Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Can We Ever Again Believe Anything In The LA Times?

First the link to the fraudulent story in the LA Times....


Then the links to the stories about the non-story....




To summarize the latest outrage, the most e-mailed story for many days in the LA Times states that at even $34 an hour, one landscaper is supposedly unable to find any Americans who will shovel dirt for her.

A Job Americans Won't Do, Even at $34 an Hour

Some landscape firms rebut claims that higher pay, not immigration reform, is needed.

By David Streitfeld Times Staff Writer May 18, 2006

Cyndi Smallwood is looking for a few strong men for her landscaping company. Guys with no fear of a hot sun, who can shovel dirt all day long. She'll pay as much as $34 an hour. She can't find them. Maybe potential employees don't know about her tiny Riverside firm. Maybe the problem is Southern California's solid economy and low unemployment rate. Or maybe manual labor is something that many Americans couldn't dream of doing.

"I'm baffled why more people do not apply," Smallwood says. President Bush is not. In his speech to the nation Monday night, he referred to "jobs Americans are not doing," echoing a point he has been making for years. To fill these spurned jobs and keep the economy humming, Bush says, the U.S. needs a guest worker program. Otherwise, the logic goes, fruit will rot in the fields, offices will overflow with trash and lawns and parks will revert to desert. Countering that view, opponents of a guest worker program say that Americans would find the jobs more enticing if there wasn't foreign competition to swell the labor pool and push wages down.

Smallwood is ambivalent on immigration reform, saying demands for immediate citizenship by those who entered the country illegally are offensive. But without a guest worker program, she says, her company probably will not survive. "To get workers, you have to steal them from other companies," the 54-year-old entrepreneur says. Even that has been unproductive recently. She'd ideally like to add eight employees by the end of the year to her current staff of 12.

Now as for what is wrong about this story - well - just about everything. It turns out that Ms. Smallwood is not some random landscaper who is 'ambivalent' about immigration; she is instead a dedicated activist working to change immigration laws, something the Times chooses to hide from its readers.

And buried, deep, deep into the story is the fact that the her being forced to pay as high of $34 a hour has nothing to do with market forces. It is instead mandated by the outdated labor laws of California that make it twice as expensive to hire workers to build and maintain our infrastructure. Also buried in the story is the inconvenient fact that unskilled workers - meaning those would be shoveling dirt - only get $14 an hour - and no mention is made of her having any trouble filling the $14 an hour jobs

As for the claim that other landscapers say that higher pay will not get them more workers - one of them starts his workers at $8.50 an hour and the only other person interviewed has trouble getting an experienced supervisor - and not a laborer - at $15 to $25 a hour - which is far different than not being able to find anyone to shovel dirt - as the first line of the story says - for $34 a hour.

But the big lie of the 'story' is that the supposedly 'ambivalent about immigration' landscaper is actually someone who has been spearheading a national effort to change immigration laws.

This is not a story that needs a correction. This is a serious breach of trust that requires a front page apology from the LA Times to its readers.

No comments: