[Market-farming] child labor

Bill Shoemaker wshoemak at inil.com
Wed Jan 29 15:52:16 EST 2003

>I agree. Just because a person can conceive does not make them a parent. I
>think the notion of ever increasing the protections available to children
>and people is a thing who's time has come. The folks who subscribe it to
>nurturing gone wild are coming from a primitive perspective. We have a
>responsibility as enlightened modern people to leave the disproven old
>things of the past behind. They were great in their day but we know better
>now. Let the old ways go and move on to better ways.

I can't respond to your whole letter yet. Maybe later. But I had to respond
to this portion of it. It sounds terribly superior. Surely you don't
subscribe to the kind of moral hierarchy this seems to imply. Do you really
think we're morally superior or more intelligent than our ancestors? I
don't. Perhaps we've learned. Sometimes I wonder. I really don't think the
government will do a better job of parenting than the vast majority of
fathers and mothers on the farm. I can think of very few farm families, and
I've known very many, who even exhibited the possibility of abusing their
children by forcing them to work where the work was inappropriate for their
children. I think there is a role for children to learn to work and the farm
is one of the best places to do it. It's one of the reasons I regret not
having a farm for my children to grow up on, like I did. Because of child
labor laws and because immigrant labor is so available and very qualified,
it is very difficult for my teenage boys to find work anymore, even though
they'd like to have a job. A farm would be an excellent place to learn the
fundamentals about the realities of being human in a natural world. I can't
see taking it away from farm families and I don't trust our mostly urban,
"professional" legislators to get it right, as well-intentioned as they
might be.

By the way, I think it's mining that is number one in occupational deaths.
Interesting that mining, commercial fishing and farming compete for this
dubious title. Perhaps it's a reflection on the reality of life in the
natural world. It's dangerous and, for all of us, life is terminal.

Bill Shoemaker
Sr Research Specialist, Food Crops
Univ of Illinois - St Charles Hort Research Center

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