Zuck Gets It

Zuckerberg

Amazing as it seems, the last election has actually woken some prominent liberals up to the fact that they are officially out of touch with middle America, and need to take steps to reach out to the heartland if they ever want to win it over. (Apparently, mocking regular folks and calling them racists and rednecks didn’t work out as well as they’d hoped.)

Miley Cyrus, for example, has recently gone back to her family-friendly country music roots and cultivated a more wholesome image in order to “reach out to her more conservative fans”. This fall, the Huffington Post will be sending 23 of its journalists on a lengthy tour of Middle America. I’m sure it’ll be a condescending dumpster fire, but I give them credit for trying.

Another famous liberal who is making a sincere attempt to reach out to Red State America is Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who in a recent post detailed a trip he took to meet a cattle ranching family in South Dakota (emphasis mine):

I had lunch today with the Norman family on their 2,500 acre cattle ranch in South Dakota.

Several years ago at Facebook, our chefs cooked a whole pig. I remember someone saying it would be delicious but she wished she didn’t have to see where the meat came from. I’ve always thought we should be thankful and understand where our food comes from — so for that year I set a goal to only eat meat that I killed and helped butcher myself.

A lot of our cattle starts in South Dakota where there are about three times as many cows as people. The Normans raise calves until they’re about 600 pounds and then send them to feed lots to get fattened and harvested. A lot of cattle are fertilized through artificial insemination. As we were talking, it became clear “AI” means something very different out here!

South Dakota is in its third year of a bad drought, and that makes it tough to feed the cattle. One of the ranchers told me it’s the worst drought he can remember — and maybe the worst since the 1930s. The family will probably need to shrink their herd of 500 cattle by 10-15% since that’s all the land can support.

The Normans talked about other challenges — from regulations limiting the hours trucks can be on the road at a time (increasing the risk that cattle will die in the back), to high-frequency trading that makes cattle prices more volatile and harder to set, to the lack of harvesting plants nearby that means some cattle has to be sent as far as China to be slaughtered.

But overall, they seemed optimistic that technology was making their work easier. They talked about how their machinery was now more stable, how the balers that make bales of hay now measure the moisture of the hay to make sure it’s ideal, and how they might use drones to monitor the herd in the near future.

The Normans are proud of the work they do — not just feeding the country, but helping provide things like insulin, leather and makeup ingredients that also come from cattle. Thanks to the Normans for welcoming me into their home. Families like theirs don’t always get a lot of credit, but we depend on the work they do.

To date, the post has been Liked over 268,000 times and shared over 17,000 times. I have my own issues with Zuckerberg, just as I do with the other lefties mentioned above, but I give him full credit for taking the time to reach out to some of the working-class folks in the heartland that we all depend on and genuinely trying to understand some of the challenges they face. He’s displaying a genuine empathy and intellectual curiosity toward other Americans that many of his fellow coastal elites lack. Hopefully they will learn from his example.

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