I know now-President Trump can be divisive and doesn’t always say smart things at the best times, but is a wall really such a bad thing? According to a CNN Money article posted this week, estimates have the wall at costing as little as $10 billion. Living in Denver, I have heard a lot about how the VA Hospital costs have tripled since initial estimates. I would be more inclined to assume the border wall would cost more along the lines of $25 billion. The article also states that only a few hundred construction jobs would be created; that seems low to me. If there are 1,300 miles of border wall to be constructed, then dozens of sections can be constructed simultaneously. That much concrete and steel have to come from somewhere, so batch plants will be built, and steel factories will have to produce at 100%. Those things both require more workers, more materials, more money being spent and made. Cranes will be needed, and with the shortage of cranes that exist already, at least in Colorado, companies will be inclined to buy more cranes and hire more operators. Much of the border is barely accessible and to move all this equipment and material, new roads will have to be built, requiring even more construction crews and materials.
Let’s say that overall, the wall and any associated construction cost $40 billion. The 2017 Federal Budget asked for $50.1 billion in foreign aid according to this Washington Post article from last September. That was also 2.1% lower than the year before. Realistically, I would expect the construction of the wall to completion to take at least 5 years. Removing 16% of the amount we pay other countries each year, we could pay for the wall over a period of 5 years, and this is just a single budget area. Total spending in 2016 was $3.9 trillion. If every federal program reduced spending by 1% [(40,000,000,000÷3,900,000,000,000)] then that alone could pay for the wall in just 1 year. With the amount of money the US government makes and spends, millions of dollars to them are like coins to us normal people. The average annual salary of Americans in 2015 was about $48,000. That means the government’s total spending is 81.25 million times as much as the average American earns. Dividing the $40 billion cost of the wall by 81.25 million means paying for the wall is the equivalent of $492 to the average person, or $98.40 per year over 5 years.
Let’s move on from cost and feasibility and address the more basic question, Why not have a protected border? Why do so many people hate the thought of a wall along our border? Protecting borders has been something civilizations and individuals have done in all of human history according to archaeological records(ex1 and ex2). Even on the individual level, the adage “Good fences make good neighbors.” is something that many people believe to be true, myself included. It follows the same line of logic of “Out of sight, out of mind” & “Keep’s honest people honest” when someone covers an expensive piece of merchandise with a towel in the back seat of their car. If people walking by don’t think there is anything of value within, they are less likely to steal from you and damage your car.
Last thought on this for now, goes back to money, but not the expense of the wall, but globalization in general. When the Federal Reserve prints dollar bills, that is American money. If illegals send money to Mexico, or if we buy Chinese-made goods, or donate money to refugees in Europe, that money is leaving the country, subtracting the total value of America and giving it to other countries. (Yes, I know there is internal spending and if other countries buy American-made goods then we receive their money, but negative trade deficit shows that this doesn’t offset). Here is trade data from the US Census Bureau, that shows the annual trade deficit the US maintains with the world back to 1989. Those numbers are in millions, and if you were to add them all up, you get get a grand total of -$12,923,722,600,000; That is NEGATIVE $12.9 trillion! I know a wall won’t get our trade deficit down very much, but by providing funds for local projects and demanding the use of American materials, we can keep as much money within the USA as we can. Don’t let the money leave the country.