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Shortage of migrant workers = no fruit for you

Here's a foretaste of what will happen when the U.S. runs out of Mexican agricultural labor:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/6270642.stm

Better hope Mexico doesn't become a rich modern economy too quickly...
Permalink Send private email bon vivant 
July 4th, 2007 10:30pm
It's extremely interesting that a farmer would rather let "52 tonnes" of strawberries rot in the field and get NOTHING for his year of work growing them, rather than pay a decent wage enough to attract UK workers instead of relying on Poles that are willing to work for sublegal wages.
Permalink Practical Economist 
July 4th, 2007 10:38pm
Farmers (have to) pay at least the minimum wage, so it's not a sub-legal wage. Usually it's piece-work, so if you pick more than the minimum amount you get paid more. Figure maybe $15/hour, $120/day, $600/week. That ain't peanuts.

When I was a college student, I would have taken that kind of summer job, but UK students don't want it any more. That's one problem.

The other problem is the control supermarkets have on the wholesale price (the Wal-Mart effect). If you pay more for picking, then you can't recover the cost when you try to sell on to a distributor.
Permalink Send private email bon vivant 
July 4th, 2007 11:04pm
since it's a safe assumption that the farmer is greedy and would rather get some money for his crop rather than 0, we can probably conclude that the farmer calculated, rightly or wrongly, that paying the higher 'UK' wage instead of the Pole wage, would leave him with a negative. strawberries are one of the more labor intensive of fruits.

yes, the only way to get 'ethical' strawberries' is to pay hand over foot for them.
Permalink Send private email heartsheep 
July 4th, 2007 11:08pm
Or tinned tomatoes. This puts a new spin on "We were driven to work for free":

http://select.nytimes.com/search/restricted/article?res=F70B1EFA3D5B0C7A8DDDAE0894DE404482
Permalink trollop 
July 4th, 2007 11:19pm
>Better hope Mexico doesn't become a rich modern economy too quickly...

that Slim is now the richest man in the world is indicative that that is not too far off.
Permalink Send private email Tapiwa 
July 5th, 2007 5:05am
All Slim's enteprises make about 15% of Mexico's GDP. He owns most of the cellphone market from Mexico to Argentina. He even got some apple stock when Apple was nothing.

He is a pretty smart entrepreneur lucky bastard. :)
Permalink Send private email Masio 
July 5th, 2007 8:39am
This is an interview from 2000.

http://www.businessweek.com/2000/00_08/b3669023.htm

He bought in 1997, 3% of Apple stock at $17, just before Jobs got back.

Good read :)
Permalink Send private email Masio 
July 5th, 2007 8:43am
Fuck, I bought my apple stock at $11 after Jobs got back.
Permalink Practical Economist 
July 5th, 2007 11:15am
Slightly related... no more than 20% of labor in any industy comes from illegal aliens.
Permalink Send private email JoC 
July 5th, 2007 11:16am
Damn it if only I bought in March 2003 when it was $6 a share:

http://finance.yahoo.com/q/bc?s=AAPL&t=5y&l=on&z=m&q=l&c=

Then It'd be worth twice what it is now. If only!

(As if anyone can time the market like that - but for those who care, when I paid $11, Apple had more LIQUID CASH in the bank than their entire valuation! OS X had come out and was a winner and was gathering market share and the iPod was a big hit. And their stock was hanging around $10 and every single person I talked to said buying apple stock was a loser's bet because 'apple doesn't have any market share. microsoft won the os wars'. Bunch of fucktards.
Permalink Practical Economist 
July 5th, 2007 11:19am
This part of the story really sucks.

"However slow his workers, they have to be paid at least the minimum wage so, to maximise their output he employs speed coaches like New Zealander Dave Back.

Watching a young Lithuanian dropping strawberries into a red plastic tray, Dave advises him to try stooping instead of kneeling and to pick with both hands."

It's a well known fact that you should never stoop to lift things but keep the back straight and lower the knees. Let's hope a health and safety wallah sees this and slaps a fine. The article is going to make the farmer liable for tens of millions of dollars in lawsuits from anybody who ever worked there and developed a back problem in later life.
Permalink Send private email Stephen Jones 
July 5th, 2007 12:14pm
Yeah, cause a handful of strawberries can throw your back out! LOL
Permalink Send private email JoC 
July 5th, 2007 12:21pm
I noticed that about the stooping too and agree with you, it's awful ergonomics and since they are combining it with doing it as fast as possible, that makes it even worse.

People above are yakking that they are required to pay minimum and then go on to say they are making a certain amount. The article states that those who learn from the speed coach can make that amount at their maximum rate assuming no breaks and continuous unsafe speed working.

The normal workers are paid by piecework which at a normal rate of work is less than minimum.
Permalink Practical Economist 
July 5th, 2007 12:22pm
JoC, why don't you spend the summer picking and then get back to us about that.
Permalink Practical Economist 
July 5th, 2007 12:22pm
Baahhh. It's absurd to think bending over is harmful when you aren't really 'lifting' anything but your own weight. You're frail and weak if you can't handle bending over, even extended periods, only supporting your own weight.

Why do you think it is quicker to stoop anyway? Maybe because then you aren't constantly moving/using almost every hinge you have in your body?
Permalink Send private email JoC 
July 5th, 2007 12:28pm
I went on a date with a woman to a farm to pick our own fruit. It's a great activity really. When we got to the strawberry fields I was all excited because for me, strawberries reminded me of my grandfather's cottage in the summer. However she was less than entralled: she worked as a strawberry picker when she was a child and the back-breakign memory of that made her cower away. We never did pick any strawberries but had lots of fun in the raspberry patch.
Permalink Send private email strawdog soubriquet 
July 5th, 2007 1:42pm
"you aren't really 'lifting' anything but your own weight"

And what is the weight?

My dear man, please stop speculating and try some honest to god stoop labor. I do weeks of it every year and I can tell you, and so can everybody out there who isn't a ivory tower academic that has never touched soil like your pasty white self, that if you stoop over to pick and you pick for hours a day and months per year, it's going to create problems for you.
Permalink Practical Economist 
July 5th, 2007 1:48pm
"who isn't a ivory tower academic that has never touched soil like your pasty white self"

LMFAO

You know nothing of me.

I didn't say manual labor wasn't... manual labor.

I only meant the difference between stooping and squatting didn't warrant OSHA investigations into workplace safety violations.
Permalink Send private email JoC 
July 5th, 2007 2:21pm
Are you fucking kidding me? You are going to pull the 'reframe the debate' bullshit. Fuck off and die, you cunt!

No one mentioned OSHA, shitface. The point was made that stooping over can lead to back problems and you wanted to debate that it doesn't BECAUSE STRAWBERRIES DON'T WEIGH MUCH. That was your argument! Stick with it, dude, don't go claiming you meant something different now that you've had a chance to think it over. Instead, be a fucking man and say "Oh, I think you are right, stooping over all day CAN lead to back problems."

Fucking weasel.
Permalink Practical Economist 
July 5th, 2007 3:20pm
Look at the post immediately preceding my own. Like, the one that says: "Let's hope a health and safety wallah sees this and slaps a fine. The article is going to make the farmer liable for tens of millions of dollars in lawsuits "

Sure, OSHA isn't mentioned, but reframing, it ain't.

You just wanted to go on some rant about ivory tower, desk-jockey academics. You interpreted things in the manner that best served your needs to espouse your holy hard-ass work ethic and how you've busted your ass doing manual labor before. You have an innate fear that others see you as an 'ivory tower academic' who really couldn't do 'real work' if his life depended on it.

But it's all good man. I knew where you were coming from right from the start.
Permalink Send private email JoC 
July 5th, 2007 3:36pm
Actually I'm an "ivory tower academic" whose taught people how to squat to lift things and keep the back straight in college classes!

JoC is quite wrong. I knew a guy in Madrid who ran a drinks kiosk, and had awful back problems. I just saw him stoop to pick up a Coca-Cola from the fridge, and could tell him exactly why.
Permalink Send private email Stephen Jones 
July 5th, 2007 4:27pm
Yeah, but since you failed to do a complete medical history in your hasty analysis you failed to notice his family history of scoleosis. It's the bending over... yup.
Permalink Send private email JoC 
July 5th, 2007 4:46pm

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