Friday, January 06, 2017

Even the "invisible hand" does not want to pick beans!

Over the summer, when visiting with a student at a fruit farm, I got to taste cherries that were heavenly.  Trees with pears that were a few weeks away from ripening and harvesting made even me, who does not care much for pears, drool.

The student explained how harvesting pears is not an easy job.  Now, do not think that he is puny like I am.  Nope. He is one hell of a well-built fellow.  But, apparently harvesting pears tires him out more than any other farm work.  Of course, his work at the farm is not to pick fruits.  The harvesting is done by a crew of migrant farm labor.  And, yes, the migrant labor is mostly Mexican.

A few months after that summer, the country elected to the White House a demagogue who has vowed to build a "big beautiful wall"; to deport eleven million undocumented immigrants; and to even block remittances to Mexico.

As Newton made us understand, every action has its reactions.  Like this:
[California's farming industry is] calling on congressional representatives to educate the incoming president on the workforce it takes to feed the country, and they’re assuring workers they’ll protect them.
Good luck with educating the demagogue!
Trump’s remarks were felt sharply in California, which produces nearly half the country’s fruits, vegetables and nuts valued at $47 billion annually. Experts say his words resonate nationwide.
Texas, Florida and Georgia are examples of states with large migrant communities dominating home construction, health care, food service industries, said David Zonderman, a labor historian at North Carolina State University.
“California might be ground zero,” he said of immigrant families living in the shadows. “But it’s not a unique California issue.” 
And why is this important?
Roughly 325,000 workers in California do the back-breaking jobs that farmers say nobody else will do, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Manuel Cunha Jr., president of the Nisei Farmers League farming association, estimates 85 percent of California farmworkers live in the United States illegally.
Farmers for years have scrambled under a shrinking labor pool.
Mexico’s improving economy has slowed the flow of migrant workers.
Meanwhile, the demagogue's promise that Mexico will pay for that big beautiful wall is having another kind of a reaction.
A campaign memo released in April 2016 says the Trump administration will force Mexico to stump up by threatening to block money transfers from undocumented Mexicans living in the United States. This would be “an easy decision for Mexico” according to the memo. Indeed, Mexico received nearly $25bn in remittances in 2015 according to its central bank, equivalent to 2.3% of the country’s GDP. Over 98% of these remittance payments came from the United States.
So, if you are one of those remitters and you don't want to take any chances with a demagogue, then what would do?  You will send as much as you can right away. Yes?
 In November remittances to Mexico totalled nearly $2.4bn, a 25% jump over the previous year. Total remittances for 2016 are expected to reach $27bn, $2bn more than in 2015. And America’s southern neighbours may be pre-empting the Mr Trump administration in other ways. 
Oh well; if we cannot eat fruits and nuts and vegetables anymore, then we can always feast on beef and pork. Oh, wait, that too has immigrant labor--from Somalia.  Didn't the demagogue claim that all Somalis are terrorists?


Ramesh said...

Long standing problems of the labour market. As you grow richer, you don't want to do supposedly difficult jobs. The poor fill in and without them, the jobs won't be done.

We face the same issue in India. Why are most security guards and construction workers from Orissa or Assam. Same problem. The backlash of the Shiv Sena against Bihari migrants some years ago is the same issue as to what is happening in your country.

Sriram Khé said...

Speaking of the shiv(er) sena, did you read this in the NY Times comparing trump with thackeray?
Can a Bombay Strongman Explain Trump?

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