Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Figure this one out yourself.

Here are the facts first. Toni Scully owns a pear orchard. She needs the pears picked. Some individuals want to pick her crop for her in exchange for pay. But she is forbidden from hiring them. Who benefits? Anyone?

Toni Scully's crop is rotting she says because "we couldn't pick it". She estimates her region alone will lose 10,000 tons of fruit because of a lack of farm workers.

She's worse off. The consumers are worse off as they will have to pay higher prices for food. The farm labourers do want to work. They are eager to work, anxious even. But there is a problem. Government!

See Scully and her orchard are in the United States. The labourers who are keen to pick her pears are in Mexico. The labourers will see a big increase in their standard of living if they can work for her. She will earn higher profits if she can pick the fruit. Consumers will pay less for food if workers can be employed by Scully. It's win-win-win. And the immigrants aren't even "stealing" work from Americans. If there were Americans to do the work the crops wouldn't be rotting.

Scully says that US is refusing to allow temporary visas to farm workers and stricter border control has reduced the supply of "illegal" labour. Scully isn't the only one to have this problem. Other growers can't harvest either. Some have said they intend to close down permanently this year. In fact in her area half the pear orchards have already been lost.

So have you figured out who benefits? Neither have I.