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Hornberger's Blog is a daily libertarian blog written by Jacob G. Hornberger, founder and president of FFF.
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Why Won’t Conservatives Pick a Peach?

by

The favorite slogan of conservatives has long been “free enterprise, private property, and limited government.” Another conservative favorite is the term “personal responsibility.”

Since personal responsibility is so important to conservatives, one must ask: Why hasn’t even one conservative taken personal responsibility by traveling to the Midwest and helping farmers pick their crops, given that conservatives are responsible for the massive crop losses that farmers are incurring.

The farm crisis is explained in an article that appeared in the August 24 issue of the Washington Post. Authored by a Colorado farmer named Bill Talbott, the article explains how farmers are losing their crops owing to an inability to secure workers to pick them. The labor shortage is so severe that Talbott has lost 40,000 pounds of peaches because his 57 workers were unable to pick them fast enough. According to Talbott, “But we’re fortunate by comparison: Two farmers down the road had to walk away from entire orchards because their peaches had grown too soft to harvest.”

The reason for the crisis? America’s system of immigration controls, which conservatives have long supported.

Now, it’s true that progressives also support immigration controls. But, then again, they don’t preach the principle of “personal responsibility,” like conservatives do. Progressive hypocrisy is limited to their purported concern for the “poor, needy, and disadvantaged.”

In the genuinely free-market way of life that we libertarians favor, people would be free to cross borders back and forth. Thus, if farmers need laborers, workers from Mexico and other parts of the world could immediately respond by coming to help pick the crops. There would be no bureaucratic obstacles to overcome.

How would foreigners learn that certain farmers needed help picking their crops? Through the price system. The wages being offered to workers would suddenly spike, sending a message to prospective workers: We are willing to pay you a very hefty wage to help us pick our crops. The rising price of labor is essentially an invitation and an offer: Come here to make lots of money, even if only for a short period of time.

That’s how a free market operates. The price system serves as an invitation and an information-conveying mechanism that tells prospective workers where they are most wanted and most needed. Workers respond by entering into a mutually beneficial trade with the farmers. Farmers use their own money to hire the workers.

Obviously, that is not what we have with America’s system of immigration controls. We instead have what is essentially a socialist system of central planning, one that is brutally enforced by an immigration police state.

Government bureaucrats decide how many workers are going to be permitted into the country. If a farmer needs workers fast, he’s out of luck because bureaucrats don’t work that way. Rules and regulations have to be complied with. Prospective workers need to submit formal, written applications. It takes time to review them and rule on them.

To enforce its immigration rules and regulations, the government employs tactics that are characteristic of totalitarian states, such as highway checkpoints, warrantless searches of farms and ranches, roving Border Patrol checkpoints, raids on private businesses, forced deportations, separation of children from their parents, and a Berlin Wall type fence along the U.S.-Mexico border.

By the time the bureaucrats make their decision to admit certain immigrants, it’s too late. The crops are lost. As Talbott points out, “[E]very year since 2014, there have been delays. According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, 72 percent of growers said that workers arrived, on average, 22 days after the “date of need.” When workers arrive late, crops are lost.”

At the risk of belaboring the obvious, a system of immigration controls constitutes a severe violation of the principles of that favorite slogan of conservatives: “free enterprise, private property, and limited government.” Given that immigration controls are based on the socialist principle of central planning, it’s no surprise that they produce what the free-market economist Ludwig von Mises called “planned chaos.”

The American conservative movement undoubtedly knows that those Midwest farmers are suffering massive losses from the labor shortage that immigration controls have produced. Yet, notwithstanding their support for immigration controls, their support for the concept of “personal responsibility,” and their devotion to “patriotism,” not one single conservative has traveled to the Midwest to help those American farmers pick their crops. Not one! Maybe what conservatives mean by “personal responsibility” is that everyone should take “personal responsibility,” except conservatives.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.