Friday, September 21, 2012
Labor Pains in America!
By Andy Caldwell

When I was growing up, it was common for kids and others who would normally have a tough time finding a job for a variety of reasons, to go work in the fields.  Whether it was picking grapes or hoeing weeds, people could make some good money working summers.  How things have changed!
Kids can no longer work in the fields, due to child labor laws and recently, lawmakers have even considered making it illegal for kids to work on their own family farm.  Is that a good thing for society?  After all, we should not be confusing abusive sweatshop conditions which still exist in third world countries that exploit children against their will, with the topic at hand, summer jobs in America.  Personally, I started earning money for myself when I was 9 years old and haven’t stopped since!
Whereas, kids today are scarcely allowed to work, there is a whole lot of people who no longer find it necessary to work, especially in jobs considered arduous or demeaning.  Before the modern day concept of welfare was created, able-bodied  people were expected to take any job they could find or go without aid.  If jobs simply were not available or the person was incapable of working, then government and/or the private sector would step in with some form of relief.  Unfortunately, welfare as we know it has had devastating consequences upon our country’s fiscal welfare and more disturbingly, upon the very fabric of our society as it affects our work ethic.  Welfare has become a permanent way of life for generations of families trapped in a cycle of government dependency.
America created what is referred to as the social safety net.  In many cases, the social safety net is a good thing as it helps people to get back on their feet making sure they don’t starve or go homeless in the process.  Welfare payments, subsidized housing, free health care, meal supplements and other considerations pile up for millions of Americans who can’t find work.  However, the system is definitely being abused by some who don’t want to work.  Only in America would various surveys demonstrate that most households under the federal poverty level have television and cable, game consoles, at least one car, a washer and dryer, and of course, a roof over their head.  Compare our standard of poverty with the billions of people in the world who have none of these things, including food for the day.
President Obama has managed to accomplish something no other president has been able to do!  His poor handling of our economy has actually served to reverse the immigration trend from Mexico!  For the first time in history, more Mexicans are heading back home than are arriving here because things are actually better in Mexico.  To make matters worse, Obama just ended the Clinton era welfare reform measure that required people to demonstrate they were looking for work in order to get welfare checks, and since Obama extended unemployment benefits, California now owes the federal government nearly $15 billion because we have been borrowing the money we need to meet these obligations.
These trends have left several sectors of our economy reeling, including agriculture.  Despite the high unemployment rates, farmers are having a severe labor shortage.  Yet, communities like Lompoc have an unemployment rate hovering around 14%?  Inner cities, across America, have youth unemployment rates around 40%?   With jobs available in the fields, there is no reason for the high unemployment rates in our region, at least with respect to the able-bodied, as work really is available, and our nation needs it fruits and vegetables!
Andy Caldwell is the Executive Director of COLAB and the host of the Andy Caldwell Show, weekdays from 3-5 p.m. on AM1440.
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