The arguments against a wall on our southern border are well known. It is unnecessary, wasteful, and inefficient if not useless (but may do wonders for the ladder industry). A wall may actually increase the number of illegal immigrants in the United States (by making it hard for seasonal workers to go back and forth). It needlessly provokes Mexico, whose help we need against drug trafficking and in a variety of other arenas. And it disregards the biggest source of illegal immigrants — visa overstays.
There is, however, one terrific argument for it: It will never be built. John Cochrane writes:
Can you imagine what will happen with the Wall, even if Congress appropriates $25 billion? It will instantly be in court. Start with environmental challenges. It will of course interrupt the migration path of the Eastern Arizona accelerati incredibilus. It will disrupt holy native lands and archeological sites. Heck, infrastructure has to pass cost benefit tests, and good luck with that one. The contracting was improperly done. State attorneys general busy suing the Trump administration will quickly add to this one.
As with solar cells, as with the second avenue subway, as with the high speed train, as with the Keystone pipeline, good luck building any infrastructure in America today — and especially good luck building one that makes little sense and is a highly politicized hot potato.
If they gave the President all he wanted, tomorrow, this thing would not be out of court for decades, long after a democratic congress or administration kills it. … Even $25 billion of waste to fix immigration would not be a bad tradeoff. The waste to our country in the current immigration system is on the back of my envelope orders of magnitude greater than that.
So, if the fake wall is the trade for legalizing the “dreamers,” I’m all in favor of it.
In case you doubt that the wall would be hard to get built, Cochrane reminds us of the nonexistent high-speed train in California. “To my mind, it is a boondoggle equal to the wall, but ignore that — the entire political power structure in California and the Federal government has been behind this thing for 10 years,” he says. “And yet not one mile of the line yet exists. It took the Union Pacific 4 years to build the transcontinental railroad from Sacramento to Utah, over the Donner pass, by hand.”
At the federal level, there are many fake things that presidents commit themselves to achieving. The best example of this would be the fake “peace process.” The one that Jared Kushner is supervising. The one that will be easier since Jerusalem is “off the table.” The one to which every president gives lip service and none makes any progress.
There is already Trump’s fake effort to revive the coal industry. He keeps telling us that coal is back. In fact, a report in the Pittsburgh City Paper tells us:
On Jan. 3, Dana Mining Company announced it would close its 4 West Mine in Greene County. By this summer, 370 people will lose their coal-industry jobs. This will easily wipe out the modest gains in coal jobs Southwestern Pennsylvania experienced in 2017, as well as erase the production gains coal saw here in 2017.
Economic experts warn that coal will continue its long-term, steady decline. Pennsylvania coal-industry advocates are optimistic about coal’s future, and say coal production will remain steady and an important part of the area’s energy portfolio. But even with these diverging views of the overall future of coal, everyone seems to be in agreement about one thing: The coal jobs are not coming back.
And there is Trump’s fake effort to divest himself of his businesses and avoid a foreign-emoluments problem. He said he would do these things, but he hasn’t.
Indeed, if there is one industry Trump knows something about it — Trump Univeristy, anyone? — it is the fakery business. The man has met his moment.