Y’all, I have an anonymous source! Well, I already kind of had an anonymous source in Say Uncle in that I don’t know who he is and he keeps me informed about stupid dog legislation.
But this anonymous source is different in that I have no idea who he or she is, nor even what I should call him or her. I will dub my anonymous source “Señor el Gato.” Just for fun, because I’m so tickled to have an anonymous source and, if Señor el Gato ever gets me involved in a scandal, we can call it El Gatogate, which has an awesome ring to it.
Anyway, Señor el Gato tipped me off to this juicy exchange at the House Ag Committee meeting on Tuesday. You can watch the video for yourself, but, because I don’t want you to miss out on the crucial parts, I have transcribed some of it for you. I should warn you there’s some dubious use of “mine” in a way that might make some of you uncomfortable with the first speaker and I apologize ahead of time that I’m not going to unpack this in the way it deserves in this post. There’s just too much here and I’m going to need to mull it over a while. Okay, here goes.
Ag Committee Meeting
Starting at about 19:50
Aaron Swafford addresses the group and it starts to get interesting:
“And the last thing. I really don’t know how to say this, but I’ll just… As… the U.S. citizen… the workforce is just not there. I’ll give you a personal example. In the last four and a half years I’ve had three U.S. citizens apply for work. One… I hire ’em without even checking their resources, er their background. I mean just to have somebody.
“One of ’em never showed up. One of ’em made it to the first break. I have had one that’s been with me about nine months now, a good employee, but I’ve had three. And we work about thirty people on a yearly basis.
“The people I deal with, Hispanics, uh, as a general rule, are good quality people, have a good work ethic, a good family ethic. They take care of one another.”
Swafford goes on about an employee who’s been here 18 years and is being forced to return “home” even though this is his home.
Representative Bell takes the mic.
He goes on at length about how he hears the complaining about small businessmen not wanting to be the police blah blah blah.
We join the festivities again at 22:50.
“I’ve also heard that the workforce is not there. As you’ve expressed, you’ve had three American citizens over the last couple years… apply with you. Uhh… and I would… I would be for, at the federal level… upping the quota limits… the immigration quotas from each country to allow more people to come in.
But first and foremost, these people broke the law when they came into our country and even this man who’s been here eighteen years, he broke the law when he came in. And as many good things, and I know some of… I live in a big dairy farming area, McMinn County, you know, and Monroe (sp?) County… which I also represent as many good people, Hispanics and, um, Guatemalans and Hondurans that are working there, you know also then from southeast Tennessee what’s been in the news recently about the MS 13 gang problems that are happening in the Ocoee… er the Cherokee National Parks down in Ocoee and Polk counties. It’s happening in Chattanooga.
And so with this good is coming a lot of bad that’s hurting our society. The drain that it’s putting on our society… on our resources… in education… in healthcare…
And so, while I understand your concerns as a businessman, there is another side to this as well that is hurting society as a whole.”
Then the business dude reminds Bell that he’s talking about people who are too old to go to school and then says “I can’t speak for everybody but I know mine and you have to force them to go to the doctor when they get hurt or when they get sick because most of ’em are scared of ’em.
Now they do use it, but they also pay sales tax [Tennessee has no income tax; the state derives its revenue from sales tax–b.] just like everybody else. They pay 8.5 million in social security annually that will never be used.
I know what you’re saying.”
Bell then complains about how many Hispanic kids go to school. They go on to talk about how they have to pay more than minimum wage because they have so little unemployment and it’s hard work and they have to pay to keep labor. And Aaron Swafford explains again that there aren’t any non-Hispanics even applying for the jobs he has available. Without the Hispanic workforce, his industry would crumble.
Blah, blah, blah. Blame the feds. Blame the kids for hogging up school space. Blame the “illegals” for hogging healthcare.
Back to Bell. He wants to conscript high schoolers into the industry. Now, here we are at 31:57. Bell’s going to opine:
“I’m going to make one more comment with this. I’m not going to address Mr. Swafford with this but I’m… but this is, uh, this shortage of workers and, uh, especially in the agricultural field and, uh, in other jobs… that may or may not be a little more temporary in nature… seasonal in nature… Since 1973, we have killed fifty million unborn children and if we hadn’t done that, maybe our labor problems would not be as severe.”