Sunday, June 17, 2007

"Unauthorized immigration"

My favorite candidate ever is Doris "Granny D" Haddock, who was New Hampshire's Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in 2004. In the usual saliency of her 97-year-old wisdom, she zeroed in on what's behind the immigration issue when she spoke at Democracy Fest, sponsored by Democracy for America last weekend in New Hampshire.

If you will look around the grocery store check-out lines and notice the widening measurements of our fellow citizens, we can certainly see for ourselves the problem of having too much cheap labor around to do all our yardwork and housework for us. By my calculations, the roughly 3 billion pounds of extra weight now being carried on the hips of working-age American citizens is roughly equivalent to the combined weight of the unauthorized immigrants now in our communities.
Thirty years ago in the U.S., a common source of teenage income was corn detassling. Does anyone even know what that is anymore?

Granny D traces this to President Clinton-era approval of the North American Free Trade Agreement and simultaneous strengthening in the '90s of southern border patrol. Before the border became dangerous to cross, workers commonly and casually came at harvest seasons and went back to their homes and communities when the veggies were picked.
Why did Mr. Clinton militarize the border? He did so because NAFTA was about to pull the rug out from under Mexico's small family farms. We flooded Mexico with cheap corn - exports that we now subsidize to the tune of some $25 billion a year. Congress gives that money of ours to a handful of agribusiness giants. ...Mexican family farmers cannot compete.

In the years since NAFTA was signed, half of Mexico's small farms have failed. The only kind of farming that can now compete in Mexico is big agribusiness, which does not employ as many people. Tortillas in Mexico now contain two-thirds imported corn, and they are three times as expensive at retail level than before NAFTA. The people have less money, and the cost of food is rising. We have done that. ... Will Mrs. Clinton or Mr. Obama or Mr. Edwards or any of the other candidates face down the agri-gangsters who are behind this problem? Probably they will not, so long as Iowa has a major primary.
Granny D makes a necessary point of history, too:
When Mexico owned Texas and everything west of Texas, and when Mexico cut off migration across its borders into Texas, our people kept coming anyway - crossing illegally in search of opportunities for their families. When Mexico got upset by this, we trumped up false reasons for a war, and we illegally took those lands. If that wasn't enough law and order for you, we also conducted unfettered genocide against the region's native people. So let's not stand on any moral high ground regarding that southern border.
Big ag is an issue we need candidates to talk about, both as global economics and quality control issues we have with our food these days.

3 comments:

Sam said...

Why do they detassle corn?

ewastud said...

In answer to the question above, the tassles are part of the sexual equipment of the corn plant used to conduct the pollen to the corn ear. A consumer generally does not want to buy the corn ear with the tassles, and the tassles are not edible.

Molly McCoy said...

No, actually, detassling has to do with hybridizing the corn seed.

www.mindfully.org/Farm/Detasseling-Faces-Extinction9aug02.htm