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Nose Under the Community Tent

By Paul Losch

About this blog: I was a "corporate brat" growing up and lived in different parts of the country, ending in Houston, Texas for high school. After attending college at UC Davis, and getting an MBA at Harvard, I embarked on a marketing career, mai...  (More)

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Driving Highway 1 and Alabama

Uploaded: Oct 24, 2011
It is so nice to take a trip from our rarefied world of Palo Alto and head to the Monterey Peninsula.

Take a look on the left driving down Highway One after you get past Aptos, or on the right returning home, as you pass through Watsonville. What do you see?

What I see are some beautiful fields populated with hard working people harvesting crops that grace our farmers markets, our Whole Foods, and our Safeways.

What I don't see from the Highway are all the other groves, orchards and fields where similar activity takes place out of sight of the likes of me, and you.

I also don't understand how farming works, be it in the Salinas Valley or in the State of Alabama.

What I do understand is that Alabama farmers no longer have people to work for them, due to a new law in the state. The Alabama law is intended to deal with illegal immigrants working in the state. It appears that it has resulted in farmers in Alabama not having workers to plant, cultivate and harvest.

"Mercans" not willing to take on those types of jobs in Alabama. And so the farmers fail.

"Give me your tired, your poor" is today misunderstood.
Local Journalism.
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Posted by Dave, a resident of ,
on Oct 24, 2011 at 7:32 pm


Your are beyond naive. Stoop labor is worse than slave labor in the cotton fields of the South, back in the day. Have you ever done it for a few months, like I have? Those "beautiful fields" are the product of much human pain.

Industrial production of crops should NOT be alllowed to hire stoop labor, whether in California or Alabama. Mechanization should, and MUST replace human pain. Ceaser Chavez opposed mechanization, and he should should NOT be honored. He was a crazy dude, in so many ways.

If a small family farm wants to bend their own back, on occasion, for the local farmer's market, that is OK by me, but to suggest that industrial farms are "beautiful" is ugly. Shame on you.

Posted by whites only, a resident of ,
on Oct 24, 2011 at 7:36 pm

As a non-white American, I find many of these southern states to be terrifying. When I walk in to an all-white restaurant or bar, all the customers give me the stink eye. Sometimes, there isn't any other place to get a meal, even in a mid-sized town. If I do sit down, the waitress always serves me last and doesn't seem very happy to have to do it. Then I wonder what will happen when I walk out of the restaurant into a dark parking lot. I'm sure there are restaurants that cater to non-white locals, but the major tourist guidebooks do not help you find them and they do not warn non-white tourists about which areas to stay away from.

I know that Charleston and some other southern cities are highly rated for tourist hospitality, but I do wonder if these ratings were by white people or non-white people. And what happens if you wonder outside the city a little?

I'm not talking about visiting the south before the Civil Rights Act was signed. If anything, the south has gotten worse since the rise of the Tea Party.

Posted by Dave, a resident of ,
on Oct 24, 2011 at 7:50 pm

whites only,

Here is a test of racism for you: Require that all stoop labor be doen by whites. Guess how long it will be before all agriculture is mechanized.

I am white, but I did my share of stoop labor in the fields. It hurts! Just outlaw that shit. If the crop doesn't fit mechanization, then don't grow it. I think farmers are always relying on cheap brown labor. Those days are over.

Reject Chavez and his ilk, and enter a new century where human pain is no longer part of crop production!

Posted by Outside Observer, a resident of ,
on Oct 24, 2011 at 8:07 pm

Until we mechanise farm labor, have those on unemployment and welfare take those jobs, or no more government handouts.

If the economy ever improves, the unemployed will have better jobs

If the society ever improves, we won't have millions on welfare.

But even if/when both of those improvements happen, we will still have 1 million+ in prison thanks to the criminal justice industry.

The prisoners are our longer-term farm labor source, until the criminal justice industry is reformed.

Given that 90% of our politicians are lawyers, don't expect that reform for 100 years..... Plenty of time to automate farm labor.

Posted by Paul Losch, a resident of ,
on Oct 24, 2011 at 8:09 pm

Paul Losch is a registered user.

Hi Dave,

I think we are in "violent agreement."

This work is hard and unforgiving.

Alabama? Tell me what should happen.

Posted by Dave, a resident of ,
on Oct 24, 2011 at 8:31 pm


The Alabama farmers, like the California farmers, are addicted to (cheap) stoop labor, even if mechanization can solve the problem. Mechanization is being inhibited by a variety of special interests that want cheap, illegal, brown labor. This includes various political interests.

If we want humanely grown crops, we MUST reject stoop labor, and SUPPORT mechanization. A first, symbolic step would be be to REJECT Chavez, and to REJECT the farmers pleas. For example, the Alabama farmers are whining about not being able to harvest sweet potatoes, using stoop labor, even though Idaho potatoes have been mechanically harvested for decades.

Many current crops can be mechanically harvested, but are not, because it has been cheaper to hire (mostly brown)stoop labor. For example, celery and lettuce should have already been fully mechanized, years ago, but they were not. Stoop labor should not be used to weed crops, because we have modern scientific methods to avoid such slave labor.

If there is a simple understanding of the human pain involved in row crops, all stoop labor will be replaced by mechanization. Trust me, the fields will look just as beautiful, but without the pain.

Posted by Sharon, a resident of ,
on Oct 24, 2011 at 8:41 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of ,
on Oct 25, 2011 at 7:04 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

We cannot outlaw stoop labor - we can outlaw illegal labor and let the market resolve the problem. Alabama has it right. Tough on farmers until they get it right. Hey, perhaps some of or unemployed youth can finally get a job.
[I picked tomatoes for one day in 1944]

Posted by Fast Food Ruby, a resident of ,
on Oct 25, 2011 at 1:50 pm

"?Mercans? not willing to take on those types of jobs in Alabama. And so the farmers fail."

Americans are MOST WILLING to take hard labor jobs!!

Just at a fair wage.

Would you be willing, even in your prime, to do difficult physical labor for 5 or 7 bucks an hour in today's dollars, or would you demand a living wage, perhaps in the 12-15 dollar range.

It isn't that Americans won't work or that they don't want a physical labor job. They want fair compensation.

So stop hiring illegals. Jail employers that do. All employers: agriculture, Tyson Chicken, WalMart, meat packing plants. Pay a fair wage. The economy grows as Americans have money to spend and pay taxes.

And tomatoes go up a quarter.

Read "Fast Food Nation"

Posted by Dave, a resident of ,
on Oct 25, 2011 at 2:31 pm


This is no 'fair' wage for inhumane industrial labor. I have, personally, done many months of stoop labor, in my youthful prime. If I was paid ten times as much per hour, my back would still hurt as much at the end of each day. It should be a goal that all prolonged stoop labor be eliminated in this country (...then the entire world, over time).

Mechanization should be a major goal in the agricultural sector. It should be incentivized by the government, such as the UC Davis Extension service (as was previously done, before Cesar Chavez got it killed off). UC Davis invented the mechanical tomatoe harvester, for example. I think it was also involved in the mechanical grape harvester, too. We need all industrial farm crops to become mechanized, from planting to harvest.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of ,
on Oct 26, 2011 at 7:51 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Equally evil is the knowing provision of government services to illegal aliens. To knowingly countenance the residence of illegals is itself a felony and should be treated as such.

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