The Cherry Orchard

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SUSUPPLY

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Jun 23, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/23/99
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Today’s lesson in Public Choice Economics is from the Seattle Times, June 22,
1999:

<<Bureaucratic bickering leaves thousands of migrant workers homeless

[snip]

<< FINLEY, Benton County - A fight between state and federal bureaucrats over
how best to house migrant cherry pickers will leave about 7,000 workers
homeless during the harvest that gets under way in earnest this week.

<< Migrant pickers huddling in misery in forests, on the riverbanks and in
their cars is nothing new to Washington. But the crisis is worse than ever this
year because even as the tree-fruit industry booms, one of the state's biggest
programs to address the migrant-housing crisis has been shut down by the feds.

<< State policy-makers knew they had trouble as early as April, but thought
they had the political pull to turn it around. Last-minute intervention from
U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton, R-Wash., and Democratic Gov. Gary Locke, who each wrote
to U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexis Herman urging her to let the state-licensed
cherry-tent-camp program continue, so far has made no difference.

<< "We thought we had more clout than we did. Gary Locke is a popular western
governor," said Rich Nafziger, point man on farmworker housing for Locke. "We
were wrong. We totally misjudged the politics. The result is we are worse off
than ever this year."

[Gary Locke is a liberal Democrat for everyone who didn't know. Expect him to
one day make a bid for the presidency.]

<< Mike Barnes, a cherry grower at View Orchards in Finley, Benton County, was
disgusted by the last-minute bureaucratic train wreck that forced him to close
his camp, licensed for 135 workers.

<< "What a bunch of idiots," he said of federal and state regulators. "I mean,
don't they have telephones? They don't talk to each other? It seems a little
silly to us."

[They talk to the people who count, as James Buchannan could tell them.]

<< Every year, about 37,700 migrant workers picking everything from berries to
tree fruit are homeless for the harvests, according to estimates from the state
Department of Health. Another 120,000 seasonal workers cram into substandard
housing in farm towns across Washington.

<< The cherry industry is hardest hit by the migrant-housing crisis, because of
the whirlwind, labor-intensive nature of the harvest.

<< Growers say it doesn't make sense to spend a lot on housing for workers they
employ only a few weeks a year. Most cherry orchards are small, family
operations, with no more than 10 to 15 acres on average. They don't have the
cash to invest in permanent housing.

<< Temporary, on-farm tent camps paid for by the growers and licensed by the
Department of Health for the cherry harvest have been tried since the summer of
1995. The camps provided a place to sleep with hot showers, toilets and clean
drinking water for about 2,000 workers.

<< But under pressure from union organizers and labor advocates...

[Well focused and organized special interest groups.]

<<...the U.S. Department of Labor this year declared they would no longer
tolerate the state-licensed camps because they don't meet the federal minimum
standard.

[And migrant workers don't make campaign contributions.]

<< That standard, set nearly 30 years ago, calls for tents with 7-foot-high
side walls, solid floors, enclosed areas for cooking and eating, refrigerators,
stoves and lighting.

<< Now 2,000 pickers who at least had a tent and some amenities at some of the
orchards...

[Taken away from them in a cynical power play by the aforementioned special
interests.]

<<... join the 5,000 others who were forced to set up camp wherever they could
as they bring in a cherry harvest worth an estimated $150 million.

<< Richard Terrill, regional administrator of the federal Office of
Occupational Safety and Health said the feds felt compelled to act this year
for several reasons.

<< Opponents of the state's tent-camp program, including the Washington office
of the United Farmworkers of America and the powerful Washington State Labor
Council, with 400,000 union members, took the fight to the federal level for
the first time this year. >>

[A textbook example of Public Choice Economics.]

[snip]

<< Mike Gempler of the Washington Growers League said the number of cherry
pickers needed to pick the crop will increase by about 30 percent during the
next five years as more trees begin to bear fruit. Cherry production is
expected to increase by 50 percent during the next four to five years.

<< "Where are these people going to go? What are they going to do?" said Tim
Smith of the Wenatchee office of Washington State University Cooperative
Extension.

<< "We have pretty well doomed folks to the worst possible situation, saying
you can't stay at my place, but you have to be back by 4:30 a.m." >>

[That would be the Federal Government, headed by the Party of Compassion, doing
the dooming.]

[snip]

<< Meanwhile, cherry growers can make as much as a $5,200 profit per acre, on
average, if everything goes right, making cherries the most valuable tree fruit
in Washington.

<< Cherries are also the riskiest crop. Frost, rain or wind can destroy a
year's work and investment in a matter of hours. Even a good grower may lose
the entire crop two of every five years. >>

[What was somebody saying about "Capitalists Don’t Contribute"?]

[snip]

<< Meanwhile, with so few legal places for workers to stay, places such as
Columbia Park in Kennewick, turn into de facto migrant-worker camps.

<< "We had 500 people in here last year, and the place just went to pieces,"
said Gary McCorkle, campground manager. "People were standing in line four
hours to take a shower."

<< This year, the city is allowing no more than 250 people to stay in the park.
McCorkle said he was turning away 100 pickers a night last week, and the cherry
harvest was just getting started.

<< "The bureaucracy just does not understand the situation," McCorkle said.
"They are sitting at a desk trying to figure this out and it's not working.
There is a huge disparity between the bureaucrats and the reality."

[Actually, the bureaucrats are responding rationally to the incentives THEY
face. As are the politicians working in the Clinton Administration.]

<< Natalie Gonzalez of the state Department of Health has the unenviable task
of rousting workers from illegal camps.

<< "It's a lot easier to make and enforce regulations when you don't have to
look into the eyes of the people they affect," Gonzalez said last week. >>

[Bingo!]

<< Last week, she toured grower camps with hot showers, toilets, sinks and
clean drinking water that still don't meet federal standards. She was making
sure they were closed for overnight camping for the season.>>

[Pause for effect.]

<< About 250 people were camped in Columbia Park that night, most of them
migrant pickers, with a few recreational campers mixed in.

[snip]

<< The pickers struggled to secure tarps against gusts of wind as their flimsy
dome tents strained at the stakes.

<< "We suffer because there are no places to stay and we come from so far,"
Esmeralda Espitia, 34, of Fresno, Calif., said through a translator. "It's a
family issue. I can rough it on my own, but with my babies it's different. I
have no place for my children."

<< She was camping with twin boys, age 2, and three other children, ages 13, 10
and 8.

<< Susanna Arellano, 19, camping with her family, said she had just graduated
from high school in Cutler, Calif. She has picked cherries with her family
every summer since she was 9, and is determined to make a better life for
herself.

<< "The work is OK. It's fun, sometimes. It's the living conditions. Every time
we leave here, the birds eat our food. It's so windy it's hard to cook, and
dust gets in the food. And we have to pay to live like this."

<< The campground charges tenters $7 per day.

<< Many pickers said they preferred camping at the orchards because they have
to begin work at 4:30 a.m., and the grower camps are free.

<< The state-licensed camps also meant better living conditions than the public
park in terms of cooking and eating facilities, and the number of toilets and
showers per worker. >>

[What was the title of Clinton’s first campaign book? Something like, "Putting
People First"? Maybe Hillary's friend Marian Wright Edelman would like to do
something to help the children mentioned above.]

<< Many workers said they passed up cherry-picking in Oregon, where growers
often provide cabins with kitchens and bathrooms for pickers, because
Washington growers pay higher wages. >>

[A voluntary transaction, now anulled by the Clinton Administration!]

<< A good picker can make $100 a day in Washington if the trees are bearing
well, said Cedro Rodriguez, 66, of Lindsay, Calif., who has picked cherries
throughout the Northwest for 30 years.

[Perhaps Mr Vienneau would like to tell us how much "a good picker" would make
if there were no capitalists to plant the trees.]

<< Martin Rojas, 37, who lives near Fresno, estimated that workers make about
30 percent less in Oregon, and the trees are larger and harder to pick.

<< Some Washington growers who had to close their camps this year said the
closings hurt their ability to attract workers. For growers, that's a crisis of
the first order.

<< Cherries have to be picked at perfect ripeness. Especially at the beginning
of the season, growers rush to get their crop to market for the highest prices.


<< At View Orchards in Finley, grower Bruce Barnes said he was 100 pickers
short, and he blamed it in part on his inability to provide pickers, who work
his 60 acres of cherries, a place to stay.

<< "I don't like displacing these people and that's what's happening. We
probably spent $25,000 to get this camp going, and now we can't have the camp,
so we can't get the pickers, and we can't get the fruit off."

<< Every hour ripe cherries stay on the trees they lose quality and market
value. >>

[snip the rest]

Another example of evil capitalist exploiters foiled by the ever vigilant
State.

Patrick


Edward Flaherty

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Jun 23, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/23/99
to

SUSUPPLY wrote:

> Today’s lesson in Public Choice Economics is from the Seattle Times, June 22,
> 1999:
>
> <<Bureaucratic bickering leaves thousands of migrant workers homeless
>
> [snip]
>
> << FINLEY, Benton County - A fight between state and federal bureaucrats over
> how best to house migrant cherry pickers will leave about 7,000 workers
> homeless during the harvest that gets under way in earnest this week.
>
>

...


>
> Another example of evil capitalist exploiters foiled by the ever vigilant
> State.
>
> Patrick

What an appalling story. While government regulation has a necessary place
under limited circumstances in a capitalist economy, this story illustrates about
as well as possible why regulation must be the rare exception and not the rule.

--
Edward Flaherty
School of Business & Economics
College of Charleston
flah...@cofc.edu
Office phone: (843) 953-7166
Fax: (843) 953-5697
Web site: http://www.cofc.edu/~flaherty/index.html

Sauron

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Jun 23, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/23/99
to

Edward Flaherty wrote:


>
> SUSUPPLY wrote:
>
> > Today’s lesson in Public Choice Economics is from the Seattle Times, June 22,
> > 1999:
> >
> > <<Bureaucratic bickering leaves thousands of migrant workers homeless
> >
> > [snip]
> >
> > << FINLEY, Benton County - A fight between state and federal bureaucrats over
> > how best to house migrant cherry pickers will leave about 7,000 workers
> > homeless during the harvest that gets under way in earnest this week.
> >
> >
>

> ...


>
> >
> > Another example of evil capitalist exploiters foiled by the ever vigilant
> > State.
> >
> > Patrick
>

> What an appalling story. While government regulation has a necessary place
> under limited circumstances in a capitalist economy, this story illustrates about
> as well as possible why regulation must be the rare exception and not the rule.
>

I find it interesting that the government is
getting its due share of the blame, but the
capitalists and growers who are pulling in all the
profits from this exploited labor are getting
off scot-free. Why doesn't the cherry industry
or cherry growers association or whatever
organization is in charge demand that the private
profitteers expend some of that hundreds of millions
in profits on simple housing? People are looking
to the federal gov't because, historically, it
hasa been the only source of wealth and power that
has ever attemtped to care about the
downtrodden.


Can we say "Grapes of Wrath" here?

Sauron

mas...@ix.netcom.com

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Jun 24, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/24/99
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On 23 Jun 1999 16:07:04 GMT, susu...@aol.com (SUSUPPLY) wrote:

>Today’s lesson in Public Choice Economics is from the Seattle Times, June 22,
>1999:
>
><<Bureaucratic bickering leaves thousands of migrant workers homeless
>

I admit I didn't read this article -- just scanned it hastily.

It sounds like another case of externalized costs. The lives of the
workers are part of the cost of doing business. The fact that their housing
cost has a lot of inefficiency is besides the point. Lots of things in
production of any kind, and certainly in agriculture, are inefficient.

The orchardist should pay their costs and stop looking for subsidies.

The government's role is to protect public health. And, in my opinion, to
assure a measure of fairness in society. This latter is necessitated by
the greediness of the human creature -- well, *some* human creatures.

Mason

MK

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Jun 24, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/24/99
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On 23 Jun 1999 16:07:04 GMT, susu...@aol.com (SUSUPPLY) wrote:

><< Temporary, on-farm tent camps paid for by the growers and licensed by the
>Department of Health for the cherry harvest have been tried since the summer of
>1995. The camps provided a place to sleep with hot showers, toilets and clean
>drinking water for about 2,000 workers.
>
><< But under pressure from union organizers and labor advocates...

>[Well focused and organized special interest groups.]

So much for unions being go-go for 'the people'. Unions are just another form
of cartels.

MK


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MK

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Jun 24, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/24/99
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On Wed, 23 Jun 1999 18:38:45 -0500, Sauron <dul...@uiuc.edu> wrote:

>> What an appalling story. While government regulation has a necessary place
>> under limited circumstances in a capitalist economy, this story illustrates about
>> as well as possible why regulation must be the rare exception and not the rule.

>I find it interesting that the government is
>getting its due share of the blame, but the
>capitalists and growers who are pulling in all the
>profits from this exploited labor are getting
>off scot-free.

Yeah, they get off _very_ free: pickers are homeless or penniless,
capitalists have harvests they can't gather. I wish you got free
in that manner.

>Why doesn't the cherry industry
>or cherry growers association or whatever
>organization is in charge demand that the private
>profitteers expend some of that hundreds of millions
>in profits on simple housing?

Because people have more sympathy for labor organization,
and 'everybody knows that unions are for good of the people'?

>People are looking
>to the federal gov't because, historically, it
>hasa been the only source of wealth and power that
>has ever attemtped to care about the
>downtrodden.

No, they are looking there for pork barrel, both corporations and those living
off welfare. You play time old delusion of 'caring' government. Government has
nothing to care _with_. Government is organization, not the person. No
government will _care_ for the people ever. You're anthropomorphising
organization which is a kind of machine after all. Some parts of this
machine are people -- so what? It still is mindless machine.

MK

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Jun 24, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/24/99
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On Thu, 24 Jun 1999 05:22:51 GMT, mas...@ix.netcom.com wrote:

> It sounds like another case of externalized costs. The lives of the
> workers are part of the cost of doing business.

No, their lives are part of what customer pays for. Business is merely
a middleman. It only passes things and money in various directions. Money to
subcontractors, materials from subcontractors to workers, products from workers
to customers, money from customers to workers and subcontractors and
so on. It is merely organizing and accounting center.

>The fact that their housing
> cost has a lot of inefficiency is besides the point. Lots of things in
> production of any kind, and certainly in agriculture, are inefficient.

> The orchardist should pay their costs and stop looking for subsidies.

Last time I checked, the growers provided camps for their workers
for free (not becaue of goodness of their hearts, they just want workers to get
quickly to field at 4:30 am, and workers agree to live at such camps because it
is convenient for them as well). And when you mean 'pay their costs', then you
demand simply adding governmental mandated waste to be added to prices, which
will ultimately cost the customer. Which obviously would lessen the market.
Overally, customers get less fruit that is more expensive, workers get less work
and being homeless, and growers get less profit and wasted harvest.
Lose-lose-lose game. Oh! And don't forget, it's good for The People!

> The government's role is to protect public health.

The government's role is to care for it's own well being only. What you talk
about is your _wish_ what the goverment supposedly should do for _you_. Every
organization cares only about itself. You're talkingperpetuum mobiles if you
whine 'oh this or that should be taken care of by government'. Then government
goes there and does what every organization and individual does: cares for its
own interest.

>And, in my opinion, to
> assure a measure of fairness in society.

We've just seen example of this 'fairness'.

>This latter is necessitated by
> the greediness of the human creature -- well, *some* human creatures.

Greediness is what makes people ensure effects and avoid waste. Systems which
get rid of greed as motivation are extremely energy and material intensive.

Grinch

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Jun 24, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/24/99
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Sauron <dul...@uiuc.edu>, demonstrating powers of reading
comprehension that we all like to see coming from an .edu domain,
wrote:

>I find it interesting that the government is
>getting its due share of the blame, but the
>capitalists and growers who are pulling in all the
>profits from this exploited labor are getting

>off scot-free. Why doesn't the cherry industry


>or cherry growers association or whatever
>organization is in charge demand that the private
>profitteers expend some of that hundreds of millions
>in profits on simple housing?

The orchard profiteers?


"Most cherry orchards are small, family operations, with no more than
10 to 15 acres on average. They don't have the cash to invest in

permanent housing..."

Of course they should fork over some of their "hundreds of millions in
profits" on housing -- and they did so, until stopped.

"Temporary, on-farm tent camps paid for by the growers and licensed by

the Department of Health...."

And who stopped them?....

"But under pressure from union organizers and labor advocates..."

Why, the friends of labor, of course! (Well, not of *all* labor.)

>People are looking
>to the federal gov't because, historically, it
>hasa been the only source of wealth and power that
>has ever attemtped to care about the
>downtrodden.

"...the U.S. Department of Labor this year declared they would no
longer tolerate the state-licensed camps..."

The federal government, here as always "attempting to care for the
downtrodden", in this case by getting them to build up their
resistance to exposure and cold.


Grinch

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Jun 24, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/24/99
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mas...@ix.netcom.com wrote:

>On 23 Jun 1999 16:07:04 GMT, susu...@aol.com (SUSUPPLY) wrote:

>>Today’s lesson in Public Choice Economics is from the Seattle Times, June 22,
>>1999:
>>
>><<Bureaucratic bickering leaves thousands of migrant workers homeless
>>

> I admit I didn't read this article -- just scanned it hastily.

Never bother to read an article before giving an opinion about it. It
takes all the fun out of being on usenet.

> It sounds like another case of externalized costs. The lives of the
> workers are part of the cost of doing business.

What a marvelous notion! My life is an externalized cost of my
employer. Of course "my life" includes my long overdue vacation, the
new car I haven't been able to afford and the kids' school tuition.

Looks like my employer owes them to me as a part of his being in
business. ;-)

Wait a minute .... I'm self employed! :'-(

> The orchardist should pay their costs and stop looking for subsidies.

The orchard owners were paying the costs and weren't looking for
subsidies.

(Maybe you should have read the article?)

> The government's role is to protect public health.

Which it certainly accomplishes by evicting people from their only
shelter.

> And, in my opinion, to

> assure a measure of fairness in society. This latter is necessitated by

> the greediness of the human creature -- well, *some* human creatures.

Would you be referring to the Democratic-party special interest
consituency groups who engineered this whole thing? Or are they the
"some" who don't carry the greediness gene.


Grinch

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Jun 24, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/24/99
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susu...@aol.com (SUSUPPLY) wrote:

>Today’s lesson in Public Choice Economics is from the Seattle Times, June 22,
>1999:

It's an old lesson.

The government's elimination of housing for the poor and unfortunate
in response to special-interest-group prodding, under the guise of
"helping" the poor and unfortunate, is nothing new. All you have to
do is look at the history of the homeless population.

Single room occupancy (SRO) housing once largely sheltered populations
with very low earning capabilities and/or problems such as alcoholism
and drug addiction. But SRO housing has been lost on a large scale
due to legislated housing "reform" that mandates "minimum standards"
that these groups can't afford (much like the permanant housing for
seasonal orchard workers.) Enforcement of these minimum standards
typically results from pressure by self-interested groups such as
local property owners who want to increase local property values and
developers who want to build where old SRO housing stands. But the
official rationale never is that they are evicting the poor, always
that they are enforcing decent housing standards to help the poor.

The 'acid test' of this rationale might be that those who eliminate
the poor's SRO housing provide the poor with replacement housing that
meets the higher standards, but this issue in practice rarely arises.

From the HUD web site's own analysis of the homeless problem:

"Losses of housing units with very low rents were particularly high
among the marginal housing that once sheltered poor single adults,
including old rooming houses and single room occupancy (SRO) hotels
... Urban renewal programs and stronger housing code enforcement
contributed to demolition or upgrading of this stock..."
[The government in action.]
".... huge numbers of inexpensive, unsubsidized units were lost...."
[ 'Unsubsidized' means 'free market'.]
"The number of people living in hotels and rooming houses with no
other permanent address dropped from 640,000 in 1960 to 204,000 in
1980 and some 137,000 in 1990 ..... It seems likely that many of those
now homeless or in emergency shelters have incomes and needs similar
to the former occupants of this vanished stock."

So HUD says government urban renewal and housing code enforcement
policies played a big part in eliminating 500,000 units of cheap
housing formerly used by people who match the profile of those who are
now homeless. And HUD now estimates there are 600,000 homeless. Kind
of matches up, doesn't it?

The NY Times recently carried a page one story about just such a case.
(Alas, it's not on the Times web site so I can't give a URL).

A short distance from Coney Island there is a small hotel built at the
turn of the century for the amusement park crowd. For the last few
decades it has housed people with disabilities and mental impairments
who have limited incomes mostly in the form of disability benefits.
But they can afford to live independently old-hotel style, taking
meals in a communal dining room, using a communal kitchen, and so on.
Now the government is trying to close the place down and evict the
tenants by saying it is substandard housing, since each room doesn't
have a private kitchen and such.

The Times reporter did a nice human interest bit by interviewing the
tenants who said they were happy and healthy where they were but had
no place else to go that they could afford and feared winding up on
the street.

The reporter then interviewed the government official in charge of
evicting them, who said he simply was following his legal mandate to
eliminate substandard housing. When asked why this issue had come up
now, as opposed to any other time within the last 40 years, he
admitted the matter had been brought up by neighbors who might want to
get these poor people out of their neighborhood -- but their motives
were irrelevant to funtioning of the law. Substandard housing can't
be tolerated.

When the reporter asked if the official was seeking any alternative
housing for those he was seeking to evict, he said no, that was not
within his legal mandate.

But it's no big deal. Who's going to notice an extra handful plonked
into the sea of 500,000 that these policies have already created?

SUSUPPLY

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Jun 24, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/24/99
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Sauron <dul...@uiuc.edu> writes:

> Why doesn't the cherry industry
>or cherry growers association or whatever

>organization is in charge...

[One of the simplest, yet for some most difficult, concepts in economics: NO
ONE is in charge of a free market economy. It is self-organizing.]

>...demand that the private


>profitteers expend some of that hundreds of millions
>in profits on simple housing?

I guess you missed this from the Seattle Times story:

<< Many workers said they passed up cherry-picking in Oregon, where growers
often provide cabins with kitchens and bathrooms for pickers, because
Washington growers pay higher wages. >>


The workers themselves prefer the tent camps and higher pay in Washington
State, to the cabins and lower pay in Oregon.

Patrick

Sauron

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Jun 24, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/24/99
to

Grinch wrote:
>
> Sauron <dul...@uiuc.edu>, demonstrating powers of reading
> comprehension that we all like to see coming from an .edu domain,
> wrote:
>

Thanx for the insult. I hope I can be as grown-up
as you someday.


> >I find it interesting that the government is
> >getting its due share of the blame, but the
> >capitalists and growers who are pulling in all the
> >profits from this exploited labor are getting

> >off scot-free. Why doesn't the cherry industry


> >or cherry growers association or whatever

> >organization is in charge demand that the private


> >profitteers expend some of that hundreds of millions
> >in profits on simple housing?
>

> The orchard profiteers?


> "Most cherry orchards are small, family operations, with no more than
> 10 to 15 acres on average. They don't have the cash to invest in

> permanent housing..."
>
> Of course they should fork over some of their "hundreds of millions in
> profits" on housing -- and they did so, until stopped.
>

> "Temporary, on-farm tent camps paid for by the growers and licensed by

> the Department of Health...."
>
> And who stopped them?....
>

> "But under pressure from union organizers and labor advocates..."
>

> Why, the friends of labor, of course! (Well, not of *all* labor.)
>

This article is vague in many respects. It says that the average
grower can make up to $5200 off each acre if times are good. At
10 acres that's $52,000 dollars, a sufficient amount to provide
temporary housing for the migrant workers. It then tries to play
up the risk of the growers by saying "even a good grower may
lose the entire crop two of every five years", which is not
the same as saying a good grower *does* lose the entire crop
every two of five years. An actual average is not given.
It does not say how many growers actually do provide on-site
tent-camps. It does not say who the growers sell their
cherries to, beyond a reference to "the market." Are there
not cherry companies looking to package and sell the cherries
nationwide? And are they not making sufficient enough profit
to provide temporary housing themselves? An "estimated
$150 million" is going somewhere, but the article neglects
to say where. It offers the quote of a migrant worker claiming
a worker can make *up to* $100 a day. Is this the actual
average? The article doesn't say. It offers one example
of a grower who spent $25,000 to get a camp going. Is
that the start-up cost, or is that an ongoing, annual cost?
He has 60 acres. If he pulled in the max of $5200/acre, that's
$312,000. $25,000 of that is 8%, not a bad rate for fixed
capital in the form of temporary housing for workers he
desperately needs. Thus, the article is not clear on how
much migrants are making on average, how much housing
private growers were actually providing, how much growers
are actually making and who else is involved in the
cherry industry.



> >People are looking
> >to the federal gov't because, historically, it
> >hasa been the only source of wealth and power that
> >has ever attemtped to care about the
> >downtrodden.
>

> "...the U.S. Department of Labor this year declared they would no

> longer tolerate the state-licensed camps..."
>
> The federal government, here as always "attempting to care for the
> downtrodden", in this case by getting them to build up their
> resistance to exposure and cold.

I am *not* defending bureaucracy or corrupt union
leadership (but thanx for assuming that I was, dude).
The gist of my post is that everyone is criticising
the government, correctly in this case, but then
extrapolating it into statements saying gov't
regulation is basically useless almost everywhere,
i.e., it is a necessary evil. I guess SUSUPPLY
regards food safety regulations as a burdensome
regulation as well. Or how about regulations that
prevent dangerous chemicals being sprayed on those
cherries that may make them look tasty, but will
kill you? I'm getting on a tangent here. The
bureaucrats are getting in the way, that much
is clear. My point is that there is *no* attempt
in the article to investigate cherry industry
special interest lobbying and money, about how
effective the vaunted private charity really was,
etc... If the cost of providing housing was
eliminated, a cherry company (for example) could
decide to pay less for the cherries. The cherry
company would profit (and not doubt the spineless
union boss's of the company's unionized workers
would seek to get in on that for themselves).
Who would lose? The migrants *and* the grower.
*If* companies are involved, which the article
says nothing about, it would be implausible to
state that they wouldn't be contributing special
interest money either.


Another example:

<< Martin Rojas, 37, who lives near Fresno, estimated that workers make about
30 percent less in Oregon, and the trees are larger and harder to pick.

Well, who is Martin Rojas? Just some guy with an opinionated estimate
who lives near Fresno? A grower? An economist? Who? The
article doesn't say.

Or this snide comment:

"[Perhaps Mr Vienneau would like to tell us how much "a good picker" would make
if there were no capitalists to plant the trees.]"


Oh really? Judging from this article, it would seem that the
capitalist's planted trees aren't much good to him without
the labour power of the worker.

Sauron

Grinch

unread,
Jun 25, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/25/99
to
On Thu, 24 Jun 1999 18:40:50 -0500, Sauron <dul...@uiuc.edu> wrote:
>
>Grinch wrote:
>>
>> Sauron <dul...@uiuc.edu>, demonstrating powers of reading
>> comprehension that we all like to see coming from an .edu domain,
>> wrote:
>
>Thanx for the insult. I hope I can be as grown-up
>as you someday.

You'll show some sign of growing up when you can restrain yourself
from calling families owning 10-to-15 acre family farms "profiteers"
with "hundreds of millions of dollars of profits."

Until then you'll deserve any sarcasm that comes your way.

>> >I find it interesting that the government is
>> >getting its due share of the blame, but the
>> >capitalists and growers who are pulling in all the
>> >profits from this exploited labor are getting
>> >off scot-free. Why doesn't the cherry industry
>> >or cherry growers association or whatever
>> >organization is in charge demand that the private
>> >profitteers expend some of that hundreds of millions
>> >in profits on simple housing?
>>
>> The orchard profiteers?
>> "Most cherry orchards are small, family operations, with no more than
>> 10 to 15 acres on average. They don't have the cash to invest in
>> permanent housing..."

>This article is vague in many respects. It says that the average


>grower can make up to $5200 off each acre if times are good.
>At 10 acres that's $52,000 dollars, a sufficient amount to provide

>temporary housing for the migrant workers....

Which is what they were voluntarily doing, right?

It's still not clear that you've caught that, since you put so much
effort here into arguing that growers could afford to do what they
already were doing.

"Last week, she toured grower camps with hot showers, toilets, sinks
and clean drinking water that still don't meet federal standards. She

was making sure they were closed..."

<snipped: lengthy list of detail showing off how someone now has read
the article>

>... Thus, the article is not clear on how


>much migrants are making on average, how much housing
>private growers were actually providing, how much growers
>are actually making and who else is involved in the
>cherry industry.

I fine, close and careful reading. It certainly shows how you reached
your conclusion that the orchard owners are profiteers making hundreds
of millions of doillars of profits.

SUSUPPLY

unread,
Jun 25, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/25/99
to
Sauron, agriculture economist extraordinaire, writes:

>I guess SUSUPPLY
>regards food safety regulations as a burdensome
>regulation as well. Or how about regulations that
>prevent dangerous chemicals being sprayed on those
>cherries that may make them look tasty, but will
>kill you?

Speaking as a greedy exploitative businessman, I can assure Sauron that I
consider it to be a counterproductive tactic to poison my customers.

>"[Perhaps Mr Vienneau would like to tell us how much "a good picker" would
>make
>if there were no capitalists to plant the trees.]"
>
>
>Oh really? Judging from this article, it would seem that the
>capitalist's planted trees aren't much good to him without
>the labour power of the worker.
>
>Sauron

Bingo. And the unions and their hired hands (Alexis Herman, et al.) know that,
and are using the fact to pressure the growers and Washington State. The
cherry pickers are their hostages.

Patrick

Edward Flaherty

unread,
Jun 25, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/25/99
to

SUSUPPLY wrote:

> Sauron, agriculture economist extraordinaire, writes:
>

> >I guess SUSUPPLY
> >regards food safety regulations as a burdensome
> >regulation as well. Or how about regulations that
> >prevent dangerous chemicals being sprayed on those
> >cherries that may make them look tasty, but will
> >kill you?
>

> Speaking as a greedy exploitative businessman, I can assure Sauron that I
> consider it to be a counterproductive tactic to poison my customers.

This reminds me of a hilarious sketch in a Monty Python's Flying Circus
episode.

Graham and Carol are sitting at a table in a restaurant. Michael Palin
plays an overly polite host. Eric Idle plays the waiter. When Graham
complains nicely that his fork is dirty, Eric is absolutely horrified that such
a mistake could have been made on his watch. He goes into a monologue
about his terrible childhood, gets extremely depressed, and stabs himself
to death with the filthy, smelly fork. Graham, in disbelief at what has
just happened before him, is then assaulted by the chef, John Cleese, with
a butcher's knife. At that point Michael Palin reminds the cook of the
restaurant's first rule: "Never kill a customer."

Sauron

unread,
Jun 25, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/25/99
to

Grinch wrote:
>
> On Thu, 24 Jun 1999 18:40:50 -0500, Sauron <dul...@uiuc.edu> wrote:
> >
> >Grinch wrote:
> >>

[snipped some more of Mr. Grinch's pointless
insulting]

>
> >> >I find it interesting that the government is
> >> >getting its due share of the blame, but the
> >> >capitalists and growers who are pulling in all the
> >> >profits from this exploited labor are getting
> >> >off scot-free. Why doesn't the cherry industry
> >> >or cherry growers association or whatever
> >> >organization is in charge demand that the private
> >> >profitteers expend some of that hundreds of millions
> >> >in profits on simple housing?
> >>
> >> The orchard profiteers?
> >> "Most cherry orchards are small, family operations, with no more than
> >> 10 to 15 acres on average. They don't have the cash to invest in
> >> permanent housing..."
>

> >This article is vague in many respects. It says that the average
> >grower can make up to $5200 off each acre if times are good.
> >At 10 acres that's $52,000 dollars, a sufficient amount to provide

> >temporary housing for the migrant workers....
>
> Which is what they were voluntarily doing, right?
>
> It's still not clear that you've caught that, since you put so much
> effort here into arguing that growers could afford to do what they
> already were doing.
>

> "Last week, she toured grower camps with hot showers, toilets, sinks
> and clean drinking water that still don't meet federal standards. She

> was making sure they were closed..."
>

Ignoring my point that the article does not demonstrate
how many were actually providing such temporary housing.
If cherry growers had always provided decent, temporary
housing, then there never would have been a need for
the government to step in at some point in the past.
Apparently the bureaucratic machine has broken down
under its own inertia. This says nothing about how
reliable the private charity of growers would be,
especially in economically bad years.


> <snipped: lengthy list of detail showing off how someone now has read
> the article>
>

> >Thus, the article is not clear on how much migrants

> >are making on average, how much housing
> >private growers were actually providing, how much growers
> >are actually making and who else is involved in the
> >cherry industry.
>

> I fine, close and careful reading. It certainly shows how you reached
> your conclusion that the orchard owners are profiteers making hundreds
> of millions of doillars of profits.

Cute. It was actually points backing up my original post.
I wrote "the cherry industry or cherry growers association
or whatever organization is in charge" precisely because
the article is unclear about whom the cherry growers sell
to, how they are organized (if at all), etc... The impression
gleaned is that the growers are receiving all of the
$150 million dollars. If that is true, then they are indeed
the "orchard profitteers," are they not? And if they
are not the ones truly making money here, who is it then?
The article seems to be going to great lengths to paint
the picture of private entrepeneurs trying to do good
and the big, bad evil government and union are getting
in the way. The complete absence of any possible
corporate/business influence in this episode is
suspicious to my mind. It is not that the article
says there was no business influence here, it is that
it says *nothing at all*.

Sauron

Sauron

unread,
Jun 25, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/25/99
to

SUSUPPLY wrote:
>
> Sauron, agriculture economist extraordinaire, writes:
>

> >I guess SUSUPPLY
> >regards food safety regulations as a burdensome
> >regulation as well. Or how about regulations that
> >prevent dangerous chemicals being sprayed on those
> >cherries that may make them look tasty, but will
> >kill you?
>

> Speaking as a greedy exploitative businessman, I can assure Sauron that I
> consider it to be a counterproductive tactic to poison my customers.
>

This did not stop the famous meat-packing companies
of the late 19th/early 20th century. It was
government action (with muckraker and socialist writers'
prodding) that stopped it. This is not saying all
businessmen are out to poison people. But the relentless
pursuit of *profit* has time and time again led
businessmen to ignore even basic rights. After all,
if the only food being offered people is possibly
tainted or spoiled, what choice do they have but to
eat it? IT is government action that tries to
ensure basic food safety.


> >"[Perhaps Mr Vienneau would like to tell us how much "a good picker" would
> >make
> >if there were no capitalists to plant the trees.]"
> >
> >
> >Oh really? Judging from this article, it would seem that the
> >capitalist's planted trees aren't much good to him without
> >the labour power of the worker.
> >
> >Sauron
>

> Bingo. And the unions and their hired hands (Alexis Herman, et al.) know that,
> and are using the fact to pressure the growers and Washington State. The
> cherry pickers are their hostages.
>


Like I said, I am not defending corrupt union leadership.

Sauron

Grinch

unread,
Jun 26, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/26/99
to
On Fri, 25 Jun 1999 17:42:10 -0500, Sauron <dul...@uiuc.edu> wrote:
>
>Grinch wrote:
>>
>> On Thu, 24 Jun 1999 18:40:50 -0500, Sauron <dul...@uiuc.edu> wrote:
>> >
>> >Grinch wrote:
>> >>
>[snipped some more of Mr. Grinch's pointless
>insulting]

All you snipped is my reminder that you described owners of 10-to-15
acre family farms as "profiteers" with "hundreds of milllions of
dollars of profits".

Gee whiz, with all the quotage in your posts, why snip that little
bit?

All you need do is justify those numbers -- or say "oops, I was wrong,
rather got carried away there". People do admit mistakes. Sometimes
(if only rarely) even on usenet.

>> >> >I find it interesting that the government is
>> >> >getting its due share of the blame, but the
>> >> >capitalists and growers who are pulling in all the
>> >> >profits from this exploited labor are getting
>> >> >off scot-free. Why doesn't the cherry industry
>> >> >or cherry growers association or whatever
>> >> >organization is in charge demand that the private
>> >> >profitteers expend some of that hundreds of millions
>> >> >in profits on simple housing?
>> >>
>> >> The orchard profiteers?
>> >> "Most cherry orchards are small, family operations, with no more than
>> >> 10 to 15 acres on average. They don't have the cash to invest in
>> >> permanent housing..."
>>

>> >This article is vague in many respects. It says that the average
>> >grower can make up to $5200 off each acre if times are good.
>> >At 10 acres that's $52,000 dollars, a sufficient amount to provide

>> >temporary housing for the migrant workers....
>>
>> Which is what they were voluntarily doing, right?
>>
>> It's still not clear that you've caught that, since you put so much
>> effort here into arguing that growers could afford to do what they
>> already were doing.
>>

>> "Last week, she toured grower camps with hot showers, toilets, sinks
>> and clean drinking water that still don't meet federal standards. She

>> was making sure they were closed..."
>
>Ignoring my point that the article does not demonstrate
>how many were actually providing such temporary housing.

Ignoring the article's point that all temporary housing would be
closed down even if 100% of the workers had it, because *by
definition* it isn't good enough for the feds, because temporary
housing doesn't have have...

"7-foot-high side walls, solid floors, enclosed areas for cooking and
eating, refrigerators, stoves and lighting".

>If cherry growers had always provided decent, temporary


>housing, then there never would have been a need for
>the government to step in at some point in the past.

You seem very strongly attached to the notion that the goverment here
is somehow responding to a lack of temporary housing, instead of
trying to take away that housing from whoever's got it.

>Apparently the bureaucratic machine has broken down
>under its own inertia.

Is that how you describe an intentional policy decision made by Alexis
Herman?

One made specifically in response to the lobbying of the "powerful
Washington State Labor Council [which] took its fight to the federal
level for the first time this year." And made over the explicit
objection of the liberal Democratic Governor of the state?

It's just "inertia"?

It is rather amusing how quickly you personalize small family farmers
as "profiteers" and "exploiters of labor", while taking such pains to
de-personalize the lobbying of the WSLC and the conscious decision of
Ms. Herman, et. al.

Profiteers are *bad people*, who should be disliked.

But one can't personally dislike "inertia". It is a law of physics.
No personal responsibility there!

And one really must dislike those whom you described as "growers who
are pulling in all the profits from this exploited labor". Nasty,
greedy, people. Even if they are paying for the workers' housing.

But those in government who consciously decide to evict workers from
whatever housing they have are no more *personally* culpable than a
piece of "machinery" that has "broken down". Correct? They couldn't
possibly be exploiting the workers for their own gain, because broken
machinery can't do that.

>This says nothing about how
>reliable the private charity of growers would be,
>especially in economically bad years.

Newspaper reporters are famously shortsighted. They always want to
write about what's actually happening rather than "would bes".

It's a fault, no doubt.

>> <snipped: lengthy list of detail showing off how someone now has read
>> the article>
>

>> >Thus, the article is not clear on how much migrants
>> >are making on average, how much housing
>> >private growers were actually providing, how much growers
>> >are actually making and who else is involved in the
>> >cherry industry.
>>

>> I fine, close and careful reading. It certainly shows how you reached
>> your conclusion that the orchard owners are profiteers making hundreds
>> of millions of doillars of profits.
>
>Cute. It was actually points backing up my original post.
>I wrote "the cherry industry or cherry growers association
>or whatever organization is in charge" precisely because
>the article is unclear about whom the cherry growers sell
>to, how they are organized (if at all), etc...

As Patrick earlier pointed out to you, nobody is "in charge" of the
family farmers of America, nor of functioning markets.

Maybe you think someone must be, because those hundreds of millions of
dollars of profits have to be going to some profiteer somewhere? From
your comments that follow, it seems so....

>The impression gleaned is that the growers are receiving all of the
>$150 million dollars.

Reading problems again?

"[Workers] bring in a cherry harvest worth an estimated $150 million."

A harvest worth $150 million might let us 'glean the impression' that
growers receive the full $150 million if costs of producing the
harvest were zero. But the costs of farming are well known to be
somewhat higher than that.

>If that is true, then they are indeed the "orchard profitteers," are they not?

Let's put these "profiteers" in perspective.

You yourself earlier estimated a farmer's profit at $52,000 in a good
year, noting the article said one or two crops out of five may be lost
outright.

Let's give your farmer a break and say *every* year that produces a
crop is a good year, and only one crop out of five is lost.
Average income over five years: $41,600.

If you visit the Census web site, you will see that this is somewhat
*less* than median US family income. That's some kind of
profiteering!

In contrast, NYC public school teachers earn average salary of
$45,000, up to $72,000, plus benefits worth about a third more
(self-employed farmers have to pay for their own benefits) working a
6 hour 20 minute day, 180 days a year, with summers off. (Family
farmers are reputed to work somewhat longer hours.) And there's no
risk of a lost year of income, since after two years on the job they
*can't* get fired (about 2 dismissals annually in a work force of
62,000). Farmers don't get tenure.

Sounds like life is much more lucrative and secure as a NYC public
school teacher. Do you ever think of public school teachers as
"profiteers"?

>And if they
>are not the ones truly making money here, who is it then?

Ah, this is the gist of it in your mind, isn't it?

There's *gotta be somebody* profiteering!

Try this little exercise:
Start with an entire harvest with a gross value of $150 million.
Go to the government statistics and look up the applicable average
profit margin.
I'll give you a hint with these words from the USDA web site:
"Profit margins are small in orchards due to large investment
costs, year-to-year variation in production, and low returns at the
wholesale level for perishable commodities."
Apply this percentage to $150 million.
Is it a vast number, like "hundreds of millions of dollars"?

From the number you get, subtract the $40,000 to $60,000 or so
each that typical profiteer farmers extract to pay for such luxuries
as mortgages on their homes, car loans, and various other expenses
that near-median-income US families incur.
You may find the remainder is about null.

Ah, but what about the big cherry corporations that process and
control the $150 million of cherries (in years when there's a crop)
while extracting profits all the way to the consumer? If the growers
aren't getting the big bucks, surely *they* must be!
The USDA gives their exorbidant, extortionate profit margin as
4%.

Darn. Maybe everyone in the cherry industry would be making more
money if someone *was* in charge.



>The article seems to be going to great lengths to paint
>the picture of private entrepeneurs trying to do good
>and the big, bad evil government and union are getting
>in the way. The complete absence of any possible

>corporate/business influence in this episode is
>suspicious to my mind.

A societal problem with no evil corporation involved?
That is hard to believe.

A reporter reporting accurately?
Even harder!

Sauron

unread,
Jun 26, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/26/99
to

Grinch wrote:
>
> On Fri, 25 Jun 1999 17:42:10 -0500, Sauron <dul...@uiuc.edu> wrote:
> >
> >Grinch wrote:
> >>
> >> On Thu, 24 Jun 1999 18:40:50 -0500, Sauron <dul...@uiuc.edu> wrote:
> >> >
> >> >Grinch wrote:
> >> >>
> >[snipped some more of Mr. Grinch's pointless
> >insulting]
>
> All you snipped is my reminder that you described owners of 10-to-15
> acre family farms as "profiteers" with "hundreds of milllions of
> dollars of profits".
>
> Gee whiz, with all the quotage in your posts, why snip that little
> bit?
>
> All you need do is justify those numbers -- or say "oops, I was wrong,
> rather got carried away there". People do admit mistakes. Sometimes
> (if only rarely) even on usenet.
>

Again, are the migrant workers being exploited or not? I
imagine that they are, although it is hard to tell since
the average earnings of a migrant worker is not detailed.
Considering that these workers only do this particular
job for part of the year, one wonders what else they
do throughout the year. Is this their high point? Their
low point? Don't know. The harvest is estimated at
$150 million. No corporate involvement, or its take
on that harvest, is given. Unions are mentioned,
but how much they make is not given either. If one
were to surmise anything from this article, it would
be that most of that money was going to the growers.
If that were true, then the growers are the profiteers,
as they are the ones getting the money, yes?

[snip]

> >> >>
> >> >> The orchard profiteers?
> >> >> "Most cherry orchards are small, family operations, with no more than
> >> >> 10 to 15 acres on average. They don't have the cash to invest in
> >> >> permanent housing..."
> >>
> >> >This article is vague in many respects. It says that the average
> >> >grower can make up to $5200 off each acre if times are good.
> >> >At 10 acres that's $52,000 dollars, a sufficient amount to provide
> >> >temporary housing for the migrant workers....
> >>
> >> Which is what they were voluntarily doing, right?
> >>
> >> It's still not clear that you've caught that, since you put so much
> >> effort here into arguing that growers could afford to do what they
> >> already were doing.
> >>
> >> "Last week, she toured grower camps with hot showers, toilets, sinks
> >> and clean drinking water that still don't meet federal standards. She
> >> was making sure they were closed..."
> >
> >Ignoring my point that the article does not demonstrate
> >how many were actually providing such temporary housing.
>
> Ignoring the article's point that all temporary housing would be
> closed down even if 100% of the workers had it, because *by
> definition* it isn't good enough for the feds, because temporary
> housing doesn't have have...
> "7-foot-high side walls, solid floors, enclosed areas for cooking and
> eating, refrigerators, stoves and lighting".
>

I am not arguing the foolishness of the closings. But,
I think I found the answer to my question:



" The camps provided a place to sleep with hot showers,
toilets and clean drinking water for about 2,000 workers. "

"Now 2,000 pickers who at least had a tent and some amenities at
some of the orchards join the 5,000 others"

In other words, growers were only providing temporary
housing for 2,000, while 5,000 were *already* without
a place to stay. If SUSUPPLY had posted the entire
article, you would see that there are about 16,000-
20,000 pickers needed to pick the cherry harvest
now, half of them migrants.

It would also have been nice if SUSUPPLY had left in
the parts about *why* the feds were closing camps:

"Opponents told federal regulators they would file complaints
against growers who housed workers in state-licensed camps this
summer, and wanted the feds to uphold their standards.

"It certainly made us sit up and take notice," Terrill said. Federal
regulators are concerned that the state's tent camps could set a
precedent for lower standards for labor camps across the
country.

Above all, Terrill said, he believed the state wasn't making
growers improve the camps fast enough.

He argues enforcing federal standards now will lead to better
housing for workers later. One thing is certain, though: The
situation will get worse before it gets better." "


> >If cherry growers had always provided decent, temporary
> >housing, then there never would have been a need for
> >the government to step in at some point in the past.
>
> You seem very strongly attached to the notion that the goverment here
> is somehow responding to a lack of temporary housing, instead of
> trying to take away that housing from whoever's got it.
>

No, I am saying that apparently it had to respond
to a lack at some point in the past. Now it has
gotten bogged down in the special interest lobbying
politics that is riddling the system today.



> >Apparently the bureaucratic machine has broken down
> >under its own inertia.
>
> Is that how you describe an intentional policy decision made by Alexis
> Herman?
>


> One made specifically in response to the lobbying of the "powerful
> Washington State Labor Council [which] took its fight to the federal
> level for the first time this year." And made over the explicit
> objection of the liberal Democratic Governor of the state?
>
> It's just "inertia"?
>

Yes. It is often the case that bureaucratic machinery,
while started with good intentions, gets bogged down
in special interests, or its own interest (a point
I never tried to argue against). Call it what you
will. Call it "reverse inertia." While the feds
concerns are legitimate, and I support them trying
to enforce federeal minimum standards, the ramshackle
enforcement of closing the few camps there were is
rather shortsighted.



> It is rather amusing how quickly you personalize small family farmers
> as "profiteers" and "exploiters of labor", while taking such pains to
> de-personalize the lobbying of the WSLC and the conscious decision of
> Ms. Herman, et. al.
>

Where did I "de-personalize" the
lobbying of the WSLC? I think I specifically said


I am not defending corrupt union leadership.

> Profiteers are *bad people*, who should be disliked.
>
> But one can't personally dislike "inertia". It is a law of physics.
> No personal responsibility there!
>

> And one really must dislike those whom you described as "growers who
> are pulling in all the profits from this exploited labor". Nasty,
> greedy, people. Even if they are paying for the workers' housing.
>

Some were, anyway. Here's another part SUSUPPLY left
out:

"Growers don't have to provide housing. For years, their argument
was that if government regulations drive up the cost of on-farm
housing, they simply won't provide it.

But some growers, especially in remote areas, want to provide
legal, on-farm housing so they can be sure to have enough
workers. "

In other words, if I have to pay too much, I won't
pay at all.


> But those in government who consciously decide to evict workers from
> whatever housing they have are no more *personally* culpable than a
> piece of "machinery" that has "broken down". Correct? They couldn't
> possibly be exploiting the workers for their own gain, because broken
> machinery can't do that.
>

No, not correct. They should be held responsible.
For the same reason the legal standing of the
corporation should be abolished so that CEO's
and stockholders can be held responsible.

> >This says nothing about how
> >reliable the private charity of growers would be,
> >especially in economically bad years.
>
> Newspaper reporters are famously shortsighted. They always want to
> write about what's actually happening rather than "would bes".
>
> It's a fault, no doubt.
>

Geez, a semantical strawman. Fine, "how reliable
the private charity of growers *is*"? And now
that I have found the story on the web, it seems
it was less reliable than even I thought.



> >> <snipped: lengthy list of detail showing off how someone now has read
> >> the article>
> >
> >> >Thus, the article is not clear on how much migrants
> >> >are making on average, how much housing
> >> >private growers were actually providing, how much growers
> >> >are actually making and who else is involved in the
> >> >cherry industry.
> >>
> >> I fine, close and careful reading. It certainly shows how you reached
> >> your conclusion that the orchard owners are profiteers making hundreds
> >> of millions of doillars of profits.
> >
> >Cute. It was actually points backing up my original post.
> >I wrote "the cherry industry or cherry growers association
> >or whatever organization is in charge" precisely because
> >the article is unclear about whom the cherry growers sell
> >to, how they are organized (if at all), etc...
>
> As Patrick earlier pointed out to you, nobody is "in charge" of the
> family farmers of America, nor of functioning markets.
>
> Maybe you think someone must be, because those hundreds of millions of
> dollars of profits have to be going to some profiteer somewhere? From
> your comments that follow, it seems so....
>

I am not trying to say someone is in charge of the
*market.* But someone must be making money from
this harvest, so who is it? The article does not
really point this out very well. Many farmers
belong to associations, and so I mentioned associations
as being "in charge" for they are often bossy
organizations making demands. They often think
they are in charge, as do corporations, IMO
anyway.



> >The impression gleaned is that the growers are receiving all of the
> >$150 million dollars.
>
> Reading problems again?
>
> "[Workers] bring in a cherry harvest worth an estimated $150 million."
>
> A harvest worth $150 million might let us 'glean the impression' that
> growers receive the full $150 million if costs of producing the
> harvest were zero. But the costs of farming are well known to be
> somewhat higher than that.
>

I am not trying to say the $150 million is all *profit*
(if I said that, or implied it, I apologize). However,
if all the money is in the hands of the growers before they
have to pay capital costs, then are the growers not
receiving all of it?



> >If that is true, then they are indeed the "orchard profitteers," are they not?
>
> Let's put these "profiteers" in perspective.
>

Hey, at least you are calling them profiteers now :)



> You yourself earlier estimated a farmer's profit at $52,000 in a good
> year, noting the article said one or two crops out of five may be lost
> outright.
>
> Let's give your farmer a break and say *every* year that produces a
> crop is a good year, and only one crop out of five is lost.
> Average income over five years: $41,600.
>
> If you visit the Census web site, you will see that this is somewhat
> *less* than median US family income. That's some kind of
> profiteering!
>

Um, I am looking at the site:

"http://www.census.gov/hhes/income/mednhhld/t4.html"

That page says the 1996 median household income was $35,172.
The USDA lists average farm income as $41,509,
with a quarter of farm households making above
$50,000 (and producing most of the farm output
in the U.S.).

> In contrast, NYC public school teachers earn average salary of
> $45,000, up to $72,000, plus benefits worth about a third more
> (self-employed farmers have to pay for their own benefits) working a
> 6 hour 20 minute day, 180 days a year, with summers off. (Family
> farmers are reputed to work somewhat longer hours.) And there's no
> risk of a lost year of income, since after two years on the job they
> *can't* get fired (about 2 dismissals annually in a work force of
> 62,000). Farmers don't get tenure.
>

An average of $45,000, in a city as expensive as NYC?
I wonder how far that actually goes. And since
it is an average, are the high end salaries in wealthy
school districts and the lows in poor school districts,
as the pattern elsewhere in the nation is?
There are indeed profiteers in the NYC school system:
administrations, corrupt union leaderships, wealthy
school districts getting an unfair share of the pie,
etc...

Compare to Illinois teachers, where the average
starting salary in my area is ~$18,000 a year.
Compare to the $41,600 of the growers. Now
they seem pretty rich, don't they? Putting
it in perspective depends on what perspective
you are choosing.

> Sounds like life is much more lucrative and secure as a NYC public
> school teacher. Do you ever think of public school teachers as
> "profiteers"?
>
> >And if they
> >are not the ones truly making money here, who is it then?
>
> Ah, this is the gist of it in your mind, isn't it?
>
> There's *gotta be somebody* profiteering!
>

If nobody was making any money in the industry,
would the market let it exist?



> Try this little exercise:
> Start with an entire harvest with a gross value of $150 million.
> Go to the government statistics and look up the applicable average
> profit margin.
> I'll give you a hint with these words from the USDA web site:
> "Profit margins are small in orchards due to large investment
> costs, year-to-year variation in production, and low returns at the
> wholesale level for perishable commodities."
> Apply this percentage to $150 million.
> Is it a vast number, like "hundreds of millions of dollars"?
>
> From the number you get, subtract the $40,000 to $60,000 or so
> each that typical profiteer farmers extract to pay for such luxuries
> as mortgages on their homes, car loans, and various other expenses
> that near-median-income US families incur.
> You may find the remainder is about null.

If it is so null, then how are they supposed to supply
temporary housing? Or are you counting that as a
"various other" expense? And if they cannot afford
the housing, then who is? Government? The corporation?

>
> Ah, but what about the big cherry corporations that process and
> control the $150 million of cherries (in years when there's a crop)
> while extracting profits all the way to the consumer? If the growers
> aren't getting the big bucks, surely *they* must be!
> The USDA gives their exorbidant, extortionate profit margin as
> 4%.
>
> Darn. Maybe everyone in the cherry industry would be making more
> money if someone *was* in charge.
>
> >The article seems to be going to great lengths to paint
> >the picture of private entrepeneurs trying to do good
> >and the big, bad evil government and union are getting
> >in the way. The complete absence of any possible
> >corporate/business influence in this episode is
> >suspicious to my mind.
>
> A societal problem with no evil corporation involved?
> That is hard to believe.
>

Ignoring the last sentence I wrote? I said, it is not
that the article *states* there is no corporate involvement,
but that it says *nothing at all*, either way. To
infer that there is no "evil corporation" involved is
perhaps just as opinionated as saying there is.



> A reporter reporting accurately?
> Even harder!
>

SUSUPPLY posting the article in all its
entirety? Even harder than that!



> >It is not that the article
> >says there was no business influence here, it is that
> >it says *nothing at all*.
> >


Bureaucratic trainwreck. Hmmm, how about this
part that was also left out:

"During the 1999 legislative session, state lawmakers approved
spending $40 million throughout 10 years to build housing all over
the state for 10,000 more farm workers. But it will take years to
do it. "

In other words, the bureaucracy is working to solve the
problem in the long term, according to federal standards
of decent housing, while the growers complain that if it
costs too much, they won't due it (even though they can
apparently afford homes, cars, and "various other expenses").

Or how about SUSUPPLY's dishonest posting of Natalie
Gonzalez's having to close camps? Here is part he
left out:

"Hers is not a job with a lot of happy endings, but sometimes they
occur. Last week, she encountered five men preparing to spend
the night in a van because Columbia Park was full when they
arrived from California.

The grower they work for puts them up in apartments, but picking
hadn't started yet. They had nowhere to go.

Gonzalez wrote them emergency-housing vouchers, providing the
men five nights in a motel, with a kitchen, pool - even a
Spanish-language cable station.

[why, that dirty bureaucrat!]

Usually, she can't even give the vouchers away to homeless
pickers, Gonzalez said. "They are afraid, or they don't want to be
a bother, or they don't want to have to make the drive from a
motel to the orchard."

About 250 people were camped in Columbia Park that night,
most of them migrant pickers, with a few recreational campers

mixed in. The recreationals were easy to spot: They had the nicer
stuff.

One white-haired camper in the RV lot sat in a chair next to his
gleaming camper and portable satellite dish, as migrant pickers'
laundry flapped in the trees across the park. "

Sauron, leading the fight against one-sided, dishonest,
selective posting.

For the *full* article, go to:

"http://archives.seattletimes.com/cgi-bin/texis.mummy/web/vortex/display?storyID=37702ce67a&query=cherry"

Edward Flaherty

unread,
Jun 27, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/27/99
to

Sauron wrote:

> Grinch wrote:
> >
> > On Fri, 25 Jun 1999 17:42:10 -0500, Sauron <dul...@uiuc.edu> wrote:
> > >
> > >Grinch wrote:
> > >>
> > >> On Thu, 24 Jun 1999 18:40:50 -0500, Sauron <dul...@uiuc.edu> wrote:
> > >> >
> > >> >Grinch wrote:
> > >> >>
> > >[snipped some more of Mr. Grinch's pointless
> > >insulting]
> >
> > All you snipped is my reminder that you described owners of 10-to-15
> > acre family farms as "profiteers" with "hundreds of milllions of
> > dollars of profits".
> >
> > Gee whiz, with all the quotage in your posts, why snip that little
> > bit?
> >
> > All you need do is justify those numbers -- or say "oops, I was wrong,
> > rather got carried away there". People do admit mistakes. Sometimes
> > (if only rarely) even on usenet.
> >
>
> Again, are the migrant workers being exploited or not? I
> imagine that they are, although it is hard to tell since
> the average earnings of a migrant worker is not detailed.

I think it's easy to tell. If the migrants voluntarily agree to the
terms of employment, then they are not exploited from their
own point of view -- the only view that matters. Any other
point of view is merely paternalism and a presumption that
the migrants are too stupid to take care of themselves.

SUSUPPLY

unread,
Jun 27, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/27/99
to
Sauron demonstrates the mentality that eventually leads to Nobel prizes in
economics for such as James Buchannan:

>Again, are the migrant workers being exploited or not?

Yes, they are, but not by the cherry growers.

>I
>imagine that they are, although it is hard to tell since
>the average earnings of a migrant worker is not detailed.
>Considering that these workers only do this particular
>job for part of the year, one wonders what else they
>do throughout the year.

A wild guess: They pick apples, plums, pears, strawberries....

>Is this their high point? Their
>low point? Don't know.

What difference does it make.

>The harvest is estimated at
>$150 million. No corporate involvement, or its take
>on that harvest, is given. Unions are mentioned,
>but how much they make is not given either. If one
>were to surmise anything from this article, it would
>be that most of that money was going to the growers.

One would have to be a complete idiot to believe that.

But tell us, Sauron, what percentage of a firm's revenues do you think is
profit? And what percentage of a firm's revenues do you think goes to paying
its workers?

>If that were true, then the growers are the profiteers,
>as they are the ones getting the money, yes?

I see your grasp of elementary business principles is as strong as your other
knowledge. If you can find your way to a library, pull an accounting text down
from a shelf, and spend an hour or two learning the difference between revenue
and profit.

[snip]

>" The camps provided a place to sleep with hot showers,
>toilets and clean drinking water for about 2,000 workers. "
>
>"Now 2,000 pickers who at least had a tent and some amenities at
>some of the orchards join the 5,000 others"
>
>In other words, growers were only providing temporary
>housing for 2,000, while 5,000 were *already* without
>a place to stay. If SUSUPPLY had posted the entire

>article...

[The entire article was way too long to be posted.]

>...you would see that there are about 16,000-


>20,000 pickers needed to pick the cherry harvest
>now, half of them migrants.

What you think the significance of the above, is a mystery to me. That half
the pickers are Washington State residents who provide their own housing?

>It would also have been nice if SUSUPPLY had left in
>the parts about *why* the feds were closing camps:

>"Opponents told federal regulators they would file complaints
>against growers who housed workers in state-licensed camps this
>summer, and wanted the feds to uphold their standards.

That only makes the obvious more obvious. It isn't the cherry pickers who are
complaining. It is politicized unions (for their own selfish purposes). As
I've pointed out to you before, there are cherry orchards in Oregon with
cabins, that the pickers passed up to make more money in Washington.

> "It certainly made us sit up and take notice," Terrill said. Federal
>regulators are concerned that the state's tent camps could set a
>precedent for lower standards for labor camps across the
>country.

Read that as: "Federal regulators are worried that somebody, somewhere, might
be getting along just fine, and that could be a dangerous precedent."

>Above all, Terrill said, he believed the state wasn't making
>growers improve the camps fast enough.

Which is not what the actual migrant workers prefer. They want the higher
wages.

>He argues enforcing federal standards now will lead to better
>housing for workers later.

Maybe it will, but the free choices of the workers show that the tent camps
(and the higher pay) are their preference.

> One thing is certain, though: The
>situation will get worse before it gets better." "

Get that Sauron, "certain"? "Get worse".

[snip]

Grinch:

>> You seem very strongly attached to the notion that the goverment here
>> is somehow responding to a lack of temporary housing, instead of
>> trying to take away that housing from whoever's got it.
>>
>

>No, I am saying that apparently it had to respond...

["Had to"? How do you know that?]

>...to a lack at some point in the past. Now it has


>gotten bogged down in the special interest lobbying
>politics that is riddling the system today.

As we've been telling you all along; Public Choice Economics in action.

[snip]

> While the feds
>concerns are legitimate...

More legitimate than the actual workers concerns?

[snip]

>Here's another part SUSUPPLY left
>out:
>
>"Growers don't have to provide housing. For years, their argument
>was that if government regulations drive up the cost of on-farm
>housing, they simply won't provide it.

>But some growers, especially in remote areas, want to provide
>legal, on-farm housing so they can be sure to have enough
>workers. "
>
>In other words, if I have to pay too much, I won't
>pay at all.

Welcome to the wonderful world of economic rationality. We are always glad to
see even the dimmest flickering in the light bulb.

[snip]

Grinch:

>> Newspaper reporters are famously shortsighted. They always want to
>> write about what's actually happening rather than "would bes".
>>
>> It's a fault, no doubt.

>Geez, a semantical strawman.

Exactly the opposite, son.

> Fine, "how reliable
>the private charity of growers *is*"?

Charity has next to nothing to do with it. Perhaps you noticed the name of
this newsgroup, sci.econ? Economics is the study of how scarce resources are
allocated. Very little is allocated by charity, because charity if inefficient.

> And now
>that I have found the story on the web, it seems
>it was less reliable than even I thought.

As I said, we're not talking about charity (or the benevolence of the butcher
or the baker).

[snip]

>I am not trying to say someone is in charge of the
>*market.* But someone must be making money from
>this harvest, so who is it?

First, those who have fixed claims; a set amount per hour, or per box picked.
Truckers who charge by the pallet, mile travelled, tons of cherries
refrigerated and so on. Equipment salesmen. Nurseries that sell the trees.

After those fixed claims are paid, then the residual claimants get what is left
(if anything).

>The article does not
>really point this out very well. Many farmers
>belong to associations, and so I mentioned associations
>as being "in charge" for they are often bossy
>organizations making demands.

Unless they have captured the power available to government (as the unions do,
through campaign contributions) their demands will fall on deaf ears.

>They often think
>they are in charge, as do corporations, IMO
>anyway.

I include the immediately above only as a sort of museum piece of anti-business
ignorance.

[snip]

>I am not trying to say the $150 million is all *profit*
>(if I said that, or implied it, I apologize). However,
>if all the money is in the hands of the growers before they

>have to pay capital costs...

Ha ha ha ha. Excuse me, BEFORE?

Have you heard the little ditty: "Fatuous arguments come from fools like thee,
But only God can make a cherry tree."?

>...then are the growers not
>receiving all of it?

Been into a grocery store lately? Mine charges money for their fruit.

[snip]

>Compare to Illinois teachers, where the average
>starting salary in my area is ~$18,000 a year.
>Compare to the $41,600 of the growers. Now
>they seem pretty rich, don't they?

"Average starting" vs. Average of all. What a clever fellow you are.

[snip]

Grinch:

>> Try this little exercise:
>> Start with an entire harvest with a gross value of $150 million.
>> Go to the government statistics and look up the applicable average
>> profit margin.
>> I'll give you a hint with these words from the USDA web site:
>> "Profit margins are small in orchards due to large investment
>> costs, year-to-year variation in production, and low returns at the
>> wholesale level for perishable commodities."
>> Apply this percentage to $150 million.
>> Is it a vast number, like "hundreds of millions of dollars"?
>>
>> From the number you get, subtract the $40,000 to $60,000 or so
>> each that typical profiteer farmers extract to pay for such luxuries
>> as mortgages on their homes, car loans, and various other expenses
>> that near-median-income US families incur.
>> You may find the remainder is about null.
>
>If it is so null, then how are they supposed to supply
>temporary housing?

Eureka! We're making real progress here.

> Or are you counting that as a
>"various other" expense? And if they cannot afford
>the housing, then who is? Government? The corporation?

"The corporation"? Just what is that? Who pays for your housing (which may be
just a bed in a ward)?

[snip]

>To
>infer that there is no "evil corporation" involved is
>perhaps just as opinionated as saying there is.

Another snippet for that museum of anti-business ignorance.

>> A reporter reporting accurately?
>> Even harder!
>>
>
>SUSUPPLY posting the article in all its
>entirety? Even harder than that!

Stuff it where the sun don't shine, halfwit.

[snip]

>Hmmm, how about this
>part that was also left out:

>"During the 1999 legislative session, state lawmakers approved
>spending $40 million throughout 10 years to build housing all over
>the state for 10,000 more farm workers. But it will take years to
>do it. "

>In other words, the bureaucracy is working to solve the

>problem in the long term...

[There have been orchards in Benton County for a hundred years. The "problem"
has been "solved" (better to recognize that trade-offs have been made in a
mutually satisfactory way) all this time. Now, under the pressure of organized
and well-funded Labor, the taxpayers of Washington State must subsidize the
cherry industry, as they must subsidize the Seattle Mariners.

>... according to federal standards
>of decent housing...

[As opposed to the standards of decent housing voluntarily accepted by the
actual people who have to live in it.]

>... while the growers complain that if it


>costs too much, they won't due it (even though they can
>apparently afford homes, cars, and "various other expenses").

Yes, it's okay if the growers go without homes. After all what have they done
to deserve them. They have merely gone into debt up to their eyebrows buying
land, planting trees, irrigating, working year round....

>Or how about SUSUPPLY's dishonest posting of Natalie
>Gonzalez's having to close camps?

She did close the camps you moron.

>Here is part he
>left out:
>
>"Hers is not a job with a lot of happy endings, but sometimes they
>occur.

Do you know the meaning of "sometimes", Sauron?

>Last week, she encountered five men preparing to spend
>the night in a van because Columbia Park was full when they
>arrived from California.

She had to close camps that housed 2,000, but there are these 5....

>The grower they work for puts them up in apartments, but picking
>hadn't started yet. They had nowhere to go.

Yeah, it was really dishonest of me to leave out this part about the heartless
exploiter of migrant labor who puts his workers up in apartments.

>Gonzalez wrote them emergency-housing vouchers, providing the
>men five nights in a motel, with a kitchen, pool - even a
>Spanish-language cable station.

Next, Alexis Herman will probably bitch about this too: "What about migrant
workers who don't speak Spanish?".

>[why, that dirty bureaucrat!]
>
>Usually, she can't even give the vouchers away to homeless
>pickers, Gonzalez said. "They are afraid, or they don't want to be
>a bother, or they don't want to have to make the drive from a
>motel to the orchard."

In other words, they prefer to evaluate their own needs without being treated
like three-year-olds by the federal government.

>About 250 people were camped in Columbia Park that night,
>most of them migrant pickers, with a few recreational campers
>mixed in. The recreationals were easy to spot: They had the nicer
>stuff.
>
>One white-haired camper in the RV lot sat in a chair next to his
>gleaming camper and portable satellite dish, as migrant pickers'
>laundry flapped in the trees across the park. "

Probably a retired executive from the Washington State Labor Council enjoying
his ill-gotten gains.

>Sauron, leading the fight against one-sided, dishonest,
>selective posting.

Sauron, showing himself to be a clueless idiot.

Patrick


mas...@ix.netcom.com

unread,
Jun 27, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/27/99
to
On Sun, 27 Jun 1999 10:44:53 -0400, Edward Flaherty <flah...@cofc.edu> wrote:
>
>I think it's easy to tell. If the migrants voluntarily agree to the
>terms of employment, then they are not exploited from their
>own point of view -- the only view that matters. Any other
>point of view is merely paternalism and a presumption that
>the migrants are too stupid to take care of themselves.

Which, in a flash, sweeps away all labor law: safety, minimum wage,
child labor, hours, overtime pay. You name it. All labor law except
slavery is an interference in the voluntary decision of the workers.
C'mon Ed, you can do better. Republican conservative right-wing
reactionary libertarian? - a sign of old age?

Mason
------------------------------------------------
Mason A. Clark mas...@ix.netcom.com
http://www.netcom.com/~masonc
http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/3210
Political, Social, Psychological Economics
Ronald Reagan's amazing insight in economics
The Healing Wisdom of Dr.P.P.Quimby (book)
-------------------------------------------------
I am not a Republican

Sauron

unread,
Jun 27, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/27/99
to

[snip]

>>Again, are the migrant workers being exploited or not?

>Yes, they are, but not by the cherry growers.

Yeah, labor groups trying to get them better housing
are exploiting them. That doesn't quite follow.

[snip]



>>Is this their high point? Their
>>low point? Don't know.

>What difference does it make.

To get some idea of how much pickers are actually making.
If this is a prime source of income for migrant
pickers, then it would be useful to know just how well off
they are. Let's say they made the equivalent of $1/hour
in Oregon where they had cabins, but could make $2/hour
in Washington, but have no housing of any kind. Yes,
they will go for the higher wages, which stands to
reason since they aren't being paid with cabins. But
it would still clearly be exploitation, since the wages
would still be less than the minimum wage, plus they
would be homeless. This is just a hypothetical case
to illustrate why it would be useful to know how much
they make (so please don't assume that I am saying this
is how it *is*).

>>The harvest is estimated at
>>$150 million. No corporate involvement, or its take
>>on that harvest, is given. Unions are mentioned,
>>but how much they make is not given either. If one
>>were to surmise anything from this article, it would
>>be that most of that money was going to the growers.

>One would have to be a complete idiot to believe that.

It was not stated as a belief, merely as an impression
that the article seemed to give, nothing more than that.

[snip]

>>If that were true, then the growers are the profiteers,
>>as they are the ones getting the money, yes?

[snip]

I'll admit that "profiteer" was an extreme label to throw
around, but if the growers are the ones receiving the
lion's share of the "revenue," it would be hard to imagine
them *not* having some profit.

[snip]

>>" The camps provided a place to sleep with hot showers,
>>toilets and clean drinking water for about 2,000 workers. "
>>
>>"Now 2,000 pickers who at least had a tent and some amenities at
>>some of the orchards join the 5,000 others"
>>
>>In other words, growers were only providing temporary
>>housing for 2,000, while 5,000 were *already* without
>>a place to stay. If SUSUPPLY had posted the entire
>>article...

>[The entire article was way too long to be posted.]

>>...you would see that there are about 16,000-
>>20,000 pickers needed to pick the cherry harvest
>>now, half of them migrants.

>>What you think the significance of the above, is a mystery to me. That >>half the pickers are Washington State residents who provide their own >>housing?

Because the number of pickers is expected to go up in
the years ahead, meaning even more migrants will go without
housing (at least until the state finishes setting
up housing camps). Sanitation and disease concerns
come to mind when people are living without decent housing
facilities. I understand that the migrants choose
Washington for the higher wages, but this does not mean
they don't want housing at all. That's like saying
people live in poverty because that is how they like
it. The Washington option may be more preferable,
but that doesn't say either are desirable.

>>It would also have been nice if SUSUPPLY had left in
>>the parts about *why* the feds were closing camps:

>>"Opponents told federal regulators they would file complaints
>>against growers who housed workers in state-licensed camps this
>>summer, and wanted the feds to uphold their standards.

>That only makes the obvious more obvious. It isn't the cherry pickers who
>are complaining. It is politicized unions (for their own selfish purposes).
>As I've pointed out to you before, there are cherry orchards in Oregon with
>cabins, that the pickers passed up to make more money in Washington.

Or perhaps the unions and labor advocates really were concerned about
how the migrant workers were housed. The union leadership
being concerned is doubtful, but it doesn't mean they are
only serving their own interests just because you want them to.

>> "It certainly made us sit up and take notice," Terrill said. Federal
>>regulators are concerned that the state's tent camps could set a
>>precedent for lower standards for labor camps across the
>>country.

>Read that as: "Federal regulators are worried that somebody, somewhere,
>might be getting along just fine, and that could be a dangerous precedent."

What? The regulators are concerned that the housing standards of the
migrant workers are too *low*, not too high. Are solid walls,
a sink, lights, and stove really too much to demand?

>>Above all, Terrill said, he believed the state wasn't making
>>growers improve the camps fast enough.

>Which is not what the actual migrant workers prefer. They want the higher
>wages.

Are you trying to imply that they would say no to
decent temporary housing in Washington?

>>He argues enforcing federal standards now will lead to better
>>housing for workers later.

>Maybe it will, but the free choices of the workers show that the tent camps
>(and the higher pay) are their preference.

Which of these would they prefer: the tent camps, or the
federal standard housing?

>> One thing is certain, though: The
>>situation will get worse before it gets better." "

>Get that Sauron, "certain"? "Get worse".

Yes, I get it. It's why I criticized closing
the camps as shortsighted. Do you "get it"?

[snip]

>Grinch:

>>> You seem very strongly attached to the notion that the goverment here
>>> is somehow responding to a lack of temporary housing, instead of
>>> trying to take away that housing from whoever's got it.
>>>
>>
>>No, I am saying that apparently it had to respond...

>["Had to"? How do you know that?]

>>...to a lack at some point in the past. Now it has
>>gotten bogged down in the special interest lobbying
>>politics that is riddling the system today.

>As we've been telling you all along; Public Choice Economics in action.

I am rather undecided in whether the opponents were up to only
their own interests, or were genuinely concerned. Clearly,
your mind is made up on the matter. The reason I originally
posted was precisely because of the concerns about special
interest lobbying. Who lobbies the most in government, at
all levels? Business interests do (that's no surprise, they
have the most money). Is it such a crime to wonder if and
how business interests could or are involved in all this?

[snip]

>> While the feds
>>concerns are legitimate...

>More legitimate than the actual workers concerns?

As if the feds concerns are running counter to
the workers concerns. I doubt the workers would
complain if they could get decent temporary housing
in Washington.

[snip]

>>Here's another part SUSUPPLY left
>>out:
>>
>>"Growers don't have to provide housing. For years, their argument
>>was that if government regulations drive up the cost of on-farm
>>housing, they simply won't provide it.

>>But some growers, especially in remote areas, want to provide
>>legal, on-farm housing so they can be sure to have enough
>>workers. "
>>
>>In other words, if I have to pay too much, I won't
>>pay at all.

>Welcome to the wonderful world of economic rationality. We are always glad
>to see even the dimmest flickering in the light bulb.

Is it that the cost is too high to be affordable, or simply
more than the growers wish to provide? It seems odd that
Oregon, which pays less and presumably has an inferior
cherry industry compared to Washington, can provide cabins,
but Washington growers are complaining that providing
federal-standard housing is too pricey. To be fair, perhaps
the growers are being squeezed by banks, wholesalers, etc...
You point out very clearly that the bureacracy, in attempting
to raise housing standards for the migrants, has seen its
actions backfire and, at least for the present, worsened
conditions (I never actually challenged this). But it loses
sight of the fact that it is the federal government that
is bearing the responsibility for ensuring decent housing
standards. The state and the growers, for whatever reason,
have not lived up to the standards set.

[snip]

>Grinch:

>>> Newspaper reporters are famously shortsighted. They always want to
>>> write about what's actually happening rather than "would bes".
>>>
>>> It's a fault, no doubt.

>>Geez, a semantical strawman.

>Exactly the opposite, son.

>> Fine, "how reliable
>>the private charity of growers *is*"?

>Charity has next to nothing to do with it. Perhaps you noticed the name of
>this newsgroup, sci.econ? Economics is the study of how scarce resources
>are allocated. Very little is allocated by charity, because charity if
>inefficient.

Charity is not a part of economics? So all those debates about
welfare don't belong here?

I characterized it as private charity because it seemed
that the growers who did provide some housing weren't
charging the migrants for it. In other words, housing
provided for the migrants to live in while they are there
but at no cost to them could indeed, at least to me, be
seen as private charity. Or, one could see it as a
capital expenditure, if one so wished. Either way, with
5,000 migrants who already had no place to stay,
the growers weren't, or couldn't, get the job done.


[snip]

>>I am not trying to say someone is in charge of the
>>*market.* But someone must be making money from
>>this harvest, so who is it?

>First, those who have fixed claims; a set amount per hour, or per box
>picked. Truckers who charge by the pallet, mile travelled, tons of cherries
>refrigerated and so on. Equipment salesmen. Nurseries that sell the trees.

>After those fixed claims are paid, then the residual claimants get what is
>left (if anything).

I wonder how much banks that loan to the farmers
are getting out of the growers. I shouldn't attempt
to vilify the growers. The family farm has faced
perhaps more exploitation and difficulties since
the advent of industrialization than any other group.
But in an industry that is doing so well, it shouldn't
be difficult to see that migrant workers are housed
decently.


>>The article does not
>>really point this out very well. Many farmers
>>belong to associations, and so I mentioned associations
>>as being "in charge" for they are often bossy
>>organizations making demands.

>Unless they have captured the power available to government (as the unions
>do, through campaign contributions) their demands will fall on deaf ears.

Or like corporations, through campaign contributions and lobbying?
It would not surprise me if a cherry corporation would just love
to drive the family growers out of business and turn their
family farms into large, commercial ones. It's what has happened
to farmers elsewhere...

>>They often think
>>they are in charge, as do corporations, IMO
>>anyway.

>I include the immediately above only as a sort of museum piece of
>anti-business ignorance.

I suppose your bias is just so much more moral and superior
than my bias?

[snip]

>>I am not trying to say the $150 million is all *profit*
>>(if I said that, or implied it, I apologize). However,
>>if all the money is in the hands of the growers before they
>>have to pay capital costs...

>Ha ha ha ha. Excuse me, BEFORE?

OK, I will admit that my thinking there was a little
befuddled. (save your rejoinder, I can already see what
it would be). Either the $150 million is for the
entire industry (growers, wholesalers, etc...) or just
for the growers. That is why I said that *if* the money
was all in the hands of the growers, then they would
be profiteers. However, the $150 million must be
spread over the whole industry, correct?

[snip]

>>Compare to Illinois teachers, where the average
>>starting salary in my area is ~$18,000 a year.
>>Compare to the $41,600 of the growers. Now
>>they seem pretty rich, don't they?

>"Average starting" vs. Average of all.

Point taken.

Average Illinois teacher salary: $40,767 (probably
due to higher salaries in Chicago, where
the cost of living is so much higher)
Average national teacher salary: $36,742

(from "http://www.lbb.state.tx.us/lbb/members/reports/summary/PETSAL.htm"

[snip]

>>If it is so null, then how are they supposed to supply
>>temporary housing?

>Eureka! We're making real progress here.

So then the government should step in perhaps, and
help provide the temporary housing?

[snip]

>Stuff it where the sun don't shine, halfwit.

Your bitterness is so inspiring, comrade.

[snip]

>>Hmmm, how about this
>>part that was also left out:

>>"During the 1999 legislative session, state lawmakers approved
>>spending $40 million throughout 10 years to build housing all over
>>the state for 10,000 more farm workers. But it will take years to
>>do it. "

>>In other words, the bureaucracy is working to solve the
>>problem in the long term...

>[There have been orchards in Benton County for a hundred years. The
>"problem" has been "solved" (better to recognize that trade-offs have been >made in a mutually satisfactory way) all this time.
>Now, under the pressure of organized and well-funded Labor, the
>taxpayers of Washington State must subsidize the
>cherry industry, as they must subsidize the Seattle Mariners.

Subsidize the *cherry industry*? Seems to me the
government only wants to make sure migrants aren't
living homeless while the harvest a valuable crop.

>>... according to federal standards
>>of decent housing...

>[As opposed to the standards of decent housing voluntarily accepted by the
>actual people who have to live in it.]

The workers have to accept what is offered. Thus
the federal concern over what is being offered.

>>... while the growers complain that if it
>>costs too much, they won't due it (even though they can
>>apparently afford homes, cars, and "various other expenses").

>Yes, it's okay if the growers go without homes. After all what have they
>done to deserve them. They have merely gone into debt up to their eyebrows
>buying land, planting trees, irrigating, working year round....

What growers are going without homes? It is the migrants,
doing tiring hand-picking for long, strenuous days, that
are living homeless.

>>Or how about SUSUPPLY's dishonest posting of Natalie
>>Gonzalez's having to close camps?

>She did close the camps you moron.

THe criticism wasn't that she didn't close camps. Your
posting of it, I felt, made it look as if big bad gov't
only wanted to throw people on the streets. That
ignores what the feds goal is (*better* housing). The
example of the vouchers showed, I felt, that she
wasn't being some heartless bureaucrat, since she was
trying to get them housing.

[snip]

>>
>>Usually, she can't even give the vouchers away to homeless
>>pickers, Gonzalez said. "They are afraid, or they don't want to be
>>a bother, or they don't want to have to make the drive from a
>>motel to the orchard."

>In other words, they prefer to evaluate their own needs without being
>treated like three-year-olds by the federal government.

They are afraid....don't want to be a bother (another way of
saying they are afraid)...and you characterize it as
"prefer to evaluate their own needs."

>>About 250 people were camped in Columbia Park that night,
>>most of them migrant pickers, with a few recreational campers
>>mixed in. The recreationals were easy to spot: They had the nicer
>>stuff.
>>
>>One white-haired camper in the RV lot sat in a chair next to his
>>gleaming camper and portable satellite dish, as migrant pickers'
>>laundry flapped in the trees across the park. "

>Probably a retired executive from the Washington State Labor Council
>enjoying his ill-gotten gains.

Or a retired cherry corporation executive enjoying his
ill-gotten gains...oops, there's that anti-business
ignorance again...

Sauron

Grinch

unread,
Jun 27, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/27/99
to
mas...@ix.netcom.com wrote:

>On Sun, 27 Jun 1999 10:44:53 -0400, Edward Flaherty <flah...@cofc.edu> wrote:
>>
>>I think it's easy to tell. If the migrants voluntarily agree to the
>>terms of employment, then they are not exploited from their
>>own point of view -- the only view that matters. Any other
>>point of view is merely paternalism and a presumption that
>>the migrants are too stupid to take care of themselves.

> Which, in a flash, sweeps away all labor law: safety, minimum wage,
> child labor, hours, overtime pay. You name it. All labor law except
> slavery is an interference in the voluntary decision of the workers.
> C'mon Ed, you can do better. Republican conservative right-wing
> reactionary libertarian? - a sign of old age?

C'mon Mason, even your ol' disingenuous self can do better than try to
change the subject in such a hamhanded way.

The question was whether these migrants are being exploited. Do you
want to list all the "safety, minimum wage, child labor, hours,
overtime pay. You name it." laws that are being violated in regard to
them?

From the information we have, their terms of employment comply with
all the laws you name, and they actually prefer to be working in
Washington under those terms than elsewhere under the alternative
options available to them. (Are we entitled to consider their own
opinion of what's best for them? Is that relevant?)

Being that all your exploitation-prevention laws are being complied
with, is it *really* so unreasonable to consider Prof. Flaherty's
suggestion that the workers' own opinion on whether or not they are
being exploited be given some weight?


Grinch

unread,
Jun 27, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/27/99
to
Sauron <dul...@uiuc.edu> wrote a 450+ line post that I'm really too
busy to answer now, occupied as I am exploiting all the labor I can
(alas, only my own since I'm self-employed) in an attempt to avoid
losing my own housing.

Maybe later in the week.

Until then, I submit for his entertainment (and Mason's) an article in
which a leading economist praises the virtues of sweatshop labor, and
perhaps garbage picking too.

http://web.mit.edu/krugman/www/smokey.html

"A policy of good jobs in principle, but no jobs in practice, might
assuage our consciences, but it is no favor to its alleged
beneficiaries".
-- ibid.
(Might we say the same thing of housing?)

There an even more fun article, "A Case For More Sweatshops," quoting
a whole bunch of economists, in the New York Times, June 22, 1997, but
it's not on-line.

"In Honduras, where the legal working age is 14, girls toiled 75 hours

week for the 31 cent hourly minimum wage to make the Kathie Lee
Gifford clothing line for Wal-Mart. When Wal-Mart canceled its
contract, the girls lost their jobs and blamed Mrs. Gifford."
-- ibid.

Heck, why didn't they blame the "profiteers" who had employed them?
Were they stupid or something?

Sauron

unread,
Jun 27, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/27/99
to

Grinch wrote:
>
> Sauron <dul...@uiuc.edu> wrote a 450+ line post that I'm really too
> busy to answer now, occupied as I am exploiting all the labor I can
> (alas, only my own since I'm self-employed) in an attempt to avoid
> losing my own housing.
>

My main concern here was that migrant workers have traditionally
been paid substandard, even subsistence, wages, in *this*
century. Thus my annoying pestering about how much they
are actually making and so on. The drive for lower prices
of cherries in the supermarket could end up being a factor
of the high production cost of cherry farming, making
growers incapable of affording federal-standard temporary
housing. In other words, do cheaper cherries mean less housing
for migrants? Does that mean the standard should be dropped?
I don't believe so. The closing of the few temporary camps
that there were is a bad means towards a good goal.

> Maybe later in the week.
>
> Until then, I submit for his entertainment (and Mason's) an article in
> which a leading economist praises the virtues of sweatshop labor, and
> perhaps garbage picking too.
>
> http://web.mit.edu/krugman/www/smokey.html
>

An interesting viewpoint. So concern for the working
conditions of Third World workers is now "self-righteousness"?
He argues that paying them more would be counter-
productive. He should remember that the next time he
wants a salary increase (which would be making MIT
less competitive by tying up more of its resources).

> "A policy of good jobs in principle, but no jobs in practice, might
> assuage our consciences, but it is no favor to its alleged
> beneficiaries".
> -- ibid.
> (Might we say the same thing of housing?)
>

I wonder if the higher wages of Third World urban
workers isn't offset by the higher prices of the
city.


> There an even more fun article, "A Case For More Sweatshops," quoting
> a whole bunch of economists, in the New York Times, June 22, 1997, but
> it's not on-line.
>
> "In Honduras, where the legal working age is 14, girls toiled 75 hours
>
> week for the 31 cent hourly minimum wage to make the Kathie Lee
> Gifford clothing line for Wal-Mart. When Wal-Mart canceled its
> contract, the girls lost their jobs and blamed Mrs. Gifford."
> -- ibid.
>
> Heck, why didn't they blame the "profiteers" who had employed them?
> Were they stupid or something?

Some choice: work under exploited conditions, or go
homeless and penniless. This is good, this is
progress.

It's funny: Third World farmers who used to grow
their own food, now grow coffee, or work in shoe
factories under terrible conditions, in order
to buy food that they used to make themselves!

mas...@ix.netcom.com

unread,
Jun 28, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/28/99
to

There's no excuse for paying fair wages or providing decent
living conditions for farm workers. They are uneducated, dumb
people with no skills whatever. Paying them only increases the
price of food for the rest of us.

Laws requiring minimum wages, safe working conditions, sanitary
toilets at the work place, not to mention such foibles as overtime pay
simply go against basic well-known and irrefutable economic principles.
Ask any economics professor about these principles. If they work it is a
free trade -- an agreement -- and both parties benefit. Else they wouldn't
be there. Surely nothing is more basic.

Mason

mas...@ix.netcom.com

unread,
Jun 28, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/28/99
to
On Sun, 27 Jun 1999 22:40:17 GMT, oldn...@mindspring.com (Grinch) wrote:

>Sauron <dul...@uiuc.edu> wrote a 450+ line post that I'm really too
>busy to answer now, occupied as I am exploiting all the labor I can
>(alas, only my own since I'm self-employed) in an attempt to avoid
>losing my own housing.
>

>Maybe later in the week.
>
>Until then, I submit for his entertainment (and Mason's) an article in
>which a leading economist praises the virtues of sweatshop labor, and
>perhaps garbage picking too.
>
>http://web.mit.edu/krugman/www/smokey.html
>

>"A policy of good jobs in principle, but no jobs in practice, might
>assuage our consciences, but it is no favor to its alleged
>beneficiaries".
>-- ibid.
>(Might we say the same thing of housing?)
>

>There an even more fun article, "A Case For More Sweatshops," quoting
>a whole bunch of economists, in the New York Times, June 22, 1997, but
>it's not on-line.
>
>"In Honduras, where the legal working age is 14, girls toiled 75 hours
>
>week for the 31 cent hourly minimum wage to make the Kathie Lee
>Gifford clothing line for Wal-Mart. When Wal-Mart canceled its
>contract, the girls lost their jobs and blamed Mrs. Gifford."
>-- ibid.
>
>Heck, why didn't they blame the "profiteers" who had employed them?
>Were they stupid or something?

No. Blaming the Honduran government for allowing such a
despicable economic system in 1999 would have got them a lot
worse than losing their jobs. Trying to form a union would have got
them what union organizers in the U.S. got in 1899 -- beatings.

To change the subject: the most important thing to do for workers
is to impose union laws equivalent at least to the laws for the
accounting and accountability of corporations. It is corruption and
the reputation for corruption that is de-unionizing the U.S.

Mason
>


SUSUPPLY

unread,
Jun 28, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/28/99
to
Sauron comments (on cue) to Krugman:

> So concern for the working
>conditions of Third World workers is now "self-righteousness"?

I now post the concluding few lines from the Krugman article:

<< And as long as you have no realistic alternative to industrialization based
on low wages, to oppose it means that you are willing to deny desperately poor
people the best chance they have of progress for the sake of what amounts to an
aesthetic standard--that is, the fact that you don't like the idea of workers
being paid a pittance to supply rich Westerners with fashion items.

<<       In short, my correspondents are not entitled to their
self-righteousness. They have not thought the matter through. And when the
hopes of hundreds of millions are at stake, thinking things through is not just
good intellectual practice. It is a moral duty. >>

What the MIT Prof is saying, Sauron, is that people like you (people who don't
think things through) are harming the poor, whenever your emotional "concern"
gets transmitted into public policy.

Patrick

SUSUPPLY

unread,
Jun 28, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/28/99
to
After reading Sauron’s latest I can now sympathize with John Daly’s "polo
mallet" at last week’s U.S. Open. Some "courses" are just one step away from
clowns and windmills. Taken at random:

>>> While the feds
>>>concerns are legitimate...
>
>>More legitimate than the actual workers concerns?
>
>As if the feds concerns are running counter to
>the workers concerns.

Has anything in the Seattle Times story penetrated? 2,000 "workers concerns"
have been deliberately ignored by Alexis Herman. They had hot water, showers,
kitchen facilities. She took that away from them, because she knows where her
political bread is buttered.

or this:

>It seems odd that
>Oregon, which pays less and presumably has an inferior

>cherry industry compared to Washington, can provide cabins….

There it is, Sauron. Staring you right in the face. I predict it will make
zero impression on you.

or this:

I'd written:

>>[There have been orchards in Benton County for a hundred years. The
>>"problem" has been "solved" (better to recognize that trade-offs have been
>>made in a mutually satisfactory way) all this time.
>>Now, under the pressure of organized and well-funded Labor, the
>>taxpayers of Washington State must subsidize the
>>cherry industry, as they must subsidize the Seattle Mariners.
>
>Subsidize the *cherry industry*? Seems to me the
>government only wants to make sure migrants aren't
>living homeless while the harvest a valuable crop.

As I said, subsidize the cherry industry.

and this beauty:

I’d written:

>>Yes, it's okay if the growers go without homes. After all what have they
>>done to deserve them. They have merely gone into debt up to their eyebrows
>>buying land, planting trees, irrigating, working year round....
>
>What growers are going without homes? It is the migrants,
>doing tiring hand-picking for long, strenuous days, that
>are living homeless.

Remember when I told you economics studies the allocation of scarce resources?
What that means is, that if the money that the orchard owners were going to use
to pay for their own homes is forced, by the Federal Government, to be used to
build cabins for the migrant workers, the orchard owners will not have that
money for their own housing. Comprende?

Patrick


Sauron

unread,
Jun 28, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/28/99
to

Don't get me wrong, I have a lot of respect for Mr. Krugman, I simply
disagree with him on this issue. I would offer the alternative, but
you would not take it seriously and would dismiss it as simplistic
and not thought through.

Sauron

Sauron

unread,
Jun 28, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/28/99
to

SUSUPPLY wrote:
>
> After reading Sauron’s latest I can now sympathize with John Daly’s "polo
> mallet" at last week’s U.S. Open. Some "courses" are just one step away from
> clowns and windmills. Taken at random:
>
> >>> While the feds
> >>>concerns are legitimate...
> >
> >>More legitimate than the actual workers concerns?
> >
> >As if the feds concerns are running counter to
> >the workers concerns.
>
> Has anything in the Seattle Times story penetrated? 2,000 "workers concerns"
> have been deliberately ignored by Alexis Herman. They had hot water, showers,
> kitchen facilities. She took that away from them, because she knows where her
> political bread is buttered.
>

There are two ways to look at it. Either Alexis Herman through them out
of the camps on purpose and at the behest of the unions, or she is
honestly trying to raise the housing quality of the camps but has chosen
a shortsighted, stupid approach to doing so. You prefer the first
interpretation. I'm suspecting there may be a mix of both.

> or this:
>
> >It seems odd that
> >Oregon, which pays less and presumably has an inferior
> >cherry industry compared to Washington, can provide cabins….
>
> There it is, Sauron. Staring you right in the face. I predict it will make
> zero impression on you.
>

Let me guess: Oregon pays less because it provides the
cabins, while Washington pays more because it doesn't?
So the size and quality of the crop doesn't matter?
Are the two cherry industries in the two states generating
the same amount of revenue?



> or this:
>
> I'd written:
>
> >>[There have been orchards in Benton County for a hundred years. The
> >>"problem" has been "solved" (better to recognize that trade-offs have been
> >>made in a mutually satisfactory way) all this time.
> >>Now, under the pressure of organized and well-funded Labor, the
> >>taxpayers of Washington State must subsidize the
> >>cherry industry, as they must subsidize the Seattle Mariners.
> >
> >Subsidize the *cherry industry*? Seems to me the
> >government only wants to make sure migrants aren't
> >living homeless while the harvest a valuable crop.
>
> As I said, subsidize the cherry industry.
>

Why don't you just say "subsidize the migrants,"
wouldn't that be what it really is?



> and this beauty:
>
> I’d written:
>
> >>Yes, it's okay if the growers go without homes. After all what have they
> >>done to deserve them. They have merely gone into debt up to their eyebrows
> >>buying land, planting trees, irrigating, working year round....
> >
> >What growers are going without homes? It is the migrants,
> >doing tiring hand-picking for long, strenuous days, that
> >are living homeless.
>
> Remember when I told you economics studies the allocation of scarce resources?
> What that means is, that if the money that the orchard owners were going to use
> to pay for their own homes is forced, by the Federal Government, to be used to
> build cabins for the migrant workers, the orchard owners will not have that
> money for their own housing. Comprende?
>

Yes, I remember, you were quite vocal about the point :) If that
is the result, I would say it stems from more objective elements
of the cherry industry, such as (as possible examples) the high
charges of cherry truckers, or the pressures of the financial
sector (banks, loaning institutions, etc..). The crop is estimated
at $150 million. This is spread over the entire industry, yes?
It is a judgment, IMHO, that a crop so lucrative cannot see more
than a pittance of its revenue being deverted to provide
adequate shelter for the very ones who make the harvesting of
the crop possible, i.e., the migrant workers.

Jim Blair

unread,
Jun 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/29/99
to SUSUPPLY
SUSUPPLY wrote:

susu...@aol.com (SUSUPPLY):


Today’s lesson in Public Choice Economics is from the Seattle Times,
June 22,
1999:

<<Bureaucratic bickering leaves thousands of migrant workers homeless

[snip]

<< FINLEY, Benton County - A fight between state and federal bureaucrats
over
how best to house migrant cherry pickers will leave about 7,000 workers
homeless during the harvest that gets under way in earnest this week.


Hi,

The Final Solution to the Cherry Picker Problem.

My prediction: the sloution to the problem you raise will come
from technology: mechanical and genetic engineering.

Of course it is expensive to provide nice housing that is only
used for a few days a year. More efficient would be moblie
homes that moved from field to field as different crops were
harvested, thus extending their use over the harvesting seasons
of many crops.

But the longer range solution is a mechnical cherry picker
that moves from tree to tree picking off the fruit. One could
probably be made with adjustments for cherries, apples, peaches,
oranges, grapefruit, etc.

But:


> "Most cherry orchards are small, family operations, with no more than
> 10 to 15 acres on average. They don't have the cash to invest in
> permanent housing..."

Or in expensive picking machines. No problem. A few such picking
machines would be leased from a supplier or owned by a cooperative
of small growers. A supplier could move his picking machines around
the country as different crops were ready. Cold climates favor
apples and cherries (they are both grown in Door County Wisconsin)
and warmer climates favor citrus.

A longer term solution will be genetically re-engineered fruits
that grow on lower bushes, making them easier to pick with a
less complicated harvesting machine.

The everyone will be happy. The growers will have their crops
picked cheaper and won't be hasseled by the humanitarians. The
workers won't be exploited anymore: most won't even have
agriculture related jobs. The fruit picking will be done by a
few skilled machine operators who will be paid high wages to
operate and maintain the complex machines. And the public will
have cheaper fruit.
--
,,,,,,,
_______________ooo___(_O O_)___ooo_______________
(_)
jim blair (jeb...@facstaff.wisc.edu) For a good time call
http://www.geocities.com/capitolhill/4834

SUSUPPLY

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Jun 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/29/99
to
Sauron leaves us in suspense:

>> What the MIT Prof is saying, Sauron, is that people like you (people who
>don't
>> think things through) are harming the poor, whenever your emotional
>"concern"
>> gets transmitted into public policy.
>>
>
>Don't get me wrong, I have a lot of respect for Mr. Krugman, I simply
>disagree with him on this issue. I would offer the alternative, but
>you would not take it seriously and would dismiss it as simplistic
>and not thought through.
>
>Sauron

What, a nice guy like me?

Please, please enlighten us. Is it as good as Hyman's plan?

Patrick

SUSUPPLY

unread,
Jun 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/29/99
to
Sauron, changing the subject:

>> >As if the feds concerns are running counter to
>> >the workers concerns.
>>
>> Has anything in the Seattle Times story penetrated? 2,000 "workers
>concerns"
>> have been deliberately ignored by Alexis Herman. They had hot water,
>showers,
>> kitchen facilities. She took that away from them, because she knows where
>her
>> political bread is buttered.
>>
>
>There are two ways to look at it. Either Alexis Herman through them out
>of the camps on purpose and at the behest of the unions, or she is
>honestly trying to raise the housing quality of the camps but has chosen
>a shortsighted, stupid approach to doing so. You prefer the first
>interpretation. I'm suspecting there may be a mix of both.

Both of your "two ways" concede that:

>> >...the feds concerns are running counter to
>> >the workers concerns.

[snip]

>Let me guess: Oregon pays less because it provides the
>cabins, while Washington pays more because it doesn't?
>So the size and quality of the crop doesn't matter?
>Are the two cherry industries in the two states generating
>the same amount of revenue?

In amongst the irrelevancies above, there is the most tenuous grasp of
"opportunity costs". Congratulations, you are starting to learn something.

[snip]

>> >Subsidize the *cherry industry*? Seems to me the
>> >government only wants to make sure migrants aren't
>> >living homeless while the harvest a valuable crop.

>> As I said, subsidize the cherry industry.

>Why don't you just say "subsidize the migrants,"
>wouldn't that be what it really is?

It is both.

[snip]

>> Remember when I told you economics studies the allocation of scarce
>resources?
>> What that means is, that if the money that the orchard owners were going to
>use
>> to pay for their own homes is forced, by the Federal Government, to be used
>to
>> build cabins for the migrant workers, the orchard owners will not have that
>> money for their own housing. Comprende?
>>
>
>Yes, I remember, you were quite vocal about the point :) If that

>is the result...

[IF! You were the one who contrasted the growers' "affluence" to the workers'
poverty. Specifically mentioning the growers homes (or the mortgages on the
homes, I forget which).]

>...I would say it stems from more objective elements
>of the cherry industry...

[Try economic constraints. They are quite objective.]

>such as (as possible examples) the high

>charges of cherry truckers...

[The Teamster's Union? They may well be a member of the Washington State Labor
Council (though I don't know for sure).]

>...or the pressures of the financial


>sector (banks, loaning institutions, etc..).

I see. The "financial sector" that provides the tool, money, should not be
repaid. What do you suppose that will do to the ability of the cherry growers
to produce next year's crop?

> The crop is estimated
>at $150 million.

Which is, if I may be allowed to mix my agriculture metaphors, peanuts.

>This is spread over the entire industry, yes?

>It is a judgment, IMHO...

[Your opinion is not at all humble, you wish to replace others' (who must bear
the consequences) opinions with your own. Pretty conceited, given that you
have nothing to do with the industry.]

>...that a crop so lucrative...

[As I said, peanuts.]

> cannot see more
>than a pittance of its revenue...

[I asked you before to tell me what percentage of this revenue you think is
profit, and what percentage goes to pay labor. You ducked.]

>...being deverted to provide

>adequate shelter for the very ones who make the harvesting of
>the crop possible, i.e., the migrant workers.

That is the kind of emotion Krugman was excoriating.

First, half the pickers apparently live in the area already. They provide
their own housing. The Times story doesn't get into this, but if all pickers
are paid the same per crate of cherries, then the resident pickers are
subsidizing the migrants who get "free" housing.

Second, if it wasn't for the orchard owners and their employees who work year
round to see that there is a crop to pick, the bankers who provide the tool,
money, that allows the coordination of these activities, the middlemen who get
the fruit from the fields to the grocery stores, etc., the migrants would not
even be there.

ALL of the above are necessary to generate this lousy $150 million. The share
of it going to each person involved, is not meted out through some highly
inefficient (and emotion laden) bureaucratic procedure, but through the give
and take of people contracting with one another.

This has been going on for at least a hundred years in the Pacific Northwest.
Only lately governments have been slaking their thirst for power by throwing
monkey wrenches into the mix (if I'm allowed another mixed metaphor), thereby
making almost everyone worse off.

All the while cheered on by simpletons who say they are "concerned" for
workers' interests. Simpletons who haven't "thought it through".

Patrick

Edward Flaherty

unread,
Jun 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/29/99
to

mas...@ix.netcom.com wrote:

> On Sun, 27 Jun 1999 10:44:53 -0400, Edward Flaherty <flah...@cofc.edu> wrote:
> >
> >I think it's easy to tell. If the migrants voluntarily agree to the
> >terms of employment, then they are not exploited from their
> >own point of view -- the only view that matters. Any other
> >point of view is merely paternalism and a presumption that
> >the migrants are too stupid to take care of themselves.
>
> Which, in a flash, sweeps away all labor law: safety, minimum wage,
> child labor, hours, overtime pay. You name it. All labor law except
> slavery is an interference in the voluntary decision of the workers.
> C'mon Ed, you can do better. Republican conservative right-wing
> reactionary libertarian? - a sign of old age?

The phrase 'labor exploitation' is so vague and weasle-like it could mean
anything. The way I've seen others use it, apparently it means any labor
market outcome that doesn't meet the approval of a third party observer.
Again, that could mean anything and therefore means nothing.

Nevertheless, I don't think it has much to do with labor laws that
alter the outcome of labor markets. As I have pointed out lots of
times, there are many circumstances when the market can fail and
when government intervention may improve efficiency. The labor
market is no different. This doesn't necessarily mean the worker
is exploited in the unregulated condition. Safety regulations can
fall into that category easily when the worker and perhaps employer
do not know about certain workplace dangers. An information
asymmetry could be present and could substantially harm the market.
Would the absence of such safety laws constitute exploitation? Sure,
if you want to define it that way.

As for the migrant workers, I'm not sure what sort of dangers or
other information they would need to have that they could not
directly observe for themselves prior to agreeing to a job. If they
make their choice well informed, then the cry of exploitation
from a third party is a silly one.

Gary Forbis

unread,
Jun 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/29/99
to
Jim Blair <jeb...@facstaff.wisc.edu> wrote in message
news:3778CF...@facstaff.wisc.edu...

A longer term solution will be genetically re-engineered fruits
that grow on lower bushes, making them easier to pick with a
less complicated harvesting machine.

The long range solution is to equip one's kitchen with instructions
on how to build appropriate strands of DNA from a database and
insert them into a device that would grow fresh fruit on demand
(and proper notice.) Why grow the whole tree or any tree at all?
I bet most of us wouldn't want to look at the growing bins, but when
the fruit pops into the serving trays all clean and fresh no one would
care. Still, the meat growing bins will be a bit more gross looking.

Gary Forbis

unread,
Jun 29, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/29/99
to
I think the more important information flow is to the consumer of the goods.
The consumer cannot express workplace preferences unless that information
is widely distributed and alternatives exist.

I'm not sure where the cherry consumers stand on the issue but I suspect
it sides with the laborers, provided they aren't asking for more than their
consumers would expect under the same conditions. An economic markup
similar to a list of ingredients would help consumers express their choices.


Edward Flaherty <flah...@cofc.edu> wrote in message
news:3779021D...@cofc.edu...

MK

unread,
Jun 30, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/30/99
to
On Thu, 24 Jun 1999 17:23:47 GMT, oldn...@mindspring.com (Grinch) wrote:

>"Temporary, on-farm tent camps paid for by the growers and licensed by
>the Department of Health...."

>And who stopped them?....

>"But under pressure from union organizers and labor advocates..."

>Why, the friends of labor, of course! (Well, not of *all* labor.)

It is in unions interest to unemployment be as high as possible, not as low as
possible. Unemployed do not belong to unions. Unions are powerful when economy
is doing bad, not good and when people are poor, not wealthy. Unions are the
worst kind of disease for society, worse even than business cartels.


MK


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--------------------------------------------------

Delete _spamspamlovelyspam_ from address to email me

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Jim Blair

unread,
Jun 30, 1999, 3:00:00 AM6/30/99
to Gary Forbis
Jim Blair <jeb...@facstaff.wisc.edu>:

A longer term solution will be genetically re-engineered fruits
that grow on lower bushes, making them easier to pick with a
less complicated harvesting machine.

Gary Forbis wrote:

> The long range solution is to equip one's kitchen with instructions
> on how to build appropriate strands of DNA from a database and
> insert them into a device that would grow fresh fruit on demand
> (and proper notice.) Why grow the whole tree or any tree at all?


Hi,

Wow, you are even ahead of me. But I didn't want to propose ideas that
are TOO far ahead of conventional thinking, for fear of being thought a
kook.

Filip De Vos

unread,
Jul 5, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/5/99
to
Jim Blair (jeb...@facstaff.wisc.edu) wrote:
: Jim Blair <jeb...@facstaff.wisc.edu>:

: A longer term solution will be genetically re-engineered fruits
: that grow on lower bushes, making them easier to pick with a
: less complicated harvesting machine.

: Gary Forbis wrote:
:
: > The long range solution is to equip one's kitchen with instructions
: > on how to build appropriate strands of DNA from a database and
: > insert them into a device that would grow fresh fruit on demand
: > (and proper notice.) Why grow the whole tree or any tree at all?

Why DNA? Nanotech can assemble suitable combinations of digestible fibre,
sugars, proteins, vitamins, flavourings, all in a suitable attractive
package. No need to keep biological legacy-systems running! :)

(Who is too far-out here? :)

: Hi,

: Wow, you are even ahead of me. But I didn't want to propose ideas that
: are TOO far ahead of conventional thinking, for fear of being thought a
: kook.


Too late! :-P


--
Filip De Vos FilipP...@rug.ac.be

There are plenty of ways to empty a solar system.
-- John S. Lewis --

Gary Forbis

unread,
Jul 5, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/5/99
to
Filip De Vos <fid...@eduserv1.rug.ac.be> wrote in message
news:7lovgt$r6q$1...@inf6serv.rug.ac.be...

> Jim Blair (jeb...@facstaff.wisc.edu) wrote:
> : Jim Blair <jeb...@facstaff.wisc.edu>:
>
> : A longer term solution will be genetically re-engineered fruits
> : that grow on lower bushes, making them easier to pick with a
> : less complicated harvesting machine.
>
> : Gary Forbis wrote:
> :
> : > The long range solution is to equip one's kitchen with instructions
> : > on how to build appropriate strands of DNA from a database and
> : > insert them into a device that would grow fresh fruit on demand
> : > (and proper notice.) Why grow the whole tree or any tree at all?
>
> Why DNA? Nanotech can assemble suitable combinations of digestible fibre,
> sugars, proteins, vitamins, flavourings, all in a suitable attractive
> package. No need to keep biological legacy-systems running! :)

Hey, I am one of those biological legacy systems. I'd like to be kept
running.

David Lloyd-Jones

unread,
Jul 6, 1999, 3:00:00 AM7/6/99
to

Gary Forbis <for...@accessone.com> wrote

> Filip De Vos <fid...@eduserv1.rug.ac.be> wrote
> > Jim Blair (jeb...@facstaff.wisc.edu) wrote:
> > : Jim Blair <jeb...@facstaff.wisc.edu>:
> >
> > : A longer term solution will be genetically re-engineered fruits
> > : that grow on lower bushes, making them easier to pick with a
> > : less complicated harvesting machine.
> > :
> > : > The long range solution is to equip one's kitchen with instructions
> > : > on how to build appropriate strands of DNA from a database and
> > : > insert them into a device that would grow fresh fruit on demand
> > : > (and proper notice.) Why grow the whole tree or any tree at all?
> >
> > Why DNA? Nanotech can assemble suitable combinations of digestible
fibre,
> > sugars, proteins, vitamins, flavourings, all in a suitable attractive
> > package. No need to keep biological legacy-systems running! :)
>
> Hey, I am one of those biological legacy systems. I'd like to be kept
> running.

At the moment sequencing one "strand of DNA" costs about $10 per base pair,
which means about $10 billion for "the human being" or for a particular
human being. Moore's Law, or something like it, applies: The Sanger Centre
post daily statistics on how much of the human genome they have on file --
currently around 120 million pairs, or 12-15% of the whole thing -- and have
a report in there somewhere http://www.sanger.ac.uk/ to the effect that
their productivity has increased 100-fold over the last year or two. On the
US side, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ is a good starting point, it's all
government work, so the increase may or may not be as rapid.

Celeron, as in speed, is a Perkin-Elmer subsidiary founded for the express
purpose of beating the public institutions to the knowledge, control, and
patenting of this interesting bit of information. I rather suspect they have
been unwise in being so public about the superiority of their privately
funded efforts: In recent days the Department of Energy -- all those
nowhere-to-go bomb physicists who are such a large part of biophysics --
have weighed in with a few more divisions of Swedish sequencing machines, so
don't count the guvvermint out yet.

Back to the economics: the mammals are all order-of-magnitude the same. The
people actually doing the job give numbers "around a billion" for the length
of human DNA, anywhere from 75 to 100 million for the number of genes. This
is perfectly legit: genes vary greatly in size, which is natural enough
since they carry instructions for producing proteins of wildly different
sizes and shapes, so people tend to use 10,000 base pairs as the size of an
average gene. Plant genomes are all over the place, at least in number of
chromosomes, from much simpler to much more complex.

A few years ago identifying a single base pair was a wet lab job that took
a professional plus a couple of dishwashers a couple of days, or earned one
serf a PhD. Then it got mechanised, and one-track machines, one track being
the equivalent of that original wet lab, appeared. A couple of days ago
Perkin-Elmer's new line of machines leapt from 32 track to 48-track.

30,000-element "DNA on silicon" biology chips currently sell for about $100,
and do the work that a $200,000 machine did maybe five years ago. I think
it's fair to call these the Intel 4004 of the business. Names to watch are
Packard Machinery, part of Hewlett-Packard, of California, and the Discrete
Computational Biology group in Israel.
http://www.math.tau.ac.il/~shamir/dcb.html . Their web sites are half-baked
at the moment. I think they're busy. Russians, Japanese and Germans are also
in the game...

I think it's important to keep your eye on the ball in all of this stuff:
the principles of marginality and diminishing returns apply here as
everywhere. The cheapest biochemical labs are still out there in the fields
in Kansas, and the biggest economics gains come from, uh, cherry-picking,
getting the easy stuff with the big payoffs.

In medicine, for instance, ten percent of the human genome decoded has given
us 4,000 genetic illnesses identified, of which the main ones are two
varieties of breast cancer and a couple of flavors of propensity to heart
attacks. The other 90% of the thread may give nine times as much, but I
wouldn't bet on it. I'd put the morning line as no more than three times.

Cheers,

-dlj.