Gilbert and Near, Woody’s “Pastures of Plenty”

October 20, 2012

Woody Guthrie wrote of freedom . . . when was this written? 1930-something?  [1941, it turns out.]

Ronnie Gilbert and Holly Near combine on one of my favorite arrangements of the song.

This film must be at least ten years old, maybe more.  The song is more than 60 years old [71 years — from 1941].

It’s still a powerful indictment of corporate greed, heartless and oppressive immigration policies, and it’s a case for a strong labor movement.

Be sure you vote in the November 6 elections.  Sing this song on the way to the polls.

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Here’s a fine kettle of apples you’ve gotten us into . . . cheapskate

October 14, 2012

Apples are an all-American success story-each ...

Apples are an all-American success story-each of us eats more than 19 pounds of them annually. Photo credit: Wikipedia

Noticed any increase in food prices yet?

Here in Texas, all meat prices are up, but especially beef.  Beef ranchers in Texas sold off their herds because they couldn’t feed them during the drought, except with very expensive imported hay.  That held prices down for a while, but now there is a lot less beef to be bought.  Prices rise.

Drought also hammered corn crops this year, and last year.  To keep corn markets growing, corn state legislators had gone whole hog into using corn for alcohol to be added to gasoline.  That demand didn’t drop with the crop decreases, however, and we’ve been hearing for months how corn-into-alcohol pressures food markets.

Lucio Machado picks Golden Delicious apples in a Washington orchard.  Goodfruit.com

Lucio Machado picks Golden Delicious apples in a Washington orchard. Goodfruit.com

Drought hammers our fruit crops, too.  Comes now news from Washington state about the added wrinkle:  Washington’s apple crops bend the tree boughs — who will pick them?

Two key problems:  First, the crackdowns on immigrant workers reduced supply dramatically.  Second, citizens or documented workers find higher pay in the turnaround in construction.

Result:  Apples may stay in the trees, boosting apple prices to consumers.

Wholly apart from the foolish denial that we need to do something about global warming, the added policy flaws of shutting off immigration flow on the chuckle-headed and wrong assumption that immigration hurts the economy, and the continued denial of our too-modest economic recovery, will now cost you money directly at the supermarket.

The Wall Street Journal reported:

PASCO, Wash.—Washington state is enjoying the second-biggest apple crop in its history, but farmers warn they may have to leave up to one-quarter of their bounty to rot, because there aren’t enough pickers.

“I’m down 40% from the labor I need,” said Steve Nunley, manager of a 3,000-acre apple orchard for Pride Packing Co. in Wapato, Wash. Mr. Nunley said he has 200 pickers right now, but needs close to 400. He has increased pay to $24 for every 1,000-pound bin of Gala apples they pick, compared with $18 last year. Even so, he expects to have to let tons of fruit fall unpicked this season.

Washington’s bumper crop, forecast at 109 million boxes of Red Delicious, Gala, Granny Smith and other varieties, comes as drought and poor growing conditions have led to dismal harvests in parts of the U.S. Michigan lost much of its apple crop this year, and poor conditions have depressed the yields in New York state and North Carolina.

And:

But Washington’s farmers can’t fully cash in on their good fortune. The national crackdown on illegal immigration has shrunk the pool of potential farm workers in the state, while at the same time, the modest economic rebound has given immigrants more opportunities than before in construction, landscaping and restaurants.

*   *   *   *   *

Not far away, outside a church in Pasco, a migrant from Mexico’s Michoacán state, 47-year-old José Carranza, said he planned to skip the fruit harvest this year. Mr. Carranza believes he can do better in construction work, which is picking up.

How bad is it, really?  Take a look at several other pieces on this issue, recently:

How much additional will you be paying for goods this year because of GOP “we-can’t-afford-to-be-great-anymore” policies, or racist immigration policies?  Will your modest tax cuts offset that expense?

Perhaps we should pay a bit more in federal money to help fix the real problems, and stop pretending that the price of everything is the same as the cost.

You know the aphorisms:  A conservative economist is a person who can tell you price of any item or service, but doesn’t know the value of education, parenting, or good social structure, and ignores the costs of doing nothing.

And the Tom Magliozzi Law (of the Car Guys):  The cheapskate always pays more.

Studies from the Federal Reserve indicates immigrants boost our economy greatly; making life tough for immigrants, or hoping they’ll “self-deport,” damages our economy.

How’s that applesauce?

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July 4 naturalization ceremony at the White House

July 10, 2012

It’s one of those great and wonderful mysteries:  Why do people enlist to put their lives on the line for a nation in which they are not citizens?

Regardless the motivations, many people do that, for the U.S.  As a partial means of saying “thank you,” the U.S. grants expedited naturalization processes for some of those soldiers.

July 4, at the White House, about two dozen of those non-citizen soldiers completed the process, and took the oath to become citizens of the nation they’ve already served in defense.  From the White House blogs:

President Obama Salutes New American Citizens

[Colleen Curtis]

President Obama at Naturalization Ceremony July 4, 2012

President Barack Obama listens as Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano administers the oath of allegiance during a military naturalization ceremony for active duty service members in the East Room of the White House, July 4, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama began his Independence Day celebrations by hosting a naturalization ceremony for active duty service members in the East Room of the White House. It was the third time the President has hosted this kind of service, and he told the audience, which included the families of the service members who were taking the oath of citizenship, that it is one of his favorite things to do. “It brings me great joy and inspiration because it reminds us that we are a country that is bound together not simply by ethnicity or bloodlines, but by fidelity to a set of ideas.”

Before the President gave his remarks, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Alejandro Mayorkas presented the countries of the candidates for naturalization and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano delivered the oath of allegiance.  President Obama told the new citizens that is was an honor to serve as their Commander in Chief, and to be the first to greet them as “my fellow Americans.”

With this ceremony today — and ceremonies like it across our country — we affirm another truth: Our American journey, our success, would simply not be possible without the generations of immigrants who have come to our shores from every corner of the globe.  We say it so often, we sometimes forget what it means — we are a nation of immigrants.  Unless you are one of the first Americans, a Native American, we are all descended from folks who came from someplace else — whether they arrived on the Mayflower or on a slave ship, whether they came through Ellis Island or crossed the Rio Grande.

Immigrants signed their names to our Declaration and helped win our independence.  Immigrants helped lay the railroads and build our cities, calloused hand by calloused hand.  Immigrants took up arms to preserve our union, to defeat fascism, and to win a Cold War.  Immigrants and their descendants helped pioneer new industries and fuel our Information Age, from Google to the iPhone.  So the story of immigrants in America isn’t a story of “them,” it’s a story of “us.”  It’s who we are.  And now, all of you get to write the next chapter.

You can read the transcript of the President’s full remarks here.

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Thomas Nast’s “Uncle Sam’s Thanksgiving”

November 24, 2011

November 1869, in the first year of the Grant administration — and Nast put aside his own prejudices enough to invite the Irish guy to dinner, along with many others.

(Click for a larger image — it’s well worth it.)

Thomas Nast's "Uncle Sam's Thanksgiving," 1869 - Ohio State University's cartoon collection

Thomas Nast's "Uncle Sam's Thanksgiving," appearing in Harper's Weekly, November 20, 1869 - Ohio State University's cartoon collection

As described at the Ohio State site:

 “Uncle Sam’s Thanksgiving Dinner” marks the highpoint of Nast’s Reconstruction-era idealism. By November 1869 the Fourteenth Amendment, which secures equal rights and citizenship to all Americans, was ratified. Congress had sent the Fifteenth Amendment, which forbade racial discrimination in voting rights, to the states and its ratification appeared certain. Although the Republican Party had absorbed a strong nativist element in the 1850s, its commitment to equality seemed to overshadow lingering nativism, a policy of protecting the interests of indigenous residents against immigrants. Two national symbols, Uncle Sam and Columbia, host all the peoples of the world who have been attracted to the United States by its promise of self-government and democracy. Germans, African Americans, Chinese, Native Americans, Germans, French, Spaniards: “Come one, come all,” Nast cheers at the lower left corner.

One of my Chinese students identified the Oriental woman as Japanese, saying it was “obvious.”  The figure at the farthest right is a slightly cleaned-up version of the near-ape portrayal Nast typically gave Irishmen.

If Nast could put aside his biases to celebrate the potential of unbiased immigration to the U.S. and the society that emerges, maybe we can, too.

Hope your day is good; hope you have good company and good cheer, turkey or not.  Happy Thanksgiving.


Famine in Somalia: ‘This is a race against time to save lives’ | Need to Know (PBS)

July 24, 2011

About genocide and other political issues that lead to the deaths of tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands of people:  We keep saying “never again!”  When is never?  There is famine today in Somalia.

Alison Stewart of PBS’s Need To Know:

This week, the U.N. declared a state of famine in parts of Somalia. Need to Know speaks with Adrian Edwards of the U.N.’s Refugee Agency about the unfolding humanitarian crisis in the region.

Video: Famine in Somalia: ‘This is a race again…, posted with vodpod

[2014 Update: Video expired, no longer available for streaming. Story and some details, here.]

More, Resources:


Scapegoat season

June 21, 2011

Say what?

John Cole at Balloon Juice:

Grampa Simpson at it again:

In comments made over the weekend, Senator John McCain R-AZ., blamed illegal immigrants for the some wildfires that have raged across his state of Arizona.“There is substantial evidence that some of these fires have been caused by people who have crossed our border illegally,” McCain said Saturday at a press conference. “The answer to that part of the problem is to get a secure border.”’

The Senator from Arizona’s comments set off a wildfire of their own, as the Wallow Fire currently blazes across his state across 500,000 miles.

A forest service spokesman on the Wallow fire in Arizona says there’s no evidence that this specific fire was caused by immigrants.

I still can not believe that there are people who want to argue that there would have been no difference between the current Obama administration and a McCain/Palin reign of terror.

What’s going on there?


Immigration policy in an era of globalization: U.S. needs more immigration, not less

June 11, 2011

Anathema to many partisans of the immigration debates:   What if we look at the real value of immigration?  The U.S. needs more to encourage immigration than to discourage it.  God, and devil, in the details.

From the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank:

In advance of an immigration policy conference, Dallas Fed Senior Economist Pia Orrenius discusses how immigration policy can help the U.S. economy and how the global competition for high-skilled immigrants is increasing. The Dallas Fed and the John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies at Southern Methodist University are co-sponsoring “Immigration Policy in an Era of Globalization” at the Dallas Fed on May 19-20, 2011.

This piece had only 329 views when I posted it.  Shouldn’t carefully studied views of immigration get more circulation on the inter’tubes?

Do you recall seeing any coverage of the May 19-20 conference  in your local news outlets, or anywhere else?  The conference included high-faluting experts who discussed immigration policies for the U.S., Canada, the EU, Europe, Britain, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Italy, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Spain and Germany.  One might think to find some value in the information there.

Can we get the immigration we need, legally?  Do present proposals in Congress offer to boost our economy, or hurt it?

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