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Friday, 03 February 2017 08:27

Trump effect: Melbourne developer turns down US opportunity Featured

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Melbourne-based developer Russell Coker has turned down a chance to explore employment in New York City, following the events in the US since the inauguration of President Donald Trump.

Russell told iTWire that he had been asked by a well-known company if he was interested in a site reliability engineer-type opportunity.

He said that in order to avoid wasting any time, he had told the company in question that he was unable to visit the US. "I informed the company that I could not visit the US to avoid any time being wasted. If they have a position in another country then I guess they might get back to me."

Russell said his reason for declining was not due to a political disagreement with the current US government. "I spent a good deal of time working in the US while George W. Bush was president," he said. "It's the fact that the rule of law is being eroded.

"If Trump is going to cancel green cards for people from some Middle-Eastern countries then he could do the same to me. He could also increase the tax rates on foreigners (something that would be popular with his base), and giving me a 95% tax rate would be as good as firing me."

Russell is well-known in the open source and free software communities, having made contributions to the SE-Linux kernel hardening project. Apart from the US, he has worked in Europe as well. He is also a developer for the popular Debian GNU/Linux distribution.

"The fact that any civil servant who refuses to obey illegal orders may be sacked (something that hasn't happened since Richard Nixon AFAIK) is a serious concern for anyone who has anything to do with the US," he said.  

"While I disagree with many US laws, I can work with the US legal framework. The news reports from the US about illegal orders being followed and residents being denied legal representation have led me to believe that the rule of law is breaking down in the US.

"For me to visit a country, I have to have a reasonable belief that I can safely leave when I wish and avoid being arrested by choosing to obey the law. I don't believe that of the US."

Russell said to work in a country, he needed to have a reasonable belief that he would end up being paid and be able to take the money out of the country.

"Trump's talk about reneging on government bonds makes me concerned about my ability to spend money earned in the US. If the US dollar suddenly drops significantly in value I may end up effectively being paid a fraction of what I signed up for.

"If I was to be paid in euros, I would have much more confidence that I will be able to convert the money to Australian dollars at a good rate afterwards."


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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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