15 Feb 2010

The problem with misinformation

...is that people continue to use it.*

As I noted here, politicians (now Diane Feinstein) are using the incorrect numbers on job losses in the Central Valley to justify larger water deliveries to farmers.

Of course, that water will do less to "create" jobs and more to make her campaign contributors happy.

That's a typical baptists and bootleggers bait and switch. Claim to help the poor, but really help the rich.

Bottom Line: More water will create profits, not jobs. The environment? Fuggetaboutit!
I asked Richard Howitt is he knew that politicians were continuing to use his old research. he was surprised to know that they were and said that he'd look into it. Seems that they didn't listen to him. The irony.


  1. David, I don't think I have seen Richard's old numbers cited in 2 months, so that problem seems to be corrected now. Now, it is typically vague references to thousands of jobs and 40% unemployment. All those past references still indirectly fuel the perception of catastrophe, but it is not nearly as bad as it was.
    But it also makes DiFi's tacking this on to a "jobs bill" even more annoying.

    Jeff Michael

  2. @Jeff -- yes, you're right BUT the fact that there has been little discussion on clarifications, revisions and measurements (see the post from earlier yesterday) means that these fat and loose numbers are still being tossed around, irresponsibly.

  3. It must be nice to sit in your office and know you have a job. What happens if funding dries up and you are out of work? I bet you’d be looking to have that funding restored. The same applies to farmworkers when farmers saw their water deliveries cut back and were forced to make choices of not planting acres and laying off their employees. Give those farmers increased water deliveries and you’ll see some of that ground planted…which means farmworkers will get their jobs back. I don’t think these farmworkers are concerned with campaign contributors; they just want their jobs back so they can provide for their families. ---Mike Henry/California Farm Water Coalition

  4. mhenry, it's so easy to say that farmworkers just want their jobs back, when you aren't one/have probably never really been one.

    Farmworkers want good-paying jobs with good working conditions. If they could choose between full-time construction and ag., we both know what they would choose, and it's only for wages. Throw in a union job with benefits and pension, and our current "farming" (I use the term loosely) structure gets hurt pretty bad. What's the turnover rate for migrant work?

    This region you pretend to care about in wanting to get farmworkers back to work has been a dead zone for so many for decades: Highest income disparity in the country; worst air quality in the country; lowest per cap. wages in the country; some of the worst water quality in the country; some of the highest persistent unemployment in the country.

    Why did the Central Valley get hit so hard with the housing crisis? Because there doesn't exist the wage infrastructure to cushion such a blow.

    Why should we continue to support an "infrastructure" of this damaging magnitude? Y'all have had nearly 100 years to "improve" the Central Valley, with everybody else's money, water, and labor, and all you've done is build a little fiefdom, a little neo-feudal structure smack in the middle of the wealthiest state in the wealthiest nation on Earth.

    I, for one, am done with your treatment of the Valley.

  5. Josh...Now you're barking up the wrong tree. I was driving tractor on the farm from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. when I was only 16 years old; chopping cotton at 14; and tromping cotton at 12; and more. I worked with these individuals who you really have no idea what their lives are about. I played little league with their sons and I went to school with their children. I grew up with these individuals and their families and to read your comments is an insult to them.

    You talk about industries like construction and farming as if it is so simple to make a switch from one to another. If it was, don't you think people would have already been making the jump and leaving the fields?

    The farmworkers I knew wanted to care for their families. Farming was all they knew and now they are threatened because the jobs they have relied upon are gone.

    So don't talk to me about income disparity-air quality-wages-water quality-unemployment when I am talking about individual human beings and their lives.

    Your comments reflect complete ignorance about farmworkers. ---Mike Henry/California Farm Water Coalition

  6. mhenry, if it is true that you did all that work with "them", then why do you keep calling them "them"?

    Really, I have no reason not to believe you.

    I AM them.

    Do you think that individual lives aren't affected by air quality? I have family in Arvin, family with asthma and physical disabilities from pollution. For me to state that one in five children in the Valley suffers from bad air doesn't for one second take away from each individual who suffers from bad air. I'm not a follower of Stalin - for me, a million deaths is a tragedy, too. I hope you feel the same.

    How is unemployment not a conversation about peoples' lives? In fact, wasn't that your whole reason for posting on here?

    Don't pretend you've taken a high road; just admit that you want business-as-usual for the Valley, and let me admit that I don't, and we'll talk about why you think the Valley couldn't do any better, and I can talk about how it can.

    Farmworkers are folks, man. They know more than just 'farming', and to state that that's all they know, as if it's some kind of super-specialized trade instead of requiring a highly nuanced level of thought about many different, simultaneous factors , (or worse, insinuating that "those" people can't learn anything else) sells the work short. The work isn't sub-human - it's the most human work one can do.

    The conditions in the Valley are subhuman, as a result of humans' treatment of other humans.

    As for the switch from farming to construction, that was one example, and I used it because it happened during the 2000's.

    In the end, people are people, not jobs. When I say that the Valley can have better jobs, and that continuing the water regime as we had in the past will not bring the Valley any better jobs. You respond with assumptions that a person is their job, and that farmworkers have to be farmworkers. That concept just bolsters my claim that the Central Valley is controlled by folks who think it is a feudal state.

  7. Josh...you're still barking up the wrong tree. If you truly know farmworkers like you claim, then you should realize that farming is all that some have ever know. You seem to think that anyone working the fields will have a better life elsewhere and now is the time to shut down the farms. Where would they go? Do you want them all in congested areas hammering nails?

    For those individuals who really wanted to get away from agriculture, they've probably already made the leap. But that is only a portion.

    And don't try to put words in my mouth and claim that I must think work on the farm is "sub-human." I have too much respect for them to ever think anything close to that. Maybe that's one reason I get so furious when people discount the lives of these people and try to plan their lives for them.

  8. Then why claim that it's all we know? It sounds like you are just worried that we might start planning our own lives, rather than just keep working in the horrible conditions in the Valley.

    There is no end to history, no end time where everybody who would have left did. There is only now, man, and now it's horrible to be a farmworker in the Valley because of the way the farm industry is organized in the Valley.

    This is because those who control the Valley don't live the same lives as the vast, vast majority of Valley folks, they don't sacrifice anything. They don't use their own water, their own labor, their own land (in the sense that they don't live their).

    Again, the language you use distances yourself from us.

    Do you think that's all we're good for, hammering nails? You honestly don't think we can contribute more to society than either fieldwork or hammering? Read my post again - I used that as an example of an industry. Here's another one: UC Merced. When something better is honestly offered, many folks take it up. It's human nature.

    Just admit that you don't think the Valley could do better than it has, and that business-as-usual is what you want. I'll admit that I know it can, and that business-as-usual is killing it.

  9. @Mike and Josh -- feel free to carry on, but I want to interject a few comments:

    1) Many farm workers went into construction when they had the chance. Others did not; both had reasons for their choices.

    2) Social spending and income disparities really DO matter. As I've pointed out in the past, the division of profits from water go disproportionately to farm OWNERS, not workers. Sure, workers prefer work to unemployment, but their LACK of alternative jobs DOES have something to do with the mono-industrial complex in the valley.

    3) There are many more factors affecting employment and wages than just water supply.

  10. David, thanks for interjecting. As for your #1, I completely agree, with the simple caveat that this is not static - that is, there is no end to this movement, one way or the other.

    Thank you for #'s 2 & 3.


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