September 23, 2012

John Carney on Crop Rot Fever

John Carney at CNBC has been doing yeoman's work on the annual crops-rotting-in-the-fields scam:
If farms were truly struggling to find enough workers, their labor costs would be skyrocketing. But that isn’t what’s happening. 
The costs of workers hired directly by the farms didn’t grow at all between 2010 and 2011, according to the latest data from the Department of Agriculture. It contracted 3.8 percent, from $23.5 billion to $22.6 billion. Next year it is forecast by the Department of Agriculture to shrink by another 2.1 percent. In light of the rising revenues and profits of farms, this is not a labor market experiencing a worker shortage. 
What’s more, the total cost of hired labor on farms nationwide is still below pre-crisis levels, while farm profits are well above pre-crisis levels. This implies that far from farms seeing a labor shortage, there’s something of a farm labor glut going on. 

I would imagine that the Housing Bubble in California lured many farm laborers into construction work who have since gone back to the fields.
In California last year, despite all the talk of a farm labor shortage, hired labor costs dropped from $6.2 billion to $5.4 billion—a 12 percent fall. This isn’t what happens in a labor shortage. 
There has been some wage inflation in a far smaller segment of the farm labor market: the contract labor market. This is the market for workers employed by third-party operators who supply labor to farmers, mostly for seasonal work such as harvesting. 
Farms nationwide saw contract labor costs rise from 3.9 billion in 2010 to 4.5 billion in 2011, a rise of 15 percent. That might put some farmers off a bit, having to pay the guy supplying workers 15 percent more. But revenues were rising even faster, which is why profits grew so explosively. 
In California, contract labor costs grew 19 percent. While that seems astounding, it growth pales in comparison with the growth of profits at California farms. There may be fewer laborers than farmers would like, but this isn’t a crisis by any means. The farm owners are doing quite well for themselves and shouldn't be shocked that the migrant laborers are also demanding to share in the bounty.

The sheer effrontery of laborers hoping to share in the bounty!

Anyway, a general point to keep in mind is that there are always going to be some crops rotting in the fields. This is, apparently, a difficult point for most non-farmers to grasp. A lot of journalists tend to think about raising food the way parents try to get their small children to think about eating food: clean your plate because there are starving children in wherever!

Now, most journalists understand perfectly well that a sizable percentage of all printed newspapers, magazines, and books "rot on the shelves" and wind up being pulped or thrown away unread. In fact, writers approve of larger, more wasteful printings of their own works. They'd rather have a printing of 50,000 copies of their new book and 20,000 rot on the shelves unsold than a printing of 5,000 and only 200 go unsold. 

But, when it comes to growing food, rationality goes out the window for everybody ... except farmers.

I don't know anything about the farming business, but let me just try to make up a stylized example. Say you are a California farmer. You raise two kinds of fruit -- one that grows abundantly if the weather is warmer than average and one that grows abundantly if the weather is cooler than average. This strategy diversifies away some of your weather-related risk. 

It turns out to be a hot year and you get a huge crop of the warm weather fruit. Sounds great, right? But, here's the catch, your competitors (who are your neighbors) have the same abundant crops of the same fruit. So, the market price of the fruit drops (supply is up and demand is steady, so price goes down). Conversely, the harvest of the cool weather fruit is small, so its price goes up.

(This is an apparently difficult point for journalists churning out crops-rotting-in-the-fields articles to grasp: that the phrase "a good year for whatever" usually has two opposite meanings: it can be a good year for a particular crop climatically or it can be a good year for a particular crop economically, but quantity grown and market price are usually negatively correlated. So, it's not some unique and tragic irony that the government Must Do Something About when a good growing season leads to too much product to be harvested economically: it's just normal supply and demand at work.)

Now, fruits growing even in the same farmer's field or orchard ripen at different times. In an average weather year, you normally schedule, say, three sweeps of pickers through your property for each fruit. The first harvests the first 10% of the crop that ripens early (for which prices are highest because supply is lowest), the second sweep gets 50%, and the third sweep gets 30% that ripens late when prices are not as high because so much has already been produced. It's normally not worth it to you to pay for a fourth sweep, so you normally let 10% of your crop rot in the fields. 

But, in this hot year with a giant crop of the first fruit and accompanying low prices, the first sweep gets 20 percent of that crop, the second sweep 60%. You are then left wondering: is it worth paying for the usual third sweep of the hot weather fruit, for which prices are very low this year, or should you instead use that labor expense to do a fourth sweep of the cool-weather fruit for which prices are very high this year? It may well make sense in a hot year to let 20% of the currently low-priced hot weather fruit rot in order to harvest 98% of your currently high-priced cool weather fruit.

Or, with a particular crop, you might just do one sweep through the field, and then the timing of when to pull the trigger to start the harvest is crucial. If you start a little ahead of your competitors, you'll likely get a higher price per pound, but leave a higher percentage of the crop to rot in the fields. Or if you go late, you'll get a higher percentage yield but a lower price per pound. An interesting decision, no?

Farming is kind of a fun gambling-like business if you are a big grower who spends a lot of time playing around with models in Excel spreadsheets. It's like fantasy football, except you get real money when you make smart decisions. (If you are a stoop laborer, farming is, eh, less fun.)

Now, from your point of view as a farmer, it's perfectly economically rational to let crops rot in the fields. Yet, it's easy to imagine ways the government could help you make even more money by having a cheaper workforce that could glean a higher percentage yield. For example, the government could fail to enforce laws against illegal immigration or it could subsidize the incomes of your illegal immigrant workers by mandating they get free health care at emergency rooms and free education for the illegal aliens' kids. (Oh, wait, the government already does that.)

Or, let's think big, the government could repeal the 13th Amendment. The sky's the limit! We could have permanent agricultural internships. They would be Good for the Economy. And for Diversity. Never forget Diversity!

54 comments:

Anonymous said...

(This is an apparently difficult point for journalists churning out crops-rotting-in-the-fields articles to grasp:

There is no closing brace until the end of the paragraph.

Feel free not to release this comment.

pat said...

clean your plate because there are starving children in wherever!

When I was a kid that 'whatever' was of course China. But today such a usage would only encourage your child to leave their plates full.

You sound like you might make a pretty good farmer, but what do I know? The closest to a real farmer I've ever gotten has been in reading the books of Victor Davis Hanson.

My family never forgave Uncle Gerald for "losing the farm". Although I don't remember anyone willing to work it after old Rufus and Emily died. No electricity, no running water or plumbing and no central heat. I learned some life lessons there like - chickens really do run around when you cut off their heads.

But just as the combine wiped out the field crop worker's jobs, I can't imagine that there will be very many employed in hand picking fruit for much longer. Take your kids to see these manual farm laborers now, so they will have stories to tell their kids.

Albertosaurus

David said...

OT

Here is an interesting presidential candidate whom I've met. (He lives not far from here.)

I guess this puts me only two handshakes away from the mad mullahs.

Anonymous said...

I tell you these farmers have got a real good scam going here. With all the "crops rotting in the fields" stories, you would think America was living the great hunger experience of mid 1840's Ireland. Funny, I never notice any shortage of food or empty shelves in my supermarket.

beowulf said...

Finally saw the Will Ferrell movie The Campaign last night (yes this is on point). Hilarious movie and damn if its not spot on about how the world works (yes people, the Republican candidate is the good guy). A plan to import cheap foreign labor (what we are to call "insourcing") is actually one of the plot points.

Anonymous said...

This sounds the technology companies demanding visas for Indian engineers due to "shortages" while there are tons of unemployed American engineers.

JustAClown said...

I worked in a CBS affiliate in san antonio. Complete airheads there.

tenneby said...

One of the propaganda points that really throws readers off is the use of the term farmer. If you really do need farm labor outside of a few part-time neighbor kids, you're not really a farmer; you're a landowner. Farmer implies you're working the land yourself which is not the case with anybody described in any of these stories.

If you've got the clout to lobby the government or the media, you're not a farmer; you're a landowner.

Anonymous said...

How many of these "farmers" ever leave their office?

They make it sound like farmers are walking behind a plow horse.

Steve Sailer said...

"If you've got the clout to lobby the government or the media, you're not a farmer; you're a landowner."

I remember driving around dairy country in Wisconsin and seeing all these small, but very well-kept family farms. As a Californian, that seemed weird to me. A farmer in California is typically a rich landowner/businessman who works on spreadsheets in between golf at Pebble Beach, not somebody who milks his own cows. But the rest of the country seems to think that California growers are salt of the earth yeomen who deserve all the help they can get from a sympathetic press and government.

Jason Sylvester said...

What I know about farming and farm labor practices is ultimately thanks to Billy Brennan and Green v. County School Board of New Kent County: in 1971 my parents took a look at the newly-integrated Oklahoma City public schools their two kids were going to have to enroll in a few years hence, and headed straight for the exurbs, bypassing even the suburbs: the latter simply didn't put enough distance between our family and the OKC school district. This, of course, was when busing was all the rage among liberal elites who took care to send their kids to private schools, but delighted in making Bubba & Billie Sue send theirs across town so they could soak up the Joys of Diversity (as it turned out, I got an education in Diversity anyway, of a largely more pleasant kind, as our edge-of-city-limits house was much closer to the local Indian Reservation than it was to anything in said exurb proper; but I digress).

My sister & I avoided being another pair of legal guinea pigs for the Federal judiciary's absurd desegregation edicts, but the result was that even though we were basically city kids we grew up around a lot of farmland at the edge of our exurban town. And got to know lots of farmers, who leased most of the land around us.

Every summer - late spring, really - any number of teenage kids, most of them city kids, from our area would head off to "summer harvest" once school was out. Many of them were shipped down to Texas, where they would work their way north all the way up to the Dakotas with any number of farm crews. It was hard work, but they got paid pretty good and all their meals and the like were taken care of. It was one of those annual rite things - I think you had to be sixteen on the premise that they wanted you to have a drivers license if you were asked to drive farm equipment.

Like a lot of things, this seems to be a tradition that has just more or less faded away. I haven't heard about someone going on "a Harvest" since at least the late 1980s, when I was home on leave from the USAF.

I can't speak to the cause, and it may have more to do with the Feds deeming such long hours on hard fields (and on the road) for teenagers "child labor" or some such silliness; maybe going on "a Harvest" has morphed into another one of those jobs white boys (or non-Mestizo's generally) "won't do." I simply don't know. But I would be interested to see if any of your readers, particularly those in the Midwest, have any insights on what happened to this vanished (as far as I can tell) tradition, which used to be a ubiquitous and certain labor pool for many years that farmers could tap, at least here in the Wheat belt.

Anonymous said...

Off Topic:
but could GITMO detainees be eligible for immigration amnesty....I mean GITMO is US soil by treaty, is it not?), and they have been held for years.......if it is not fair to send children of illeigals back to mexico then how much more fair is it to send thse detailess back to the ME or South Asia??

Anonymous said...

In California its common to see campesinos sitting on urban street corners trying to sell fruits or vegetables from wooden crates. After reading this post I'm guessing they take it from fields that farmers have decided not to harvest.

Anonymous said...

The costs of workers hired directly by the farms didn’t grow at all between 2010 and 2011, according to the latest data from the Department of Agriculture.


Wait a dag-blamed minute - you mean this guy did not simply regurgitate the press release emailed around from the Farm Lobby? He actually went to the trouble of fact-checking what the Farm Lobby were claiming?

Interesting concept. It needs a snappy name - "journalism" perhaps?

But then we need a name for what all the other people in the media are doing for their pay checks.

paleopaleo said...

A farmer in California is typically a rich landowner/businessman who works on spreadsheets in between golf at Pebble Beach,

Hey Sailer F off. Drive through the Central Valley, So. Cal boy, and you will see family farmers who work incredibly hard and smart. I don't know a single farmer who plays golf.

Anonymous said...

as a north-east farmer: this is a huge point of contention for NE vs. SW farmers. In the NE, Jamaican "gastarbeiter" style labo(u)r is the de facto farm help, whihc requires, amung other things, that they be fed, sheltered, housed and paid a prevailing wage ($10.12/hr in FY'12). While CA farmers have to do none of the above. So local NE crops, coming from ~200 miles away, are actually becoming only barely competative with CA crops coming from much further. Californication means Mainers now eat Idaho potatos.

Anonymous said...

If any industry needs fresh hands, it's the media. Their PC stuff is beyond stale. It's rotten.

stari_momak said...

California regulators can come down hard on a small scale hippie operation employing folks who work for a place to crash and board, but can't be bothered with the illegals and their employers who externalize costs onto the state.

http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2010/oct/13/ups-and-downs-farm-scene/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OeBdKOQLaCA

Anonymous said...

Digital divided: Whites are lagging in smartphone usage
By CHRISTINE PARKER
Last Updated: 10:56 AM, September 23, 2012
Posted: 10:46 PM, September 22, 2012
nypost.com

...More than half of American mobile subscribers - 55.5 percent - are now owners of smartphones of all types, but for white people, the numbers make up just 45 percent, the lowest of any ethnic group, new findings from Nielsen show.

Sixty-six percent of Asians, 56 percent of Hispanics and 55 percent of African-Americans use smartphones to check e-mail, play games and surf the Web.

The report seems surprising in light of data showing a widening economic gap between whites and minorities...

Anonymous said...

Carney is a Conservative ideologue... I would take a few cubes of salt. This isn't to say that he doesn't have a point, we just don't have very reliable data.

stari_momak said...

I seem to be on the UFW's email list, probably because I actually answered their 'take our jobs' proposal. Apparently $35/hour plus a tent/dorm housing and high deductible health care was too rich for their/ag business blood, but I'm not certain because never even gave me a counter offer...

At any rate they seem to have dropped to whole 'take our jobs' thing. tThe big issue with them this year is the heat breaks bill -- you know, to avoid heat deaths in the fields. Sounds to me like they are getting soft. If Mexicans can't handle the heat, we need to get folks from even more southerly latitudes. How about importing some Tuareg refugees

Anonymous said...

as a farmer (part 2), this isn't a cut'n'dry issue of "greedy businessmen (farmers) screwing labor". Produce is very fungible. The bullet to the CA grower's head is that now many crops are being produced in huge volume elsewhere. China makes something like 70% of the world's apples. Chile makes a huge dollop of berries (specifically, blueberries). CA farmers face *intense* pressure from global trade.
In a way, this makes it different from illegals in the building industry. A house built in Smallville, USA needs to *be built in smallville*. Granted, you can extract a larger margin by using illegals, but it's still in situ w/ no real fungibles. A berry, though, can be grown all sorts of places. It's a *very* cut-throat business, with many US farms turning to Disney-esque "hayrides and facepainting" type models to work.

Anonymous said...

Do we really need strawberries and raspberries, kiwis etc? I know we need some vitamin c, but wouldn't apples, oranges and bananas be enough for us to stay healthy?

I rarely eat strawberries and I am not close to death.

It seems like a lot of work with low pay for the workers to get things like strawberries on our plates. I like strawberries, but they aren't necessary.

peterike said...

CA farmers face *intense* pressure from global trade.

Yet another lesson -- if any were needed -- why "free trade means everybody wins" is the second biggest lie in the world, second only to "diversity is our strength."

Anonymous said...

But I would be interested to see if any of your readers, particularly those in the Midwest, have any insights on what happened to this vanished (as far as I can tell) tradition, which used to be a ubiquitous and certain labor pool for many years that farmers could tap, at least here in the Wheat belt.

I grew up in MO and remember the older kids, including my sister who is now a physician, going off to work in the soybean fields that surrounded our small town. I was too young and by the time I was old enough, we had moved. But my sister and her friends seemed to make good money doing this. This would have been around 1981.

DirtyTricks said...

@ Jason Sylvester

Google cost of child labor law violation (your state)

Child labor laws have become strict and expensive. In my state, $10000 per incident plus possible criminal citations...
Many companies that used to hire teenagers (under 18) no longer do so. It's too darn risky.
It's less risky to hire illegal immigrants with fake documents. The penalties are much lower - if anything.

Examples: In my state, a child (17 or 18) cannot work more than 4 hours daily or 20 hours weekly if school is in session. A child is prohibited from performing or even being near certain hazardous and detrimental occupations.

Yes, some farm occupations have labor law exemptions for teenagers, but those exemptions are limited and do not extend to OSHA's chemical regulations. Modern farms have lots of dangerous, concentrated chemicals.

Anonymous said...

Maybe some centuries later, if the Chinese replace the US as the global super power, they too will quote made-up sayings from that ancient and exotic empire known as the US:

"if you want slightly cheaper fruits for a year import fruits from guatemala,
if you want slightly cheaper fruits for a few years import fruit pickers from guatemala."

Not as wise as the chinese ones perhaps, but definitely represents the American psyche better.

Anonymous said...

Yes.

A good explanation that explains the whole scenario veery well.

Anonymous said...

as a farmer (part 2), this isn't a cut'n'dry issue of "greedy businessmen (farmers) screwing labor". Produce is very fungible. [...]CA farmers face *intense* pressure from global trade.

The gripe here is not about the screwing-over of labor, but the advocacy of illegal-alien labor. Usage of illegals in and of itself would have likely been met with only minor grumbling (similar to maids and yard guys) if it wasn't for the shameless political lobbying & misrepresentation-laden media campaigns.

Agriculture in the Valley also increasingly faces water issues/shortages. So basically, two of the most prominent inputs, labor and water, face cost structures that render the industry noncompetitive. Perhaps the free market should work it's course? I would actually argue, in the end, no, based on national food safety/security grounds.

Steve seems to be exaggerating/caricaturing the status of the farmers. The gentlemen farmer certainly exists, but is relatively small in number (if not acreage). I agree that the majority live middle-class lifestyles (but are likely land rich).

Also, some of these PR blitzes may be stoked by Big Agriculture in less PR-friendly domains (e.g. meat packers). That has got to be the foulest assembly line work still remaining in the US. And packers, fwiw, have no material foreign competition...

Dahinda said...

Farms across the country are becoming larger and larger so expect more of this! Even in Wisconsin the dairy farms are becoming less and less family run and more like the farms in California.

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

Chile makes a huge dollop of berries (specifically, blueberries). CA farmers face *intense* pressure from global trade."

What, also in July?

Anonymous said...

"Also, some of these PR blitzes may be stoked by Big Agriculture in less PR-friendly domains (e.g. meat packers). That has got to be the foulest assembly line work still remaining in the US. And packers, fwiw, have no material foreign competition."

Meatpacking jobs have always been horrifying and dirty, but for a while actually paid middle class wages and allowed the people who did them to live decent lives.

The combination of deunionization and importation of illegal Mexicans and refugee Somalis to do the work turned meatpacking into a barely above minimum wage job. Thanks, conservatives and liberals!

Anonymous said...

Agriculture in the Valley also increasingly faces water issues/shortages. So basically, two of the most prominent inputs, labor and water, face cost structures that render the industry noncompetitive. Perhaps the free market should work it's course? I would actually argue, in the end, no, based on national food safety/security grounds.



We can't import lettuce from Mexico or apples from China, due to "national food safety/security grounds"?

Then how in God's name can we import tools and televisions and computers and software and furniture and just about everything else you can think of - very much including people - and not have those "national safety/security grounds" come into play?

Anonymous said...

If it meant I had to pay an extra fifteen cents for a can of beans, to get all the illegal aliens to go home, it would be a small price to pay indeed.

Truth said...

Don't worry guys, they have it covered!

http://farmworkersforum.wordpress.com/2011/11/27/visa-tax-worries-add-to-burden-of-jamaican-farmhands-in-nh/

DaveinHackensack said...

OT, but perhaps of interest, Simon Kuper's latest column in the FT: "How we can beat the far right".

Interesting comment thread as well.

C. Van Carter said...

Nothing new in this article, but it perfectly encapsulates multiple themes. Don't miss the last sentence.

helene edwards said...

Best bit from the Kuper article:

For reasons we don’t quite understand, higher education – and even the high-school baccalauréat in France – seems to inoculate voters against rightwing populism.

Anonymous said...

Chile makes a huge dollop of berries (specifically, blueberries). CA farmers face *intense* pressure from global trade."

What, also in July?


That is a good point. What I've noticed about trade and produce is that it allows folks in the US to know enjoy certain fresh fruits and veggies year round instead of just in season. You can see it with things like blueberries and oranges. During our winter the blueberries are from Argentina and Chile and the oranges come from Australia and South Africa.

Maybe the Chinese and their apples can be a real competitive threat since they are grown in similar latitudes. But for fruit coming form the southern hemisphere, global trade has been a bonus.

Anonymous said...

C. Van Carter said...
Nothing new in this article, but it perfectly encapsulates multiple themes. Don't miss the last sentence.


From that article:

"Latino adults are clearly living longer, but they are not living better," said Yanira Cruz, president of the National Hispanic Council on Aging. "Their quality (of life) is very weak, leaving a lot to be desired."

Huh? Dead white people have a better quality of life than old hispanics?

And:

"Only if the pain is severe, they go to the farmworkers clinic. If it is something mild, they just take an aspirin or even natural medications."

Did this bring a tear to your eye? I guess they want free back rubs.

Anonymous said...

What I've noticed about trade and produce is that it allows folks in the US to know enjoy certain fresh fruits and veggies year round instead of just in season.


Meh. For all of human history right up until a couple of decades ago, humanity managed just fine without 'certain fresh fruits and veggies year round'.

For this we are required to radically transform our country?

Anonymous said...

Does anyone ever check out how much food is rotting In the fields in Mexico. In Wikipedia it says that Mexico is slow in switching from grains to fruits and exotic vegetables. Grain production has increased due to mechanization, but fruit - who would pick it?

JeremiahJohnbalaya said...

I'd like to thank your for getting the song "Crotch Rot Fever" stuck in my head. A ridiculous amalgamation of otherwise unrelated posts, songs and high school slang.

Anonymous said...

I recently bought a pint of fresh blueberries for my cereal. Small, bitter dark blue pills. I have a feeling that most fruit is picked before it is ripe to eliminate bruising and to facilitate long transport. I can't remember the last time I could find a ripe succulent plum in a store, even in the high-end stores. I'd rather have canned peaches than some of the softballs I've sampled. Out of season (and most seasonal) fruit is way overrated.

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

Maybe the Chinese and their apples can be a real competitive threat since they are grown in similar latitudes. But for fruit coming form the southern hemisphere, global trade has been a bonus."

Fresh berries in the winter are nice, and I buy them, but I'm not sure that an interhemispheric commerce in perishable fruit makes a great deal of sense in the long run. If the price of petroleum goes up considerably, it will put an end to that trade. I lived for years without having rasperries to put on my cornflakes in January, and I'll live without them still.

stari_momak said...

"The bullet to the CA grower's head is that now many crops are being produced in huge volume elsewhere. China makes something like 70% of the world's apples."

And that's the point, Farmer. You will never, ever, ever, be able to compete with China on wage costs... Despite all the Mexicans, Gilroy garlic can't compete with the Chinese on cost. It just costs too much to live here -- you are up against the 'natural' minimum wage.

The solution is mechanization, or switching to other crops, or both. California's leading export crops are nuts and rice -- both highly mechanized.

Lucille said...

"If they have headaches or even depression, they deal with that in their own ways," Puleto said. "Only if the pain is severe, they go to the farmworkers clinic. If it is something mild, they just take an aspirin or even natural medications."

How is that supposed to be a problem? Do they want people going to clinics for the common cold or bruises that can be treated at home with an ice pack?

Svigor said...

Interesting concept. It needs a snappy name - "journalism" perhaps?

But then we need a name for what all the other people in the media are doing for their pay checks.


Haha. If you want to give them a fancy, puffed-up sort of name (I'm sure they'd like that), try "condottieri." If you want them to seem cool but villainous, try "mercenaries." If you're just trying to be accurate, "whores" will do.

Child labor laws have become strict and expensive. In my state, $10000 per incident plus possible criminal citations...
Many companies that used to hire teenagers (under 18) no longer do so. It's too darn risky.
It's less risky to hire illegal immigrants with fake documents. The penalties are much lower - if anything.


Anarcho-Tyranny.

Also, some of these PR blitzes may be stoked by Big Agriculture in less PR-friendly domains (e.g. meat packers). That has got to be the foulest assembly line work still remaining in the US. And packers, fwiw, have no material foreign competition...

Wait, so, we can bring over apples on ships from China, but frozen meat's a no-go? Something isn't adding up here.

We can't import lettuce from Mexico or apples from China, due to "national food safety/security grounds"?

Then how in God's name can we import tools and televisions and computers and software and furniture and just about everything else you can think of - very much including people - and not have those "national safety/security grounds" come into play?


You don't die without TVs, computers, software, furniture, or just about everything else you can think of other than food.

"How we can beat the far right".

Turn off the internet? Left-wing death squads?

"Only if the pain is severe, they go to the farmworkers clinic. If it is something mild, they just take an aspirin or even natural medications."

Did this bring a tear to your eye? I guess they want free back rubs.


As opposed to crackers, who run to the emergency room if it's something mild? They have us confused with blacks, maybe?

Svigor said...

OT, but perhaps of interest, Simon Kuper's latest column in the FT: "How we can beat the far right".

Interesting comment thread as well.


Well, the comments were fun, anyway.

Anonymous said...

'Permanent agricultural internships', I like that.

Motivational seminars and one-on-one peer to peer counseling would need only a couple of pieces of hardware like a eight-foot leather whip (we could use synthetic if it offends anyone) and simple wooden stocks. Again synthetics can be substituted if using wood causes any heartache.

Anonymous said...

1968 to 1974 This is from Richard Nixon way back in the late 1960 to 1970's to expand immigration and Mexico was included to do the farm work and so forth.

I urge passage of several measures which are being resubmitted dealing with the immigration policies of the United States, and with American contributions to international banks to assist the economic development of friendly nations.
To improve our immigration laws and to enlarge upon our national tradition as an open nation and an open society, legislation is being resubmitted which would, among other reforms, provide:
A higher percentage of immigrant visas for professionals, needed workers and refugees.
Additional visas for the Western hemisphere, with special provisions for our nearest neighbors, Mexico and Canada.
Further, to encourage travel and tourism in the United States, the requirement for a visa would be waived for all business and pleasure visits of ninety days or less by nationals of countries designated by the Secretary of State.
Source: Message to Congress upon Resubmitting Legislation (APP#29) , Jan 26, 1971

Anonymous said...

I find frozen blueberries to be much tastier than fresh ones, especially if you leave them a little slushy.

Anonymous said...

I have a feeling that most fruit is picked before it is ripe to eliminate bruising and to facilitate long transport. I can't remember the last time I could find a ripe succulent plum in a store

I suspect thats true. I went to a pick-your-own place a few months ago, we mostly got straberries. While there I realised, or rather remembered something.

I had started out picking what looked to me the ideal strawberries, red & firm. After tasting a few, it hit me. By far the tastiest ones were the softer, tired looking ones ie the riper ones, the ones that were also the easiest to pick. Exactly the type you would never see sold in a shop. Over the years I had got so used to the photogenic but bland under ripe ones I had forgotten about the real thing.

Anonymous said...

This is what a ripe plum should look like. Good luck finding one.