Alexander Nguyen

Alexander Nguyen, a former Prospect writing fellow, is a student at Yale Law
School.

Recent Articles

High-Tech Migrant Labor

Guest workers: They're not just picking vegetables anymore. A new class of "migrant workers" is taking shape in America's Silicon Valley and other technology centers. These immigrants are not sneaking over U.S. borders—they arrive by jet from India, the Philippines, China, and Taiwan to take jobs in computer programming, software design, and information services. And America's information technology industry wants more of them. "Forget the Huddled Masses," a recent BusinessWeek article proclaimed. "Send Nerds." Industry leaders claim they face a shortage of skilled high-tech professionals—a problem they fear will only get worse. A 1997 Bureau of Labor Statistics study projected there will be 1.3 million new info-tech jobs over the coming decade. Lobbyists representing Microsoft, Texas Instruments, and Sun Micro systems have taken their case to Congress. The industries want to import more foreign workers through the H-1B visa program, which allows temporary guest workers into the...

No Fanfare for Learnfare

This school year, Governor George Pataki of New York expanded Learnfare--a program making family-assistance grants contingent upon children's attendance at school--to include all elementary schools in the state. After three unexcused absences, students on welfare must seek counseling. After four unexcused absences, their families lose $60 in monthly assistance, which they can earn back with perfect attendance the following quarter. During the program's two-year pilot run, 329 families had their grants reduced, and only 16 families were able to recover their losses. Learnfare, according to Pataki, rests on the premise that "[a] good education is a key building block in any child's future and is absolutely necessary to break what for too many families has become a generational dependency on public assistance." And by targeting the very young in grades one through six, it hopes to "help them move out of the welfare culture," according to Jack Madden, spokesperson for the state's...

The Souls of White Folk

W hen the U.S. Census Bureau asked residents to count off for the new millennium, sharp-eyed individuals noticed a slight oddity in the form's race question: While Asians or Pacific Islanders could pick from among nine boxes (Asian Indian, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Native Hawaiian, Guamanian, or Chamorro and Samoan), Caucasians had only one box (white). The bureau, theoretically, could have offered a similar menu for whites by including boxes for the Irish, Italians, Polish, and Germans among us. But it did not, and the choice is telling because it implies that if you're white, you're white--what more is there to say? A lot, as it turns out. In recent years, as the president and media leaders such as The New York Times have sought to advance a national conversation about race, a new academic field has sprung up that is devoted to understanding whiteness. By studying white identity-- its history,...

The e-GOP

As the high-tech sector has grown as an industry, its bankroll of financial contributions to politicians has swollen as well (over $3.8 million so far this year). So it's no surprise that presidential candidates are now flocking to Silicon Valley, or that firms like AOL and eBay are forming their own political action committees to dole out cash. What is surprising is how much of that new high-tech money is going to Republicans. Historically, Silicon Valley has been reliably Democratic territory. In 1992, for example, Microsoft gave Republicans only 21 percent of its campaign contributions. By the 1998 election cycle, however, the GOP share of Microsoft contributions had grown to 66 percent—and so far in 1999, Republicans have captured 54 percent of total computer industry contributions. Microsoft has also donated $331,000 in soft money in 1999, almost all of it to Republicans. "There's the perception that Silicon Valley is Clinton-Gore country," says Holly Bailey, researcher at the...

Rising Tide?

"They almost have a nostalgic quality about them, sort of like the bell bottoms stuck in the back of the closet," writes Jeffrey M. Berry of today's quixotic and starry-eyed liberals. "But liberalism is not dead. Indeed, it's thriving." In The New Liberalism: The Rising Power of Citizen Groups, Berry marshals copious evidence that over the past four decades, liberal citizen groups have outperformed conservative groups and business lobbies in almost every regard—commanding more positive media attention, winning more legislative victories, and indeed lasting longer as organizations. It is an interesting finding but true about just one narrowly defined band of liberalism. Berry admits that traditional liberalism, the kind primarily concerned with economic equality, is in decline. What he discusses is a new type of liberalism—he calls it post materialism—which addresses the environment, consumer protection, civil rights, and other nonmaterial quality-of-life issues. Postmaterial groups...

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