Former Ag Secretary John Block’s Weekly Commentary – “Labor Day”

Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by Monsanto, and John Deere. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.
And now for today’s commentary—

Hard to believe, but summer is over. It’s Labor Day. On that note, I want to say how much respect I have for the hard-working men and women that labor in the trenches. I’m not talking about big corporation managers, not talking about Wall Street, not talking about political big wigs or university professors. I want to honor the carpenter, the plumber, the factory worker, the farmer growing the food, the rancher caring for the cattle, the workers in the processing plants – I don’t think they get the appreciation they deserve.

I don’t think they are paid enough. In one respect, I think maybe we need to raise the minimum wage, but on the other hand, it’s probably a bad idea. I would hope the market would push the wage up. If our economy continues to strengthen, employers will have to bid higher to get help. The problem with a national minimum wage is that the cost of living and need for labor differs from one part of the nation to another. It probably costs twice as much to live in New York City than many places in rural America.

My heart still goes out to the workers across the land – doing their job day after day. Some do start out on the bottom rung, but they don’t all stay there. I have an article in front of me entitled, “Latinos Move Up, From Picking Crops to Running the Farm.” The article points out that “while the number of farms in the U.S. decreased by 4% between 2007 and 2012, the number of farms run by Hispanics increased by 21% — from 55,000 to 67,000.

It’s not just farms where hard workers with determination have succeeded. Out here in Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C., the Koreans seem to be running all the dry cleaning and laundry businesses. The Indians are in charge of the convenience stores. We’ve all been reading about the tragedy in Ferguson, MO. Most of the stores looted were run by Asians. An Hispanic lady that we know here in Virginia built her business cleaning houses. Her daughter is in graduate school at Georgetown University.

There is opportunity in this country. I guess that’s why we can’t keep the illegals out. They long for the American dream.

In closing, have a wonderful Labor Day and make sure we all credit the workers that are


A native of the Texas Panhandle, Rhonda was born and raised on a cotton farm where she saw cotton farming evolve from ditch irrigation to center pivot irrigation and harvest trailers to modules. After graduating from Texas Tech University, she got her start in radio with KGNC News Talk 710 in Amarillo, Texas.

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