February 6, 2008

Good timing

The Dow Jones average drops 370 points on Tuesday on new evidence of a recession in the offing, and the Bush Administration announces a plan to "dramatically increase the number of legal foreign laborers available to harvest crops." I was thinking that maybe some of those newly unemployed construction workers might want farm jobs, but, apparently, the eternal need for more foreign peasants comes first. Otherwise, we would all starve.

The LA Times reports:

The Bush administration today plans to announce the most significant overhaul in two decades of the nation's agricultural guest worker program, in a bid to dramatically increase the number of legal foreign laborers available to harvest crops.

The revised regulations, many months in the works, would make it easier for growers to bring foreign workers to the United States and could alleviate the critical farmworker shortage largely caused by the U.S. crackdown on illegal border crossings. ...

The greatest effect would be in California, the nation's largest agricultural state. Some farmers have had to plow rotting crops back into their fields for lack of workers at harvest time. But lawmakers and growers said Tuesday that more than an administrative fix was needed to solve the state's chronic farm labor shortages.

Don't you love that phrase "chronic farm labor shortage"? It's like golf course owners complaining about the chronic daylight shortage that keeps golf courses closed an average of 12 hours per day and demanding that therefore the government must build them giant floodlights so they can stay open 24 hours per day. There is no farm labor shortage, chronic or otherwise, there's just a higher market wage than the wage the growers would prefer to pay (which, by the way, is $0.00 per hour).

And as for crops rotting in the fields, it's the nature of the agriculture business that each year a few of the many scores of different crops will grow in such abundance or at an inconvenient time or both that it's not worth harvesting some of them. In 2006, for example, it was pears. So, each fall, the growers' lobbyists issue press releases about how pears or brussels sprouts or avocados or whatever it is this year are "rotting in the fields" due to the horrible burden of having to pay stoop laborers in expensive California $8.50 an hour (or whatever it is) for seasonal work.

The more long-range appeal to growers of guest-worker plans is that it lets them bring in Asian peasants who are less able to sneak into the country than Mexican peasants, while allowing the Mexicans to continue to sneak in. (Did you know the population of Indonesia, for instance, is 235 million?) From the employers' standpoint, it's a double your pleasure, double your fun approach to the supply and demand determination of laborers' wages. And then once the flow of guest workers from, say, Indonesia gets started, their will be more illegal immigration from Indonesia too, since the guest workers' relatives will now have connections in America.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

They already have the H-2A visa which has a cap of UNLIMITED. They don't want to use this visa because it sets wage and hours controls, makes the employer responsible for certain benefits (housing, transportation), and insists that US citizens get first crack at the work. Why is the MSM so ignorant on any issue having to do with immigration?

rightsaidfred said...

"...there's just a higher market wage than the wage the growers would prefer to pay (which, by the way, is $0.00 per hour)."

I'm a farmer, Steve, and I think people should pay me to come and work here, so the wage should be something like -$15.00.

Otherwise you are right on.

Anonymous said...

rightsaidfred, you aren't the first farmer with that idea:

http://www.slate.com/id/2151215/

Apple picking as an activity is people paying to go work on a farm.

-Steve Johnson

William said...

Does any English speaking person here or anyplace else ever recall seeing an English language ad anywhere trying to recruit them to harvest crops?

I mean, obviously I'm not necessarily looking in the right places, but I don't recall seeing on any high school or college job board an ad saying "Crop pickers wanted." Don't recall ever seeing such signs when I passed orchards or farms, either.

William said...

Actually I think that it is good timing. An economic downturn is the only thing that might encourage Americans to get serious about border control.

When unemployment is low it's easy to claim there's lots of jobs Americans "won't do." But the economy falls and its harder to say that. Suddenly those jobs "Americans won't do" are jobs you might want to do, or have your kids do, just to pay the bills.

A tight economy means money spent in places where lots of illegals work - restaurants, hotels, new homes - isn't getting spent anymore. So don't expect the unemployment rate to reflect the actual number of jobs lost, since illegals can't get unemployment.

A tight economy means that employers can be pickier about who they hire - meaning English-speakers over illegals. If they aren't, yet more people will lobby Congress for border control.

A tight economy means governments will have to work hard to keep budgets in line. Perhaps some of those annoying government agencies will see their budgets slashed.

Tighter credit means that people, especially college kids, won't be able to foot the bill by taking on more debt. They might want to cover the gap by doing the jobs now done by illegals.

All these things bode well for border sanity.

I now actually cheer when the Dow goes down (but then my finances are sound and I sold most of my stock holdings months ago).

This downturn is like chemo - the short-term pain may be necessary for the long-term survival of the organism.

Walt said...

Re:"The more long-range appeal to growers of guest-worker plans is that it lets them bring in Asian peasants who are less able to sneak into the country than Mexican peasants, while allowing the Mexicans to continue to sneak in. (Did you know the population of Indonesia, for instance, is 235 million?)"

Are we ready to admit hundreds of thousand of Muslim farm workers? Already I can't fly without partially disrobing.

Ned said...

I am always amused when I hear about "shortages" developing in capitalist-free market economies (unlike socialist economies, where shortages are regular and permanent). These words should be written in fire in Washington and every state capital - "Under capitalism, there are no shortages - only prices!" For example, right now gas is pretty expensive, but I can still fill my swimming pool with it if I can afford to pay. And the farmers can have all the stoop laborers they want if they'll pay them enough. You can even have Ivy League MBA's picking your asparagus if you'll pay them $150,000 per year and throw in a BMW and some chardonnay. And if the higher wages make growing a particular crop uneconomical, then the farmers shouldn't be growing it - someone else will do it and at a lower price.

Jim O'Sullivan said...

That's why we are doomed to lose on this issue. Doomed. The left wants open borders to radically alter the very nature of the "AmeriKKKa" they despise, and big business wants the cheap labor. Doomed.

Dutch guy said...

Should the US government consider bringing in guest workers from Indonesia, they might want to consult the literature on Indonesian guest workers in Malaysia - where they fill an economic position roughly analogous to that of the Mexicans in the US. They are also often associated with crime and all kinds of social problems and the Malaysian government has deported tens of thousands of them without effectively solving the problem. Do a Google search for 'Nunukan + workers' and you'll see what I mean (Nunukan being an island off the coast of Borneo used as a stepping stone for migrant workers to enter + exit Malaysia).

William said...

[Indonesians] are also often associated with crime and all kinds of social problems and the Malaysian government has deported tens of thousands of them without effectively solving the problem. - dutch guy

The US government has absolutely no data linking various races to higher crime rates.

You know that, right? Look in the mirror and repeat it 30 times each morning, just like Stephen Jay Gould said.

Richard A. said...

What the Bush administration wants to do is low ball the prevailing wage provision. They think that farm laborers are overpaid. BTW, we have a chronic shortage of computer programmers too -- ask Bill Gates.

Anonymous said...

Hey, does anyone remember what religion the Indonesians are? Wouldn't we be better off with Catholic Filipino immigrants, than Muslim Indonesians?

Lucius Vorenus said...

Ned: You can even have Ivy League MBA's picking your asparagus if you'll pay them $150,000 per year and throw in a BMW and some chardonnay.

Nope - GrĂ¼ner Veltliner.

Eric said...

Actually I think that it is good timing. An economic downturn is the only thing that might encourage Americans to get serious about border control.

Nope. It's different this time around because Americans have been so PC indoctrinated in the schools. All the backers of more immigration have to do is accuse the border security crowd of racism.

You aren't a racist... are you?

SFG said...

That's why we are doomed to lose on this issue. Doomed. The left wants open borders to radically alter the very nature of the "AmeriKKKa" they despise, and big business wants the cheap labor. Doomed.
Yup. That's what I always argue on these boards, but people insist on blaming 'the left'. Um, yeah, your right-wing business buddies are in on it too.

Geronimo McTavish said...

sfg - ultimately its those big business boys who are in the driving seat. Not only do they not have to defend their immigration policies, they actually have the left fighting to implement them.

Big Business: we want 1,000 migrant workers please.

The Left: Weaklings! We will give you 2,000, in fact 5,000.

BB: Oh, go on then.

Thats not to say that PC dominance of the discourse doesnt exert its own power, something either side would have to contend with if they wanted to change things.

Anonymous said...

Nope. It's different this time around because Americans have been so PC indoctrinated in the schools.

Yes, but when times get hard people stop caring what other people think, and they begin to think for themselves. They start to realize "maybe what we've all we've been told ain't true."

Any missionary knows that. The best time to get someone to consider religion is during a crisis in their lives.

All the backers of more immigration have to do is accuse the border security crowd of racism.

The stigma is disappearing rapidly. I've never been quick to offend anyone, but I was speaking with a co-worker on Tuesday who said she was supporting Obama because she had friends who were illegal who she wanted to get amnestied. I walked up to her and said "That's why I'm supporting Romney." She was shocked; I didn't care.

rightsaidfred said...

>>...said she was supporting Obama because she had friends who were illegal who she wanted to get amnestied.

That's pretty much how our immigration non-policy has been leveraged into our society. What benefits a few doesn't benefit the many.

Big Chuck said...

Seems to me the fundamental problem with american immigration is we are a growth-based economy.

Our growth-based economy seems to be based on the lending practices, and interest rates, of the federal reserve.

The federal reserve is based on America's need to print money to finance wars we otherwise could not "afford."

If that is basically the way things are, then we need many more mexicans to immigrate here to service this economy while we proceed to exploit this country for all it's worth until there's nothing left and our great grandchildren end their lives early in parched piles of humanity frozen with their hands around each other's throats.

In that context, I'd also like to suggest that, rather than an expensive diet of fruit and vegetables, the reader might want to consider the cheaper alternative of "Soylent Green." It has all the protein for your daily needs, and twice the vitamin A, and fatty acids of an expensive avocado.

yadayada said...

as long as some people can make a buck on the back of an illegal, we will never solve the problem. honesty and morals have been bred out of American politics and culture. this blog site is only one small example- by the title of this thread I would have guessed that the sentiment here is against illegal immigration. but, the ads on the page that came up when I jumped here make me wonder who is (and how many are) willing to take the buck. on this page I saw 17 ads- 15 of which are ads designed to help give illegals a bite of the American apple (picked by other illegals). everything from learn english to immigration lawyers. someone running the blogs is makin a buck off the ads.

Anonymous said...

The problem is that with all the welfare, section 8 housing, energy assistance, medical care, etc... people are being paid more from the Government to not work than the farmers pay. Eliminate welfare for anyone physically able to hold a job and then we won't need immigrants to do our low end labor.
Basically the government is competing with private employers for labor. But the government is willing to pay more for nothing.