We Can't Ignore Agriculture, feat. Critique of AmerDaugh

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Joe: thanks for keeping track of all these

now, we cannot leave US agriculture out of a discussion about Mexican immigrants and the American economy.

US agriculture has never operated according to the free market. It was quick to become addicted to slave labor, and if that was it's heroine, than Latin America's cheap labor is it's methadone. This has been the case for at least 100 years, and regardless of the on-again-off-again nature of US policy, generations of people have come here and spend time here working the land.

On the other hand (and maybe I wasn't clear before) in most cases, farmers work on very tight profit margins. They CAN't pay more. If they paid higher rates, the cost of producing a crop would exceed its market value.

The only way to increase wages in these sorts of jobs would be to increase government subsidies even more (make tax payers pay for the wage increases), or let food prices shoot up (make consumers pay)

both of these options seem untenable. In the later case, the negative economic consequences could be more severe than anything brought on by the recent influx of immigrants. What happens to US agriculture when imported food is cheaper than the domestic stuff? (hint: it's happening to Mexico right now)

now, with regards to American Daughter, all of the above is implicit in the statement, "Immigrants take jobs that Americans will not do." What AD calls a myth is in reality an uncomfortable economic fact. She mentions developing new technology to perform the same tasks, but that wouldn't open up jobs for Americans, it'd just replace immigrants with robots! Unfortunately, most of the rest of her post consists of a tirade about perceived liberal bias in the media:

the reporter uses a passive verb form, saying that they have been loaded onto the buses. This conjures the impression, not proven, that they were treated like cargo rather than humans.

oh, please...

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21 Comments

zimzo said:

I guess some people believe that if you just say something is a myth it will become one. But anti-immigration efforts have already caused labor shortages for farms:
http://www.libertypost.org/cgi-bin/readart.cgi?ArtNum=159668

Unfortunately, because of the increasing right-wing domination of the media, there is very little objective information on the Crider Chicken raid. But here is another side of the impact of this raid. Do anit-immigration zealots really want this to happen around the country? It's amazing how many people who back extreme anti-immigration efforts call themselves Christians:
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6196755

I suppose I should welcome the sudden pro-labor conversion of Joe and his anti-immigrant friends. But call me cynical. If you guys really cared about the American worker you would support raising the minimum wage. Walmart pays $5.56 an hour? Outrageous. Why don't you support health care for the more than 40 million Americans who don't have indurance?

Your sudden compassion for workers would also be more credible if this wan't the umpteenth argument you gave for curbing illegal immigration. I guess after dubious claims that immigrants are prone to criminality (false), are more liable to be unwed mothers (false), have a negative affect on the economy (false), learn English at slower rates than immigrants before them (false), make the U.S. more vulnerable to terrorism (false), you think this new argument will stick. It's a bit disinegnuous to claim that suddenly this is the real reason you oppose illegal immigration.

Of course, there is a real simple solution to the supposed effect of illegal immigrants on wages: grant them amnesty so that they will be subject to minimum wage laws. This raid netted only 126 illegal immigrants, barely a dent in the reported 15 million in this country. Do you honestly want this scenario repeated 119,047 times around the country? Imagine the economic devastation that would cause. Imagine how many small businessses such as restaurants will have to close. By the way, I bet a large number of those 126 immigrants are back in the country now.

You pretend that you have all of these reasonable arguments against granting amnesty to illegal immigrants when in fact what you are really against is what you perceive as their culture. I don't see too much agintation about Canadian immigrants because after all they seem just like us (except for the French ones). This is the same strategy you use to attack gay marriage. It's not gay people you're against, you claim, it's the children you're so concerned about. But if you were really concerned bout the children, you would be passing amendments against divorce. Ironically, many of the "Christians" who oppose gay marriage are increasingly agitating against birth control, such as President Bush's new nominee for the government agency that oversees family planning:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/11/16/AR2006111601929.html

I guess some people will be suckered into believing you really care about the American worker and aren't simply anti-immigrant. And some people might believe that you really care about children and are not just anti-gay. But you really should cover your tracks better if you want most people to believe you. Americans aren't that stupid.

Marshmallow brain, do you speak from experience? Or is your knowledge of farming also gathered from the puff piece media, just like your ability to reason?

My entire family, from ancestors back to the Revolution, down to all my aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. have all been farmers. I grew up with pumps for water and outhouses for necessity, on land where the nearest house was many hills away. I seriously doubt that you really KNOW anything about farming. But I do.

Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:

you're right, I'm not familiar with the pumps and the outhouses. my knowledge is purely academic, and pertains more to the agricultural sector than to the nature of life on a farm, but I wouldn't say my sources are the puff-ball media.

regarding your comment on my ability to reason: excuse me?

I did not know you grew up on a farm (but you don't farm anymore?) Do you disagree with me? You have to admit that economic conditions have changed since your ancestors worked as farmers. In the 1800s it was an agrarian society, most of the population farmed. Today it's down to around 2%. This speaks to the changing economic conditions. Private farms are less and less profitable, and more and more family farmers are feeling the pressure to sell their land to big agribusiness firms. I'm sure you've experienced this, and know more about it than I do.

It's these huge mega farms that get the lion's share of government subsidies. For staple crops like corn, wheat, and cotton. We need this stuff, but in today's economy it isn't profitable without being being propped up with tax dollars. Last year we put over 16 billion dollars into these subsidies.

http://www.thebudgetgraph.com/view.html

Sure some other gov. programs/services get a much bigger slice of the budget, but what other INDUSTRY is getting that kind of a break? It's enough to distort the market. When we distort our own industry while pressuring our neighbors to trade with us under strict "free-trade" terms, those distortions have an impact on their economies. This is part of the cause for the influx of immigrants, and, I believe, it speaks to the complexity of this particular issue.

that's all I know about it.

ZIMZO'S OFF HIS MEDS! ZIMZO'S OFF HIS MEDS! (Sorry, Kevin ...)

What are you talking about, oh hysterical one? Upteenth argument? You're a liar, sir, a sodden, slithering liar. I've been talking about the effects of illegal immigration on employment since the get go.

Gay marriage? What say you now, sirrah - thou art boxing with shadows again!

Oh, and your link to the cute little "labor shortage in the pear orchards" story is, I hate to tell you, a scam.

Not surprised you fell for it though, not one bit.

That whole meme about "fruit rotting in the fields" is a hoax and it is trotted out with regularity whenever the agricultural industry feels the need to make a point about it's desire for continued access to dirt-cheap labor.

Generally speaking, there are WAY more migrant farm workers in the US than there are jobs at any given time. It's ridiculous to suggest they would re-patriate themselves to Mexico or Latin America in numbers anywhere near what it would take to cause a "labor shortage."

The only times vegetables are left to rot in the fields are when the timing of two crops coming ripe gets messed up because of weather conditions and the farmer is caught by surprise shorthanded, or when there is a bonanza year for some fruit or vegetable (such as the pears that were publicized this summer) which is a VERY BAD THING because it forces the price down and in some cases makes it not worth the money to harvest the crop.

This is a good story on what really happened this year: Note the info on the typical number of workers available.

http://www.theledger.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060912/NEWS/609120439

More relevant info is here. The cost of labor could double and the price of produce would change very little:

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/05/21/MNGFQIVN991.DTL&type=printable

(Hat tip to Steve Sailor).

Stay Puft, I'll write about your post later.

Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:

HA! nice article from sfgate.com, that guy's been copying my mooves! Yeah, increase the pay to strawberry pickers from 6 cents to 12 cents and people will be fighting each other for those jobs! I like this Jerry guy's plan better, he's talking about paying $75 a bushel. Now we're talking!

...really though, good stuff

zimzo said:

Thanks, Joe. The article you posted supported all the points I was making:
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/05/21/MNGFQIVN991.DTL&type=printable

1) The impact of immigrants on wages is negligible.

2) Immigrants actually create more jobs.

3) Without immigrants many businesses would move to other countries.

4) The amount of government services immigrants use is low.

But here's the money quote. This is exactly what I've been saying. You aren't really concerned about the affect of immigrants on the economy or on American workers. This is your real beef:

"The reality of the immigration debate is it's nothing to do with economic impact," Card said. "That's just a smoke screen. It's all about cultural protectionism and fear of change."

Bingo!

There are a lot of points in the article, Zimzo, and no, they do not all support my point of view. They don't all support yours, either, now do they? The article is showing different aspects of the issue.

I'm going to repeat my point from the other day: You have blinders on if you don't see the negative effect this phenomenon is having on low-skilled workers and the building/contracting trades. It's laughably inconsistent with your professed worldview and very closed-minded.

I read somewhere once that a characteristic of the authoritarian personality is to project its own prejudices, machinations and secret desires onto its opponents. Seems to fit here.

zimzo said:

If attacking me personally by calling me a "liar," saying I'm "off my meds," saying I have on "blinders," and saying I have an "authoritarian personality" makes you feel better, go right ahead. It doesn't help your argument, however.

You are trying to make the case that;

1) Illegal immigration is a dire problem.

2) Amnesty is not a solution to this problem.

Even if you take all of the contradictory arguments the article puts forward, there doesn't seem to be much evidence that illegal immigration is as dire a problem as you have been saying it is and some evidence that amnesty would solve what problems do exist.

So I don't really understand how you could say I have blinders on when there is quite a bit of evidence that illegal immigrants don't depress wages or take jobs to a great extent. Organized labor seems to agree with me because for they most part they have not been agitating against illegal immigration. The only people who have been agitating against illegal immigration are those who have usually been the enemies of labor and who oppose such things as increasing the minimum wage. Why do you suppose that is?

By the way, if illegal immigrants take so many jobs, why is unemployment so low? Just asking.

You also haven't addressed several big questions. What are your arguments against amnesty besides the argument that you don't want to reward "lawbreakers," which is just silly since I know for a fact you've broken a few laws in your time without being punished, or the ridiculous "it will just encourage more immigration," which requires you to believe that immigrants sit around and say, "Twenty years ago Reagan gave immigrants amnesty so all we have to do is go to America and wait 20 more years." And if you are opposed to amnesty and even if you could seal up the border, what do you propose to do with all the immigrants that are still here? Raid 119,047 more businesses? Throw thousands of small businessmen in jail or put them out of business with huge fines. Go door to door rounding up immigrants? Turn the police into full-time immigration agents? Drive immigrants from town to town with local ordinances? Federalize big cities, which will resist efforts against immigrants tooth and nail? Seriously, what do you propose to do about the 15 million or so illegal immigrants in this country?

Finally, you have yet to refute the argument that your sudden affection for the American worker is just a smokescreen to mask your real agenda, which is that your opposition to immigration is not about economics but is "all about cultural protectionism and fear of change." Isn't that what is really behind your opposition to amnesty for illegal immigrants?

I only call you a liar when you lie, Zimzo, and you know that very well. And I've only called you that in a fraction of the instances where you've deserved it.

Anyway, refuting your "arguments" would be an effort in futility because you incorporate so much BS it's an effort just to sort out the parts that make sense.

Seriously, if you could quit with the lies and false attributions you'd make it much easier for people to argue or debate you.

YOU have yet to refute the argument you are a hypocrital pseudo-liberal, by the way.

zimzo said:

Constructive, Joe, very constructive. What lie have I told exactly? I guess if you can't refute what I have said, calling it BS is the next best thing. And name-calling really is beneath you, Joe, although I'm not really sure what makes me a "hypocritical pseudo-liberal" or even if it's a bad thing. I really expected better of you, Joe, but it's not the first time you've disappointed me.

I know it's hard to admit when the facts don't support your worldview because I've been there. I'll even give you two examples. I thought the "broken window theory" of policing was BS but the results proved me wrong. I believed that Clinton's welfare reform would be a disaster but that has proven not to be the case. Wrong again. Oh, and here's one more. After 9/11 I really believed that George Bush was going to live up to his promise to be a "uniter not a divider." I got fooled. So you see it's not too hard to admit when you're wrong and to resist the temptation to attack those who give you the bad news.

I suppose we could start with these:

It's amazing how many people who back extreme anti-immigration efforts call themselves Christians

If you guys really cared about the American worker you would support raising the minimum wage.

Why don't you support health care for the more than 40 million Americans who don't have indurance?

Your sudden compassion for workers would also be more credible if this wan't the umpteenth argument you gave for curbing illegal immigration.

I guess after dubious claims that immigrants are prone to criminality (false), are more liable to be unwed mothers (false), have a negative affect on the economy (false), learn English at slower rates than immigrants before them (false), make the U.S. more vulnerable to terrorism (false), you think this new argument will stick.

It's a bit disinegnuous to claim that suddenly this is the real reason you oppose illegal immigration.

Do you honestly want this scenario repeated 119,047 times around the country?

You pretend that you have all of these reasonable arguments against granting amnesty to illegal immigrants when in fact what you are really against is what you perceive as their culture.

This is the same strategy you use to attack gay marriage.

But if you were really concerned bout the children, you would be passing amendments against divorce.

Ironically, many of the "Christians" who oppose gay marriage are increasingly agitating against birth control,

I guess some people will be suckered into believing you really care about the American worker and aren't simply anti-immigrant. And some people might believe that you really care about children and are not just anti-gay.

The impact of immigrants on wages is negligible.

Immigrants actually create more jobs.

The amount of government services immigrants use is low.

You aren't really concerned about the affect of immigrants on the economy or on American workers. This is your real beef:

"The reality of the immigration debate is it's nothing to do with economic impact," Card said. "That's just a smoke screen. It's all about cultural protectionism and fear of change."

You are trying to make the case that;

1) Illegal immigration is a dire problem.

2) Amnesty is not a solution to this problem.

there doesn't seem to be much evidence that illegal immigration is as dire a problem as you have been saying it is and some evidence that amnesty would solve what problems do exist.

there is quite a bit of evidence that illegal immigrants don't depress wages or take jobs to a great extent.

Organized labor seems to agree with me because for they most part they have not been agitating against illegal immigration. The only people who have been agitating against illegal immigration are those who have usually been the enemies of labor and who oppose such things as increasing the minimum wage.

What are your arguments against amnesty besides the argument that you don't want to reward "lawbreakers," which is just silly since I know for a fact you've broken a few laws in your time without being punished,

or the ridiculous "it will just encourage more immigration," which requires you to believe that immigrants sit around and say, "Twenty years ago Reagan gave immigrants amnesty so all we have to do is go to America and wait 20 more years."

Go door to door rounding up immigrants?

Turn the police into full-time immigration agents?

you have yet to refute the argument that your sudden affection for the American worker is just a smokescreen to mask your real agenda, which is that your opposition to immigration is not about economics but is "all about cultural protectionism and fear of change." Isn't that what is really behind your opposition to amnesty for illegal immigrants?

Robin said:

Ok, this is just for the sake of arguement. What would happen if we required companies to hire a certain percentage of U.S. citizens? Then the remaining amount could be immigrants. If people are not applying then we would have to allow a higher percentage. Also, could people i.e. citizens elect to work for a lower wage but ask for some type of educational benefit? These are just thoughts and I'd like your respectful responses.

zimzo said:

I see, so you're taking the Mary McCarthy route: Everything Zimzo writes is a lie including "and" and "the." Again, very classy. It shows how reasonable and thoughtful your position on immigration is.

The reason I'm so familiar with World Net Daily is I often read it--for the laughs. Yesterday this was the headline:

"Illegal aliens murder
12 Americans daily

Death toll in 2006 far overshadows total
U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq, Afghanistan"

http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=53103

Then if you read the article you come to this:

"Though no federal statistics are kept on murders or any other crimes committed by illegal aliens, a number of groups have produced estimates based on data collected from prisons, news reports and independent research."

Oh, so this is just an "estimate" based on a "study" of mysterious methodology by a low-ranking Houston policeman with a little too much time on his hands and a radical right-wing congressman who likewise doesn't reveal where he got this estimate from.

Not to be deterred the article goes on to "estimate" the number of fatal accidents caused by illegal immigrants, by claiming that since a lot of accidents are caused by people without valid driver's licences and a lot of illegal immigrants don't have valid drivers license, that means they must cause a lot of the accidents. Uh, OK. Then it trots out the old tired "study" of extremely dubious methodology by Deborah Schurman-Kauflin to claim that a huge number of violent crimes and (gasp!) sex crimes are caused by illegal immigrants, which she similarly "calculated" by extrapolating estimates she drew out of thin air after conducting a few interviews with a very small number of incarcerated illegal immigrants.

This is typical of the hysteria and low level of scholarship among anti-immigrant activists. It's truly sad and disappointing that someone as intelligent as you are, Joe, would throw yourself in with people like this and borrow their tactics.

Zim, you're a freak, but I love ya. Wherever the hell that WND story fits in to the "discussion" we are having - and lord knows I sure didn't bring it in - I am truly flattered you see fit to grab outrages from all around the globe and hang them onto my tottering frame.

Psst! 4 Klansmen are setting up a roadblock outside Beckley, WV: There's got to be a Budzinski angle to that - go get'em, boy!

I don't know whether it's your tendency to grab half-quotes from what I've written, or lump me in with people who share my page in the telephone book, or simply make shit up out of thin air and then demand I rebut it, but there is something in your spirit I admire.

With a few men like you, I could bring down the whole corrupt apparatus of modern business and politics. I'd push out the press releases, and you could keep their spokespeople tied up in knots. You'd be my Rove, son, you'd be my Carville, you'd be my friggin' Che Guevara.

Meet me on the porch for a Captain and Coke sometime, if you have it in you. We might actually be able to get something done in this world.

Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:

Robin,

It's an interesting idea. I'm not sure how it would work. For one thing, who determines what an appropriate % is? If you say 50/50, and all the jobs fill up, do you change it to 60/40 and fire some of the immigrants? It seems like market forces would lead to the right %, but in that case, what's the point of the regulations which would probably be expensive to implement?

also, if people took wage cuts in exchange for benefits, who's paying for the benefits? The employer? There's no difference between paying a worker $100, or paying him $50 and then putting $50 into his education fund, right? If taxpayers pay, it's not so much of a benefit to the worker since he's paying for it through taxes while being paid less.

So I guess such a system would be unnecessary and unworkable.


for the record: I tend to agree with the spirit of zimzo's above comments ; )

Robin said:

I was thinking about 60/40 to start. I think that would give citizens a reasonable chance to choose to work. If 60 percent of citizens could not be found then those jobs could be opened up to immigrants.

With the education, if the company is paying a 6.50 an hour the worker could allot the company to hold one dollar an hour in an education fund. The worker would have to be there a year, either be a citizen or becoming one.

I think many of these classes would involve learning english, literacy, computers. These things would make better workers. This could be done through literacy groups and work improvement groups (by donation). The workers who know these skills could also participate with the incentive of having this on their review (incentive for promotion, higher wages) Then these workers could assume other positions in the company and teach others.

I really think it could work. It would take a bit of cooperation to make it work for all.

Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:

Ok, but what if 60% can be found? do you fire immigrant workers? also, what would be the purpose of working for a dollar less and putting the extra dollar away? The employer isn't saying any money.

On the other hand, the whole education fund thing could be a good idea. All unskilled workers would benefit from education or job training. But why do the edu. fund thing, why not increase business taxes in order to subsidize higher education?

Jack said:

Perhaps because the federal government has no constitutional authority to subsidizing higher education.

Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:

please Jack: no constitutional _mandate_

...could be a good way to help unskilled workers regain their relevance in our economy? "general welfare" and all that, right Jack?

Robin said:

Puffy,
Thus is the problem. Deciding what the fair percentages would be. I suppose companies would need to fill jobs with citizens until no more apply and then the remaining jobs are farmed out.

By having an edu. fund it allows the worker to feel an investment in the company and vice versa. Economically there is only so much you can raise business taxes before it starts to effect hiring. Now I do feel that some some be down if we do want to concider the "general welfare" of the country. We can't ever ignore basic economics however.

Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:

Ok, I'm just not sure if there's a difference between the gov saying, "you have to put 1/7th of your employee's earnings aside for education" and simply raising taxes to reduce the cost of tuition.

or the difference between setting the min. wage at $7 vs. $6 + $1 for education. Seems like the effects on hiring would be the same.

Not that this sort of plan wouldn't be beneficial, it just seems like it'd be more manageable/enforceable if it were in the form of a tax.

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