the shortage of nurses. By bringing in lots of foreigners, they can flood the market with labor, break the unions, and get nursing salaries down to where they belong — somewhere around what retail pays. If only there weren’t that law capping the number of foreign nurses we allow in the country… As a side benefit, the bill allows for nurses’ spouses to get unrestricted work visas as well, so it will help bring down salaries in all sorts of other industries as well!
The true brilliance of this bill (thank you Mr. Shadegg!) is in the way it is written. It doesn’t bring them all in at once. It starts out with 50,000 new visas the first year, which is a low enough number that people will “buy it” and the bill can get passed. Supporters of the bill have had to go to great lengths to say that nursing salaries will be unchanged, which of course will be true at first. However, the genius in the bill (evil grin) is that the number of allowable visas automatically goes up 20% per year, so it will be 60,000 visas in year two, 72,000 visas in year three, 86,400 visas by year four, 103,680 by year five, and a whopping 124,416 by year six! The bill states that “According to the Department of Labor, the current national nursing shortage exceeds 126,000.” Therefore, the nursing shortage will be solved in about six short years, and healthcare companies can get back to earning the kind of money they deserve! Incidentally, this is just the approach that was so successful in cutting the salaries earned by information technology workers about 10 years ago. Corporate profits were getting impacted by high IT costs, so our brilliant Congress increased the number of H1-B visas, and companies were able to hire cheap workers from India and other places. Thank you, Congress! Later, many of these foreign workers returned to their homelands and brought the work with them. Now, corporate America doesn’t have to pay high salaries, and they don’t even have to look at the foreigners anymore — they can just write a little check to India. Bravo! Fortunately, information technology salaries have never rebounded to the levels where they were.
But I digress. Back to nursing. Let’s face it, nursing is difficult, degrading work. Nurses sometimes have to wipe feces, for Christ’s sake. We’re Americans and we’re better that that! We can certainly find some Indians, Filipinos, or Chinese to do that work, ridding self-respecting Americans of the need to perform that dirty job. The last 20 years have been a long road, but we’ve come a long way, baby. We’ve rid ourselves of the burden of almost all manufacturing jobs, call center jobs, and as mentioned earlier, many information technology jobs. Fortunately, we Americans don’t need to do those things anymore. This bill is the first step down the same glorious road for healthcare. It was recently reported that in 2009, over 6 million Americans will travel abroad for surgery (http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/03/27/india.medical.travel/index.html). Once these foreign nurses are fluent in “American-style healthcare,” many can return home to help proliferate cheap healthcare services to those Americans that can afford to fly overseas. Think of the opportunities this will create for the airline industry and the beloved industries that support the airline industry — like jet fuel suppliers and Boeing!
President Obama reportedly wants to solve the nursing shortage by training unemployed Americans for these jobs. As usual, that guy has it all bass-ackwards. First of all, we Americans are too good to be nurses. Second of all, it would be tough to train enough new nurses to break the unions and get nursing wages down to retail wage levels. Only India and China, with their billions of people, are capable of rapidly flooding the market with enough labor. Third, everyone knows that the millions of unemployed Americans are lazy, good-for-nothings that are not smart enough or good enough to be nurses. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be unemployed in the first place, right? Fourth, training Americans to be nurses is expensive. Why, in Mr. Shadegg’s home state of Arizona, the high unemployment rate and falling tax revenue have forced the state funded university (Arizona State), to cut its nursing program by 26% in terms of students accepted into the program (http://nursing.asu.edu/general/deans_welcome.htm). Let’s face it, with unemployment so high, we just can’t afford to train Americans to be nurses. Perhaps if we cut taxes on all of the oppressed wealthy Americans, we could afford to train more nurses…
Opponents of this bill will probably say that John Shadegg has sold out to the healthcare industry. I say, phooey! They will probably point out that In the campaign finance cycle for 2008, he received over $244,000 from the healthcare sector, over $168,000 of which was from healthcare political action committees (http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/industries.php?cycle=2008&cid=N00006425). That may be true, but Mr. Shadegg is a patriot! He would NEVER let campaign contributions influence the legislation he introduces or sway his vote in any way.
My only criticism of the bill is that it doesn’t go far enough. Perhaps it’s not too late. I would urge Mr. Shadegg to expand this legislation so that we bring in an additional 50,000 foreign doctors, 50,000 foreign dentists, 50,000 foreign lawyers, 50,000 foreign engineers, and 310 learned people for “government positions” (254 to take the Democratic congressional seats and 56 to take the Democratic Senate seats, ha ha ha!!!!!). Clearly, overpaid nurses are not the only problem we face as Americans. My fellow Americans, we must remember, what’s good for American corporations is good for America. We’ve come a long way, but there are still some high paying jobs that are held by Americans. With the help of patriots like Mr. Shadegg, we can fix that!