Ralph Higgins

Ralph Higgins
color pencil sketch by Gayle Higgins

Quotes I Like

"If you do not take an interest in the affairs of your government, then you are doomed to live under the rule of fools."

– Plato

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Last Pineapple


     My last post told a brief story about flying from Maui, Hawaii, to the island of Lanai in a “borrowed” plane.  I want to explain why my friend and I picked Lanai as our landing place.  I honestly can’t remember where we got the plane.

            Hawaiian pineapples were considered the best in the world.  The Dole Company had hundreds of acres of pineapples and employed a large workforce of locals to work the plantation on the island of Lanai.  But Cesar Chavez saw an opportunity to unionize these workers.  In the process the plantations had to shut down and jobs disappeared.

            Due to the increased cost of production, Dole was forced to close down the Lanai operation and move to the Philippines, where they could afford to do business.  The consequence of unionization was the unemployment of hundreds of American workers, who lost an opportunity to earn an income, and an island covered with rotting pineapples.  And we wonder why companies are forced to move out of our country to stay in business.         

Unions had a place in the industrial revolution.  Back when steelworkers were working 12 hour days, six days a week, and being paid pennies, I would have joined them in their rebellion.  But not now.  Today manufacturing has moved offshore, so unions have now moved into public service and government.

Teachers unions are a good example.  I taught high school back in the ‘70s and I was the only teacher on the staff who refused to join the union.  I personally saw incompetent teachers who could not be fired and were protected by tenure and the teachers unions.  I also saw the political orientation of the union, which I don’t support.

            My own father worked for 35 years paying exorbitant union dues all of those years.  Upon retirement he was told that the union had made some bad investments and the retirement fund was depleted.  I think that was when my mother had to go back to work.  So I’m not a big union sympathizer.  I’ve always preferred to succeed or fail on my own.  And I’ve had my share of failures.  I started and owned a number of small businesses without government help, but with plenty of government intrusion.

            There was one exception.  I joined the musician’s union when I was fourteen years old.  I had just been hired by the San Jose Symphony Orchestra to play French horn and trumpet as a regular member of the orchestra.  That was an honor.  Union membership was required for professional musicians, particularly in symphony orchestras.  I eventually qualified as a life member of the musicians union.  Despite that minor deviation, I remain a free enterprise/right-to-work guy.

            In any event, the destruction of the pineapple industry on Lanai worked well for my friends on Maui who ate the hell out of a ton of pineapples that my buddy and I salvaged from a deserted plantation.  The last pineapples from Lanai were personally delivered by a plane flown by a couple of unlicensed morons with elevated pulse rates, white knuckles, and pineapple juice dripping from their chins.           

13 comments:

  1. I've actually wondered what had happened those acres of pineapples. And now I know the rest of the story.

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    1. But what's all that weird stuff on the comment?

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  2. Not sure about the gobblygook above as a long in. Will try another.

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    1. Oh. It's "gobblygook." But fortunately I know who it is from.

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  3. There's a problem with the "Comment" thing on this blog. It's evidently difficult to leave a comment. If someone has an idea of how to easily leave a comment, please post it here or email the procedure to me at higgins@digitalpath.net. I get emails from frustrated folks who have given up trying to leave comments.

    This thing drives me nuts!

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  4. Trying an anonymous comment. Still OK

    Chuck

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    1. Looks like google or anonymous are the only two options for me.

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  5. Thanks, Chuck. Maybe "anonymous" is the only way to leave a comment.

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  6. Anonymous will work for everyone. Google is another option

    Chuck

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  7. Howdy, Ralph. Can I come over for a "pineapple float"?

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    Replies
    1. Didn't I make you guys a pineapple omelette when you were here?

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