Thursday, April 26, 2012


"I earned money by hauling hay when I was in high school. I don't think I suffered any ill effects."

Family Farm
This story has been getting a lot of attention from various right-leaning blogs around the internet, so I don't have to go into very much detail, but I had to write something about it.  The Obama administration is looking at new rules which would restrict child labor on farms.  From the Daily Caller, here's a brief explanation:
The Department of Labor is poised to put the finishing touches on a rule that would apply child-labor laws to children working on family farms, prohibiting them from performing a list of jobs on their own families’ land.
Under the rules, children under 18 could no longer work “in the storing, marketing and transporting of farm product raw materials.”
“Prohibited places of employment,” a Department press release read, “would include country grain elevators, grain bins, silos, feed lots, stockyards, livestock exchanges and livestock auctions.”
The new regulations, first proposed August 31 by Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, would also revoke the government’s approval of safety training and certification taught by independent groups like 4-H and FFA, replacing them instead with a 90-hour federal government training course.
The Department of Labor rules read like this:
Youths ages 16 and above may work in any farm job at any time.
Youths aged 14 and 15 may work outside school hours in jobs not declared hazardous by the Secretary of Labor.
Youths 12 and 13 years of age may work outside of school hours in non-hazardous jobs on farms that also employ their parent(s) or with written parental consent.
Youths under 12 years of age may work outside of school hours in non-hazardous jobs with parental consent, but only on farms where none of the employees are subject to the minimum wage requirements of the FLSA.
Local youths 10 and 11 may hand harvest short-season crops outside school hours for no more than 8 weeks between June 1 and October 15 if their employers have obtained special waivers from the Secretary of Labor.
Youths of any age may work at any time in any job on a farm owned or operated by their parents.
Now I'm not really sure how you define an "adult job" in any proper sense, but I am certain I don't trust city bureaucrats to do it properly. This is the same administration that thought dust kicked up by plowing fields is deadly pollution they have to regulate, and milk stored in dairy farms should be treated as an oil and regulated the same way.

I do understand the thinking behind these regulations - they think children are being taken advantage of and need protecting.  They think that kids have to be shielded from cruel employers by the benevolent government, and that we don't let kids work at any other business doing labor, so why farms?

But there's another layer of thought behind this.

That layer is made up of other considerations, like how there's no farm worker's union, and that needs to change.  Hilda Solis, big time Union promoter, is in charge of the Labor Department and came up with this scheme.  Getting kids out of the equation opens up the work to only adults, and they can unionize.

Another layer is how the small family farm is one of the last bastions of liberty and the free market left in the country and big government leftists rage in fury at how this can be left unregulated and uncontrolled by the all-knowing drones in Washington DC.  How can anyone run anything without a college-educated commissar making sure they do it properly?  They are the philosopher kings, they know how to do it all properly, not some hick in podunk middle America living on a farm!

The truth is, these small farms are one of the last places left where kids learn the value and importance of hard work, gain a work ethic, and learn to connect where food and money comes from to its benefits like that X-Box or food.  Most every young person living in a rural area has done this sort of work, be it at a farm, or working the yard for others, or delivering papers or whatever.  And they learn by it, grow stronger and closer to their community and most dangerously for the left, more independent and self reliant.

Its no coincidence that this comes from the same administration that wants to bury small farms with mountains of paper work detailing their every transaction and inventory, to destroy farmer's markets with regulations and rules, and control their pollution with absurd regulations.

To put it simply: these farms are outside the government's control.  They are too independent and able to survive without big government's help.  They are too small to get big subsidies, too isolated to be picked up by the usual federal radar, and too resistant to big government power.  They breed and raise generations of people suspicious of government, loving toward tradition and liberty, and strongly independent.  All of those things go against the collectivist, statist tendencies of the left.  And they must be stopped, according to the Obama administration.

What can you do?  Contact your state and federal legislators.  Vote for someone other than President Obama this November.  Vote for congressmen and local legislators who won't stand for this kind of thing.  And fight locally for people who will defy the federal government and refuse to play along.  You can't change the minds of anyone in the White House, they know better - according to them - and won't even listen.  But local people are more accountable, more tied into the community, and usually more accessible.

Watch in the coming months for a storm of this kind of thing to fly out of the White House, especially if Romney wins the presidency.  President Obama will want to bury the office in regulation and rules that will take ages to reverse or stop, get people in jobs that Romney won't want to fire, and hope that there will be too much stuff to fix, and at least some of it will slip through, even assuming a Romney administration would try to reverse any of it.

What's interesting to me is how things go in cycles.  For a long time, the Democratic Party was the home of the farmer and rural people in America but then in the early 20th century, Republicans ran on small farm rural ideas and it was the GOP that came up with the dreadful, unconstitutional farm subsidy idea, and won election after election on the shoulders of farmers struggling to survive.  Then after the great depression, the Democrats became perceived as the party of the little guy again and even in the 60s were all for small farms and rural ideals.  Now its reversing again, apparently.

And I can't help but think that President Obama figures he can't possibly win the small town rural America farm vote anyway, so he's going to let them have it with both barrels, and maybe in a generation or two create some dependency and leftist thought there, too.  I just can't see that as a winning strategy for him in the short run, but it is part of the "fundamental transformation of America" he ran on.  Hopefully the nation can survive.

*UPDATE: In a sinister reference, Dr Paugh in the Canada Free Press notes:
The Marxist-Leninist dogma said, “A small property generates capitalism day by day, minute by minute, spontaneous, and in mass proportions.” The small-time farmer feeding his family, with a little surplus, was seen as an individual member of the bourgeoisie, requiring squashing.
She learned a lot about how that worked in Romania - it was horrific. President Obama isn't a Marxist or a Leninist, but he's more than willing to borrow from their ideas as he works toward his vision of what America should be - one his wife can be proud of.

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