From Krist Boardman:
Memo to Donald Trump, President-Elect of the United States
Ditch the wall between the U.S. and Mexico. All the steel and mortar you can assemble to build a massive wall thousands of miles long will be a monumental waste of taxpayer resources. Ever hear of the saying, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link? There will be holes in the wall, tunnels underneath it, and if there aren’t enough of those there will be boats that get into the U.S. from Mexico by sea or airplanes by air. You can count on it. Or there will be truckers smuggling illegal workers into the country just as they have found ways to smuggle illicit drugs into the U.S. where there are plenty of buyers available to pay for this kind of contraband. I realize this was probably just campaign rhetoric, to appeal to the anti-immigrant crowd and make you look tough, which helped get you elected. Good for you, you snookered enough of the voters, though not a majority of them. But just in case you are serious about this, (and how could you possibly be?), though you are capable of doing nearly any outrageous thing, I hope you would listen to a little reason.
Is Mexico going to pay for this? How could you possibly be serious? This is not the time of the conquistadores and you are not Cortez and able to steal the gold from Montezuma’s Aztec empire. How would you pay for such a wall? I know you have some type of explanation, but if you build it Joe Sixpack will be paying for the wall and he’ll have to give up at least one or two cans from his six pack to pay for the wall. We know the rich plutocrats such as those to be running your cabinet posts won’t be paying for it either, just as you haven’t paid for anything by not paying taxes for 20 years.
No, all that concrete and steel will eventually be sitting in huge landfills after the wall has outlived its usefulness, or what’s left of the wall will be sitting out in the deserts of Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and California, neither keeping anyone in or out and as a monument to the colossal stupidity of the people of the 21st Century. Some people will have profited from the construction and eventual destruction and removal of the wall, but its social usefulness overall will have been close to zero. It will be nothing but a huge expense and a long term headache that will take years to recover from.
Now, I don’t expect you to like this proposal, but it does make a lot of sense. And I do have some faith that even you could come around to seeing its value. Why? Because you like big construction projects. With public money generally you can do a lot more than private entrepreneurs can do. Here is what my proposal has working for it: It’s called GEOGRAPHY. From Central America through Mexico, the U.S. and Canada all the way to the Arctic, there is a continuous land mass. People have been traveling across this land for thousands of years ever since the Indo-Asians crossed the Aleutian land bridge maybe ten thousand years ago, in search of new homes and better opportunities. Does this sound familiar? Of course, the same patterns are in existence today. People continue to risk their lives to find better lives somewhere else in North America from where they happen to be. That’s why so many lost their lives crossing the deserts recently from the south to the U.S. border to get away from violence in their homes or to find better places to make a living.
Even if you build the wall nothing is going to change. You can use all the bluster you can muster but it’s not worth the effort. Is it really so important that some of these people in North America grew up in an area colonized by Spain, while others grew up in areas colonized by England? No it doesn’t matter and you shouldn’t be so worried about it. North America is going to be here for millions of years more unless you happen to get it destroyed in a nuclear war or there are some big earthquakes and tectonic plate shifts. We might as well take the long view and figure out a way to get along with one another so we can all share this fine continent with one another.
So here is what you need to do. The existing train line from Central America to Mexico is not that great. It needs to be improved big time. As for Mexico, there really aren’t any train lines connecting Mexico to the United States, and there should be. If a good line and some other ones running parallel to it were built so that you could go anywhere in the United States, people could get from their homes in the south to work in the north or vice versa. Of course someone is going to have to solve the immigration problems, and the do-nothing, obstructionist Congress will finally have to do something constructive and pass immigration reform that works. You could help with that if you can get your head fixed. It will cost a lot less to pass a good immigration reform bill and build some good usable rail lines connecting southern North America with northern North America than it will to build a huge two thousand mile wall that won’t work.
If you do that, here is what will happen. People will get to jobs in the north where good reliable labor is needed and they will send some of their money to their families in the south. With an improved workforce in the north perhaps some companies also won’t want to go south which is something you are trying to prevent. And more money will flow into the south to Mexico and Central America and help to stimulate an economic revival. There may also be more investment and business development in those areas which should help to raise the standards of living overall.
Here’s where the train lines, connected to comprehensive immigration reform, will also help the overall border problem in the southwestern United States. The train lines can provide border checkpoints where documents can be checked if need be, though I envision a time when there will eventually be free passage throughout the continent. But at least it will be easier to police and monitor than a hodgepodge of trucks on too many roads, where some of the trucks are smuggling people and drugs as they are now. Less people will die crossing the deserts or die suffocating in truck vans trying to get to jobs in the U.S. Hopefully no one else will ever have to die this way if you do these things.
Do you think you could get the states of Mexico and Central America to participate in such a plan and help pay for it? I think so. Long term bonds could be raised to finance these projects.
The construction that would take place would further stimulate the various economies. But this requires a positive approach, one that also takes into account the interests of our neighbors to the south as well as the interests of the people of the United States.
More than a century ago, the French and Ferdinand de Lessups started building the Panama Canal. It was a huge project and was difficult to complete. The project required big thinkers and bold plans and had many problems. The venture went bankrupt but was eventually taken over by the United States. Now the canal has been expanded. It would never have even started were it not for the imaginative efforts of a few people.
Let me also toss this in: maybe the Japanese would be interested in the rail lines and help us construct Maglev (magnetic levitation) on the north-south route for a real first class connection as is now being planned for the eastern corridor from Washington D.C. to Boston. Now that would require some real visionary thinking. Think about it!