DMAFO, A National Partnership of Farmworker and Rural Organizations celebrated its first Summit conference in Colorado Springs, Colorado this past October. The event included migrant and seasonal farmworker advocacy organizations as well as members of the Colorado Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association and highlighted the critical shortage of farm labor in the state.
Nationally, the farm industry is experiencing a shortage of over one million migrant and seasonal farmworkers that pick the fruits and vegetables we are able to buy relatively cheap at places like King Soopers, Safeway, Albertson, Sprouts and Latino-centered outlets like Lowes and Save-A-Lot. Today we are importing some 40 percent of our fresh fruits and vegetables mostly from Mexico and are in danger of increasing that figure to 60 percent (also mostly from Mexico) at a significant increase in price.
The President keeps talking about a wall (which Mexico will not pay for) along our southern border that is keeping out the very people who can reverse the labor shortage in industries that no Americans seems to want to touch. In this case, political vitriolics is reigning over common sense and market economics.
For this reason and others associated with life in urban and rural communities, Immigration Reform continues to be at the top of the to-do list for American political leaders. Incidentally, these same leaders have promised to do right by our Dreamers before next March.
Another issue to consider this election cycle is the efficacy of the selective tax cut just passed by Congress and signed by the President. We can begin this consideration by wondering why so few people are excited by the legislation.
Could it be that the 17 percent permanent tax rate reduction for corporations beginning with those owned by the President are not the news the poor and the middle class wanted to hear? Could it be that the tax cut legislation is a prelude to, as stated by Speaker Paul Ryan, an attack on Social Security and Medicare among other entitlement programs?
We know that the President and the leaders of Congress did not want to leave this session without doing something and that the tax cut legislation that includes a wipe-out of the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act was in some sense a desperate act to get “something” done. Could it be that this legislation is going to haunt the authors as they engage in election and reelection campaigns that may produce no satisfactory answers to the questions and concerns of the American people?
A third and most important issue for the 2018 political year is the engagement of the millennial generation, our new demographic majority. It is true that they got a “little” excited during the 2016 presidential campaign but are yet to take leadership and responsibility for the affairs of the country.
The MAFO Summit included a session on the differences in visions between the millennial generation and the outgoing majority. The session revealed a deep distrust of the older generations that will require a lot of work to fix.
2018 promises to be both an exciting and challenging year because among other things, it will include an epic struggle to maintain the institutional reality that marks, measures and protects our freedom. Americans are no longer just seeing a nation sustained by values that honor the Constitutional tradition and its effect on our culture, but are also being presented with another set of values based on an alternate reality with its “alternate” facts that questions the basic elements of democracy.