Raisin Hell

Sam: You don’t like raisins?

Joon: Not really.

Sam: Why?

Joon: They used to be fat and juicy and now they’re twisted. They had their lives stolen. Benny & Joon, 1993


I’ve heard of the Army Reserve, the injured reserve, and the Federal Reserve; I’ve heard of Indian reservations, the Reserve Clause, Santa Claus, and the sanity clause.  But who knew that resting within the musty bureaucratic bowels of the federal government was a thing called the National Raisin Reserve?

National Raisin Reserve?In the world of dried fruit, America has no greater outlaw than Marvin Horne, 68.

 Horne, a raisin farmer, has been breaking the law for 11 solid years. He now owes the U.S. government at least $650,000 in unpaid fines. And 1.2 million pounds of unpaid raisins, roughly equal to his entire harvest for four years.

 His crime? Horne defied one of the strangest arms of the federal bureaucracy — a farm program created to solve a problem during the Truman administration, and never turned off.

 He said no to the national raisin reserve.

(via  Washington Post/One Growers Grapes Of Wrath/David A. Farenthold

Poor Horne.  His intransigence caused the Raisin Administrative Committee to hire a private eye to look into his affairs.

“We probably worked that case for a couple of months,” said Rocky Pipkin.

According to Farenthold’s WaPo piece, Rocky’s P.I.’s do undercover work in nut factories — a familiarity with nuts being essential if you’re going to work with the federal government.  Hiding in the grapevines, the sun-kissed private snoopers obtained video evidence enough for the feds to charge Horne with, among other things, “failing to hold in reserve … approximately 24.7 tons of Natural Sun-dried Seedless raisins.”

The fiend.

 Confiscated raisins are legally allowed to be sold by the Raisin Committee in order to cover the expenses incurred in stealing them.  Any leftover cash is, of course, returned to the victims.  Except, according to the Committee’s president, “we pretty much spent it all.”

Given the current proclivities of our government, the Raisin Committee may or may not have been armed to the teeth with hollow-points and assault rifles, but one thing was certain — 5th Amendment or no 5th Amendment, they weren’t going to let Horne get away with it.  And so, the Great Raisin Rebellion case wound its way through the federal courts system, eventually arriving at the doorstep of the Supremes, who bounced it right back to the infamous 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.  Now, as Mr. Farenthold observes,

Horne will have to wait to find out whether the courts see him as a conscientious objector to a bad law. Or as a guy who owes the government enough raisins to fill 3.8 million boxes of Raisin Bran.


About Bob Mack

Retired since 2003. Military Service: U.S. Army, 36th Artillery Group, Babenhausen, Germany 1966-67; 1st Signal Brigade, Republic of Vietnam, 1967-68 Attended University of Miami, 1969-73
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10 Responses to Raisin Hell

  1. There are hundreds of these Draconian and oppressive laws, backed the IRS good squad; all this belongs in the USSR, not here.

  2. Kelly Kirby says:

    The national raisin reserve might sound like a fever dream of the Pillsbury Doughboy. But it is a real thing — a 64-year-old program that gives the U.S. government a heavy-handed power to interfere with the supply and demand for dried grapes.

  3. Pingback: July 11 2013 Grumpy Daily Headlines | Grumpy Opinions

  4. Carolina Z. Rollins says:

    feckingmorons : If raisins were cheaper I would buy more of them. The government needs to stop its artificial price supports.Yeah, I saw the part of the article that said demand for raisins had gone down since 2004… well, duh. Raisins are expensive. My kid likes to eat them like candy but they seem pretty expensive compared to apples and bananas.

  5. Pingback: Raisin Hell | Grumpy Opinions

  6. Lamont C. Fleming says:

    is that shit Kosher? Imagine, Marx, if the goobermint came in and seized 40 percent of your give-away robes, for no good reason. And then they sold off those robes to pay their salaries for having stolen your property? Would you just sit back and take it? This is Nazi/Fascist shit. And we ask these farmers to just take it up the bunghole, and pay lawyers to make it right. Fuck the government. This is King George shit. You all otter start paying attention, instead of justifying this shit.

  7. Like I needed more proof that our country is no longer free.

    Thanks for the downer, Mr Mack!

    wink. have a great weekend my friend.

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