New York City is the largest, wealthiest city in the United States of America, the richest, most powerful country in the world. Captains of New York finance move billions with the click of a button, and drive down heralded streets like Fifth Avenue. So why can’t the people who make its manhole covers afford any shoes?

Far be it from me to present myself as any sort of expert on the local Indian economy where New York’s manhole covers are made, but just the trailer for Natasha Reheja’s Cast in India documentary is eye-opening.

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Workers pour molten metal into casts, and press the covers down with their feet. Using blowtorches just inches from where they stand, they create the iconic slabs of metal that proclaim NEW YORK CITY SEWER - MADE IN INDIA.

But like I said, New York City is a center for not just wealth, but the wealthy. The mayor immediately preceding the one we’ve got now is worth $40 billion. If the place where we source our manhole covers from aren’t paying workers a wage enough so that they could afford basic safety equipment (and they should, they absolutely should), can’t someone donate some footwear?

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Damn.


Contact the author at ballaban@jalopnik.com.
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