You Made Your Bed …

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

A little over a month ago, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal (left) signed HB 87, an Arizona-like immigration law. The law was designed to drive illegal immigrants out of Georgia, and now state officials are shocked feigning shock that it worked.

The resulting labor shortage has meant that millions of dollars of unharvested blueberries, onions, and other crops will be left rotting in the fields. Since many farmers live harvest-to-harvest, the loss of one crop could mean the loss of their farm.

Agriculture is Georgia’s number one economic activity, so Deal called for an investigation. The results of a survey show that at least 11,000 workers will needed. More than 6,300 of the jobs pay an average of $8 an hour, have no benefits, and are even not covered by workman’s compensation.

In an effort to downplay the effect the law would have on the farm labor force, Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black claimed that workers can earn $12 to $18 an hour. “Can” being the key word. However, that wage range is not reasonable. Vegetable and melon workers’ wages are near $7.78 an hour, and blueberry workers make about $6.70 an hour. These are, of course, seasonal wages.

Georgia farmers could try to solve their labor problem by offering higher wages, but passing that additional cost on to consumers would put their crops at a competitive disadvantage vis-à-vis other states that haven’t chased out the cheap labor. The Vidalia onion, Georgia’s official state vegetable, is going to be in scarce supply this year.

What did they think would happen? You don’t have to have a Nobel Prize in economics to have foreseen this crisis. And what is Deal’s contingency plan? He acts shocked.

H/T: AJC, Steve Benen.

57 thoughts on “You Made Your Bed …”

  1. whoops that should say better dead than red, my bad.

  2. tootie:

    if you give me an email address I will send you an essay you will love about exactly what you are talking about.

    Or tell me another web site and I will post it there.

  3. @ Tootie –

    I fully support mechanization of agriculture. I certainly think that’s a better solution that ancient primitive backbreaking labor practices.

    But I’m also a liberal/progressive/democrat that you spent 1/2 of your rant demonizing. What’s that old saying about flies and sugar and vinegar?

    The next time you want to advance an idea, why don’t you advance the idea on it’s own merits, without prejudging and supposing who will agree with you? Or assuming that merely based upon a person’s political ideology that they will instantly disagree with you?

  4. In Germany, they love to eat white asparagus, but no one likes to tend this harvest. (It is very labor intensive, you have to keep the stalks buried as they grow)
    So the Germans give Polish people work permits to come tend this harvest as well as others.
    If the Germans can do this, year after year, we can do this in the US.

  5. L K

    from what i’ve heard a lot of people without insurance cross the border to get healthcare. from the us to mexico. not quite what they report on fox though.

  6. i also googled “minnows”. it turns out they’re small fish that big fish eat to reproduce more big fish. something about a “food chain”.

  7. Bdaman: “See the California agricultural industry.

    Maybe they should bus the people from California to Georgia.
    Even though this story is from 2009 the water remains off.

    The San Joaguin Valley is the southern half of California’s Central Valley. This valley is California’s most productive agricultural area, producing 12% of our food. In their attempts to save the delta smelt, the EPA has shut off irrigation water to the valley, which has allowed the land to return to its normally arid state (made worse by the current California drought). The result is a modern….”


    USDA says 500 jobs were lost due to the provisions for the smelt, the rest (which are growing) are due to the drought.

    Maybe the folks in Texas should be sent to Georgia too:

    “Texas Medicaid Cutbacks to Cost Over 5,000 Jobs…and That’s Only the Beginning”

    From Dallas Business Journal:

    “A 10 percent rate reduction in Medicaid payments could cause 5,100 jobs to be lost and reduce sales tax revenue by more than $5 million in North Texas alone, according to the Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council.

    According to an economic impact study released by the council in January, North Texas hospitals generate 237,000 jobs and contribute $12 billion to the economy annually. Hospitals trigger $4 billion in retail sales and account for $245 million in sales tax revenue.”

  8. Since farmers were trying to get the bill stopped what has happened is no big surprise.
    Therefore it was deliberate.
    To run small farmers out of business.
    So big agribusinesses that are big donors can get their land cheap.

  9. Mike Spindell:

    “God save us from the “wise men” of the world, not only are they usually wrong, but in the process they get rich and we get screwed.”

    And that is why I believe in the collective judgement of 6 billion people taking decisions on what to purchase in an unfettered arena without the input of those “wise men” you so correctly point out screw us all.

  10. Bdaman:

    that story you posted is a classic. It is an example, one of many, of the incompetence of the politicians and the bureaucrats who control us.

  11. Bud:

    “See why we have to have stupid drug laws… Keep those prisons full so we have a source of free labor.”

    that is interesting that you say this, I was talking to a guy who works for the federal government as a purchasing agent. He was telling me that one department buys cars from GM or Ford or Chrysler and ships them down to Texas to have lights and logos put on the cars. For the logos the government is charged around a $150 dollars but it cost around $450 to ship the cars to Texas and back.

    Prisoners do the work and apparently they do it for a private company which pays them next to nothing. This company also makes furniture for the government and gives large campaign contributions to this congressman. The guy wouldn’t tell me the name of the company or the congressman.

    Personally I would like to know because my tax dollars are being used in, what is my opinion, a criminal enterprise. And the idea of the government purchasing products made by prisoners being paid slave wages is reprehensible.

    In my opinion even if the are being paid minimum wage it is reprehensible for the tax payer to pay $450 dollars to ship a car to put a $150 dollar logo on the door. They could do it cheaper near the factory.

    If middle class America knew what was going on with our tax dollars we would revolt. Maybe the Tea Party has a point?

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