This may come as a surprise, but not all politicians are stupid. Last week, Ohio Governor Ted Strickland and agricultural leaders in the state signed what amounted to a peace treaty with the Humane Society of the United States and a group called Ohioans for Humane Farms. He did so after being presented with a petition containing more than a half-million signatures from supporters of a November ballot initiative mandating more humane treatments for calves, pigs, and laying hens.
The agreement requires the gradual phasing out of pens that prevent veal calves from moving freely, gestation crates for breeding sows, and cramped battery cages that are too small to allow hens to flap their wings and otherwise move about in a normal fashion. The governor also agreed to enact regulations against cock fighting, puppy mills, and keeping exotic pets. "This agreement moves us forward on all of the components of the proposed ballot measure as well as other important advances for animals, too," said Wayne Pacelle, the Humane Society president, in a press release.
Gov. Strickland must have been mindful of that old saying: "As California goes, so goes the nation." In November 2008, Californians voted nearly two-to-one in favor of an anti-animal-confinement ballot initiative even tougher than the Ohio proposal. Other politicians in other states would do well to keep the saying in mind should the Humane Society come calling.
An Offer Americans Can—And Will—Refuse
Members of the United Farm Workers (UFW), a union and agricultural workers' rights organization, just made an offer that should be greeted with joy by all unemployed Americans: take our jobs. And they have enlisted comedian Stephen Colbert to spread the word on his July 8 Comedy Central broadcast.
Yep, that's right. If you're out of work—and perhaps blaming undocumented foreign laborers for your predicament—here's your chance to take a job from one of them. The UFW has even provided a convenient online application form, though the union cautions that duties include working in 90-plus-degree weather and being able to "bend, stoop, lift, and carry 50-pound weights on a regular basis."
"Agriculture in the United States is dependent on an immigrant workforce. Three-quarters of all crop workers working in American agriculture were born outside the United States," the UFW explains on its website. "According to government statistics, since the late 1990s, at least 50 percent of the crop workers have not been authorized to work legally in the United States. We are a nation in denial about our food supply."
I spent a great deal of time reporting on South Florida's tomato industry this winter. During a time of record unemployment and nonstop home foreclosures in the area, can you guess how many white-skinned, red-blooded Americans I saw stooped over in the fields?