Who will pick our fruit?

A chorus of beltway libertarians decries the fact that if we don’t have illegal immigrants, we won’t be able to pick our fruit. Who will save the fruit? Think of the fruit!

Anyway, this seems like a weird argument in favor of open borders. Singapore employs a lot of Malaysians, but it doesn’t let them permanently stay in Singapore. In fact, most are bussed back to Malaysia at the end of the day.

Is that just too sensible?


9 Responses to Who will pick our fruit?

  1. sconzey says:

    Actually I found a couple of things really interesting about that post, one of which was the laziness of the criminals (pop quiz: if being poor is worse than being in jail, how is jail still a punishment to a poor person contemplating robbery?)

    The other is the role of the minimum wage. The problem isn’t that there is no one to pick the fruit, the problem is that the people who are available to pick the fruit aren’t productive enough to justify spending $7.25/hour on them.

    Because for me, the rational way to pay employees in circumstances like these is to pay them (say) a couple of cents for every cucumber they pick. That way, however many or few harvesters you have, the cost of harvesting is fixed.

    Another was: Wow, you mean this isn’t mechanised?

    Final one was: What the fuck are all the non-illegal semi-skilled labourers doing?

  2. icr says:

    Or, why not import the fruit like we import most of the manufactured goods? Why are domestic fruit farms so sacred to libertarians as opposed to domestic manufacturing? Over 42,00 US factories were closed permanently during the 2000s and the libertarians think *that* was great.

  3. Victor says:

    As for the Singaporeans using Malaysian labor: Singapore has a soft authoritarian government. A long time ago, Lee Kuan Yew wisely saw to it that democracy never gained a strong foothold in multi-ethnic Singapore because he knew that it would lead to racialized, who-whom politics. This lack of democracy is why Singapore is able to use guest workers with little trouble. The United States, on the other hand, couldn’t adopt guest workers because the pressure for them to stay, bear children, gain citizenship and vote Democratic would be encouraged by our political system. This is another instance of how democracy ruins everything.

  4. Handle says:

    1. If an unemployed person has little choice but to pick or starve (as the Christians and the Socialists alike like to say) then he’ll happily pick at subsistence wages. The problem is that these guys don’t have to because they have more preferable alternative means of tolerably comfortable survival mooching off those who mooch off the taxpayer. Maybe something should be done about that. It’s just part of the tragic human condition that some people, especially those in whom bourgeois virtues were not deeply cultivated, require a real threat of suffering for them to experience the proper level of motivation.

    2. I’m stunned by the use of “prices would go up” as if its some kind of completely dispositive argument as to whether we should tolerate illegal labor and hate Georgia for enforcing the law. You know those people who insist on buying “fair trade” coffee and chocolate and so forth (and who often get completely scammed in the process)? They say, “Yeah, I know it’s more expensive, but I’m willing to pay more to know that blah blah blah…

    Well, I’m one of those people when it comes to the means of production of what I consume. “Yes, I know that if we enforce the law my cucumber will cost more, but I’m willing to pay more to know they are being produced in compliance with our laws, and I’m even willing to pay extra if it means subsidizing an American to produce them locally if he would otherwise be idle and criminality-prone.”

    3. And anyway, how much more are we talking about here – really? From the MR-linked story (at latino.foxnews.com too) – the wage for a whole bucket of cucumbers was 50 cents. The fastest guy could fill a bucket in about 90 seconds – so we’re probably talking about maybe 25 cucumbers per bucket.

    That’s only two pennies per cucumber. If the farmer has to increase wages by fully 100% to attract domestic labor, your supermarket cucumber goes up 2 cents as a result. Is it plausible that the price elasticity of demand is so tight that this will now break your bank – no cucumber salad for you! Say I’m off by another factor of 2 or so – make it a nickel – does the argument about the horrible increases in prices that will follow if we don’t import more illegal Mexican peasants to live in this country still seem at all valid?

  5. randy says:

    why must it always be the poor, innocent fruit that suffer!!!???

  6. Aaron says:

    When we finally exhaust our ability to borrow, people will be lining up for those cabbage picking jobs.

  7. This is not limited to those of use libertarians inside the Beltway. We’re opposed to regulations whether or we’re neighbors of regulators.

  8. rightsaidfred says:

    What Handle said.

    Plus, how many people are we talking about here? My little Google and back of the envelope came up with…100,000 ag workers? We’ve got, what, 20 million illegals in this country? This looks like a Libertarian fallacy: your equation shows you need someone to give you the reach around an American just won’t do anymore, so you let in 20 other guys to clog the demographic pipes.

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