For Labor Day, Good News From The Lodi, CA. Vineyards— Plenty of Workers (and Machines) For This Year's Grape Harvest

Journalism's cardinal rule is to write about what you know.

Follow that simple logic, and readers will value your opinions. Ignore it, and you will soon be exposed as a fool.

Take, for example, two columnists who choose as their topic California, its agriculture industry and whether additional guest workers are required to pick this year's crop.


Not to toot my own horn—but who, between Jacoby and me, is more knowledgeable about California and farm labor?

Jacoby's latest Los Angeles Times column California Without A Mexican, dissected by Brenda Walker in her blog here, is a great example of how ill-advised she is to opine on subjects about which she knows nothing.

As noted, Jacoby doesn't live in California so her credibility is immediately suspect. And the only Mexicans she knows are her fellow traitors at La Raza. Jacoby is certainly not having cocktails with field workers.

But this sentence from her LA Times column offers positive proof that Jacoby is clueless: 

"The crisis peaks every year in August and September, and the photos start showing up in the newspapers: piles of rotting pears, strawberry plants choked by weeds, unpicked cucumbers grown to monstrous sizes and melons oozing in the fields."

Even though we are right now in the "crisis" period of "August and September," I haven't seen any such photos. Living in the San Joaquin Valley where agriculture is key to our economy, you can be sure I would have if they exist.

But what's really fascinating is that the strawberry season ends in May and pears haven't really started yet. Being asked to photograph "rotting pears" or "strawberry plants choked by weeds" in early September would be quite a challenge.

Jacoby needs a fact checker. Maybe she should call me.

Simply put, nothing is rotting save perhaps, a tomato in someone's backyard vegetable patch.

Here, on the other hand, is what's going on.

In Lodi, the grape harvest has begun. The Lodi News-Sentinel published a story about its first days. [ The Harvest Begins, By Chris Nichols, Lodi News-Sentinel, August 24, 2007]

The story, with a slide show, details at length how between now and November, the grapes will be picked. Featured are the vineyards' two owners, Ben Kolber and Kris Gutierrez and a crew of Pakistani immigrants (legally in the U.S., one assumes) who will man the two tractors, the harvester and the gondola bins that collect the grapes.

The work is hard, to be sure. But people already in the U.S. do it—no need for any guest worker programs. One of the pickers, Asif Khan, has been in the U.S. for ten years and spoke in English to the News-Sentinel reporter.

The comments posted on the story's Internet version (scroll all the way down) are insightful, also.

Of most interest are these observations from "T & C":

"I'm from an old Dakota farm family and bucked many bales in my younger days and always appreciated the mechanization of farm machinery to do the back-breaking work.

"Great job, men. Hard work reaps great benefits, not like those growers who use illegal (workers) and paid under the table help year after year to prune, weed and harvest their grapes and other crops. Some 'good' farmers even keep $2 an hour of their underpaid field hands wages for themselves just for providing that job opportunity to them to make their life 'better'. There's no reason to hand-pick wine grapes anymore, except for the self profit of the greedy ones."

What do you think about that, Tamar Jacoby?

If Jacoby performed due diligence in her immigration pieces, a practice that I suggest she institute, she would discover that we're doing just fine in California, thank you very much, without any more guest workers.

Even allowing that Jacoby was writing for the Los Angeles Times, her column breaks all the rules for credible journalism.

Jacoby's language reflects speculation. Hard facts that many publications, but not the Times, usually consider essential are found nowhere.

Check it out for yourself.

According to Jacoby, writing about the "No Match" letters soon to be sent by the Social Security Administration to employers reminding them that names and social numbers of their workers must match:

  • "The government is demanding that unauthorized employees be fired and threatening legal action if they aren't. This is expected to trigger widespread layoffs…"

  • Better enforcement "will wreak havoc…"

  • "If" crackdowns on illegal immigration continue, "that could drive fruit and vegetable farming out of the United States, putting California's $30-billion-a-year industry at risk."

  • "Agriculture would be just the beginning…" of California industries that would fail if immigration laws are enforced.

Jacoby concludes with this knee-slapper:

Emphases added.

Earth to Tamar Jacoby! Earth to Tamar Jacoby! Come in please!

  • California already has crumbling roads because the state spends so much money on social services to aliens that it can't afford infrastructure maintenance.


In a column I wrote last year, I asked if dishonest journalists are inherently dishonest.

I'm not sure if Jacoby is purposely deceitful in her immigration columns or if she truly believes the pap she writes. If the latter, then she is supremely naïve because a mountain of evidence exists that destroys her position.

Jacoby should use this guideline: when she can substitute "have," "had," and "did" for "if," "would be," and "imagine," then I'll listen to what she has to say.

Maybe.

Until then, Jacoby should go back to journalism basics and try to establish credibility among her limited audience.

Joe Guzzardi [e-mail him] is the Editor of VDARE.COM Letters to the Editor. In addition, he is an English teacher at the Lodi Adult School and has been writing a weekly newspaper column since 1988. This column is exclusive to VDARE.COM.