I didn't want to be the one to say this, but....
Although never one to underestimate the xenophobia codified in U.S.
Government policies, I most respectfully differ with the opinions of my
san-comrades expressed in the messages included at the end of this
one. The agricultural migrant labor issue exists in my opinion due to the
universally LOW wages found in the farm labor economy.
If farm workers started making $10, $15, or $20 dollars an hour you can be
damn sure a whole lot of U.S. citizens of all stripes would suddenly
develop a powerful hankering for country life!! Furthermore, these jobs
would be jealously guarded by their occupants and attempts to employ
discount labor from Mexico or elsewhere would be quickly reported to the
Does this sound fantastic and absurdist? It is of course
unrealistic to imagine that people actually involved in feeding the
nation should receive anything above poverty wages in the U.S., 'the
richest nation on earth' and seat of a global empire. Naturally, only
those who toil on soft seats in air-conditioned offices adjusting
insurance claims or other serious and productive tasks deserve such lavish
compensation. These hardworking persons generate shareholder value, you
see, unlike lazy and firvolous manual laborors who would most likely
squander their earnings on drink and imported electronics.
YOU WHO WILL BE BORED BY FURTHER ELABORATION OF THE ABOVE SHOULD STOP
Let me now offer some disclaimers and clairifications.
First: The last paragraph is not intended in any way to parody Diane and
Alex (see below), but instead the perverse logic of the tyrany of capital.
Second: My thesis is briefly as follows:
FIRST-WORLDERS SHOULD BE PAYING FIRST-WORLD WAGES FOR THEIR MANUFACTURING,
TEXTILE, SERVICE AND FARM LABOR, not just their software and banking
'services.' Unfortuantely we have become a nation of parasites, slaves
and slavers, overworked though we may be. Imperialists, like the Brits of
yore, but more subtle and much more effective. The US cheap food policy
is as I see it, one half the our modern 'bread and circuses' approach to
anaesthesizing otherwise rowdy populations. The migrant labor 'problem'
is not a problem at all for the monied interests who make government
policy, and who relentlessly work to maintain the largest and therefore
cheapest posssible labor pool through manipulation of welfare policies,
the federal reserve (note their terror of 'wage inflation'), and
immigaration, both legal and otherwise.
Third: The poverty and instability in 'our' hemisphere which drives
illegal and legal migrant workers exists not so much despite, but
BECAUSE of the best efforts of US imperialst antics, the World Bank and
the IMF (may they sink into the earth). But let's debate this point
elsewhere! My point here is that legalization is in my opinion at best a
band aid approach.
Fourth: In hopes of avoiding lots of mail from farmers educating me on the
realpolitik of the nightmarish federal labor bureaucracy, let me say I am
not against you. I'm against cheap food, cheap labor, and absurd
concentrations of wealth. Who was it said "Those who work not shall
not eat?" I say: A good days work for a good day's pay. This naturally
entails prosperous farmers.
Perhaps replies to the more obscure and off-topic parts of the above
should be sent to me and not sanet, as I see this thread is a bit old and
I am loathe to load up our beloved listserver with more political-economy
type ranting than I have to date.
And yes, I know I can't spell. Any advice on operating the Pine spell
checker is welcome!
On Thu, 31 Dec 1998, Diane Cooner wrote:
> Hear, Hear!!!
> Fear perpetuates the whole mess.
> Alex McGregor wrote:
> > OK, lots of people seem concerned about this issue, so I thought I'd put
> > in my 20 cents worth (inflation, ya know).
> > The migrant farm worker issue exists for 2 reasons: Prejudice and Fear
> > (although the 2nd is a subset of the 1st).
> > There has always been a prejudice against Latinos- especially in the
> > Southwestern part of the US. We just don't want "their kind" coming into
> > our lilly white, god fearing country and subverting our values and
> > marrying our daughters. Hell, they even don't speak English!
> > The fear is a hold-over from the days when Americans would work in
> > factories, mills and on farms. The (fill in the blank with Poles, Irish,
> > Chinese...) immigrants competed for these jobs years ago. The truth now
> > is that no Americans are willing to work in low paying, menial jobs. The
> > Mexicans are- the minimum wage per hour here is a 10 hour day's pay in
> > Mexico. That would be like paying $40 per hour for factory jobs here.
> > Also, someone I met at a Sustainability Conference said he employed
> > mostly Mexicans in his carpet factory. He told me how he ran ads for
> > jobs offering above minimum wage to start and noone applied. He said the
> > Mexicans will work hard, do a good job and ask to work overtime.
> > Now, let's suppose that the average pay for a 50 to 60 hour work week
> > here was $25 and the Mexican factories and farms were paying $200 for 40
> > hours and you could make $350 per hour for 60 hors (with overtime pay).
> > If the cost of livings, etc. were reversed for the 2 countries, the
> > factory pay would be equivalent to $1,600 to $2,800.
> > This would mean that all those Americans who couldn't feed and house
> > their families would cross the border, take whatever work they could get
> > and send their families as much as they could.
> > To think that there's anything else driving the migrant farm labor
> > "problem is ridiculous. There's a shortage of workers in our factories
> > and on our farms because not many of us are willing to be laborers or
> > farm workers and the Mexicans are willing to work at any kind of job
> > here to feed their families.
> > I like Dale's idea of legitimizing migrant workers:
> > "Wouldn't an easy solution to the illegal migrant labor
> > problem be to legalize it? The government could make it easier to get
> > temporary work visas."
> > We can't stop the influx of hungry, desperate people wanting jobs we
> > don't. So what's our problem with coming up with some way to satisfy the
> > workers and the business and farm owners? I refer you to reason #1
> > above.
> > Alex
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