Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

Though President Obama has a reputation amongst conservatives for being “soft” on illegal immigration, he has, in fact, presided over an administration that has sent record numbers of folks back to their countries of origin.

And this has hit the agricultural sector. Hard. The one fifth of Americans who are unemployed have, apparently, little interest in picking crops. Perhaps Tom Lehrer’s 1965 song about Sen. George Murphy explains the popular rationale most memorably:

Should Americans pick crops?
George says, “No,
“’Cause no one but a Mexican
“Would stoop so low.
“After all, even in Egypt, the Pharaohs
“Had to import Hebrew braceros.”

Apparently, native workers aren’t exactly desperate. Credit this to extended unemployment benefits?

Doug French, of the Mises Institute, notes that as supplies of produce come up short, food prices have risen. Without recent immigrants to pick crops, some farms have had to contract with prisons.

Things sure have changed since the days of the Great Depression. Back then, those looking for work took all sorts of jobs: menial labor, farm work, you-name-it.

Today? Apparently not.

Trust me, I don’t blame folks for avoiding back-breaking labor. About 30 years ago, I chopped tobacco. Soaking my sore muscles in the tub after the first day, I decided that surely I could find other work — and I did.

Still, someone has to pick the crops. Food prices are soaring. American citizens might rather be deported than have to labor in the fields.

Where on Earth would we find laborers who would feel differently?

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

By: Redactor


  1. Dagney says:

    I read somewhere a few years ago that mechanical/technological advances had been made in Australia. They, obviously, have no problem with illegal immigration. And, they, of course, had problems finding people willing to do this back-breaking work. So, they had to “innovate”. What a novel idea. If this is true, our farmers can buy the Australian machines that pick the low-lying fruit, or they can invent their own machine. Allowing illegal immgration, another left-wing policy in an attempt to buy votes, has STUNTED American ingenuity and innovation. I wonder how many other areas is being stunted by government social engineering?

  2. James says:

    For a free-marketeer, Mr. Jacob, you certainly seem quick to doubt free-market principles.

    Chopping tobacco and picking tomatoes are indeed hard jobs. I wouldn’t want to do either one…unless I got paid, say, $1000 a day.

    And who would pay me that much? Why, the farmer who has no other choice, that’s who. If the supply of labor won’t meet his demand at any other price, he either pays or goes out of business.

    And what happens when the farmer has to pay what the labor market demands? Why, he has to raise the price on what he produces.

    It’s long been my belief that food prices in America are artificially low – made so by farm subsidies, foreign labor here illegally and so without the benefit of minimum wage laws, etc. If the free market is ever re-introduced into the food sector, there’ll likely be some serious political upheaval as the nation wakes up and adjusts to reality.

    Afterward, we’ll see Americans applying for jobs chopping tobacco and picking tomatoes because the pay is so good.

  3. Murray Bass says:

    You have put yur finger on a problem. the problem is “No one wants to do the hard work of pickint crops.” We have given the illegals so many options that very few decide to “pick crops” In site of having 12million illeals we still don’t have enough agriccultural workers.Stop kidding ourselves. Send them home let Americans have the non ag jobs they now hold. Take the luxury free ride away from the american sloth and let them wrk in the fields or go hungry. Way before your time, yong people didn’t have a choice. they worked picking fruit,cotton, etc… and were damned glad to be able to earn any mney. Our people on wefare are some of the richest people on earth. Let them work in the fiels or go hungry.

  4. Steven Sass says:

    This ties to one of my FAVORITE subjects — WHY DOES ANYONE GET FULL UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFIT FOR DOING NOTHING! We need to require those on unemployment to pick up trash, file papers etc and ONLY be excused when they can show a SPECIFIC job interview, where the interviewer will SIGN a document that individual appeared, and provide company phone number for conformation. NO FREE RIDES!

  5. Drik says:

    Time to stop having disability payments and unemployment dollars go to the corner drug dealers. A check from the government should require mandatory truly random drug screening, or else the govnerment is just financing the continued drug use and exacerbating the inability and disinclinaion to work.

    Benjamin Franklin, a much wiser man than I, said that for poverty to be lessened, people must be made a little uncomfortable in their poverty. We are the only nation on earth where politicians get re-elected for institutionalizing it (except maybe Greece).

  6. Drik says:

    Just had a radical thought.

    Instead of the government turning an impotent, blind eye to its own subsidizing of the drug use of America’s disabled and unable who also end up being preyed upon by the criminals in our society while also subsidizing the cartels and the drug growing terrorists (not to mention fattening the pockets of George Soros with his South American drug farms), why not cut out the middle man.

    If Uncle Sugar is really so all-fired concerned with the care and well-being of the folks that it is bankrolling and ok with thier drug habit, then the govenment should be supplying their drugs as well. This would ensure that they were getting a quality product at a dispensible controllable rate of use, and that they were not being ripped off and beaten or killed by low-lifes. As a bonus it would cut the vast profits out of the hide of the drug gangs and organized crime, and the new kids on the block, the jihadists.

    The $40 billion dollar a year war on drugs could be wound way down since the profits would dry up. Cheaper for the tax-payer. Cheaper for the govenrment. Much easier for the lives of the disabled and unemployed on the dole. We could even get by with a lot less government.


  7. Paul Jacob says:

    Note: When I decided the hard work of chopping tobacco was not to my liking, I didn’t go on unemployment or welfare, I found another job. Otherwise, back-breaking or not, I’d have been back at it with those tobacco plants.

    To James, I do have confidence in the free market and long for the day it is applied once again to agriculture. But I think our immigration policies are insane. There are people willing to work those fields and I’d like to see folks have that opportunity, whether it is through a guest worker program or an easing of immigration laws. We need immigration to make up for a very low birthrate, but our policies discourage legal immigrants (even those with needed skills) while allowing illegal immigration.

    Stopping the flow of illegal immigrants (which the depression is doing to a large extent) doesn’t solve a bigger problem — for us or for huddled masses yearning to be free and feed their families.

  8. Mark Read Pickens says:


    How exactly does allowing people to come here and offer to exchange their labor for our money “stunt American ingenuity?”

    By that logic, shouldn’t we in California stop immigration from New York? We don’t want them uppity Easterners stunting our ingenuity.

  9. Drik says:

    Allowing people to come here and tap into the welfare state, costing way more in healthcare dollars (uninsured but free at the local ER), education funding, police and legal infrastructure stunts our economy, to the tune of a net outflow cost of between $17,000 and $20,000 per illegal alien. This is a continual drain on the American economy and thence a continual drain(funnel) of extra tax dollars from the taxpaying Americans and from the associated costs that have to be covered by government borrowing at increasing ussurious rates to cover the bills. And that burden cramps the American way of life and the American economy, increases the overall misery index, and has both indirect and direct effects on the “ingenuity”. American businesses aren’t brought forth into florishing by the dint of banks floating unsecured loans to the entrepraneurs. Those small business aspirants have to build their own equity and tap their own savings and that of their family and friends to get almost all businessses going. Along with their 70-80 hr work weeks. And that is what generates almost 80% of American jobs.
    Take that slack out of the system and the opportunity to get things going goes away for most of the ingenious folks, no matter how clever they might be.

    Re: the immegration TOO California. I would think that the state would be bankrolling anyone foolish enough to be willing to move there. Last I heard, the businesses and ingenious were U-Hauling it out of the fool’s golden state as fast as they could find a mover.

  10. Drik says:


  11. Kenneth H. Fleischer says:

    All of this relates to comments I recently sent to my dentist, who likes to discuss such things by E-mail exchange. This was on the subject of the “Occupy Wall Street” protesters:

    My notion of it is that the “occupy” crowd is made up of those who choose not to work, unless at a cushy, salaried job.

    Why doesn’t someone tell these noisy parasites that they can go wherever work needs to be done, ask if they may help, and go on from there?

    Beyond that, I expect them to learn how to become invisible when the snowfall comes.

  12. James says:

    Mr. Jacob, sometimes I wish your “Common Sense” column were not so abbreviated!

    This is such a case, as I’m afraid I still don’t understand your position on legal and illegal immigration, and on how they fit with free-market principles in regard to farm wages and produce prices.

    I, for one, would have no objection to a several-page email newsletter, should you choose to wax lengthy from time to time. More often than not, reading your remarks is time well spent.

  13. Mark Read Pickens says:


    If someone sponges off the taxpayers, he’s part of the problem; it doesn’t matter where he’s born. If someone pulls his own weight, he’s part of the solution; it doesn’t matter where he’s born.

    Immigrants (including “illegal” ones) commit fewer crimes per capita than native born people. They contribute billions every year to Social Security and will never be able to collect.

  14. Roger and Lynn Bloxham says:

    There are many solid reasons why immigration should be a much more open process which it was for most of our history. Paul joins most of the Austrians, libertarians and natural rights people in his defense of greatly needed drastic reform. May I refer doubters and those eager for a different perspective, to Future of Freedom Foundation ( Foundation for Economic Education (,,,,, AmericanDaily Hearld, for whom I recently began to write simply to address the strange idea conservatives have that being anti immigrant is a conservative value. If one holds individualism, self determination, property rights, non aggression,and voluntary exchange in a free market as their values, then the entry of peaceful people should be welcomed. One other point: at this time there are several well known groups who purport to do research and present statitics. They present partial truths and do not use standard statistical analysis. They also are anti all immigration. Please do not use their stats but go to sources yourself.

    We have read Paul for more years than he would probably want to admit he had been writing. He never disapoints.

  15. Mark Read Pickens says:

    Roger and Lynn Bloxham: You might add the Moorfield Storey Institute to that list:

  16. Roger and Lynn Bloxham says:

    Thanks, knew I was missing some. Enjoyed your comments. succinct and thought provoking. Lynn

  17. Drik says:

    Great sites. Thanks for the links. For much of our history we had NO immigration quotas because we had no automatic welfare system that folks could immediatley tap into as soon as they arrived. There was no issue of legal or illegal.
    Interesting data the our government has collected on just some of the costs:

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