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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press NYT Decides to Abandon Distinction Between News and Opinion

NYT Decides to Abandon Distinction Between News and Opinion

Saturday, 29 March 2014 22:11

The NYT, even more than other newspapers, tried to maintain a clear separation between its news and opinion sections. It apparently abandoned this distinction in an article today that could have been a press release from the California farmers' association.

The article tells readers:

"A work force that arrived in the 1990s is aging out of heavy labor, Americans do not want the jobs, and tightened security at the border is discouraging new immigrants from arriving, they say, leaving them to struggle amid the paralysis on immigration policy."

The piece never tells readers how much farmers look to pay their workers, but it does give us the bad news:

"Last year, the diminished supply of workers led average farm wages in the region to increase by roughly $1 an hour."

If these workers were getting the median wage then it would imply a pay increase of 5 percent, which hardly seems especially lavish. if the workers were getting much less than the median, then it says a great deal about the NYT's assertion that "Americans do not want the jobs."

In a market economy, when there is a labor shortage wages are supposed to rise. Apparently the NYT doesn't want wages to rise for farmworkers. Newspapers usually try to restrict such editorializing to the opinion page,

Comments (15)Add Comment
Immigration Is Their #1 Issue at NYTimes
written by jerseycityjoan, March 30, 2014 1:37
The NYTimes Editorial Board has declared over and over again its commitment to increasing future immigration and legalizing the illegal immigrations we already have. The paper has often featured agriculture and agriculture workers in its stories, even though fewer than 5% of illegal immigrants work in agriculture, and it is the one field where employers find it almost impossible to find people willing to work who are not immigrants or the children of immigrants.

This article shows the employers obviously have a feeling of entitlement while they do show some concern about their workers. What they want is to have cheap and always available labor, while they feel that after so many years of being here, their old workers should be legalized. What goes unsaid is they want their worn out workers to leave and get on disability and then transfer over to Social Security or SSI at 65.

The cost of cheap labor goes to the taxpayer. And there's some justice to that in the case of farm work. But not the other 95% of jobs that illegal workers do, that Americans would do for the decent wage.

Oh yeah, it's worth mentioning -- which the article did not -- that farmers can have all the legal temporary foreign workers they want. The problem is there's rules, costs and paperwork and no mechanism to pay back the honest farmers for using legal labor. The ones who break the law get to save money and put it in their pocket with no fear. And they all seem afraid of competing with imports.

Maybe some changes in the law should force our farmers do the right thing -- and make sure they don't suffer for it.

written by Zed, March 30, 2014 8:26
Replace median with minimum?
An Old, Sad Song
written by Larry Signor, March 30, 2014 9:17
This situation defies conventional analysis because fruit and vegetable farmers have always paid below median wages. Farmers are complaining about being denied the right to employ an illegal labor pool at substandard wages. It's that damn Big Government hurting profits, don't you know.
There are never enough desperate workers for employers
written by John Wright, March 30, 2014 9:22
The article mentions that California is home to an estimated 2.5 million illegal immigrants.

There is no mention of the estimated shortfall of farm workers, but it does relate "Now, there is a nearly universal recognition that the industry relies on immigrants who cross the border illegally.".

And the article mentions that "Americans do not want the jobs".

But also mentions: "Mr. Valadao and Representative Jeff Denham, who represents a northern stretch of the agricultural valley, are two of the three Republicans who support a Democratic-sponsored bill that would grant a legal path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants."

So if "Americans do not want these jobs", how does granting citizenship (i.e. making them "Americans") result in an assured supply of workers willing to do these jobs?

Why should the government subsidize US agriculture (or any industry) with a tacit allowance of illegal low cost imported labor?

The article states $1.4 billion annual loss in farm income, for the population of California's 38 million, this is an annual per capita loss of $36.84/year, or about $4 per capita annual loss spread over the entire USA's population.

And note, NYTimes readers' comments were NOT allowed, consistent with the Times not allowing comments when it is running "news" supporting the elite interests.

The article also doesn't mention the current unemployment rate in the host county.
written by John Wright, March 30, 2014 10:36

The dateline is Huron, CA, which is in Fresno county.

Per the state of California Employment Development Development Department ("http://www.calmis.ca.gov/file/lfmonth/frsn$pds.pdf")

"The unemployment rate in the Fresno County was 13.5 percent in February 2014, down from a revised 13.6 percent in January 2014, and below the year-ago estimate of 14.9 percent. This compares with an unadjusted unemployment rate of 8.5 percent for California and 7.0 percent for the nation during the same period."

"Between January 2014 and February 2014, total industry employment increased by 2,400 jobs (up 0.7 percent) to total 351,700. Nonfarm employment rose by 3,900 jobs
(up 1.3 percent), while farm employment declined by 1,500 jobs (down 3.6 percent)."

Note that farm employment actually declined in Fresno County and the local unemployment rate is about 5% higher than the California aggregate rate.

The civilian work force of Fresno County is listed at 449,900 with 60,900 unemployed(February 2014).

One has to wonder if paying higher wages to farm workers would attract the "hundreds" mentioned needed in the article to the farm job site from the local pool of 60900 unemployed.

written by PeonInChief, March 30, 2014 12:07
The article makes even less sense than usual with the drought here. Because many farmers don't have sufficient water, they aren't planting, so there aren't going to be any jobs this year at all. Many communities are in danger of collapsing entirely as workers leave to find work elsewhere, and local food banks are hard-pressed to feed the remaining residents.
written by TK421, March 30, 2014 12:59
Wasn't there a post on here recently that talked about how society would have to collapse for Social Security to not be paid? I can't find it.
Not So Fast
written by Steve Lightner, March 30, 2014 5:57
Dean, I have to give you an anecdotal reply. I own a small vineyard and produce about 5 tons of grapes (Rhones). The article is dead on and price is not the issue, good reliable labor is. Oh, and you need to know what you are doing out there. Pruning, thinning, picking quality grapes is an art, not something you can round up a few men at the labor line offering $15/hr or more. We can't find the labor. See www.lightnervineyards.com.
written by watermelonpunch, March 30, 2014 7:13
@ Steve Lightner
Then why are you not offering sufficient wages to attract trainable employees, and then training them for this fine art of pruning?
lets just put them on trains and send them off to camps where they will be safe, Low-rated comment [Show]
Eerily simlar to the autoworkers fearing the northern migration., Low-rated comment [Show]
Not So Fast
written by Steve Lightner, March 31, 2014 10:07
Not and stay in business. My profit margin is already minimal unless you are willing to pay $75 for a bottle of wine. It never quite as simple as the theory.
Re-not so fast
written by John Wright, March 31, 2014 2:35

If I'm reading your response correctly, your profit margin is such that it can't support a higher wage structure.

This begs the question, should the US encourage a supply of imported low wage workers in order for your business to operate in the black?

How is this in the strategic national interest?
written by watermelonpunch, March 31, 2014 6:57
@ Steve Lightner - if you can't afford to stay in business - maybe you ought not be in business.
I mean that's the market, dude. If you can't make it work, too bad.

Wine is hardly a necessity.
Why are you looking for hand-outs??
written by Gman, April 01, 2014 11:52
Wage "flexibility" is so important to the economy..to bad the VSP only mean flexiblity to the downside.

I hope wages go high enough to actually lure people back in the workforce.

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.