Although I am a registered Democrat, the only time I supported a Democratic candidate in the last two decades was in 2003.
Then, as a candidate for California Governor in the Gray Davis 2003 recall election, I voted for myself.
Democrats and Republicans both sicken me. And none of them is more nauseating than California Senator Dianne Feinstein who is derisively referred to by her Alabama Senate colleague Jeff Sessions as one of the "masters of the universe" on immigration policy. [Gang of 12 Mulls Over Immigration Bill, By Julie Hirschfeld, Washington Post, May 24, 2007]
But a close examination of the facts shows just how (purposely?) dense Feinstein is on immigration.
Feinstein champions the guest worker provision of the Amnesty/Immigration Acceleration bill currently under such fire from the American people.
On her website, Feinstein claims that the cost of not having an unending supply of cheap foreign farm workers is:
" … In the stratosphere: if the labor shortage continues, it means $3 billion a year in the short term and as much as $4.1 billion a year in the long-term. Just in California."
Feinstein conveniently omits any breakdown on how she calculated those deficits.
But her fuzzy math did not prevent Feinstein from appearing at a news conference with fellow Senate sellouts Larry Craig, Edward M. Kennedy and Barbara Boxer. Their supporting cast included leftist agitators from Maldef, La Raza, United Farm Workers and the National Immigration Forum. All were vocal in their insistence that more guest worker visas are urgently required.
Apparently Feinstein will never tire of shilling.
I decided to get to the bottom of what California's real agricultural needs are—a fairly easy investigative task since I live in Lodi in the San Joaquin Valley, the heart of the world's agricultural capital.
June is the peak month for California cherries…Bings, Brooks, Lamberts and Rainiers. Locally, no fewer than fifteen roadside stands sell cherries seven days a week from dawn to dusk. At the farmers markets in Lodi, Stockton and Sacramento, vendors offer so many cherries that no matter how much consumers love them, they reach a point where they simply cannot look at another. How many days in a row can you eat cherry cobbler?
Trust me, no cherry shortage exists.
But I wanted to get the perspective of a grower.
Since the mid-1980s, I have bought my cherries from a local 20-acre orchard.
When I asked the owner how the labor market was this year, he replied "Tight."
But, nevertheless, he has been able to pick his entire crop just as he does every other year. He gets his workers, some of whom he has hired annually for as long as he can remember, by "paying more" and by promising them employment for the entire season. His foreman has been on the job for fourteen years and recruits "local people" to harvest cherries.
The grower reminded me that while picking cherries is tough, many of his more experienced workers go from working in the cherry orchards during the summer to the tomato cannery in the fall. These two jobs generate enough income to allow them to apply for unemployment insurance over the winter months.
The complete cycle—cherries, cannery, and unemployment—is a pretty good gig.
Then my friend offered up this information: one of his most valued employees became critically ill early this spring. He is in his third month of hospitalization—without insurance—at a San Francisco hospital.
The tab—paid for by you and me—must be in excess of $1 million and headed higher.
This anecdotal example hits at the heart of our immigration reduction argument. Guest workers, whether they enter illegally as they have been doing for years or legally under some new screwball visa scheme, are a net positive only to the growers (and to a very lesser degree consumers. After all, if you don't like cherries, what do you care what their price is?)
For the rest of us, taxpayers, the bill for agricultural workers is high: medical coverage, school for the kids, and various and sundry other social services.
But the cost of more guest workers to the average California taxpayer is no concern to Feinstein.
She lives in a 9,500 square foot, four story Pacific Heights mansion (see it here) with her billionaire husband, Richard Blum.
Feinstein's new home—"We've never had a view and this was an opportunity to get one," she touchingly told the San Francisco Chronicle—has five bedrooms including two master suites, three fireplaces, an elevator, a wine cellar and an in-law apartment. The cost: $16.5 million. [Feinstein's $16.5 Million View in Pacific Heights, Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross, San Francisco Chronicle, January 29, 2006].
Really, the only thing Feinstein knows about fruits and vegetables is that when she needs them, she has her butler call Safeway to have them delivered.
In the meantime, you and I shoulder the financial burden for Feinstein's immigration policy follies.
Joe Guzzardi [e-mail him] is the Editor of VDARE.COM Letters to the Editor. In addition, he is an English teacher at the Lodi Adult School and has been writing a weekly newspaper column since 1988. This column is exclusive to VDARE.COM.