Crop Rot Watch: Tom Bevan on a Pennsylvania tomato grower who's giving up because (he says) Congress failed to pass comprehensive immigration reform! "No one will harvest tomatoes in 90 degree weather except immigrant labor," says the farmer, Keith Eckel, who says he paid an average of $16.59 an hour. He also seems to agree that many of the documents immigrant workers showed farmers like him were fraudulent. ...But note that no tomatoes are rotting in the fields in this story. Eckel has just decided to plant another, less labor-intensive crop: "45 acres of sweet corn, and 1,200 acres of corn for grain." Is this a tragedy, or a surprisingly painless transition away from a business that used illegal labor to a business that uses legal labor? We will buy fewer Pennsylvania tomatoes and more Pennsylvania corn. So? ... P.S.: Bevan questions whether Eckel really couldn't get non-immigrant Pennsylvanians to pick his crops for such a relatively high wage. I suspect the answer is he could, but that the (largely illegal) immigrant workers would be much better at it than the non-immgrant workers. ... That could be one dirty little secret of the immigration debate: It's not that employers can't get legal workers. It's that at any given wage they'd prefer the non-legal workers, and not only for the familiar disreputable reasons (e.g., that illegals live in fear and are therefore more docile). ...
Update: Reader G.S. emails: "Don't forget the fact that the field corn is now selling at prices much higher than a few years ago, due partially to the ethanol subsidies." 1:04 A.M. link
Sunday, March 30, 2008
Nora Ephron is the real Frank Rich: "[N]ow that we're down to two contenders, it's turned into an unending last episode of Survivor. They're eating rats and they're frying bugs, and they're frying rats and they're eating bugs; no one is ever going to get off the island and I can't take it any more." ... Also see Ephron's explanation of how Hillary stopped being a "truthful person." ... 12:46 P.M.
Friday, March 28, 2008
Two Memes Running: I'll try to keep track of the two most underdeveloped negative memes on Obama:
1) He's a wuss! He hedges on welfare, he hedges on affirmative action. "[H]e has a major deficiency in the realm of moral courage." He won't speak up against his own church's victim mentality until he absolutely has to (because he himself gets in political trouble). In the campaign he's done a whole lot of pandering and not much Sister Souljahing--certainly nothing as bold as Bill Clinton saying welfare should be two-years-and-out. He listens to everyone and everyone loves him for it. But he's conflict-averse--it would be more reassuring if everyone didn't love him. ...
2) He's arrogant! His failure to even admit to the slightest mistake in the Wright affair plays into this meme, originally ratified by AP's Ron Fournier. My colleague Robert (no relation) Wright thinks he saw additional evidence recently. ...
Are these memes contradictory? Not really. Maybe they go together. Arrogance is likely to build up in the absence of conflict, no? You can't take it out on your enemies in public so you take it out in private. Are they disqualifying? No. I'm not sure Obama can't accomplish a lot by being conflict-averse and respectful. But I don't think there was a conflict-averse way to, say, reform welfare. The liberal interest groups who supported the system weren't about to be "illuminated" or "elevated" (or fooled). They had to be beaten. The same probably goes for some conservative interest groups in, say, the health care debate.