The Proof Is In The…Raisins?
One of the amusements in the
immigration reform game is to watch the
protestations from the other side.
Now that our opponents are
decisively on the defensive, their arguments for
more immigration grow increasingly less persuasive…even,
I`ll bet, to themselves.
Having the facts burned into our
minds helps plenty.
Los Angeles Times columnist
Michael Hiltzik—yes, none other than the winner of the
“VDARE.COM Second Annual Worst Immigration Coverage”
award and one of my subjects
last week!—tried to pass off his September 22 piece,
Border Policy is Pinching Farmers, as an
insightful look at how the farming industry will fall to
pieces unless more
ag workers are immediately given visas to come to
“…A severe shortage of farm
workers has placed a $29-billion industry at risk.
Raisin growers in the Central Valley were 40,000
workers short of the 50,600 needed for the annual
harvest that began in mid-August, according to Manuel
Cunha, president of the Fresno-based
Nisei Farmers League.
“As a result, he says, half the crop was still on the
vines Tuesday. After that day, unharvested fruit would
not be covered by federal insurance if spoiled by rain.
The rains came Wednesday. Cunha says crop losses could
reach $300 million.”
Harvesting raisins is one of the toughest jobs in agriculture—no
question about it.
But if indeed there is a shortage of laborers—not at all proven by
Hiltzik in his column—should the first cry from always
be for more imported workers?
My answer is no.
Here are four questions I`d like answered before we open the floodgates
again with another guest worker program.
- First of all, can we at least try to find last year`s
Hiltzik quotes the Nisei Farmers League`s claim that 40,000 of 2004`s
50,600 pickers have vanished. But have they? Some
probably latched onto better jobs in
construction. A handful may have returned to Mexico.
But the vast majority have not
strayed very far, believe me! Priority number one is
to find them.
- Second, once we locate them, how about paying a
decent wage for a change? According to Hiltzik, contributing to the
labor shortage is
“Low pay and harsh conditions.”
To reinforce his point,
Hiltzik quoted Marc Grossman, a spokesman for the
United Farm Workers, who said:
"This is a disaster of the
growers` own making. Despite the dearth of laborers, pay
in the fields hasn`t improved much in recent years. Many
workers collect scarcely more than minimum wage for
brutal, backbreaking toil.”
That could be the understatement of the century. According to
“Most workers can harvest 300 to 400 trays of green
grapes in a nine-hour day, for daily earnings of $60 or
$80 per day at the 2004 piece rate of about $0.20 a
Even the growers concede that their pay scale is not competitive with
other job options available to illegal aliens. Hiltzik
pointed specifically to
construction jobs that offer $9.00-$12.00 an hour.
(Why isn`t Hiltzik screaming about the long-gone
American construction worker done in by that paltry
wage offered to and accepted only by illegal aliens?)
The UFW has consistently
argued that there is no labor shortage. According to
it, the farmers want more guest worker programs so that
they can continue to pay rock bottom wages.
- Third, whatever happened to
- Fourth, if the raisins are always rotting in the
same claim was made by the Nisei Farmers League in
1998 but little came of it), why isn`t there a
shortage in the market?
No serious shortage is anticipated this year,
according to my sources.
Furthermore, I would be happy to pay more for
raisins if it meant a job for an American.
But the point that we do not need guest workers to harvest raisins is
secondary to the fact that
Hiltzik, our bitter foe, recognizes our point
perfectly. In fact, he acknowledges that wages are key
to the worker shortage.
But instead of following up on that critical aspect of the argument, he
drops it to take up the cause of the proposed
Kennedy-McCain guest worker/amnesty legislation.
What Hiltzik is guilty of the immigration enthusiasts` characteristic
flaw: intellectual dishonesty.
For example, Hiltzik disingenuously neglected to expand on the
importance of good weather in raisin harvesting. Bad
weather means more than losses unrecoverable by
insurance; it means no raisins. (California
Raisin Growers Try to Save Crop After Early Season Storm,
Julianna Barbassa, San Francisco Chronicle,
September 22, 2005)
What then, do you suppose Hiltzik proposes we should do with those guest
workers if they came to California only to encounter a
week of rain?
The crops would be ruined while the workers take off to the public
Hiltzik knows we`re right; he admits as much in his column. Remember
Hiltzik`s own words …”low pay and harsh
That is clearly the attitude of his employer—“La Times,”
as it is known among the
few remaining English speakers in Los Angeles.
The bad news for the LA Times and Hiltzik: the newspaper`s
few remaining readers are smarter than they are.
And it is also why the paper will continue to lose readers with every
Joe Guzzardi [email
him], an instructor in English at the Lodi
Adult School, has been writing a weekly newspaper column
since 1988. This column is exclusive to VDARE.COM.