Strawberry Fields By Miriam Wells Essay

1433 words - 6 pages

There has been a long standing debate between the socio-economic theories of capitalism and socialism. The current socio-economic system is capitalism but many feel it is not ideal due to the fact that it is based on making a profit. On the other hand, socialism is based on equality of all, which is enacted by paying all workers the same amount of money regardless of occupation. Miriam J. Wells is against capitalism and holds a socialist view point. According to Wells, politics shape the advantages and disadvantages that certain groups of people hold. The government plays an immense role on how things are structured in the fields in order to make a profit based on capitalism. Wells’ argument of capitalism being an unjust system due to politics affecting the class structure and workforce through the Bracero program, enactment of the Alien Land Law, and the return to sharecropping is quite strong even though there is a weakness in her argument due to her straying from the topic at hand and not offering an argument for the capitalist side.
Wells establishes her ethos in the beginning of the book in order to make her findings more reliable and trustworthy. Wells is an Anthropology professor at the University of California Davis. As a professor and a researcher she wants to be able to find out as much as she can and convey her findings without editing facts out or sugar coating anything. Wells states, “I spent well over a decade studying class relations in California’s central coast strawberry industry.” (Wells 1) This shows that Wells put her time into studying the strawberry fields and studying the people who worked in these fields. Also, Wells was not forced to spend many years studying the field, she chose to which enhances her credibility.
One way Wells argues effectively on politics based on capitalism having an effect on class structure and the workforce is through the creation of the Bracero program. The Bracero program, 1942-1965, was an agreement between the United States and the Mexican government which stated that Mexico would provide cheap labor by sending Mexican laborers to the United States. Mexican laborers, also known as braceros, would come to the U.S. under a contract to work for a couple of weeks or months and help out in the fields. Through the Bracero program the labor demands were met due to the high yields of crops being produced. This allowed for more money to be made by the growers and fulfilled capitalism’s idea of making a profit. By the government allowing for Mexicans to come and work for a certain amount time just to make more money shows that politics indeed has a role in the workforce. The government had a tight leash on the Braceros, not allowing them to negotiate or protest for better wages or living conditions and they were told where to work and how long to work. If the Braceros did not comply with these rules then they would be deported. This also shows how these Mexican laborers were not able to fight for...

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