By Rick Oltman, August 9, 2017
“Farmers see worker shortage as harvest begins,” reported NBC News in late July. It talks of crops rotting in the field due to a labor shortage because of immigration law enforcement. A farmer is interviewed expressing his concerns about not getting enough labor because nine in ten farm workers in California are foreign born, many from Mexico. The false claims and numbers are repeated and repeated. Expect more of this fake news as we approach autumn.
We’ve heard this before, “Crops rotting in the fields.” Yet we never seem to see any video of the crops actually rotting.
The answer to this is simple. If you don’t have enough workers, you’re not paying enough. So raise your wages. In the competitive market place, the workers will go where the pay is highest. Labor is a commodity. The price of that commodity is called wages. When a commodity is in high demand, but in low supply, the price of that commodity goes up. When there is an oversupply of that commodity, the price (wages) does not go up. In the case of low skilled workers, the price (wages) has been declining vis-à-vis inflation for decades.
That is called the market economy, the demand economy. The market economy has brought us everything that we enjoy and most take for granted. And don’t worry about the cry, “$5 for a head of lettuce” nonsense.
Farm worker pay amounts to less than ten percent of the cost of food in the local supermarket. Shipping, fuel costs, packaging, other labor costs, advertising, even where it sits in the market, all add to the cost of the produce. Theoretically, you could give the farm workers a fifty percent raise and not increase the cost of the product by one nickel per dollar. And let’s give that pay raise to American workers.
However, if America needs temporary farm workers, then let’s get them. Enforce our guest worker laws, or pass new ones that allow foreign workers to come into our country to work in the fields. And when the harvest is over, they go home with their earnings. Once again, this is simple and possible.
Our history of importing farm workers to harvest our crops is not rooted in the actual need for such guest workers, but in the growers’ desires not to pay higher wages for American workers.
You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life. [Winston Churchill.]
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