I love tomatoes. I grow my own; I eat them daily; I often buy Mexican cherry tomatoes between seasons. But recently I noticed this news article about a bust at a tomato farm in Veracruz. Even more shocking than the offered (not paid) pay rate of less than $1us per hour (~$12mx) is the kidnapping and slavery perpetrated by the owners of the farm. Mexico: I love you, but you breaka my heart! The question to watch for: what will now happen to the owners?
If this crime were committed in USA (it happens; it happens) the farm owners could be at risk of life in prison, along with labor fines that would probably bankrupt the business. But if there is one thing business owners understand, it’s risk assessment. Yet the fact that such practices continue says much about both societies. ¶Sometimes it’s just hard to enjoy a meal. Yes, we’ve all gotta eat. I need to be mindful that one man’s food is another’s paycheck. And, yes, fair trade prices have a reason for being. ¶ The early economics classic WEALTH of NATIONS describes an invisible hand in the marketplace, keeping prices fair. Is that hand, today, crippled? (The author, Adam Smith, wrote about businesses which typically had only a dozen employees.) Few students of economics are aware that Smith was not an economist but a moral philosopher (in America, an ethicist), also authoring another important volume, The THEORY of MORAL SENTIMENTS. ¶ Things to ponder as we offer thanks before our next meal.