Sunday, February 17, 2019

But What About Mr. Trump's Wall?

     I haven't written much about the latest developments.  I think it has become one of those "team" things: if you're onboard with Team Trump, you're unreservedly okay with it and if you're not, you want no part of it, nohow, no way.

     That's certainly one way to look at it.  It's not the only way.

     Borders create opportunities -- good and bad.  It would be nice if borders could be managed in such a way that only good people got across them, and only in the officially-approved manner; it would be great if every willing immigrant could immigrate, find work and become productive citizens.

     That's not how borders work.  It's not even how they work when the border is a peaceful one between two very similar countries -- as was painfully discovered by one of my long-ago co-workers whose girlfriend turned out to be an illegal immigrant from Canada.  She got nabbed and sent back.

     When the two countries have radically different standards of living, radically different levels of lawfulness and a significant disparity in the availability of technology and of drugs?   People, money and goods are going to cross that border, no matter how high, wide and mighty a wall bars it.

     Oh, you can raise the stakes, and that will have its greatest effect on the most vulnerable.  As I have written before, if better border security prevents people from trying to cross in the places of greatest hazard, and funnels them towards actual border-crossing locations, that's a desirable outcome in terms of fewer lives lost.  At that point, people and their Congressthings can argue about the criteria for letting people in -- and there are legitimate arguments to be made on all sides -- and have it mean something more than mere shouting at the tide.

     Drugs will still cross.  Money will still cross.  Want to fix that?  About the only way to do it is arrange matters so a volume of marijuana doesn't go way up in value the moment it crosses that line.  Do the same for every other smuggled drug.  Legalize it and let Big Pot crush the foreign competition at the cash register.  Know why they're smoking Kools in the poor neighborhoods instead of hand-rolls of backyard tobacco?  Because even growing your own costs more than buying a pack at the 7-11!  Yes, this indeed radical and scary and Not At All What Our Parents Did.  And I'm not looking forward to the day when any trucker can buy a handful of Black Beauties at the Flying J and take his chances on getting caught -- except that day is already here.  Enacting Prohibition didn't make alcohol unavailable.  Ending Prohibition didn't make driving drunk any less a crime.

     Legalize drugs -- start with pot, several states and foreign countries are already running the experiment without collapsing -- and you can build a wall with a fraction of the steel and concrete.

     Why is the story of my former co-worker's lost love worth retelling?  Because it's unusual; for a young, single woman, there was nothing on this side of the border she didn't already have at home except for a few more days of summer.  There was no economic incentive.

     Remove the economic incentive.  Ideally, Mexico should become as prosperous and gang-free as the U. S. (noting that this country is neither universally wealthy nor lacking in a degree of crime, amateur and organized; we're just better off on both scales).  Don't ask me how, though starving their drug gangs for cash would probably help.  Ideally fewer substances would be prohibited in the two countries and the remaining restricted ones would be substantially the same on both sides of the border.

     Sure, you can build a better wall.  Look how well it worked in Berlin!  Or even China.  But it's not a long-term solution.  Neither is using the idea of a wall as a political football.


B said...

It's not all drugs causing crime. It's also culture.

And walls work, to a limited extent, at preventing crossings, be they people or drugs. Yes, people will still try, and reducing the flow of drugs will raise prices, and ore folks will try to bring 'em over for the now increased profit.

But if you can't just walk across, as it is in much of the southern border, and meet a truck a few miles inside the border, it becomes harder.....and reduces the traffic considerably.

Your equipment you maintain is behind walls, locked doors, and fences. Why is that? Why not leave it open?

Nothing is perfect.

Roberta X said...

Did I, at any time, suggest or even imply an open border? Go back and read my opening lines about "team politics." This all-or-nothing thinking is bullshit.

The best fence is to have nothing on the other side of it worth the work of getting through it. To do that, you can harden the fence or reduce the value. Which of these is more practical? Which of these is less costly? Of course, there's no perfect solution; a fence is still needed. But if there's less to be easily gained on the other side, it can be less of a fence.

There will still be border-sneaking, which was the point of story of the covert Canadian; but a lot less of it, a lot less violent, a lot more amateurish.

Paul B said...

We should enforce laws and send them back.

But failing that we can build a wall. No, it will not stop the invasion we are facing but it can't hurt. And about reducing the reason for the to cross the border in the first place, well that will be corrected with the next election.

Course the result we be bad for us, but hey, I might be dead.

Carteach said...

Since when does logic and common sense have a place in the discussion?

Jeffrey Smith said...

I happen to agree with you, but I think you are just shouting into the hurricane...
Both sides need this issue to rev up their voters. They don't want a solution.
One thing that always strikes me is how the anti-immigrant rhetoric manages to recycle the same tropes that have always come to the fore when nativism gets active. C 1910, c 1850 with the Know Nothings, even c 1780 when Ben Franklin was leading the anti-German chorus. There really is nothing new under the sun.

Anonymous said...

I don’t have a problem with LEGAL IMMIGRATION. I want to minimize ILLEGAL Immigration.

I want to slow the drug smuggling and I do not want the Drug Cartels here in the US. We have enough trouble with our own home grown criminals. We don’t need more criminals. I have seen the mess and pollution left behind by the illegals and smugglers orn the border. It is terrible.

Build the Wall. If it doesn’t work, run against Trump in 2020. And no, it doesn’t cost too much. $25 billion is a drop in the $4 trillion dollars we spend every year.

Roberta X said...

Jeffery Smith writes: "I happen to agree with you, but I think you are just shouting into the hurricane...
Both sides need this issue to rev up their voters. They don't want a solution."

I think you've hit it, though I suspect that while the politicians generally don't want a solution, the electorate still wants to believe Mencken's "there is always a well-known solution to every human problem — neat, plausible," right up until he adds, "and wrong."

Most illegal immigration is accomplished by overstaying a legal entry, not by sneaking across in the dead of night. A wall won't stop it. That doesn't mean there shouldn't be a wall, only that it's no magic fix.

The buy-in -- pro and con -- to President Trump's simple wall-building slogan and the denial of any middle ground reminds me that few men understood the functioning of American politics as well as Mencken.

Anonymous said...

"Most illegal immigration is accomplished by overstaying a legal entry, not by sneaking across in the dead of night. A wall won't stop it. That doesn't mean there shouldn't be a wall, only that it's no magic fix."

It's ridiculous that we can't figure out how to make it easier and safer for the folks who want to work here legally to do so. Our agricultural industry needs seasonal workers. A lot of migrant workers would like to go home in the winter. If they knew they could re-enter without a problem, there would be less incentive for them to overstay.

Yes, "The Wall" has become a rallying cry for both sides, merits be damned. If we were discussing "Comprehensive enhanced border security with physical barriers where appropriate" only the policy wonks would care.

From what I've read from the folks on the front line, there are places where physical barriers are appropriate and effective, and places where they are not. The all-or-nothing fight is asinine.