Note: This is an old post and I don’t agree with a lot of what I said anymore.
I do think food should cost more like it does in Japan where the small farmers can still make a decent living. I think our farmers who own small to medium sized plots should be better paid, and they shouldn’t be forced to sell their land to the large farming conglomerates. I think Americans are incredibly wasteful, forget what is in their jumbo-sized refrigerator, and already throw out about 60% of their groceries according to one statistic. I think we buy and consume way more red meat than we need, and that the beef we eat is far more expensive to produce than vegetables. We could be judicious and buy a hell of a lot less costly food while requiring the laborers to work less and to be paid more for what they do.
I would also would like to occasionally do some volunteer farm work. Have you ever thought about why farmstays are so popular? I read a bit of Silent Spring, and I like organic farming, local farmers’ markets, supporting smaller farmers, and farmer communes.
I even briefly visited a pear orchard commune that was started by hippies in the 1970’s; once upon a time they pooled their money and bought a pear orchard to together, and even now they and their descendants share the labor, harvest together, and ultimately share the profits. It’s a sideline from whatever other work they do. They sell the good pears, and take the bruised ones and put them in a big juicer to make pear juice. Some of them were strongly anti-nuclear energy and built solar panels in the 1980s so they wouldn’t need to connect to the grid, and turned buses into actual homes with patios and DIY picnic tables with amazing views the mountains. It’s pretty awesome how they rejected a material driven capitalistic society and have still managed to make it work all these years later. The original commune members still get along well and have no trouble sharing, though they were starting to having trouble with their kids who don’t necessarily share their values and who were apparently more selfish.
(I’m kind of sad that breed of hippie have nearly died out without reforming American society where it counts, and that the hippies have gotten so mocked by ignorant people who never tried to be fair and understand what they wanted. The hippies stood for a lot more than just taking drugs, being lazy slackers, learning how to play the guitar really well, and having hedonistic sex outside of marriage; they wanted to live meaningful lives and to fight the machines that run us.)
I used to play a lot of Harvest Moon (and the inferior Stardew Valley); the real deal would be good honest labor unlike Wall Street speculation and it also builds muscles. I would be willing to volunteer and help with the dumb labor of harvesting and to close the rural-urban divide, and to understand where our food comes from if our society were a more communal one. I don’t like how corporate farming is removing the power of individual farmers, and that our society might be becoming less and less empathetic as we become increasingly “individualistic.”
I certainly don’t want to spend my entire life working for the same company or doing the same work. That would be incredibly boring. Why should farmers and migrants do it all and never get to use their brains until their brains go numb? Meanwhile why should white collar workers never soil their hands in an increasingly abstract world of numbers and vacuous slogans, and die from a lack of exercise in concrete cities. They live without enjoying the seasons much, never seeing a variety of green living things and never understanding anything about botany or being regularly grounded in the reminder that agriculture is still the foundation of our civilization, and that without knowledge of the natural world we’d still be dumb hunter-gatherers living in caves. The idea that we’re so much better than the laborers is because we don’t interact with them, and the present system is designed to keep it that way.
Open immigration policies keep the system the way it is, with land-owning plantation owners and a desperate serf class. My vision aims to weaken class distinctions and enhance social mobility. That’s impossible as long as we keep importing cheap labor, not documenting them or giving them rights, a sense of security, and an education, while just blindly hoping their kids won’t be a mess. I can’t imagine the pain of seeing your parents doing nothing but cheap labor, being exploited, and possibly getting deported and not feeling a sense of injustice and hatred for the American system. I know that Australians pay their legal farm workers about $20 an hour. I know we exploit fearful Mexicans and often pay our undocumented workers at or below our minimum wage which is probably around $6-$7 an hour.
That’s the capitalistic status quo you’re ultimately defending if you support bringing more illegals into the country.