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Perishable Pundit
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Produce Business

Deli Business

American Food & Ag Exporter

Cheese Connoisseur



Unfair CNN Report Showed One Clear Winner: Irradiation

Something called the CNN Special Investigations Unit presented Danger: Poisoned Food with Dr. Sanjay Gupta. The subtitle: What you eat could make you sick.

No publicity of this sort is good for the industry but, as these things go, there was at least an attempt to present several sides to the story.

This included camera time with a grower named Rod Braga, who earlier was featured on CBS, and Joe Pezzini, representing the Grower-Shipper Association of Central California.

The problem, of course, is that when one frame is showing pictures of a two-year-old child almost dying from kidney disease and noting, even in her recovery, that she will probably need a kidney transplant and be unable to have her own children — nothing that Rod or Joe can say in the next frame is likely to make any difference.

The industry also is not in a position to assure the public that the problem has been solved. That is all people care about. This is just spinach; most people don’t really want to know that much about it. They want Joe Pezzini to tell them we identified the problem, fixed it and now it can never happen again. Nothing more.

The public regulatory authorities certainly are still very guarded in their language. Joe Pezzini said, yes, the food is even safer than last year. Asked the same question and Bob Brackett, FDA Food Safety Chief, demurred. The furthest he would go was to say, “We’ve got a better indication of where the problems might be, so we’re watching for it.” Hardly a ringing endorsement.

The piece was certainly unfair. It placed great emphasis on the fact that the guidance is voluntary — but never claimed that the voluntary guidance was being violated.

The California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement was referred to only obliquely as another “voluntary” effort — with no mention of the complexities of it becoming mandatory once one signs it.

There was no sense of proportion or comparative risk. The injury of a child was used to emotionally manipulate the audience.

Bill Marler, the noted food safety attorney, was given soft ball questions. It is easy to say that industry is not doing the right thing; it is hard to know what the right thing is. Nobody forced him to declare what the correct buffer zone is between cattle and spinach.

None of this was surprising and Dr. Gupta was there eating raw spinach in the field, which is a big win for the industry. Rod Braga didn’t look the kind of guy who wanted to kill little girls, and that is a plus.

Yet this is an unwinnable PR war in this day and age. No matter how down to earth our farmers, no matter how media coached, nothing is going to matter if we have more little girls with kidney failure.

Which brings us to the one clear winner in the show: irradiation.

A segment of the piece had a CNN producer eat spinach irradiated at high enough doses to kill E. coli, and he could not identify a taste or appearance difference.

It really was persuasive and made you feel that we really should be pushing for FDA approval of the use of irradiation as a kill step on leafy greens. Then someone can start marketing a line and consumers would start getting used to seeing it.

Now that we have tied the whole industry together through the California Leafy Green Marketing Agreement, we better be planning for what to do if the CMA is discredited by an outbreak.

Another 15 feet of buffer isn’t going to cut it.

You can read a transcript of the story right here.




Ocean Spray Trial Will Shed Light On Business Practices

The May 2007 edition of PRODUCE BUSINESS magazine, a sister publication of the Pundit, featured an important piece entitled Special Report: Ocean Spray Sued By Longtime Associates, which told an important and fascinating story. Some of the story is about Jim and Theresa Nolan and how they were treated by Ocean Spray. Some has to do with the way Ocean Spray did business:

As the new fresh cranberry season was starting in September 2000, Nolan sent out a price announcement under his name to Ocean Spray’s club store accounts that was approved by the co-op. The season-long price for both domestic and Canada was $25 f.o.b. for cases of 12 two-pound bags.

However, only 10 days after Nolan’s price announcement, September 25, 2000, Ocean Spray offered Costco, without Nolan’s knowledge, a price of $18 delivered on the club store pack for the months of September and October, and a delivered price of $23 for November.

An exhibit in the Nolan complaint is a voice mail to Ocean Spray’s account manager for Costco, Jay Salamon. The voice mail was from the Costco fresh cranberry buyer and was forwarded to James and others at Ocean Spray. In it, the buyer states, “….we talked about how to avoid the Robinson-Patman Act.”

Nolan protested to Ocean Spray’s management the lower pricing should not be given to Costco unless the same price was offered to competitors of Costco, including BJ’s and Sam’s Club. Nolan also protested about Ocean Spray funding in-store demonstrations for only Costco.

“Ocean Spray then initiated an elaborate cover-up which continues to this day,” alleges the Nolan complaint. “Ocean Spray tried to justify the lower price given to Costco by claiming to be meeting the price offered to Costco by Northland Cranberries Inc. on its fresh cranberries club store pack. Northland did not then, and still does not have, a fresh cranberries club store pack.”

It was the Ocean Spray practice to issue standard price lists for each class of trade, so, theoretically, all club stores should have been paying the same price. C&S supplied BJ’s and sent Ocean Spray a letter:

On September 7, 2001, Robert Hawthorne, president and CEO of Ocean Spray, received an e-mail from Ken Ryan, procurement manager for C&S, who supplies BJ’s, which currently has over 160 club stores in the Eastern United States, according to its website.

In part, Ryan wrote: “In reviewing last year’s sales data, which includes competitors’ retails, we have concluded not all club stores received the same price from Ocean Spray on 12/2lb cases. Based on our $25 f.o.b. price, plus .50 cents freight, we had a $2.125 unit cost price. This is before any warehouse costs and costs to transport them to our BJ’s club stores. These costs average .75 per case, which brought our delivered cost to the stores to $2.19 per unit.”

Ryan further stated this “forces” the company to have a $2.99 retail price to make a profit. At the same time, C&S store checks of Costco revealed Costco selling the same pack for $2.29 during the season, which is only .10 cents above C&S’s total cost.

“Stores do not survive on that type of gross profit margin. This difference in retail has hurt our stores’ price image and increased our shrink due to lower sales,” Ryan’s e-mail said.

Ryan proceeded to request a meeting with Ocean Spray “to correct this problem.”

According to the Nolan complaint, Graham West, managing director of ingredients technology group, O’Brien’s boss, as well as Neil Bryson, Ocean Spray’s in-house attorney, and O’Brien went to C&S headquarters.

The complaint states, “Although C&S requested Theresa, TNN’s president, also attend the meeting, West did not allow her to attend… West refused to allow Theresa to attend the meeting because he knew Theresa was aware of the special pricing given Costco in 2000; had opposed it from the beginning; and had already stated she would not lie to C&S’s management about it.”

At the meeting Ryan demanded that Ocean Spray reimburse C&S for the price difference it paid versus Costco, plus damages.

“The Ocean Spray representatives told C&S to claim some cranberries it would receive from Ocean Spray were of poor quality and to take a discount from an Ocean Spray invoice,” the Nolan complaint reads.

The complaint points out that the Nolans were deeply unhappy with the whole situation:

A January 15, 2002 report from the Nolans to Ocean Spray says, “We still believe the cooperative needs to tell Sam’s Club what took place on fresh cranberries club store pricing during season 2000. It should offer to remit them the difference between the considerably higher price that they paid Ocean Spray for the 1/2lb. club pack versus what Costco was charged.

“In addition, there should be reparations for any other damages that Sam’s Club may feel they suffered from being out of line on price with their main competitor all season. Over four months now have passed from the time when C&S Wholesale Grocers e-mailed Rob Hawthorne confronting him about this identical situation in connection with the fruit that they supply BJ’s.”

Continuing, the report says, “Since C&S quickly reached a settlement with Ocean Spray, we’re surprised that something hasn’t been done to also compensate Sam’s Club. It’s almost ironic that the cooperative was a recipient of Sam’s Club prestigious ‘Vendor of the Year’ award for the same year when this unfortunate incident occurred.

“Legal considerations aside, the fact remains that the special pricing Ocean Spray gave to Costco in 2000, which we advised against from the start, was highly unethical in the least. It enabled them to enjoy a significant competitive advantage over the other club stores as well as those conventional supermarket chains, such as Safeway, that have come to view Costco as a rival.”

The complaint explains that to appease C&S, Ocean Spray started doing some unusual things:

In September 2002, with a new fresh cranberry season getting underway, Ocean Spray’s James Lesser, group product manager for food, produce and value-added ingredients, announces what the Nolan complaint describes as “an unprecedented, last-minute addition” to the co-op’s trade program, a $2 per case “non-retailer promotion.”

While this promotion was offered to all domestic produce wholesalers, it “was created to appease C&S which, still upset over the Costco incident, had stopped supplying both Pathmark and BJ’s with Ocean Spray fresh cranberries in 2001.”

We have spoken to sources at Sam’s Club that indicate they have been monitoring this lawsuit. If Ocean Spray gave special pricing to Costco and then “made it up” to BJ’s, Sam’s Club may have a sizeable check coming. As a public company, Sam’s Club and its parent, Wal-Mart, have a fiduciary responsibility to pursue this money, and our sources tell us that they are waiting to see how this lawsuit turns out before acting.

The complaint, however, indicates that another competitor to Wal-Mart — as well as other supermarket chains — was also getting special deals:

Although The Nolan Network was contracted to handle sales and merchandising for Ocean Spray, the co-op decided to use Jacksonville, FL-based broker, Acosta Sales Inc., to make sales calls on H.E. Butt, the large San Antonio-based grocery chain.

Only a week after Lesser’s September 5th price announcement, Acosta, without the Nolan’s knowledge, provided H.E.B. with a price of $19 f.o.b. for cases of 24/12-ounce packages and 20-pound bulk fresh cranberries for the whole season. The deal also contained a $3 off-invoice allowance on purchased fruit “without ever advertising Ocean Spray branded fresh cranberries during that season,” the complaint reads. Other retailers were required in writing to advertise to get the promotional allowance.

Additionally the Nolans claim O’Brien approved H.E.B. receiving truckload rates at $1.53 per case even though “H.E.B. did not take delivery of Ocean Spray cranberries in full truckloads at any time during the 2002 season. This resulted in H.E.B. sometimes paying as little as half of what the freight rate for the size of its order should have been.”

People close to Ocean Spray were growing concerned, particularly about how Wal-Mart might react when the truth came out:

On April 1, 2003, Mike Dubuc, vice president of finance for North Easton, MA-based Morse Brothers Inc., the largest supplier of fresh cranberries from Massachusetts to Ocean Spray, wrote Ocean Spray chairman Bob Rosbe. In part, the correspondence reads, “I have reason to believe Ocean Spray has enormous exposure stemming from fresh fruit in what is referred to as the Costco cover-up from two years ago. Further there is a storm brewing with C&S Wholesale regarding this past season where H.E. Butts (sic) was given far more favorable case pricing than the rest of the trade.”

Dubuc also addressed his concern that “the trade will discover our past questionable practices, in particular the Costco scandal where Sam’s Club was a victim, and that our single largest customer, Wal-Mart at 11 percent plus of our sales, will stop buying Ocean Spray.”

So far Ocean Spray is not talking:

PRODUCE BUSINESS has tried to reach numerous individuals connected to Ocean Spray, including management, board members, grower-stockholders and the defendant’s law firm. However, each party either declined to return phone calls, or refused to comment.

This will wind up being a big story. Much of it turns on legalities such as the exact circumstances under which the Robinson-Patman Act are deemed violated and the legal status of Ocean Spray’s own antitrust Policy Compliance Guide. If this goes to trial, the lawyers will duke it out on these grounds.

For the industry, though, the bigger issues have to do with right-dealing and with what one should expect from one’s employees.

In our minds, it is simple. Nobody forces a company to issue standard price sheets. If, however, a company elects to send everyone letters stating that everyone will be charged X, then it should charge everyone X.

It seems as if Ocean Spray’s basic defense on the Costco allegations is that it offered a lower price to keep the business in the face of a competitive offer to Costco. We haven’t seen any evidence that such an offer was ever made but, even if it was, that might satisfy the legalities of the Robinson-Patman Act but wouldn’t make it right. The price list doesn’t say this is what we will charge, unless we get a better offer.

In effect, if one does business the way that is alleged here, publishing a price list but then selling at lower prices to select accounts, one turns the sales staff into liars.

How can any company ask sales people to build up a reputation for trustworthiness while asking them to deceive?

And what kind of industry would we have if everyone was comfortable with this? Read the article right here.




United Fresh Will Develop Microbiological Testing Database

After Charles Sweat, COO of Natural Selection Foods, appeared at United’s FreshTech conference talking about the company’s testing program, we ran a piece that included this call:

This points to a very important task that the new Center for Produce Safety should undertake. With so many companies now testing both raw material and finished product, the CPS should build a repository of this data to be held on a confidential basis.

On a contemporaneous basis, the CPS could issue reports that would help processors do a better job by tying this data in with various factors. Is product from a particular country, state or county testing positive more frequently than other product? Does product irrigated with well water test positive less frequently than other water sources?

This report — with company names removed and even total numbers removed but, instead, incidence reflected as a percentage of pounds of product or other metric — would start to give processors information that can be useful in enhancing food safety right now.

In addition, maintained over time, these statistics can help us understand if our efforts at enhancing the Good Agricultural Practices documents are paying off in the reduction of pathogenic bacteria being delivered to processing plants on produce shipments.

Outbreaks are so rare that they defy statistical analysis, and the failure to have an outbreak this year means nothing in a statistical sense. So we can’t draw the conclusion that the new GAPs are achieving anything from an absence of outbreaks.

However, these Natural Selection Foods numbers would translate into several thousand pathogenic identifications each year on an industry-wide basis. That is enough to identify a statistically significant decline.

The Center for Produce Safety could show itself to be more than a mere conduit for passing out checks by stepping up to the plate and taking on this valuable task.

Well, it looks like United Fresh has stepped up to the plate on this one:

United Fresh Announced Development
of Microbiological Testing Database

The United Fresh Board of Directors has approved a recommendation by its Food Safety and Technology Council to develop a confidential database of microbiological testing data for the produce industry. The database will be developed in conjunction with outside legal counsel in order to provide maximum integrity and will be “blinded” to protect identity of data sources.

“This database will allow for the consolidation of testing data on an industry wide basis for companies that choose to participate,” said United Fresh Past Chairman Dr. Bob Whitaker, who testified on Capitol Hill this week about industry efforts to protect the nation’s produce supply. “This is an effective way to establish baselines that can be measured across time and provide industry benchmarks against which individual companies can measure their own testing results. Similar industry efforts in the beef and dairy industries have proved valuable to industry and regulators alike.”

Members of the United Fresh Food Safety & Technology Council will provide guidance for the new database project, working with Dr. David Gombas, vice president of scientific and technical affairs, and outside legal counsel.

In conjunction with the database project, the Council is developing a white paper on the role of microbiological testing in fresh produce. “A wide variety of testing methods, sampling protocols, and testing endpoints are being used by different companies today, and it’s important to bring a consistent scientific basis to this process,” Dr. Gombas said. “Working with scientists in industry, academia and government, we want to make sure that there is a clear understanding of what various tests and testing methods mean, and work to ensure that all stakeholders have a scientific roadmap to understand the strengths and weaknesses of various testing methods and protocols.”

This is a relatively inexpensive but very valuable contribution to food safety. Kudos to United Fresh for taking on the task.




Pundit’s Pulse Of The Industry — Willard Bishop Consulting’s Bill Bishop

Earlier this year Willard Bishop, well known as a food industry consultancy, announced a management transition in which Bill Bishop was giving up day-to-day managerial tasks to focus on providing strategic guidance and thought leadership for the firm’s clients and the industry at large.

Bill Bishop has really been an institution in the industry, and we asked Pundit Investigator and Special Projects Editor, Mira Slott, to find out more.

Bill Bishop
Founder and Former President now Chairman of Willard Bishop Consulting
Barrington, Illinois

Q: Could you tell us more about the management transition?

A: What’s happening here is that our new partnership puts a new generation of consultants in charge of driving and really growing the business. My role is two-fold; to provide strategic direction within the organization and to continue industry consulting as I’ve done. I will maintain a significant presence in thought leadership. Up until January 1, I had also been responsible for managing the business. The best way to grow the business is by separating these functions.

The other aspect is that I’ve been in the business 30 years, and there’s the conflict of getting older and the bittersweet reality of planning a transition very thoroughly and gracefully. Frankly we had three options. The first two, to sell our business or let it run down as I decided to back off, weren’t attractive. My primary motivation in the restructuring is doing everything possible to perpetuate an environment in which we’re operating to meet the changing world ahead of us. We’ve been working on this plan for three years.

Q: Will there be any major strategic shifts from the way you’ve done business in the past?

A: The world is changing and while we’re comfortable in coping with these changes, we also wanted to move the company in new directions to meet emerging trends. We are in the process of taking the research and insights that are generated from our studies to the next stage. We will place more emphasis on organizing that information into actual consulting projects to help clients implement those findings. Our origins were developing fact-based information and generally leaving it to people to interpret and apply.

It is evident that people don’t have the time they used to, or the interest to pick up a project in the middle, and they need someone to come in and work with them until the problem is solved. In this very fast moving world, people are looking for us to extend consulting support and implementation follow through. Better application of knowledge is something needed and desired in the industry.

Q: What is your assessment of category management data collection and analysis within the industry?

A: The story is that for some period of time AC Nielsen was out in front by itself in category management including perishables. Now, there is a strong initiative on the part of IRI to win a piece of that business.

Essentially IRI and Fresh Look Marketing Group parallel AC Nielsen and The Perishables Group in terms of the services they offer. They’ve developed skills of processing and analyzing perishable data and putting it in a form that can be used for category management.

We don’t have a standard universal code like packaged goods. Identification and analysis depends on tying in PLUs, seasonal data, and many other variables. AC Nielsen for several years pulled way ahead of IRI in the category management area. In the last year, IRI has said this isn’t satisfactory and is taking steps to come back in and be more competitive.

Q: How do the groups compare in the services they offer? Could there be times where a customer could turn to both?

A: It’s harsh to say, but IRI and AC Nielsen generally offer the same support in market syndicated data processing. Of course there are differences, but in the micro sense. From the long view, they look like they are doing fundamentally the same thing; with better timing and accuracy than was the case a few years ago. FreshLook Marketing is rounding out a storewide solution for IRI like the Perishable Group would do for AC Nielsen.

Q: What advances have been made in category management methods?

A: This sounds obvious, but the original context of category management was the category. When people did analysis, it was for the apple category or the bread category. You’d have a long series of independent analyses only loosely held together. This is less than optimal for a number of reasons. When you solved for space, you never knew if the last item in one category was better or less performing than the second-to-last in the next category.

There were a lot of circumstances where space wasn’t well used. Today, there is software which allows the retailer to analyze across the store to integrate space components, and you don’t get as many arbitrary decisions of splitting space 50/50 for category A and category B. We never got that before.

people are saying category management integrated across categories is important to retailers. In concept, you get more yield and productivity out of a given space. Having that capability is important, but retailers don’t always move things that way.

The next generation of category managers has more data and sophisticated software to look across categories and departments, also on the basis of store clusters throughout the chain. I would argue that theorists find it difficult to tie in the data.

Q: Isn’t there more attention being placed on the impact of consumer shopping patterns and behaviors?

A: Household panel data; how and what consumers purchase, when and where they shop, etc., is often not usefully applied. Space management is complex. Not everyone can or will use all this consumer data. No human being can synthesize it all.

Q: What is next in the evolution of category management?

A: In the traditional marketplace, there are a series of retail competitors and suppliers who are competitors themselves. Every supplier is trying to get into every retailer, using that category management data as a competitive advantage to show the retailer it is better off than the competition if it takes on their products. Wherever possible, retailers are developing longer relationships with perishables suppliers, interacting with suppliers to figure out ways to improve their business.

What we will see, not a 100 percent this way, but an increasing number of situations where the retailer aligns with a particular grower/shipper or brand marketer, and to a certain extent will be less interested in market data and more interested in specific data around their own relationship; take a mix of tomatoes, for example, and work it within their own business details, without any reference to external data. Market data will end up becoming a lot less relevant with the trend toward an integrated supply chain. Two issues propel this, food safety and sustainability.

We think sustainability is going to be key, but as a financially benefiting business strategy, not a social appeal strategy. You can’t do this unless you have that alignment.

These are transformational changes. There are two parts here: Big retailers and foodservice operators are placing a huge priority on insuring continuity of supply with quality producers. This will make the best producers more profitable, and it will make agricultural producers more profitable.

Bill is always intriguing and now that he can focus more on the subject at hand and less on managing a business, we expect to hear even more insightful thoughts from this important industry resource.

From this brief interview we take five key points:

  1. Advanced software is turning old fashioned Category Management into a truly effective tool because we are finally able to transcend the limitations of categories:

When people did analysis, it was for the apple category or the bread category. You’d have a long series of independent analyses only loosely held together. This is less than optimal for a number of reasons. When you solved for space, you never knew if the last item in one category was better or less performing than the second-to-last in the next category.

There were a lot of circumstances where space wasn’t well used. Today, there is software which allows the retailer to analyze across the store to integrate space components, and you don’t get as many arbitrary decisions of splitting space 50/50 for category A and category B. We never got that before.

  1. There is new competition to provide data and analytics on perishables with the implication being we can hope for better prices, better tools and other fruitful results of competition:

The story is that for some period of time AC Nielsen was out in front by itself in category management including perishables. Now, there is a strong initiative on the part of IRI to win a piece of that business.

  1. The age of vendors trying to get in every retailer is fading, to be replaced by a new age of retail/vendor alliance with implications for the value of different kinds of information:

In the traditional marketplace, there are a series of retail competitors and suppliers who are competitors themselves. Every supplier is trying to get into every retailer, using that category management data as a competitive advantage to show the retailer it is better off than the competition if it takes on their products.

Wherever possible, retailers are developing longer relationships with perishables suppliers, interacting with suppliers to figure out ways to improve their business.

What we will see, not a 100 percent this way, but an increasing number of situations where the retailer aligns with a particular grower/shipper or brand marketer, and to a certain extent will be less interested in market data and more interested in specific data around their own relationship; take a mix of tomatoes, for example, and work it within their own business details, without any reference to external data. Market data will end up becoming a lot less relevant with the trend toward an integrated supply chain. Two issues propel this, food safety and sustainability.

  1. Sustainability can’t mean losing money for the good of the planet. It will be successful to the extent it is a business strategy:

We think sustainability is going to be key, but as a financially benefiting business strategy, not a social appeal strategy. You can’t do this unless you have that alignment.

  1. The big transformation is that issues such as food safety and sustainability cannot be addressed in a meaningful way in the context of a transactional produce-trading orientation. So the rise of concerns in these areas will lead to more consistent affiliation between top producers and top buyers in perishables. This will nudge producers out of a solely commodity-driven world, which will result in high quality producers being more profitable. As a larger and larger share of the business consists of these more highly aligned supply chains, agricultural production itself will be more profitable.

These are transformational changes. There are two parts here: Big retailers and foodservice operators are placing a huge priority on insuring continuity of supply with quality producers. This will make the best producers more profitable, and it will make agricultural producers more profitable.

All very thought-provoking and insightful. Best of luck to Bill and his team at Willard Bishop. May Bill find his new focus liberating and keep feeding the industry ideas for many years to come.




Pundit’s Mailbag — ‘Unworkable’ Immigration Plan

Our piece Compromise Reached On Immigration Reform, But The Battle Is Far From Over brought these comments from an experienced industry hand:

“It ain’t going to work”. Require all illegal immigrants to return home to ‘touch base’, pay $5 grand, and then fill out the paperwork for re-entry to the USA? Who thinks of this stuff?

Today, we live in a complex, globally integrated society. Unfortunately, too few people are able to connect the dots of the ‘macro’ benefits and contributions of immigration, legal or otherwise, across all national borders. You might as well shut down the State of California if every ‘illegal’ were forced to repatriate. It is not going to happen.

If there were no ‘economic benefit’ immigration would not be an issue. Why is the stock market booming? Why is the USA at historically low rates of unemployment? The economic answer is that there must be profits being generated from labor’s (legal and illegal) contribution to the national GDP. I have read a lot about the ‘cost’ of illegal immigration, but no one seems to be willing to state the ‘profit’ gained from the same. However, I do not want to get caught up in figures; as it is said, “figures lie, and liars figure”.

How to deal with the movement of what is essentially “human capital” back and forth through a set of artificial borders (lines on a map) has now become a complex, ‘human’ issue.

A close friend of mine, of Italian decent, has a help-wanted ad from our historical past that said, “Negros $1.00/day, Irish $.50/day, Italians need not apply”. It will take human understanding to resolve how this country will chose to manage the contributions of human capital in the future. At this point in US history, the ‘incentives’ to allocate human capital are skewed to, in fact, ‘promote’ immigration, not discourage it.

I do not believe it is possible to ‘legislate’ people into starvation or a life of permanent poverty. We ‘preach economic opportunity’ for everyone, but some really don’t mean it. To the chagrin of many, the ‘free market’ mechanism is allocating resources to their optimum macro-economic benefit.

Luckily, by the accident of birth, I was born white in the USA to English-speaking parents. But, if by accident of birth I were born in Mexico and was presented the opportunity to earn $10 a day in Mexico, or $10 an hour in the USA, you could not deny me entry either, legal or otherwise.

I think comedian George Lopez caught the essence of the dilemma when he said, “So, you want to build a wall at the border to keep Mexicans out? Well, you better build the wall FIRST before you kick them out, otherwise, there will be no one to build it!”.

I suspect if the Powhatan Indian Nation had had a Department of Immigration and Border Patrol Department, they would have sent the settlers of Jamestown back to England 400 years ago.

Today we ‘celebrate’ the anniversary of the foundation of Jamestown, the Queen comes to visit, but no one talks about the diseases brought to the North American continent that wiped out two-thirds of the existing ‘native population’, or the environmental havoc created that changed the landscape forever. It seems to depend on your momentary perspective.

No one ‘checked the immigration status’ or denied entry to the hundreds of thousands of slaves brought to our country until we fought a civil war over the issue. Today their descendants are now ‘citizens’ So what do you do with the sons and daughters born in the USA to immigrant parents?

At times there seems to be an eerie, racial similarity to the statements of some anti-immigration proponents who characterize illegal immigrates as merely ‘low wage, untrained labor capable of only menial tasks who are a drain on social resources’. However, this nation was partially built on labor’s contribution to “King Cotton”, tobacco and sugar production. Today, perhaps it is “King Salad”?

For better or worse, all humans act in ways to better their individual existence. I believe that policies that can integrate the positive use of human capital to the benefit of a global society will be far more effective than ‘drawing a line in the sand’.

Immigration is such a complex and important issue that to confront it from a produce-centric standpoint is a little odd.

Our correspondent today approaches the issue from a broader economic perspective. Yet even this leaves questions unanswered.

Economic questions as to who are the really valuable immigrants. Moral questions as to the appropriateness of restricting people to certain occupations. Deep cultural questions … such as do we be believe democracy is eternal, something that will always survive regardless of from where immigrants come or what they believe?

For this Pundit, the problem is not so much with the immigrants as with our own culture. We are no longer willing or able to insist that people learn English, to demand a melting pot in which ethnic hard edges are meted down as people become Americans.

Much focus has been put on illegal immigration, but there is reason for substantial concern that many legal immigrants seem not to be interested in citizenship.

There is little question that, as our correspondent writes, this new plan “won’t work,” but many in D.C. just want a bill. Republicans particularly seem to think that clearing this off the agenda will help them in the next election.

On the other hand, and for the opposite reason, many Democrats seem to want to keep the issue alive.

The one thing that is certain is that this bill can pass or this bill can fail and, either way, we will need another one a few years down the road.

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