EAST­ERN PAS­SAGES

Trump must have blin­ders on.

The Citizen-Record (Cumberland) - - COVER STORY - Russell Wanger­sky Russell Wanger­sky is TC Me­dia’s At­lantic re­gional colum­nist. He can be reached at russell.wanger­sky@tc.tc

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.

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