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Just So We're Clear, the Border Wall Is a Stupid Idea

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Last week the President of the United States threatened to cause a government shutdown if Congress didn't fund a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Here are four reasons why building such a wall is a stupid idea:

1. Ladders. As the President himself observed during the campaign trail, this 10,000-year-old tool—purportedly invented by Thomas Ladder himself—is the Achille’s heel to the his plan to stop immigrants and drug smugglers from entering the United States. A ditch filled with sharks with laser beams attached to their heads might render ladders less effective, but there are other means of getting across treacherous barriers. Regardless, the problem here is not barriers to entry (the desert does a good job at that already). Rather, immigrants fleeing poverty and war and drug smugglers feeding the gringos’ insatiable thirst for coke are willing to cross anything in their path. A wall isn't going to change that.

2. The environment would be decimated. Contrary to what you might expect, building a “contiguous and impassable wall” along a nearly 2,000-mile border is horrible for the environment. Aside from the unimaginable carbon footprint needed to build the damn thing, the U.S.-Mexico border is also home to many endangered species that routinely move between both sides of the Rio Bravo. The jaguar—not the sports car—is one these species. As reported in Science, the proposed border wall would decimate the jaguar population across North America. Unfortunately, the Department of Homeland Security has already made it clear it doesn’t give a shit about environmental rules when it comes to building a wall. So, instead of a lonely polar bear floating on a small sheet of thin ice in the ocean, imagine a jaguar sitting in the wall's shade dying of loneliness and starvation. Not cool.

3. It’s expensive. Really expensive. “Somewhere between $68 billion to $158 billion.” That’s what Quartz estimated the border wall would cost—with the addition of solar panels on top. The panels were proposed by the President’s administration as a cost-saving initiative, arguing that the solar wall would ultimately “pay for itself.” But here’s the catch: The transmission infrastructure needed to transfer the energy from the panels to the electric grid literally doesn’t exist. So there’s that. And something about the Administration’s cuts to science research makes it seem like the Administration don’t really care to figure it out anytime soon.

4. Communism without the cool parts. Marxists argue that property should function for the benefit of all. As put by the editor of Jacobin Bhaskar Sunkara,

That’s the socialist vision: abolishing private ownership of the things we all need and use — factories, banks, offices, natural resources, utilities, communication and transportation infrastructure — and replacing it with social ownership, thereby undercutting the power of elites to hoard wealth and power. And that’s also the ethical appeal of socialism: a world where people don’t try to control others for personal gain, but instead cooperate so that everyone can flourish.

The President’s border wall would require the federal government to seize a bunch of privately-owned land across the border. But instead of creating a worker’s paradise, it would just cause a lot of headaches—and lawsuits. As noted by the Washington Post, “most Texas land” along the border “is privately owned,” meaning that the feds would have to sue “hundreds of private property owners to obtain title to their land to allow for construction of segments of the wall on that land.” Good luck getting Texan ranchers to agree.

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