By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
Democratic Party presidential hopeful Mike Bloomberg has made an unfortunate stir recently with regard to comments made in England in 2016 about farmers versus people who work in information technology. What is fascinating is that several people of completely opposite political positions feel that he was insulting the people who grow our food. People for Bernie tweeted the following:
“Time and time again we see Bloomberg insulting the middle class and the working class, union members and not yet union members.
Maybe it’s time for pundits to stop pretending he’s just another candidate.
Bloomberg is an oligarch spending his play money to buy the White House”
And in this corner, we have the President’s son, Donald J. Trump who said in his tweet:
Bloomberg wouldn’t last 3 seconds as a farmer… but like his comments on minorities, you can tell he really hates regular hardworking Americans.
He will never fight for them because he couldn’t care less about them.
The context of Bloomberg’s speech is contained below, and I’ll leave it to you to determine if he was actually being patronizing, or if he was oversimplifying, and then comparing and contrasting in order to make a point.
If you think about it, the agrarian society lasted 3,000 years, and we can teach processes. I can teach anybody – even people in this room, so no offense intended – to be a farmer. It’s a process. You dig a hole, you put a seed in, you put dirt on top, you add water, up comes corn. You can learn that. Then you had 300 years of the industrial society. You put the piece of metal on the lathe, you turn the crank in direction of arrow and you can have a job. And we created a lot of jobs. At one point, 98% of the world worked in agriculture. Today it’s 2% of the United States.
Now comes the information economy and the information economy is fundamentally different because it’s built around replacing people with technology, and the skill sets that you have to learn are how to think and analyze. And that is a whole degree level different. You have to have a different skill set. You have to have a lot more gray matter. It’s not clear the teachers can teach or the students can learn. And so the challenge of society is to find jobs for these people. …
He SAID he wasn’t trying to offend anyone, and that may be true. But just in case, I would like to take this opportunity to focus on the farmer, because I know in my heart that farmers are taken for granted, and I simply want to use this space to say “thank you,” and “we can never repay you.”
Consider this: whether or not a farmer goes to Ag school, they sign up for life-long learning. They must need to understand soil, bugs, seasons, weather, crops, animal husbandry, machinery, debt management, politics, market trends and how to land on their feet when it all goes sideways; sometimes in the middle of harvest. They embody grit and resilience, work around the clock, raise families, fall into bed exhausted, and re-invent themselves as many times as it takes. They feed us; we literally owe them our lives, end of story.
So for me, I’ll let everyone else fight over what Mike meant, and focus on the farmers in my family and elsewhere by saying to the 2%, “You are the absolute best, and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.”
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner