I am in the process of reading a fascinating account of the various methods, people, and politics that were involved in the inspiration, planning, funding and completion of America’s infrastructure over the past 200 years.
It is instructive to recall how the Central Pacific western half of the Transcontinental Railroad was completed; in particular how the arduous task of preparing roadbed, blasting tunnels, and laying track through the Sierra Nevadas was accomplished.
Although high wages and other compensation were made available, the various Irish and Slavic immigrants working in the Bay Area were unwilling to take on what was clearly a very dangerous job.
The railroad executives were reminded of the fact that Chinese workers had built many enormous and long-lasting structures, not the least of which was the Great Wall. Although they were viewed as light in size and musculature, thousands were enticed to immigrate from China and put to work in the California mountains. The arduous winters, dangers from weather and nitroglycerin resulted in many injuries and death. However, without these workers, the Transcontinental Railroad would not have been completed.
We ultimately rewarded them with various forms of ethnic discrimination, including restricting their access to other jobs because it was believed that they were “taking employment from otherwise able-bodied Americans.”
Sound vaguely familiar?