[Market-farming] child labor

Leigh Hauter lh at pressroom.com
Wed Jan 29 16:30:11 EST 2003


I think (or at least I hope) that Marc was being tongue in cheek.

I agree with Bill about farm work.  My 20 something son has been 
helping out for the past couple of years but this year he decided 
that he would rather carry huge boulders back and forth across the 
fields rather than have to transplant another seedlings or plant 
another row of lettuce seeds.  Sometimes, I sort of understand his 
point of view. He's finally decided that college is a better bet.

However, back to the original subject.  This last year we took a 
teenager into our home, a relative who was taken out of her fathers 
home by the county because he hit her. We didn't feel a county home 
was any place for anyone, let alone a relative. So we took her in as 
our daughter.  Actually, she is a delightful kid.

So, this winter, we took her down to a beach in Mexico with us 
(since we find farming to be profitable we can go on such vacations) 
down to a remote fishing village almost to Belize. There wasn't much 
in the town but a nice beach and great snorkling and a tropical 
forest, and a rickity building with florescent lights and tables and 
benches that was called a restaurant.  Great seafood.  We went in and 
the daughter of the woman doing the cooking on the other end of the 
building, a girl about 12, was waiting the table.

Our new daughter thought this was just terrible.  "Abuse," she 
thought,  Which led to an interesting dinner discussion about whether 
it was truly abuse for the girl to help her mother make a living for 
her family.  And what was the difference between the girl waiting 
tables and serving food and helping the family and for an American 
teenager to sit in front of a computer for hours on in gossiping with 
their friends over the internet.

Sure is a different world we live in.

But back to farming.  I remember coming home from Vietnam and still 
having time in the military and being assigned to a military hospital 
in southern Alabama (this was close to the time when our current 
'leader' went AWOL for a year) and how some of our patients, the ones 
in the worse condition, were local farm kids who had gotten caught up 
in farm machinery or had a tractor turn over on them. Kids with 
horrible burns, crushed bodies, and maimed limbs.

The question, again, is it the parents fault that they had their 
children working on the farm?  Is this just the cost of 'doing' 
farming?  Should we legislate work rules for children on farms? 
Should we have regulations trying to make farm equipment safer?  How 
do we deal with this real problem? Or should we?



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