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Guess whom we need to pick our crops? | Letters
Here’s what readers are saying in Monday’s letters to the editor.
In May 2020, farmworkers harvest beans during the coronavirus outbreak in Homestead. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File)
In May 2020, farmworkers harvest beans during the coronavirus outbreak in Homestead. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File) [ LYNNE SLADKY ]
Published Jun. 14

We need farmworkers

Harris discusses immigration in visit to Mexico | June 9

It is an open secret that undocumented immigrants provide most of America’s farm labor. The alternatives to migrant labor are raising wages and food prices, and/or subsidies or becoming totally dependent on imported food. We will know that the border is secure when food prices skyrocket, or farms go broke.

Our policy today is bravado on the border and a blind eye on the farm. Farms succeed because border enforcement fails. We can envision an alternative — a market-based approach. Begin by granting temporary work visas, rejecting only those with criminal convictions and issuing warnings, and later steep fines, to employers of undocumented workers. Make it easy to comply and costly to defy, and workers would soon be registered. Properly administered, a labor market would emerge with employment agencies sponsoring workers for temporary work visas and providing contract labor to farmers.

Once the process is in place, the government would renew visas only for workers with clean records who are properly sponsored to work when and where they are needed. Rather than relying on a quick interview with a bureaucrat, the market would select workers based on ability. Employment agencies would legally and safely replace the smugglers who charge thousands of dollars to sneak people and drugs into the country. We would stop luring people into squalid tent cities in Mexico and overcrowded holding facilities in the United States. Rather than saying “Do not come,” we should understand that we are looking for the root causes of migration on the wrong side of the border.

William Cardenas, Valrico

A day of jubilation

Juneteenth

Juneteenth is a day that many Floridians find unfamiliar. This anniversary, also known as Freedom Day, Liberation Day, Jubilee Day and Emancipation Day, originated in Galveston, Texas, and is celebrated on June 19th. It commemorates the emancipation of the remaining enslaved African Americans post-Civil War, effectively ending slavery across the United States. Although slavery was abolished upon the ratification of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution more than 150 years ago, discrimination continues to show its face in our communities. The Florida Commission on Human Relations is the state agency charged with investigating unlawful discrimination and ensuring that all people have access to equal opportunities in employment, housing, and public accommodations. As vice chair of the commission, I remain committed to this mission and vision to eliminate all forms of discrimination in the Sunshine State.

Juneteenth is an important date that is well-deserving of public acknowledgment. While the date it is celebrated is debatable, the fact remains that it is a day that signifies our nation’s capability to implement meaningful change despite the challenges and provides hope for the potential future unification of all Americans. To finally end racial discrimination and social injustice and achieve equality for all Americans, it is important to continue remembering our history while engaging in conversations and necessary actions now and into the future.

Darrick D. McGhee Sr., Tallahassee

The writer is vice chair of the Florida Commission on Human Relations.

Pay a fair share

Something is wrong with how little we tax the richest | Column, June 14

I was raised with the mindset of “share-the-wealth.” When I did better, those around me benefitted. That attitude carried over to the paying of taxes. It was understood that as my income increased, so would my share of taxes. So, if a person is paying a lot in taxes, that means they are earning a lot in income. Now, that concept works up to a point. Due to the convoluted federal tax code, the truly blessed among us can pay little in taxes as a percentage of income when compared to the rest of us. When did being miserly become fashionable? When did being a cold-hearted “taker” become praiseworthy? If I were a multimillionaire or billionaire, I would gladly pay a fair amount of taxes on those huge sums of income if I could have what’s left over after the taxes are paid. It’s what a taxpayer has left over after they pay that really matters.

Honest Americans abide by a social contract, thereby creating a stable society that exceptionally wealthy folks benefit from. So, shouldn’t we all share in that bounty? Without us, who will do the work that helped you become rich? Who will provide the trapping of your wealth? Low wages, no benefits, underfunded retirement programs and a crumbling infrastructure are what we suffer with daily. Average Americans have carried the burden long enough.

Brian Walkowiak, St. Petersburg

Give us the numbers

Florida halts daily COVID-19 reporting | June 5

I am extremely dismayed with our governor’s decision to stop revealing our new coronavirus cases and deaths each day. Does he have something to hide? Yes, the numbers may be down but we still have a disturbing number of cases and deaths. At the same time, he continues to restrict our rights in Florida and to micromanage issues he should stay out of. His obsession with international issues is a clear indication where his energies lie. He is obviously hoping to be president. But we need a governor, one who will deal with the issues facing average Floridians every day.

Shelley Foster, Clearwater