Damn the Farm Bill Consequences

There are so many crises affecting the besieged American farmer that it’s hard to tell which is worse.  Is the flooding in the Midwest?  Is it the possibility that the latest Farm Bill might get vetoed? Is it new enforcement procedures that threaten to stem the never-ending flow of cheap labor?

Actually, it’s that last one.  The floods will abate eventually and the chance of a pork-laden Farm Bill not passing is slim to none.  But, by golly, the administration has started enforcing immigration laws!  What is Bush thinking?

Obviously, he’s not considering what enforcement might lead to.  J Carnes, president of Winter Garden Produce in Uvalde, Texas and head of the Texas Vegetable Association says enforcement is downright dangerous.  But we’re doing it anyway, he says and “damn the consequences.”

Perhaps your brethren in the dairy business would fork over some cheese to go with that whine.

“The consequences,” according to Mr. Carnes, is the loss of domestic farms and the shifting of food production to other counties.  You know, like we see in most other industries.  If we don’t wink and nod and keep a steady supply of illegal fruit and vegetable pickers, Mr. Carnes believes that military and school lunches will be stocked with fruit and milk from — where?  Mexico?  Isn’t it kind of like that now?

So allow me to ask the question!  If ALL our immigration laws suddenly were strictly enforced and the pool of cheap illegal labor vanished on the spot, would our food costs go up?  Maybe so, but if we imported a lot more food from poor nations, it would likely still be cheap.  That’s market forces — something Mr. Carnes doesn’t understand.

Those American growers who tough it out would have to pay higher wages to attract American workers or legal immigrants from a smaller supply.  That would make food prices rise.  That’s market forces, too.

Illegal immigration is an under-the-table government subsidy that suppresses wages and redistributes wealth.  That’s not a free market approach any more than the Farm Bill is.  Most Americans would gladly pay higher prices for veggies than to deal with the consequences that Mr. Carnes never mentions.

Most would — but not all.  Because illegal immigration creates winners and losers depending on what part of society is affected.  Schools are winners because they get to educate all the kids from other countries and rake in the government subsidies that come with them.  Bilingual teachers win big.  They get salary plus bonuses to “move kids into English-speaking classes,” which they rarely do.  Society loses on this issue, because the schools become multicultural centers of social change, graduating kids that can’t read in any language.

But damn the consequences.

Hospitals, on the other hand, are losers.  They can’t turn anyone away and so their emergency rooms become the “family doctor” to hordes of illegals.  And so some ER’s shut down.  Some are subsidized by taxpayers.  Taxpayers are losers.

But damn the consequences.

Winners include those who own and operate poultry and meat packing plants, hotels, construction companies, roofing companies, and lawn-care companies – assuming they hire illegals on the sly.  Losers include those who would take the jobs — if they just paid a fair wage.

Winners include liberals and the Democratic Party.  Yessir, the Party of Change is looking forward to millions more people from impoverished countries that they can get on a path to citizenship and a parallel path to vote Democratic.  Taxing, spending, and more government programs — all winners.  Losers include the Republican Party, conservatism, and taxpayers. 

Since most of our immigrants — legal and illegal — are from a single region, they see no need to assimilate.  So the American melting pot is a loser.   “E Pluribus Unum” is outmoded.  America is balkanizing into communities based on race and ethnicity. 

But damn the consequences.

So what if we enforce our laws, and a head of lettuce goes from a buck to $5?  It’d be worth it to put English back in the classroom, keep our emergency rooms open, and restore some unity to the good old USA. 

Your choose your consequences, Mr. Carnes.  And I’ll choose mine.