(SOURCE) Knowing the farmer who grows your food has become an important tenet of the modern food movement, but precious little attention is paid to the people who actually pick the crops or “process” the chickens or fillet the fish. U Roberto Romano’s poignant film, The Harvest/La Cosecha (2011), being screened across the country for Farmworker Awareness Week (March 24-29), informs us that nearly 500,000 children as young as six harvest up to 25 percent of all crops in the United States.
What’s illegal in most countries is permitted here. Child migrant labor has been documented in the 48 contiguous states. Seasonal work originates in the southernmost states in late winter where it is warm and migrates north as the weather changes. Every few weeks as families move, children leave school and friends behind. If you’ve had onions (Texas), cucumbers (Ohio or Michigan), peppers (Tennessee), grapes (California), mushrooms (Pennsylvania), beets (Minnesota), or cherries (Washington), you’ve probably eaten food harvested by children.
This isn’t a slavery issue, or an immigration issue per se. What’s remarkable is that most of the migrant child farmworkers are American citizens trying to help their families. This is a poverty issue and it gets to the heart of what we, as consumers, see as the “right price” to pay for food.
Edward R. Murrow’s brilliant documentary about the exploitation of farm workers, Harvest of Shame, was a revelation to TV viewers in 1960. Unfortunately, in 2012, little has changed in the fields. There are no minimum-wage requirements, overtime payments, or guaranteed days off. Farm wages are stagnant. As a result, many farm workers can’t afford to eat the food they pick. (In his book Tomatoland, Barry Estabrook reported that the food pantry is busy every night in Immokalee, Florida, the winter tomato-picking epicenter.)
Children earn about $1,000 per year for working an average of 30 hours a week, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. When you consider that the average annual pay for a migrant family of four is $12,500-$14,500, it’s apparent why some families feel they have no choice but to bring their children into the fields with them. Half of these kids will not graduate from high school because they’re always moving around, perpetuating the cycle of poverty that caused them to be day laborers in the first place. (read more)
Equality, Liberty, Fraternity
These ideals, stemming from the days of the French Revolution, represent what we need to strive for in order to overcome our flawed, sociopathic American ideals. The American Revolution, like the first Gulf War, stopped short of the goals we should have been aiming for, and we’ve been stuck there ever since.
The following definitions come from an excellent essay I found earlier today. I don’t necessarily agree with the governing format presented further on in the document, but the fundamentals are sound. Capitalism and libertarian ideology are destroying the world, and the United States of America is leading the charge over the cliff.
Equality is necessary for communism, not forced but simply recognized: that individual accomplishments and traits are all well and good but at the end of the day, in an anarcho-communist society everyone is vital. This principle would be the foundation of an anarcho-communist society, built upon personal freedom as well as mutual cooperation, morality and sustainability. Mutual respect is needed to work with others and govern yourselves. Continue reading
This article has been making the rounds this week, and to shorten it would be an injustice to the author.
(Author: Soraya Chemaly) This week the Georgia State Legislature debated a bill in the House that would make it necessary for some women to carry stillborn or dying fetuses until they ‘naturally’ go into labor. In arguing for this bill Representative Terry England described his empathy for pregnant cows and pigs in the same situation.
I have a question for Terry England, Sam Brownback, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry and too many others: I have three daughters, two of them twins. If one of my twins had been stillborn would you have made me carry her to term, thereby endangering both the other twin and me? Or, would you have insisted that the state order a mandatory fetal extraction of the living twin fetus from my womb so that I could continue to carry the stillborn one to term and possibly die myself? My family is curious and since you believe my uterus is your public property, I am, too. Continue reading
… from The Great Dictator, Charlie Chaplin
I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be an emperor. That’s not my business. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone, if possible, Jew, gentile, black man, white. We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness — not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another.
In this world there is room for everyone. And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way. Greed has poisoned men’s souls, has barricaded the world with hate, has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical. Our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery we need humanity. More than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost. Continue reading
(SOURCE: Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing) Cary Sherman, CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America, has reminded the nation that at his instigation, the largest ISPs in the USA are set to disconnect their customers, and their customers’ families, if the companies that Sherman represents makes a series of unsubstantiated accusations of copyright infringement against them. The ISPs came to the agreement after pressure from the Obama administration. This “five strikes” rule is the same system that has been decried around the world — including in the EC and the UN — as being a gross violation of human rights.
Sherman’s role as Witchfinder General for the nation’s Internet access kicks off on July 12. After that, if you get on his bad side, he can cost your children their ability to complete their education, he can cost you your job (if you are part of the growing proportion of people whose livelihood depends on the Internet), cut you off from civic and political engagement, lock you away from online access to your bank account and information about consumer rights, and, if you live remotely from your family, he can cost you your ability to stay in touch with them.
Oh, and if you have VOIP for your home phone service, Sherman will take away your 911 access too. Because burning to death is only too good a fate for people accused, without proof, of copyright infringement.
But of course, Sherman represents a sober-sided and cautious industry, the sort of people who claim that the Internet has cost them more jobs than they ever created and that an iPod’s worth of songs is worth $8 billion, so they’ll never abuse this power. (read more)
“I don’t believe in neutrality because the world is already moving in certain directions and wars are going on and children are going hungry. Terrible things are happening. And so to be neutral in a situation like this when things are already moving is to collaborate with whatever is going on. And I don’t want to collaborate with the world as it is. I want to intrude myself. I want to participate in changing the direction of things.”
— Howard Zinn
“In the neo-evangelical world of cheap prosperity and cheap family values, the name of Jesus gets bandied about like an over-inflated beach-ball. Many who utter his name obviously don’t read his life story. According to the Gospels, Jesus spent his adult life as a homeless wanderer who was particularly sympathetic to the poor. He doesn’t refer to them as evil, but he does have very harsh words for the privileged establishment. Such words harsh the euphoria built upon our own self-importance. As I see the homeless in the winter’s chill, it occurs to me that their lifestyle is much closer to that of Jesus than is the that of the executive who works 33 floors above them. Their demands on life are minimal. Their stares should make us uncomfortable. And yet, look at those running for office. The amount of money they spend to make each other look bad is obscene. They try to make themselves look righteous for the Tea Party crowd, but their assets weigh them down. I shiver for the homeless. I shiver when I see the news about the ultra-wealthy bragging about who can dig up the most mud. Most of them would have no idea which end of the shovel to use. I’m afraid that having grown up in a modest setting has forever biased me against posers and average guy wannabes. I’ve had jobs that have involved shovels, sledgehammers, and hard scrubbing. The average person struggles and shivers sometimes. The average person spends some time on his or her knees and sometimes ends up on the ground. And even though the average person falls down more than our shining leaders, we never get quite so dirty. Politicians don’t sling the mud at us. To be honest, I think they don’t even see us.”