FigTree Header 10.14



Review all 2022 Benefit videos

To advertise in print or online
Click here
Share this article
Search The Fig Tree's stories of people who make a difference:


If adults understood dominos, they might understand the interrelationship of issues

Nancy Minard, Editorial Team

Watching a four-year-old and his grandfather arranging dominos in increasingly complex patterns so that they may tip one and watch the growing domino effect, we realize that some connections are simple and direct and others are less obvious.  When there’s a two-year-old present we will see a simple but dramatic effect as she merrily sweeps all before her and enjoys the racket.

Immigration policy, health care, high unemployment, food insecurity and increasing demands on food banks are all problems currently facing this country.

Unfortunately, they also have become hot button issues.  Our increasingly complex life bears some resemblance to the domino game: a jiggle of one small element in one area affects the workings of another.

In this issue, the story about Brewster and the effects of an ICE raid on an orchard shows how closely these issues are related.

Immigrants have often been blamed for “taking jobs away from real Americans”.  When immigration from Ireland was heavy because of the potato famine, a Help Wanted sign in a store window might also advise, “No Irish need apply.”  Repeated studies have shown that immigrants usually fill low-paying or dirty jobs that most people don’t want, but the myth persists with the same tenacity shown by the trickle-down theory in economics.

Even though there were jobs open in Brewster’s orchards after immigrant labor had to be let go, there was no flood of applications for those jobs despite the high rate of local unemployment.

One of the jobs available was pruning fruit trees in March to maximize the growth of quality fruit that would be attractive to buyers.  The consequences of not doing the pruning would all have been negative.

People want good food for low prices.  To disrupt otherwise self-sufficient families, who grow our food supply, so they have to double up on housing and use a food bank seems inconsistent with the needs of the market. 

When the economy goes sour, food bank services are more in demand, while sources of funding for them are less available.

People who are not well nourished are subject to more health problems than the well fed.  A healthy worker is a more productive worker than one who goes to work sick, but health insurance is too expensive for low-wage workers, and many businesses operate on too slim a profit margin to afford it.  The recently passed health-care law should alleviate these factors gradually, but not completely.

When a worker becomes too sick to work at all, training a replacement is expensive.

The widespread consequences of the ICE manner of dealing with suspected illegal immigrants demonstrates a need for a better approach to immigration.

As several pointed out in this issue, if we don’t sort this issue out, everyone’s food supply will be affected.  We need policies that reflect the scope of the realities.

Everything is connected, and we need to see and feel the connectedness.

Nancy Minard - Editorial Team