Quotation of the Week: Two for the price of one

“We see that our poverty is as absolute as that of the poorest of nations. We have attempted to deny the human condition in our quest for power after power. It would be well for us to rejoin the human race, to accept our essential poverty as a gift, and share our material wealth with those in need.”

Robert Bellah, Habits of the Heart (via Dick Staub)

We told you about the tragic death of 17-year-old Maria Isabel Vasquez Jimenez who died while laboring in a Stockton area vineyard in 100 plus degree heat. According to a Wednesday AP story, the San Joaquin County Coroner has officially confirmed that Maria died of heat stroke. Maria had been working 8 hours in the blistering heat without shade or sufficient water. The closest water supply was a 10 minute walk away.

At 3:40 p.m. Maria became dizzy. She didn’t know where she was and didn’t recognize Florentino. Maria passed out.  Florentino helplessly held her in his arms.

After a number of delays Maria was taken to a clinic. On the in Lodi, the foreman called on the driver’s cell phone and spoke to Florentino. “If you take her to a clinic,” the foreman said, “don’t say she was working [for the contractor]. Say she became sick because she was jogging to get exercise. Since she’s underage, it will create big problems for us.”

Maria’s temperature upon arriving at the hospital was 108.6.  After two days and six heart stoppages, she died.

“The cost of something is that amount of life which must be exchanged for it.”

From Sonja Andrews


  1. I heard on NPR that inspectors in California are stepping up checks on workers in the fields. While many employers are complying, others are not. One example given was of the inspector and NPR reporter showing up at a location only to find no shade and the water a good 15 minutes away. Within minutes a canopy appeared “out of nowhere” and the water was moved closer by some workers. Then the supervisor came out to talk.

    If they had the tent and the water in the first place, why not just do the right thing without having to be “caught” by an inspector?

  2. Adam,

    Exactly my point, and the reason for both quotes: the denial of humanity for the sake of what…a few bucks of profit? In this case, the cost was a young woman’s life. It is tragic and despicable.

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