Like so many Americans, I am increasingly concerned about the future of this country. It’s fair to say I obsess over the subject. Some weekends I can get it off my mind for a few weekends here and there, but not this weekend. This weekend I had nothing by time to think as I spent sixteen hour days slaving away on a farm over the weekend. And not just gentleman farmer kind of work. No, this was back breaking, full sun beating down on your neck farm work.
Farms and farmers very much are the crucible of this nation. And the farm shows just how we’ve all been pummeled in the crucible called Amerika today. Now the family I went to help had been farming this particular plot of land for six generations. For six cracker generations they have battled back against everything God and Mother Nature threw at them and somehow, every year, decade after decade they found a way to make it all work. Hurricanes and fire, drought and disease, cattle rustlers and”¦going far enough back far enough, honest to goodness Indians. No matter what this state and the devil himself threw at them, they fought back. And they won. For six generations. Spanning hundreds of years.
But this year was the last. This year they lost it all.
PLEASE NOTE THIS SECTION IS INTENDED TO BE IRONIC….NOT DISRESPECTFUL OF THE MIGRANT WORKERS WHO ARE WILLING TO DO WORK THAT AMERICANS ARE NOT.
WHAT I AM HIGHLIGHTING HERE IS THAT THESE LABORERS ARE BLAMED FOR PROBLEMS THAT THEY DO NOT CAUSE.
The problem of course is the Mexicans. Those damn Mexicans. You see, first they immigrated into this country then they systematically, persistently went to work taking away all the good jobs from hard working Americans. You know, those jobs picking strawberries for sixteen hours a day in Florida’s fields. Good jobs. Honest day’s wage jobs. Jobs that Americans were clamoring for. The bad Mexicans snuck right in behind our backs then snatched up all those jobs and before you know it, they had beat out all the good Americans who were waiting to do those jobs.
But we’re Americans and we can fix anything. And so we fixed them Mexicans right up. Started enforcing our immigration laws and chased those damn Mexicans right the hell out of this country. Sent them packing their sombreros right the hell back where they belonged. Scram migrant worker, go back home to Mexico, No Esta in Los Estados Unidos!
But wait a minute, something went terribly wrong after we chased all the bad Mexicans out of this country. Inexplicably there weren’t exactly many Americans lining up to take these jobs that had been stolen from us by those damn Mexicans. Now that of course is surprising sitting right here in Tampa Bay where real unemployment is near 25%, I mean”¦.all these unemployed people need jobs right? And certainly they’re not just going to wait around until the Republicans bring their bread and circuses to town in August to start filling out applications in the strip clubs and bars to make the cash they need to feed their families”¦..right?
Well, apparently they don’t want the jobs and maybe their plan is to wait until the Republicans come to town to deliver Hope and Change”¦or at least throw a few dollar bills at the stripper polls. One is undeniably certain however and that is the American work force, such as it is, apparently has exactly ZERO interest in doing the kind of farm work necessary to support Florida’s second biggest economic driver.
And so, with inadequate labor standing ready to hand pick this state’s strawberry crop, hundreds of acres of perfect, beautiful Florida strawberries were being left to just rot away and here on Florida’s sun baked. What an evil tragedy. There are millions of people starving all across this planet, meanwhile millions of tons of God’s most perfect food rotting away in the fields”¦..Thanks to our enlightened immigration ” reforms””¦..
Immigration is just one nail in the Florida agriculture industry’s coffin. Another nail is the blatant white collar criminal corruption enterprise that masquerades as our nation’s government these days. The corporate interests conspired with their government servants to drive many other nails into Florida’s strawberry farming industry. Together they conspired to chase labor out, ship the jobs offshore and make it impossible for Florida’s farmers to sustain their operations.
So, at the very same time we were busy fixing up those damn Mexicans with immigration policies that made criminals out of the only human beings on this planet who had the strength and work ethic to perform this work, our federal government was working with the multinational agri-business interests to start massive strawberry farming operations in Mexico.
Here’s how the numbers work”¦.A farmer in Florida needs to yield $7 a flat just to break even in today’s marketplace. In the best years, farmers could yield $12 a flat, but this year, 2012, the first year the Mexican farms came totally online, wholesale prices crashed to $5 and it made no economic sense at all to pay labor to pick the crops. But we were out there in the fields, neighbors and friends, relatives picking these fields in a desperate attempt to harvest enough berries to make one more month’s worth of mortgage payments.
This farm, like so much of America is dancing on the edge of mortgage debt death and like the rest of America they really had to stretch each month to get it paid. He’s not a freeloader and doesn’t want that ” free farm” that you always hear about, but the political and economic facts as illustrated by the ” Mexican Problem” are a microcosm of this nation’s larger economic problems. He’s losing his farm due to failed political leadership and corruption while at the same time millions of Americans are losing their homes for the very same reason.
And still even after all these years, no Wall Street executive or bankers are in jail.
And still, John Corzine and Larry Blankfeld walk free.
And still, in the face of banker fraud we face the ” free house” problem”¦.even in the oral arguments for the Pino case before the Florida Supreme Court last week Chief Justice Canady was overtly hostile to the very notion of holding banks accountable, lest some unwashed homeowner might get a ” free house”. That part of the argument was a real punch in the gut to me. The debate has very much evolved down here at the street level and in trial courts, but to hear the Chief Justice use that epithet was like seeing a very real regression in the civil rights era”¦..disappointing does not begin to capture the feeling of disgust