Even the Invisible Hand of the Market Doesn't Want to Pick Beans

You've probably already seen Stephen Colbert's farmworker testimony, but just in case you haven't, it is awesome.

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The human-fruit hybrids seem like a good idea to me.


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"Make the earth waist-high!" LOL

Despite economy, Americans don't want farm work

VISALIA, Calif.âAs the economy tanked during the past two years, a debate has raged over whether immigrants are taking jobs that Americans want. Here, amid the sweltering vineyards of the largest farm state, the answer is no.

Most Americans simply don't apply for jobs harvesting fruits and vegetables in California, where one of every eight people is out of work, according to government data for a federal seasonal farmworker program analyzed by The Associated Press.


Beyond the story, and on another note, while we can always use a good laugh, I must admit that I don't really think much of Colbert addressing a congressional committee. It kind of reminds me of the time when Sen. James Inhofe invited author and medical doctor Michael Crichton to "testify" simply because of the latter's novel, State of Fear. Congress can do without otherwise unqualified celebrities hawking their causes I think. The line between government and entertainment is already too blurry for me.

By Stephen B. (not verified) on 27 Sep 2010 #permalink

My first exposure to Colbert (we don't have a TV). Good on him for addressing the issues, but I have to say, if this is indicative of his humor, hard to imagine how he's become such a star.

I disagree that it's inappropriate for Colbert to testify before Congress. The idea that Colbert is just an entertainer is simply false. He is an entertainer, true, but he's a lot more than that, and he knows it. Further, just as history teaches, it's the fool who can tell the truth. We need people like Colbert who are in a position to speak truth to power in a way that no congressperson can, and with more attention than any actual migrant farmworker ever could. There is genuine *value* in this. Our nation has a sort of "expert fetish", and the assumption seems to be that anyone who is not an expert has no right to speak on a subject. Colbert is an American citizen, and as such has as much right as any one of us to testify before Congress. But I'll happily let him take my place because he's better at it than I would be, and he'll get people to pay attention.

So it was a good thing that we had a novelist testify about Global Warming?

By Stephen B. (not verified) on 27 Sep 2010 #permalink

I'm sorry. I don't mean to sound so nasty. I'm just asking :)

By Stephen B. (not verified) on 27 Sep 2010 #permalink

Something like 10% of the US population gets their main source of news from Colbert and The Daily Show. I'm not aware of that being true about Michael Crichton.

Besides, congress has activists testify all the time - the reason you shouldn't have the late, unlamented Crichton testify is that he was an idiot, not that he was a celebrity.


@Stephen: no worries, it's hard to get tone right on comments.

On your question, sure, why not? He's apparently got enough to say, and enough people willing to listen, that it was worth their time to let him testify. I mean, he didn't hide who he was or anything, did he? Did he claim to be a climatologist? I don't know what his testimony actually was, or why they thought that the person who wrote X book was worth listening to, but why should I let someone else decide that for me?

I'm actually a big fan of letting people like novelists, back hoe workers, tv personalities, and whomever else wants to, to have their voices heard by Congress. I'm *not* a big fan of people who lie or implicitly lie about their credentials, like Dr. Laura, and perhaps one could make a similar argument about Creighton in this case. But that's a different argument than "He's a novelist, why does he get to talk about climate change to important people?"

There's a different problem that I'm far more worried about, which is our population (including Congress's) possible inability to distinguish between the testimony of a climatologist and a novelist. I think the testimonies of both are worthwhile for their own reasons, but confusing them is an issue, and one that probably many people are susceptible to. However, the way to fix this is not to cater to it; this is a problem about the lack of basic skills in critical thinking. I don't want other people deciding for me who is "appropriate" to hear on any issue. That's a big enough problem already with the MSM being gatekeepers of information for us. I want to hear whomever has something to say, and then *have the skills myself* to make educated decisions about it. I don't think most of our population has this set of skills, and that's a real problem. It's a problem I want to fix, rather than gloss over by carefully selecting only the "right" voices to hear on any issue.

Well, considering that it was Senator Inhofe who invited Michael Crichton to testify, that can only be called ridiculous. Consider the source.

My two pennies' worth.

Regarding the main issue..farm labor jobs. I live in south Florida and am working on creating a large potager style garden. I found that I needed help breaking ground, moving soil, leveling the ground,etc. the husband and I work long hours...any way, I desperately needed help.
I t took me forever to find it.. like almost a year.
You would be surprised how many landscape guys, handymen,etc told us it was too much work.
they didn't even offer a bid. Just " no"
The ones interested wanted to use a bobcat, but I' m not looking for destruction.
this is an area approximate 1500 sq ft. Large but certainly NOT a farm.
Just this week we hired the 20 yr old unemployed son of a neighbor. He's doing a great job, but his
father bid the job for him and picks him up every morning and checks on him several times a day.
not sure I would be lucky enough to have his help if it weren't for his dad.

Robyn, thank you for your comment about why Colbert is/was a good witness. I was having the same reaction as Stephen.

I have to agree with him on one point - the ground is much too far down! I actually envy the squatting and bending ability of people who can work down there, immigrant or other!

By curiousalexa (not verified) on 01 Oct 2010 #permalink

i want to work

By Leo Q. Hornido (not verified) on 05 Nov 2010 #permalink