Did the dog eat their paperwork?

This morning on the way into work I heard a local news report about how Michigan farmers are already finding themselves short of migrant workers to work in the fields and orchards. Michigan probably relies on migrant workers for this sort of work about as much as any state, and it’s easy to understand why a shortage of such workers would be alarming.

A) Is there really such a shortage? This is the first time I’ve ever heard anything about any sort of shortage of immigrants of any kind.

B) The main reason that migrant workers can’t work, we were told, was that they “don’t have the paperwork”. Don’t have the paperwork? Why don’t they have the paperwork? Did they lose it?

C) Nowhere in the news story was the word “illegal”.

D) Interestingly, the story before the migrant worker story was about how Michigan unemployment is up again. The umemployment rate in the Wolverine State is 7.1%, compared to a national average of 4.5%.

Hmmm. Too few migrant workers. Too many resident workers. Farmers short of help.

If only there was something that could be done about this.

UPDATE: Here’s a WOOD-TV News story about the migrant shortage. Nothing new, though they tacked this bit on at the end:

Less supply creates more demand, making prices at the grocery stores rise.

Look, Murdoc’s no economics major, but “less supply” does not “create more demand”.

10 people wanted asparagus, but there was only enough asparagus at the store for 8 of them. POOF! Suddenly, 13 people wanted asparagus instead of 10?

UPDATE 2: Yes, I realize that the likelihood of 10 people all wanting asparagus is astronomically small. It was a hypothetical scenario. Like the “widget”, people who “wanted asparagus” don’t really exist. Not in statistically relevant numbers, anyway.


  1. Murdoc, When I was a HS and college student I worked road construction during summers. Most of my co-workers doing paving were migrant workers. Mind you these guys were not illegals, but documented migrant workers who went back to Veracruz every October and started up again in April/May. I got begged to come back every year because they needed the help and this was in the early 90’s. Most of the fruit picking (strawberries are what I’m farmiliar with) in Michigan is primarily migrant workers too, but there are a good number of regular folk who work the fields as well–quite a few of my friends did this as kids before they could get a ‘real’ job at a mall. But, it is backbreaking work, especially if you’re tall. FWIW Matt

  2. To be clear, it’s only ILLEGAL migrant workers that I’m opposed to. Those who ‘don’t have the paperwork’.

  3. Why are some folks so steadfastly opposed to considering LEGAL and ILLEGAL immigrants as two completely seperate, unrelated groups of people?!? If I read some story about the population of folks that aquire new cars, technically, car thieves fall into that category. However, we’re all smart enough to know that car thieves are an entirely unrelated group of people.

  4. KTLA: It’s funny you go with a car-related analogy. When I was listening to the report on the radio, I was driving. The first thing I thought of was: ‘Truck and school bus companies in Michigan are short of drivers. The pool of drivers has been shrunk because many of the potential drivers ‘don’t have their licenses’.‘ Would anyone feel bad for the poor companies that couldn’t hire unlicensed drivers or for the poor unlicensed drivers who were being held down by The Man?

  5. This was in Defense News yesterday: The White House is threatening to veto the 2008 Defense Authorization Act if it contains a provision that would block the U.S. Air Force from buying refueling tankers built by Europe’s Airbus. That’s one of four ‘buy American’ provisions in the $647.2 billion defense spending bill that White House officials say may provoke a veto from President George W. Bush. The others deal with restrictions on imports of specialty metals, and requirements that the Pentagon must buy certain items from U.S. producers. The provision aimed at Airbus would prohibit the Air Force from signing a contract with any foreign company – or joint venture, partnership or contracting team – that has received a subsidy from a foreign government that is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and has been asked by the United States to end the subsidy. That describes Airbus. The European plane maker has partnered with Northrop Grumman in an effort to sell aerial refueling tankers, and is the subject of a WTO complaint the United States filed in 2004 over subsidies Airbus receives from European Union governments. A similar provision was included in the current Defense Authorization bill. Rep. Rick Larsen, said it is intended to prevent ‘unfairly subsidized companies such as Airbus from entering the competition for Air Force tankers.’ The provision effectively leaves the Air Force with one choice for refueling tankers: Boeing, which has aircraft plants in Larsen’s congressional district. I think it’s obvious what we need to do. We need to outsource all our food production. After all, food isn’t strategic. Heck, we could go for weeks without food. I personally might not waste away to normal size for a month or so. I remember a time when people used to be proud to be Americans. Today we let illegals stream across our borders and take our jobs, kick sand in our faces, march in our streets, and rape our livestock and we just feel glad they’re here to help. We ship our industrial capacity to Communist Red China, and we’re glad someone wants to do jobs like that. Pretty soon we won’t be able to feed ourselves, we won’t be able to build anything, we won’t be able to defend ourselves. We won’t have the tools or machinery or expertise. We won’t have any engineers because we’ll have farmed any left here out to foreigners with H1B visas. We will pretty much be down to suing each other just to have an industry left. The rest who aren’t on welfare can be the CEOs of the shell companies that import goods from overseas. I don’t even recognize this country anymore.

  6. Oh my word! I thought EXACTLY the same thing when I heard that story on the news (and man do I use THAT word loosely) last night. I guess we are now supposed to feel sorry for the farmers who have been doing something illegal all these years and are now paying for it?!

  7. dfens, we may not agree on everything, e.g. Iran, but we sure the heck do on trade, the economy and our borders. Your last post was something I could have written.

  8. Matthew: Not to be too snarky, but no one said that ‘lower supply equals higher prices’ is or is not true. They said ‘lower supply means more demand’. That isn’t true. Example: There are zero copies of the DVD ‘Aliens vs. Fried Green Tomatoes’ Zero is as low as supply can get. That doesn’t mean demand for that movie is through the roof. (Though I wouldn’t put it past Hollywood…) Lower supply CAN mean higher prices if demand is high enough, of course, and I’m sure that’s what the article meant to say. But it’s not what they wrote.

  9. And speaking of disturbing local stories – did you hear the story about the 5 flags being stolen? What is wrong with people?!!

  10. Matthew: Not that I need to follow the link to say this, but you’re claiming that the Wiki article you link to supports that statement ‘less supply creates more demand’? I believe you can find an article on Wikipedia that states as fact that Steven Colbert singlehandedly tripled the elephant population of the Earth. Well, you probably can’t find it NOW, because it was never true. But the wiki article existed for awhile. Just like the statement ‘less supply creates more demand’. I think you may want to stop trusting the Interwebs so much. they don’t always tell the truth. Now, where’s my copy of ‘Aliens vs. Fried Greeen Tomoatoes’!?!