This new blog series will focus on discussing James Myalls Twitter threads. James is a visiting policy expert who works for the Maine Center for Economic Policy which is connected to The Democratic Party as well as the shady “grassroots” Maine People’s Alliance. What makes James amusing is like the late Nassau William Senior who was featured in Marx’s Capital James , the lawmakers and other folks he tweets about do stumble into some truths just like Senior stumbling into surplus value. This series is an attack on the political economy , it is not a personal attack on James Myall or any lawmakers who may or may not be economic simpletons.
Recently James tweeted about Maine lawmakers looking at farm labor laws and it becomes quickly obvious the effects of the Great Depression concerning the farm industry haven’t been fully processed in many minds. The catastrophe that led to hoarding of gold and collapse of crop prices is still widely misunderstood and leave it to the Maine political climate to dig into this unproductively. The bills in this thread are LD 151 would restore farmworkers’ right to form unions and LD 1022 would entitle farmworkers to state minimum wage and overtime laws , both of which are good reforms but the resulting banter was NOT promising. This thread starts here https://twitter.com/JamesxMyall/status/1379798954972438531 and I include screen shots to follow all of my points.
The first cringe worthy moments of this thread come from Michael Guare, farm labor attorney. Guare makes a fair observation that workers who come over via the federal H2A (Temporary Agricultural Employment of Foreign Workers) program and rely on employer housing aren’t likely to slow production or strike. Guare goes onto some bullshit he doesn’t know of much “overt racism” in farm work to deflect from the rock bottom pay , I’m sure Guare is the type of dumbass who only thinks it is racism ONLY when the slurs fly. Anti Racism has been in the public discourse and is allegedly a goal of the Democratic Party , but as issues come up in these public testimonies so much nonsense flys.
Without surprise the Maine Farm Bureau Association comes out against these bills because “Maine farms are small” which is a textbook bullshit excuse in Northern New England. In a moment of truth the Farm Bureau argues higher wages would lead to consolidation and mechanization which is already fucking happening! We also see the first hint of the blame on consumers for wanting cheap food. We know machines drive the price of labor down across the board , tractors are not a new fucking thing in rural Maine! The industry blaming the price on food on consumers is rich as hell… It is not new information the farm industry local or “corporate” isn’t creating massive profits every year, but this testimony seems fresh to the Maine Legislature.
After some milk toast anti union rhetoric , the Farm Bureau makes some shocking claims that no farm worker ever complains , farm workers do it for the love of the work and not pay and finally brings child labor into the arguments! It seems the argument is,” all is well on the farm with our workers, the prices are low and leave us alone!”
Another industry hack pipes in with a cheap progressive argument , that all the bad farm work abuse happened in the past!
For the first time in the thread we see the classic Maine “people and groups from away are out to get us” argument. This argument is common in Maine politics from former Republican governor Paul They Impregnate Our White Women LePage to Maine Democratic Senate President Troy I Hate Canadain Loggers In The Maine Woods Jackson. A bill over 10 pages might imply this bill is from someone who can read “from away”, so the small fruit growers spokesperson claims gloom and doom!
Headed back to the Great Depression , we see the laughable claim the New Deal farm legislation made things worse. The federal government continues to offer welfare to farmers and does absurd things like pay them to burn crops. Without government help and fiat money magic , we would have no American farm industry. Treating farm workers you bring in from other nations worse than American citizens is absurdly racist. The farm industry exploits the hell out of its workforce and is still dancing around FDR saving the industry as a way to change the subject.
The awful comment speaks for itself… Anything but address awful conditions for farm workers….
To cap off this segment , the Maine Labor Relation Board admits it is useless and underfunded. It is able to play stupid to real problems for migrant worker and instead they pander for funding. You would hope a labor group in the Maine government could stick up for farm workers but that is not how it goes
Through this bitching, moaning and complaining from industry hacks and friendly lawmakers it does come out that farmer workers can be paid piecemeal still , while jobs protected by federal minimum wage are not subjected to this. Every bit of surplus value counts for the industry and firing someone for not working fast enough including children is fine by them. A mild reform would be making farmer workers subjected to all the same laws as other wage workers, but this piecemeal comment shows how fucking backwards the industry is.
After Senator Hickman speculates on subsidies for farm workers wages, Senator Miramant totally goes off the rails changing the subject to food choices. While the theme of the hearings was worker rights and the farm industry economic situation, it seems changing the subject to food consumers is a common trick. I honestly don’t know who the hell Senator Dave Miramant (an airline pilot) is to tell us about our diet , it reminds me of Joe Rogan talking about healthy younger folks and the Covid vaccines. While the farm industry keeps rock bottom labor prices , relies on more machines , the economic simpletons will shoot the shit about what consumers should pick up at the grocery store! Is milk and cheese good for your bones?