I note that California farmers are complaining that they simply can't get enough labor to harvest their crops, despite paying wages that are much better than in years past. CNBC reports:
"This year is the worst it's been, ever," said Craig Underwood, who farms everything from strawberries to lemons to peppers, carrots, and turnips in Ventura County.
Some crops aren't get picked this season due to a lack of workers.
"We just left them in the field," he said.
The Western Growers Association told CNBC its members are reporting a 20 percent drop in laborers this year. Stronger border controls are keeping workers from crossing into the U.S. illegally, and the current guest worker program is not providing enough bodies.
"We have 100 fewer people this year," said Sergio Diaz, who provides workers under contract for growers. "We're having difficulty finding people to do this work."
The lack of workers is forcing farmers to pay more. In one of Underwood's fields, pickers are harvesting peppers for $9.25 a hour, or $5 a bucket, whichever is more. Craig Underwood said his workforce is aging and starting to retire, and no one is coming in to replace them.
. . .
When asked if any local residents have come out to apply to work in the fields, Craig Underwood replied, "None. Absolutely none." He is even having trouble finding truck drivers and other semi-skilled labor for jobs that pay $12-$18 an hour.
There's more at the link.
Wait a moment. Let me check . . . yes, I remembered correctly. California's official unemployment rate in July was 10.7%. That meant that there were 1,961,700 officially unemployed members of the labor force in that state during that month. These are people who should, at least in theory, want jobs very badly, not so? You can add to those numbers illegal immigrant workers who also (at least in theory) want jobs, but who aren't recorded in government databases because they're, well, illegal, you know? There's also the problem that the government systematically and deliberately understates the actual unemployment rate, as we've discussed before. I wouldn't be surprised to find the actual number of unemployed persons in California is well over 3 million - perhaps over 4 million.
So why aren't these millions of unemployed trekking out to the farms to take up the jobs available from farmers? There are many reasons, including the fact that it's very hard work, physically demanding and unpleasant, and city folks aren't used to it. Even so, if they were truly hungry and in need, they'd take the work, I guarantee you. The problem is that most of them are not truly hungry and in need, because the 'nanny state' is lavishing benefits on them to such an extent that they would lose money if they went to work at anything approaching minimum wage.
(I'm not speaking of those who are genuinely disabled or suffer from other problems that prevent them working, you understand. Being partly permanently disabled myself, I fully sympathize with their plight. Nevertheless, most of the 'abled' unemployed can make more money leeching off taxpayers than they would if they bestirred themselves to actually earn a living . . . so they don't bother.)
You want to get people back to work? Here's a recipe.
- Stop making it possible for the able-bodied unemployed to live comfortably, for an extended period, without working.
- Provide suitable incentives (transport, etc.) to get those in need of work to where the jobs are - such as on farms. Make sure the dependents of such workers have the minimum they need to keep going - a roof over their heads, basic nutritious food, schooling, etc. That roof doesn't have to be fancy, either. If FEMA can make trailers available for post-disaster housing (and abandon ten thousand mobile homes in an Arkansas field), why can't those same trailers and mobile homes house unemployed families in a farm field while they pick crops, instead of being left to rot or sold for pennies on the dollar?
- Workers who 'show willing' by tackling hard work in seasonal jobs such as harvesting should earn the right to basic support from the state when those jobs shut down out of season. If an unemployed able-bodied person won't 'show willing' by taking such jobs when they're available, why should taxpayers have to subsidize his lazy ass?
- Make extended unemployment benefits conditional upon the unemployed taking training courses to equip them for the jobs that are available. They don't get to choose courses in underwater basket-weaving or ethnic studies, either! If the market needs bricklayers, plumbers and truck drivers, the training courses on offer will reflect that. Wannabe workers will take them - or lose their benefits.
- Crack down on illegal immigration, now and always. By all means offer a legal 'guest worker' program, but only when the unemployment rolls drop to a reasonable figure. If there are US citizens and legal residents out of work, no guest workers get a look in until our own people have jobs.
- Can all the 'touchy-feely' moonbattery about finding jobs suitable for people's qualifications. I don't care if someone has a Masters degree in ethnic or gender studies, or the dramatic arts, or whatever. If they're unemployed and need money to survive, and there's a job available picking fruit off the trees, they can damn well pick fruit! I've been unemployed myself a time or two, and I did whatever work was available until I could find something better. I didn't rely on any state-provided 'safety net' - not that there was one, anyway, where I was at that time.
Make it necessary for people to work if they want to eat, and they'll work. Pander to them, make it optional to work, and you get our present mess. You also get the greatest expansion in state-provided 'disability' benefits in the history of this country - 5.4 million new claimants during President Obama's administration. If they're all really, truly, genuinely disabled, I'll eat my hat!