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.