Trump must have blinders on.
It’s a fascinating system that also makes a clear point that Donald Trump might be deliberately ignoring.
In suburban neighbourhoods in Cary, North Carolina, new fibreoptic cable is being run underground: foot-wide trenches are dug, 15 feet apart, and then a compressor powers what the supervisors call “the missile” through the soft clay between the holes — the missile tows cable behind it, never, apparently, striking anything close to a rock — until it reaches the next trench, and the whole process is completed all the way down the block. The trenches are filled, and the job’s done. It’s part of an effort to re-cable much of Cary, promising faster Internet time and cheaper service.
The interesting part? The trenches that the missile travels between are all dug by hand, by a legion of Hispanic men in safety vests, shoveling steadily from seven in the morning to pretty close to seven at night.
The inescapable conclusion? That huge teams of men with shovels are cheaper than heavy equipment. That this workforce is cheaper than equipment and fuel.
Contrast that with the facile argument Trump has been making — that it’s time to build a wall and evict scores of people that are “tak- ing jobs from Americans.” Funny thing is, there weren’t very many white Americans — the core of Trump’s support — working down there in the fibre trenches.
Two of the bosses on the dig are white — they are the guys with the diagrams and the big pickup trucks, but they’re not on the site that often. There’s not one single white American wielding a shovel, not on any street I’m on.
Saturday morning, the fibre crews were back, 15 feet apart, digging trenches, pulling cable and filling the trenches back in. A few streets over, another crew is using equipment to map out underground cables and lines, indicating the kinds and depths of piping using different colours of spray paint. Another crew is edging a forklift Bobcat off a trailer, heading down a driveway towards a pile of stone blocks and the foundation of a new retaining wall. Sunday morning, there’s a roofing crew, stripping shingles and then tacking down shingles with a tattoo of nail guns.
Once again, all of the crews are Hispanic — they’re the only people on the street that early in the morning; the only people not in cars.
It’s easy to invent an enemy, to pick out a “problem” that needs “solving” — more than anything else, to assuage the frustrations of others who feel hard done by, legitimately or otherwise — by promising deportations and walls.
But I doubt very much that there are ordinary Republican Americans willing to spend weeks of 12hour days digging trenches in the clay for minimum wage.
Chef Anthony Bourdain put it well talking about the restaurant industry and, more particularly, in dishwashing — a job no white American seems willing to do. Start throwing whole groups of people out of the U.S., and there will be no one left to do the jobs other Americans just don’t want to do. He suggested the restaurant industry would simply come to a halt. And just imagine: without anyone willing to get down in the trenches, plenty of people would never get the Internet service needed to download all those essential funny cat and kid videos.
Oh, the humanity.