Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Another reason to vote for Trump.

I won't vote for Trump for a variety of reasons, but I'll admit that I have a growing, if grudging, respect for the man. Turns out Trump's pissing off the big agricultural interests, too.
Trump's brash talk about stopping undocumented immigration has excited GOP primary voters, turbocharged his campaign and spurred similar get-tough pledges from several rivals, including Sen. Ted Cruz and Gov. Scott Walker. But the view from many conservative-leaning agricultural communities is disgust, bordering on dread. Farmers say the candidate’s pronouncements have exacerbated already difficult labor shortages and brought counterproductive political attention to issues they had hoped to resolve quietly in Congress through legislation overhauling the nation’s broken guest-worker program.
This is the "Food rotting in the field" argument that Steve Sailer loves to bash.
The candidate’s inflammatory talk, especially his vow to deport 11 million immigrants in the country illegally, poses a serious threat to U.S. farmers struggling to get their crops to market, said Frank Muller, who grows tomatoes, peppers, almonds and walnuts on his California farm.

"My farm would shut down today if you removed my ... workforce,' Muller said. "You hear all these disparaging remarks about immigrants, but these guys are the hardest-working, most dedicated people ... I've ever seen in my life."

Trump's campaign declined to comment.

Roughly 1.4 million undocumented immigrants work on U.S. farms each year, or about 60 percent of the agricultural labor force, said Chuck Conner, president of the National Council of Farm Cooperatives, a trade group, and former deputy agriculture secretary during the George W. Bush administration.
Okay, so they use 1.4 million wetbacks a year as nearly slave labor. So why do these assholes want the other 10.6 million in the country? Bullshit starting to pile up, here....
Farmers say they depend on undocumented workers because Americans simply won't do the back-breaking labor required and the existing guest-worker program for foreign workers is badly broken.

Tim McMillan, a Georgia blackberry farmer and owner of Southern Grace Farms, said he could easily double his operation if only he could hire labor.

“We’ve got the land, we’ve got the water, and we’ve got the management — we’ve got everything in place but the labor,” he said. “I can’t get American citizens to do the work. They just don’t want to do it.”
Time to do some mathematics! Wetbacks comprise 60% of the agricultural labor force. There are 1.4 million of them. That means there are ~2.33 million agricultural workers in the country. The year 2012 has the most readily available data for me on the number of H-2A Visa workers in the country, who are the temporary LEGAL immigrant farm workers. (Call them drybacks.) There were ~65,000 of them that year. I doubt there has been much change in the program since then. So, 

That means there are 865,000 AMERICAN WORKERS who ARE willing to do the work. What the growers mean is that they can't get enough Americans to do the work at the rates they are paying. Solutions to that would be to either offer higher wages for labor or invest in more mechanization. Importing people to work as second- or third-class human beings (can't call them citizens) is essentially creating an underclass for the betterment of a few. American history is replete with examples of that, most notably the African slave trade. The consequences for society at large are never good in these examples. 

That is, America would have been better off if the English colonists had picked their own goddamned cotton*.
One final bit from the article:
The farm group released a study last year that found that if Congress passed an enforcement-only immigration bill — boosting deportations and tightening border security without improving farmers' access to immigrant labor — fruit production in the U.S. would drop by as much as 61 percent, food prices in grocery stores would rise by 6 percent and the average net farm income would drop by as much as 30 percent.
Look at those numbers carefully and you will see a not inconsiderable detail: According to the farmers themselves, labor costs aren't that big a part of the equation in the final price-to-market for the consumer, not if a 60% reduction in labor only results in a 30% drop in net farm income, and a mere price increase of 6%. I love cheap citrus as much as the next person (Down with SCURVY!), but I think I could absorb a one-time 6% hike in prices in order to have a country that's a little bit cleaner civilly and morally.

* That is something of an anachronism, but the point is clear.

1 comment:

  1. I notice that the agriculture people always say "that the American people won't do the work". Dad (who has considerable experience in the citrus industry) has said this in the past, as well. Maybe we should remove incentive to not work. No able-bodied adult should be collecting welfare benefits without working at least a little bit. I understand that a lot of these people live in urban areas, but something could be worked out. I know I am short on details, but considering that black youth unemployment is outrageous, it seems to me that we have a resource that should be exploited.