Someone in the White House is channeling John C. Calhoun.
Stephen Dinan, of the Washington Times, writes the White House has issued a report that claims, “…the strength and continuity of rural America is contingent on common–sense immigration reform.” In other words, the availability of your boutique tomatoes depends on amnesty for illegals.
The Obama Administration believes rural America, much like the antebellum South, has a ‘peculiar institution’ the rest of the nation must respect. In this instance the 50 to 60 percent of the agricultural workforce that’s in the country illegally.
In the 20–page report Calhoun, whoops…the authors, claim farmers are having trouble hiring workers and as a result are cutting back on planting or “are moving operations abroad as a result of the labor shortage.”
That must require some doing. Are they boxing up the plantation and shipping it — dirt and all — to foreign shores? What happens to the hole left behind in Mississippi? Do administration staffers really think produce is grown in the back room of Whole Foods, adjacent to the customer bathroom?
The justification for tolerating widespread illegality among sodbusters goes like this, “Under the current system, rural America is losing opportunity and harvests due to lack of a stable workforce. Coupled with a decline in native-born rural populations, the strength and continuity of rural America is contingent on common-sense immigration reform that improves job opportunity, provides local governments with the tools they need to succeed, and increases economic growth.”
The entire argument sounds suspiciously like Calhoun’s justification for slavery. He contended, according to Wikipedia, “Southern whites, outnumbered in the United States by voters of the more densely-populated Northern states, were one such minority deserving special protection in the legislature.”
The only real difference is how the workforce arrived to participate in the vital rural economy. In Calhoun’s day slaves arrived under duress, in Obama’s day the helots volunteer. Either way the rest of the country is supposed to tolerate and approve of what Democrats desire.
Both systems undermine our domestic labor market, penalize low–income Americans and reward those with no respect for the rule of law, which in this instance includes both employers and employees.
A simple application of market forces would solve the farmer’s labor problem. Right now there’s little demand among U.S. citizens for agriculture jobs at wages that are depressed by illegal immigration. Close the border while raising wages and watch the wonder of the marketplace at work.
Or invest in mechanization and replace the human factor with machines. Farmers made the switch from horses to tractors. Does the administration think automobile manufacturers would have invested in robotics if they had access to illiterate high school dropouts willing to work for minimum wage and no benefits?
The question answers itself. America would have been entertained by footage of workers fleeing Chipotle and General Motors when INS vans pulled into the parking lot. At least until the Obama re–election campaign began.
Agriculture lobbyists, dripping with concern for harried shoppers, contend that raising wages will mean produce prices go up. That’s a risk I’m willing to take. Besides, if gutless Republican Congressmen would force the federal government cut back on the double subsidy agriculture policy currently in place — farmers are guaranteed a minimum price and get paid by Uncle Sam, while consumers are stuck with higher prices at the grocery store — the reduction in prices caused by letting the market work without government interference, could well balance the increase in costs due to paying a market wage.
Strangely, the White House report issues a vague threat to begin “immigration enforcement actions that could tighten the supply of farm labor.” That appears to be a reference to deportation; something the Obama Administration essentially ended last summer. Threatening to do something Republicans have been demanding for months is hardly a credible threat and will do nothing to put pressure on the House to pass an amnesty bill.
Unfortunately for the administration, this warning is old, discredited news. Alabama passed a bill cracking down on illegal “rural” workers in 2011 and Democrats used many of the same scare stories. Yet Alabama produce did not vanish from the shelves. In fact, Gina Loudon reported, “Immediately after the bill (HB 56) was passed, the unemployment rate began to drop. Since the bill passed last legislative session, in some counties, unemployment has dropped dramatically. For example, unemployment has gone from 10 percent to 6.9 percent in the former illegal immigrant hotbed of Marshall County, Alabama.”
But it was so hard on farmers. According to a Reuter’s story, Jerry Spencer estimates 90 percent of the illegals left the county (note to Members of Congress) and he started recruiting the unemployed to replace the vanished amigos. “There’s a fair amount of reticence on the part of farmers to take the city folk and unemployed workers,” Spencer said. “They really hate letting go of their amigos because they’re so problem-free. They don’t squabble.”
Yeah, there’s nothing like a field full of docile illegals to make one feel like a real patron.
Before the Civil War Democrats and their politicians exploited slaves so they could live in the manner to which they had grown accustomed. Modern Democrat politicians, and the businesses they enable, are willing to exploit illegal immigrants for the same reason. Both sets of Democrats are more than happy to dump the resulting social costs on the rest of the country.
The question is how much longer are we going to put up with it?