This morning I ate my breakfast. As usual, I poured my non-fat milk over the beautiful, round blueberries that floated atop my cereal. This has been a habit for some time since I’m told that blueberries are really good for us.
Why talk about breakfast and blueberries? The reason is that we give little thought about these great fruits that are readily available to us in the grocery stores or the people who picked them. Aside from the hefty price on some of these “little darlings,” they are usually readily available most of the year. This may not be so true in the future…as some vegetables and fruits have been rotting in the fields. Why? The workforce is declining…as with other things in industry. (My doctor told me the other day that he is having a hard time getting inserts for his foot patients. No, shoe inserts have nothing to do with blueberries…but the labor force does.)
After I listened to an aspiring medical student, Gianna Ninno, who has picked blueberries since she was a young child with her family, I thought it was time to write something about these “heroes” of the marketplace. They are usually minority…both American and from other places.
Her statement, “The people who pick the berries can’t actually afford to buy them in the stores.” This puts a new slant on the farm workers that make it possible for me to enjoy my blueberries each morning. All I can say is “THANK YOU!”
I thank them for their labor, but also the fact that they are willing to put their lives on the line to do the job. During the virus epidemic, it was revealed that many of the farm and factory workers were showing growing numbers of contacting the COVID-19. This was especially true in the meat packing houses.
When we lived part of the year in Virginia, USA, I noticed that most of the workers there were not Americans, but immigrants that get short term visas to be part of our labor force. They lived in the small accommodations provided by the farm owner and rode to work in crowded vans. This, of course, was an invitation for sickness. Now, that travel bans have occurred, it is questionable if they will be able to help Americans with their harvest. We worried about paper goods during the first days of the Pandemic, but the foods we eat may be the next shortage. It might be wise to start a garden in your backyard, if you have the room.
Whatever money the farm workers make usually is wired home to their families in various countries. When the picking season is over, the farm owners fly them back home until the next season. It was explained to us that all of the paperwork was done correctly with the government. They are issued short-term work visas. These workers are appreciated because they are very hard workers.
The immigrants don’t receive welfare benefits from our government. Some of our own citizens are obviously unwilling to do the back-breaking work that these people are eager to do in order to take care of themselves and their families. Unfortunately, to their health and welfare, there has been a cost. We hope that they will be able to return as long as they are here legally and the farmers can afford them.
The laborers of the fields need the honor and wages due them. What does the Holy Scripture tells us about this?
“You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether he is one of your brothers or one of the sojourners who are in your land within your towns. You shall give him his wages on the same day, before the sun sets (for he is poor and counts on it), lest he cry against you to the Lord, and you be guilty of sin. Deuteronomy 24:14-15
The video that you are about to see was made by a young woman who wanted everyone to know that many of our American, minority farm workers have a similar plight to those who come from out of the country. She is trying hard to earn extra money in order to finish her medical school education by doing the work that many others avoid. I will let her give you her story in this short video.
As for me, I will continue to enjoy my blueberries each morning as long as they are available. I now appreciate even more their beautiful, round, blue shape and their wonderful taste because I understand better that there are special human beings willing to work extremely hard to get them to me.
I bet you won’t think of a blueberry the same.
Click the link. (from ABC News If you are trying to watch on a phone, unfortunately, her video may not come up after the ad…which by the way, I’m not endorsing. Sorry if this happens…watch on your computer if possible.)
Do we have any idea what is happening in the concrete jungles of the world? Hardly! We only hear the names of big cities…Paris, London, Moscow, New York….and more. What is actually happening in these great metropolises is anybody’s guess. They are only names…without real understanding of the hard working people in their midst.
In these great cities of steel and stone are real people who are trapped in a cycle of over-population, rising costs, air pollution and the rush for investors to take every inch of land in order to build…and build. These great towers rise high and gleam in the sky…the symbol of wealth and prosperity….or DOES IT?
Take a look at our large cities and you might get an answer if you have something to compare the life of those living there and the lives of others around the world. It could make us decide that life in many American towns, even with the great improvements that need to be made, is good and should be appreciated. We must not forget that for most our blessings are great! Perhaps this blog will help us put things into perspective.
You are going to have the opportunity to follow the lives of some select people in a towering city of gigantic, concrete high rises and see what things are really like….HONG KONG. This story can be played out in any large city in the world as desire for more and more constitutes the creed in the world.
But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 1 Timothy 6:9
Hong Kong is by far the largest source of foreign direct investment in China, totaling U.S.$76 billion by the end of 1995. Mainland money is also pouring into Hong Kong, with Chinese companies investing as much as U.S.$60 billion in the territory in recent years. (Rand)
WHAT IS THE PROBLEM…IN ALL THIS PROSPERITY?
“In glitzy and prosperous Hong Kong, thousands live in conditions deemed an “insult to human dignity”. Low-income residents who can’t keep up with soaring property prices have no choice but to cram into homes barely bigger than a coffin or wire cage. More than 200,000 Hongkongers survive in the cramped and squalid conditions of so-called coffin houses and cage homes. “(RT documentaries)
A BRIEF HISTORY OF HONG KONG and ECONOMIC IMPORTANCE
Starting out as a farming fishing village and salt production site, it became an important free port and eventually a major international financial centre. The Qing dynasty ceded Hong Kong to the British Empire in 1842 through the treaty of Nanjing, ending the First Opium War. (Wikipedia)
The treaty of Nanking in 1842 ceded Hong Kong to the British. Their big ships and military might meant China had little choice at the end of the first opium war. It was given to them in perpetuity. … It was this, the New Territories, that in 1898 the British pledged to give back in 1997 (Newsweek)
Hong Kong exists as a Special Administrative Region controlled by The People’s Republic of China and enjoys its own limited autonomy as defined by the Basic Law. (Investipedia)
The cause of the 2019–20 Hong Kong protests was the proposed legislation of the 2019 Hong Kong extradition bill…and demands for democratic reform…and the fear of losing a “high degree of autonomy” in general. (Wikipedia)
Hong Kong is officially known as the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Hong Kong has one of the world’s most thriving economies and is a hub for international trade and investment. A cosmopolitan city, Hong Kong weaves Western and Asian influence into a world-class center of business, culture, and trade. (Hong Kong Atlanta)
One would think that the power and influential of Hong Kong would have economic problems figured out for the workers of this vast empire. However, the desire for wealth doesn’t mean that the average, working citizen can live with any dignity. The economy of any nation is extremely important, but the workers who are the steam behind the engine must not be overlooked.
I’ve asked why most of the workers in our country and others are the poorest of the poor…the most vulnerable to disease that spreads to others? Why are they mostly the only ones willing to work? Why, even during the pandemic in the U.S., did many of these workers, mostly Spanish or Asian, continue working in the slaughter houses while others collected unemployment, refusing to return to work as long as the government paid out?
The answer is simple…they did not want to lose a job that was their only life line. This is also the reason for the workers interviewed in the video below. We must not forget that Hong Kong is still under the thumb of communistic China. You will see in one episode where the men refused to be photographed in fear of losing the only thing they had…a job and a tiny place to live, not much bigger than your average large dog cage in the USA. Fear is a great motivator in survival.
Governments and companies should look seriously at the Holy Scripture and its promises to the worker in Psalm 128:2. The worker is promised something from God if the bosses over them do not interfere.
“You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you.”
God rewards those who work hard. They deserve to be rewarded and blessed with a good and decent life. Authoritarian powers often cancel out God’s purposes. The world will suffer and men’s actions and greed will eventually be held accountable…not only in the East…but the West.
“You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether he is one of your brothers or one of the sojourners who are in your land within your towns. You shall give him his wages on the same day, before the sun sets (for he is poor and counts on it), lest he cry against you to the Lord, and you be guilty of sin. Deuteronomy 24:14,15
This video, “Trapped inside Hong Kong’s cage houses” proves what over-crowing and rising costs leads to completely being trapped for these Hong Kong’s workers. When watching this, keep in mind that the same thing can happen in any large city in the world today.
Turn on your sound.
News about the number of immigrants coming into the U.S.A. and other countries is a big topic in today’s headlines. Some are seeking a better way of life. Others are looking to come for education. Some want permanent citizenship.
The question is how does it help us or in particular…how does it help the country they are leaving? Over the years many immigrants have come on student visas and then decide to stay. The education that they received and the knowledge that they now possess could bring much benefit to their home country…even if it is such things as clean water and inventions or technology for better infrastructure and everyday living… medical needs…thus more jobs with better pay. The list of country improvement that might be possible would be too long to share in this blog. We all have seen pictures of Ellis Island and the immigrants coming from around the world. (See slides of Ellis Island pictures)
Yes, our country is made up of immigrants from all over the world…since our beginning as a nation. Each one had a reason for wanting to come. In most cases they were not wanting to blow up America or take over our country. They may have been seeking religious freedom, but were not planning to bring religious bondage with them to those already here with different religious beliefs. They did not consider those different from themselves as infidels to be murdered. Of course, we know that there are many immigrants in our modern times who also are seeking the same things that our previous immigrants wanted. They wanted to live freely in a land with opportunity.
There will always be those immigrants who are fleeing persecution and would possibly die if they stayed in their homeland. Certainly, these must have special consideration. As a people, we are for the most part open minded and compassionate. The European nations have also opened their doors and hearts to fleeing immigrants. Hundreds of thousands have flooded their lands with little vetting. Now, they are having to reconsider their immigration policies. They are taking a very hard look at what it is doing to their lives and their economy.
We want people to enjoy our country and visitors come here by the thousands every day. Yet again, as far as making the U.S.A their permanent home, there are some serious questions that might need to be explored. One is the following:
What actually are the statistics of the impoverished in the world, who would, if they could, seek a better life?
Recently I was sent a video that tries to tackle the issue of immigration and its effect on our nation as well as the country from which they come. The speaker uses visual aids to make his points…which may be some very good points to consider when thinking of our world-wide populations. See what you think.
Video (Turn up sound)
When revolution came to Russia and people were displaced from their homes and the life of which they were familiar, revolutionaries believed that the private life was dead. Only what the Communistic State dictated would be the real life.
If you have not seen recently the movie, Dr. Zhivago, it may be a good time to watch it again and remember what life was truly like in that period of history. Russia was in turmoil; families devastated; mob rule and anarchy prevailed; starvation came to many. All were a part of this brutal time.
The signs of pending disaster were there, but most paid no attention until it was too late. Hatred for those with affluence and the ruling family of Russia ran deep. Czar Nicolas II was the last Czar of Russia when he and his family were executed by the Russian Bolsheviks.
Not until this “workers paradise” fell apart did the world see what this false world view had produced. It was easy to be deceived.
Today North Korea, which adopted the Communist and Socialist philosophy, can hardly feed its people. When viewed at night from space, their country looks almost dark compared to S. Korea. Electricity is a luxury.
Proponents of Communist thought, the Cuban revolutionaries and dictators brought oppression to its people. This has kept them in poverty and want for decades. Hundreds risked their lives in boats to flee to the United States. Only now, with the hope of something better, do the Cubans believe that their “private lives may not be dead.” The N. Koreans have less hope.
Dr. Zhivago is not only about two people thrown together by war, but one of historic relevance. Freedom is a word used liberally, but the truth of freedom of choice is not fully understood until it is no longer a part of one’s life. Under democracy, leaders can be voted in or out. How this effects your private life is more important than can be imagined.
No, our freedoms nor our private lives are not dead. We must not let them die. In every society, there are those whose goals are to take them away. History has proven that Russia and Germany did not heed this warning. We should be keeping this in mind for the New Year, 2016.
When visiting Florida, one may want to find the small towns with colorful history. Some were the bean or celery capitals of the world at one time. Most have a small museum with pictures or plaques telling what happened there.
Take Ybor City, near Tampa, for instance. It had everything from the Rough Rider Army to the mafia trying to control the area. Tampa crime started with Charlie Wall who in the 1920s controlled a number of gambling rackets…as well as corrupt officials. His headquarters was in the Ybor City neighborhood where he hired Italians, Cubans and others.
Today one is invited to take a stroll down the street (during the daytime is best); eat at the Columbia Restaurant ( first started by Cuban emigrants);visit a museum where you can learn about the cigar business of the past.
The Rough Riders rode through Ybor City. They were a military unit and was the 1st United States Volunteer Cavalry, one of three such regiments raised in 1898 for the Spanish-American War and the only one of the three to see action. Theodore Roosevelt, a commander of the Rough Riders, pushed for American involvement in Cuban independence. The term “Rough Riders” became famous from Buffalo Bill’s show. The Rough Riders were mainly college athletes, cowboys and ranchers.
While visiting Ybor City, you may even have time to visit the museum and see how cigars were made. Cuban tobacco made the finest cigars. Don Vicente Martinez Ybor, an influential cigar manufacturer, fled Cuba’s 10-year war of independence and came to Florida.
In 1885, Henry B. Plant built a new railroad and shipping port. Ybor acquired forty acres and began construction of his town. Here again, one of the biggest factories in the world was in Florida with 4,000 workers who were Cubans, Spaniards, Italians, Germans and Jews. With this diversity, they opened their own newspapers, restaurants, shops, and hospitals. From the opening of the first factory in 1886 until the 1930s, Ybor City was a flourishing Latin community. People paid premium prices for hand-rolled cigars. Workers were paid well and lived well. Ybor City became the ‘Cigar Capital of the World.’
Don’t let Florida fool you. It is much, much more than theme parks. There is history everywhere.
View VIDEO BELOW:
I live in Florida, USA. Most people who travel here are looking to visit the theme parks like Disney or Universal Studios. These are not the real Florida. The real Florida has a wonderful history. There are thousands of acres that are being preserved by the ranchers who still own the land.
The video below is worth seeing if you want to understand something about the history the present day men, women, and children of the real Florida.
It is a land of horses, brought here by the Spanish in the 1500’s. The horses drive the cows…some of special breeds from India. Dogs help with the round-up…and 4th and 5th generation children ride the range with the grandparents.
The environment is vast, wild, peaceful and filled with wild-life of all kinds: turkey, hogs, eagles, alligators and more. This is the real Florida. History has shown that the men who worked the miles of Florida from coast to coast were sturdy, rugged individuals. We must not forget the women who shared this land with them. They had their babies here with nothing more than a mid-wife and prayer that they would survive. These people were often referred to as Florida Crackers . They were also the Florida cowboys. Yes, before the wild-west cowboys, the Florida cowboys were here!
What were the Florida Crackers? (see video below)
- Crackers were self-reliant, simple and tough (mostly Scots Irish) immigrants who settled the backwoods of Florida.
- Came to Florida by the promise of independent living and cheap land e for raising cattle
- Crackers battled everyone from the Seminole Indians and the British army
- They also battled malaria from mosquitoes and wild animals.
- Living among the palmetto and scrub, they survived on turtles, possum, frogs, grits, cornbread and greens and whatever else they could catch.
- Historians will tell you that “cracker” originally meant “a braggart.” Some use the term today to describe country folk or someone who was born in Florida.
- The word “cracker” actually came from the sound of a whip made when rounding cattle.
What was the Florida Cracker House?
- wood-frame construction, an elevated first floor,
- a large attached front porch, a revealed fireplace, horizontal wood siding in both the exterior and interior,
- A wrap around porch with an overhang was key to beating the sun outdoors. The windows usually had netting or shutters to keep out bugs and other creatures
- Rocks or bricks made of oyster shell and lime served as pilings to keep the shelters off the ground.
- Crackers often built their homes of cypress wood, which has inherent anti-rot and anti-insect properties.
VIDEO OF THE REAL FLORIDA (Longer version video)
As the crowds cheered and waved approval in Chicago and elsewhere in the world at the re-election of President Obama, I was taken by a sentence given by our President in his acceptance speech. It went like this: “We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions…”
This led me to think about what individualism is and what it has accomplished through the ambitions of many. I immediately thought of the individual efforts of men like Henry Ford and the car or Edison whose many inventions changed the world. Yet, there are individuals who worked tirelessly in their homes or laboratories to change society for the better. They did it without the government or state telling them to do so. In some cases, they probably did not know what their individual efforts would do for the world. Consider the following names, that you may have never heard of but your life is different today because of them:
- Emst Alexanderson…the radio
- Luis Alvarez… the windshield wiper
- Robert Adler…TV remote
- Thomas Amat….Movie projector
- John Bardeen ….transistor
- Forest Bird….Respirator
- Laszlo Biro….ball point pen
- Samuel Blum….LASIK eye surgery
- Nills Bohlin….safety belt
- Willis Carrier…air conditioning
- Andrew Moyer ….penicillin
I can go on and on….and will write later about some of these people. Yes, it took cooperation with others to see these ideas come to their final results, conclusions and development, but what would the world be today without the individuals who first had the idea….and the ambition? What about the fore-runners to the computer age who first worked out of their garages?
First we may want to look at what those in history had to say on the subject of individualism. This would include those, like Karl Marx, who believed the masses can be controlled and individualism has little place in a social society. There are those, like John Mill, who believed that society is made better by individual thought.
“The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries witnessed an emerging role for the individual that culminated in the appearance of the language of individualism. One strand in the intensified interest in the individual was the rise of capitalism as an economic system that emphasized the individual both as the holder of self-interest and as the foundation of all legal rights. Perhaps the most famous early advocate of economic individualism was Adam Smith (1723–1790). Although Smith is sometimes labeled the first great economist of capitalism, he preferred to describe his system in terms of “natural liberty,” arguing that the welfare of society is best served when every individual seeks his or her own advantage without reference to any overarching scheme of goodness or justice. When individuals are left to their own devices, Smith held, the ensuing system possesses an inherently self-adjusting quality that will ensure the maximum satisfaction of individual desires.
The apotheosis of individualism may be found in the utilitarian doctrine, formulated most clearly by Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832), that social policy should promote the greatest good for the greatest number of people. This idea rested on the principle that all individual estimations of utility deserve equal treatment and respect in comparison with all others. Hence, no person could claim that his or her calculation of happiness counted for any more or less than another’s. A truly democratic society should treat the wishes and desires of each of its individual members with the same dignity, without regard for moral judgments concerning the content of those aims. Bentham elaborates the basic insight of Smith to cover the full range of political and social programs and institutions.
Although liberalism could seem to take individualism for granted, the extreme egalitarianism of the utilitarian position, coupled with the events of the French Revolution (1789–1799), made many thinkers (including those of a liberal stripe) nervous. Edmund Burke (1729–1797) was concerned that the spread of democratic equality and the breakdown of the organic social order would lead to the fragmentation of persons into atomized individuals lacking any sense of identity or place. He scorned the individual’s “private stock of reason” in comparison with the wisdom of history, fearing that the glorification of individuality presaged the crumbling of regard for the tradition-bearers of social authority, such as the monarchy, the nobility, and the church. Under such circumstances, Burke predicted (presciently, as it turns out) that authoritarian forms of government would step into the breach and provide an artificial identity for individuals as a remedy for their extreme alienation.
Karl Marx (1818–1883) wrote about individualism. Although Marx is commonly regarded as a holistic social thinker, he in fact repeatedly asserted that individual self-realization was the standard against which social relations should be judged. In his early writings, he condemned capitalism for the alienating and dehumanizing impact that it exercised on individual workers, while in the Communist Manifesto (1848), he called for a system of equitable distribution of the fruits of labor on the grounds that the precondition of the liberty of each is the liberty of all.” (One might call this the “Robin Hood theory” of taking from the rich to give to the poor.)
In the ’90s, I was in the former Soviet Union and saw first hand the results of Karl Marx’s theory about individualism and society. Every few feet along the road, there was a ramp on which to drive up your car in order to fix it because there were so many unfit cars on the road. I also road behind a dump truck taking grain to the market. The grain was flying out of the truck onto the road. I ask my driver, ” Why do they not cover it?” He explained to me that it does not matter how much is in the truck…just that the truck delivers something . The hard work of the individual who grew the grain and the amount delivered was not taken into consideration. Socialized medicine was a part of the society and doctors, who were skilled, were not rewarded financially for this skill. A cab driver could make more money than a doctor. Individual skill in this case did not seem to matter. The individual efforts or training of the individual were not part of how the society thinks. The masses had been trained well. One would ask then, why would a person study years to become a doctor when they could learn to drive a cab and be paid even more. Of course, we know that the former Soviet Union fell apart economically. I would say that common sense tells us that individual ambitions are important and we are not greater when we set aside this gift of individual effort. Perhaps John Stuart Mill thoughts on individualism says it best.)
“John Stuart Mill (1806–1873) shared some elements of nineteenth-century skepticism about mass democratic society, but his writings crystallized the understanding of individualism still widely shared in Western societies. According to Mill’s important essay “On Liberty” (1859), the interests of humanity are “progressive,” in the Enlightenment sense that human beings seek material and moral improvement. Mill holds that the societies that are most likely to promote this goal—societies that he terms “civilized”—share the common factor of defending and promoting individual liberty. Individualism—understood as experimentation with lifestyles and ideas—challenges uncritically received sureties and broadens the basis of human knowledge. Borrowing from Tocqueville, Mill admits that democratic society contains the potential to dampen or even forbid many expressions of personal liberty that stand at odds with mass tastes or beliefs. In contrast to Tocqueville, however, Mill maintains that individualism stands on the side of liberty, not equality. A free society supports individualism.”
We have short memories….most of us. It is not likely that anyone remembers what was said in 2008 during the Presidential Campaign. Maybe before November….or even if we plan to vote early…we should refresh our memories. A candidate may think “If it worked before…maybe, just maybe it will work again.” Was there a plan that worked that somehow we missed? Is there a plan now that is different from the first speech?
Listen and decide if it is something to believe this year. Words without results make those of us who truly listen wonder. The video below is a memory refresher…just in case you need one.