retail news in context, analysis with attitude

We had a story yesterday about how dairy farmers in Wisconsin are worried about Trump immigration policies that could threaten their financial viability. USA Today wrote that "by some estimates, up to 80% of the hired help on large Wisconsin dairy operations is immigrant labor and a large percentage of those workers are undocumented ... Without the foreign-born help, many farmers said they would be forced to quit milking cows because not enough other people are willing to accept such physically demanding jobs for $13 an hour."

One MNB reader responded:

Just want to make sure I understand the situation.  Trump’s crack down is on illegal immigration.  Therefore if Dairy farmers feel threatened, it is because they are hiring illegal immigrants (undocumented workers) to do work.  If Dairy farmers are hiring illegal workers, that is against the law.

I understand that we, as a nation use immigrant labor, but I truly think the capital system will prevail because if Americans won’t do this job for $13 an hour than perhaps the public is artificially paying too little for milk and cheese?  So dairy farmers will have to charge more so they can pay more.  Then the factories will have to pay more to retain those American workers that want to leave to be paid more at the dairy farms.

So are the dairy companies paying their fair share of the taxes, wages, benefits for those undocumented employees?  Are we paying more in health insurance as a public because their workers are not documented?  I don’t have the answers, which is why I am asking, but certainly seems like the media (USA Today specifically here) is not weighing both sides of the issue, but instead condemning Trump’s “hard-line stance on undocumented workers is threatening large dairy farms that rely on immigrant labor…”

First of all, USA Today wasn't taking a position on the issue - just reporting the concerns of a specific industry segment. They didn't condemn anything.

Second, it always been my understanding that companies actually pay taxes on undocumented workers.

But your essential point is right. It is ironic when an industry complains about the fact that the government is going to enforce laws that will impact their illegal activities.

I also think that you put your finger on another critical point - that nobody knows what anything really costs. There could be an enormous wake-up call coming for consumers everywhere.

From another reader, Timothy Deck, on the same subject:

I have been reading your column for over 10 years and agree with most all of your views and comments. You are spot on. But I am always challenged with thinking outside of the box, and I think this is one area in which we as society need to take a hard look at this situation. Farmers need workers to do this hard labor that most Americans no longer are interested in performing. Most all farmers rely on migrant workers (whether they are documented or not). Let’s look outside the box on this issue.

We currently have 2.2 million people incarcerated in state / federal prisons. Many of these prisons are located in rural America. Why not put them to work? Why not create an environment in which they can reduce their time in prison base on labor hours worked on the farm. The farmer pays the prison system for their labor at the current rate they are paying undocumented workers. I would say this is a win, win situation.

Got a bunch of emails regarding the Coke commercial we posted yesterday. Entitled "Pool Boy," the ad portrays a brother and sister, each of whom is fixated on the rippling abs of the fellow working on their pool. Each wants to bring the guy a cold Coke ... but neither is quick enough.

I thought it was refreshing to see this acknowledgement of diversity.

MNB reader Khana Ramey responded:

Thanks for the reference to a fun and uplifting video. I agree with your assessment. ... waiting for the view to come in from someone complaining about objectifying the male body.

Another MNB reader wrote:

Let's hear it for cougars!

A few minutes later, this same reader followed up:

I thought some more about this and the issue is more about of sexuality I think than diversity. My comments are not based on any sense of personal morality. I am a bit surprised an America icon with a "family" image would even in a humorous vein take on teenage sexuality, homosexuality and parental sexuality. My first reaction is this is funny. But what is important is what does the target audience think?  I guess media selection here is the key.

Agreed. I think there will be some places where this commercial will not play. But I also think that young people - Coke's sweet spot - tend to be far more tolerant and open-minded than their elders. There's stuff that old folks agonize about that in just a few years, these young people will wonder what all the fuss was about.

I think Coke is hitting precisely the target at which it is aiming.

Got the following email about our story regarding how Jeff Bezos is strategizing about how to create a supply chain to the moon, planning for a time when people actually are living there:

When THIS is the headline about your competitor, it is time to THROW OUT all things conventional…I don’t pretend to have the answer, but one thing I know:  inertia isn’t it…

Agreed. Absolutely.
KC's View: