The Commonwealth Iconoclast

A site dedicated to covering issues relevant to the Commonwealth of Virginia, and nation at large, plus other interesting things too, as I see fit...

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Great Wall

Barbarians, Tartars... they are a coming!

What about the Canadians?

Are we safe?

Events in recent days involving the Canadian conspiracy to amass 6 thousand pounds of ammonium nitrate fertilizer with the potential of producing a very big boom, prompts the Iconoclast to address the issue of illegal immigration and border security.

Prior to this week’s news in Canada, our national political leadership was focused 110 percent on providing security for the 2,000 miles of border between the United States and Mexico.

Isn’t it funny how one week can make such a big difference in how we look at things?

Now we can worry about providing security for the 4,000 miles of border between the United States and Canada also.

In rough numbers, that makes maybe 6,000 miles of border to worry about.

What to do? What to do?

How about… let’s build a wall? No… let’s build two walls!

Big walls! Very tall walls built of sturdy materials. Maybe they could be electrified. And of course, we will need lots of motion detectors and surveillance cameras. And guards too… lots of guards.

Why didn’t anybody think of this earlier?

The fact is… someone did: our own Virginia 5th District Congressman Virgil H. Goode, Jr.

Back in November, Representative Goode joined Representative Duncan Hunter of California proposed to build a sophisticated 2,000 mile long security fence along the border between the United States and Mexico. At that time, this project was estimated to cost from between $5 and $7 billion.

So, if the U.S / Mexican fence costs $5 to $7 billion, the U.S. / Canadian fence will add an additional $10 to $14 billion.

In the end, we are looking at maybe a total of $15 to $21 billion.

But who wants to put a price tag on the peace of mind we would have knowing that we are safe from illegal immigrants and/or terrorists? Besides, we all know how accurate the government is in estimating the cost of things. Really, it is best not to dwell on the cost question.

But seriously folks… let us stop and reflect on this idea for a minute before we get too carried away. I will admit it... I like simple answers to complex problems just as much as the next guy! But this idea of a great fence, whether it be 2,000 or 6,000 miles long is just silly.

It has been done before, albeit on a smaller scale. It was called the Great Wall of China and it was only 1,500 miles long. It was built to keep out the invading Tartars (much like modern day Canadians, Mexicans and terrorists).

Most historians characterize the security value of the Great Wall of China as a monumental failure, “astonishingly expensive to build, maintain and garrison” and as causing the diversion of scarce resources away from measures that could have actually made a difference in preventing the eventual fall of the Ming Dynasty.

But what do historians know anyway? When you stop to think about it, it is pretty easy to figure out what a dumb idea something was from the perspective of hind-sight.

Who knows? Maybe a Great Fence America will work...

Or maybe not...

So long as American businesses and citizens are motivated to hire illegal immigrants for the immediate financial advantage of avoiding paying higher wages and payroll taxes, I suspect there is no fence or wall high enough or sturdy enough to stem the tide.

It is kind of like the illegal drug problem: As long as there is a strong American demand for illegal drugs, those drugs will find their way across our borders somehow.

No one would disagree with the idea that border security is important. But please, let us deal with this problem more intelligently. U.S. immigration policy needs to address economic and social factors causing the basic problem. Only then will the problem be managable. By doing this, we might also make it more difficult for terrorists to hide in the netherworld of illegal immigration.

Perhaps our political leaders would be wiser to eschew the “simple answers” to complex problems and start looking for ways to invest our scarce resources for measures that will actually make a difference.


  • At 6/06/2006 8:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Representative Goode has some interesting history. Check it out :

  • At 6/06/2006 10:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Your American bias is quite apparent. Suggest you consider another perspective that may not be so sympathetic to your jingoistic slant.

  • At 6/07/2006 8:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I think your over estimating the cost. You see if we use cheap Mexican/Hispanic labor to build the wall, it will likely cost must less than you are estimating. Of course once they are finished, we'll just have to deport them all.

    I'm with you Will, I too believe that "easy solution to complex issues" is indeed the best approach. It's a good thing that Congressman Goode is so simple minded!

  • At 6/07/2006 12:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Maybe Goode could recruit MZM to build the walls. They are good at government contracting.

  • At 6/08/2006 12:45 AM, Blogger Ryan S. said…

    so please, explain to me Bush's philosophy on christian nationalist really are good for a real laugh...thanks, WV

    Thanks for your comments my progressive friend, though I think you're presumptious about what I believe and who I support. I am not a nationalist. Besides, patriotism, not nationalism is the ideal attachment. I do not believe in interventionist foreign policy as the neocons do. I am against the present war in Iraq, and believe we should bring our troops home.

    I am definitely not a supporter of George W. Bush, as my 2005 article on the Bush Betrayal reveals.

  • At 6/08/2006 9:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The problem of illegal immigration and the colateral threat of terrorism infiltration is a big challenge. But,this problem did not pop up just yesterday.

    The U.S. at all levels of government has been pretty slack in addressing the problem for years for the simple reason that you have pointed out. U.S. businesses and private citizens have been exploiting the illegals for years for financial advantage.

    With good policy and technology improvements, including improved documentation, agressive prosecution employer abuses, better visa management, remote surveillance in isolated areas and beefed-up patrols in high traffic crossings, we can probably get a handle on this problem in a couple of years.

    But don't expect to solve the problem overnight with some stupid wall.

    Keep in mind that a huge number of illegals in the U.S. today walked in through the wide open front door in broad daylight on temporary visas and nobody ever followed up to see if they ever left! How is a damned wall going to solve that problem?

  • At 6/10/2006 12:48 PM, Blogger Dubya said…

    I've got this all figured out. See, in the Republican tradition of pulling up the ladder the Mexicans who are already here will love my amnesty/guest worker program enough that they will volunteer to build the wall to keep them others out. I have already requested architectural drawings from my good friends in the Chinese govt and my good friends in Hallibrownkelliroot are using their top notch engineers getting the plans ready. It took the Chinese centuries to build their wall, being Mercans we can get er done in no time! And the beauty is that we don't have to pay for anything! And we've got this great plan in place to blame everything on Bill Clinton!

  • At 6/10/2006 2:23 PM, Blogger Dubya said…

    "Perhaps our political leaders would be wiser to eschew..."

    That's what they told me, if I'd eschew the pretzel I wouldn't choke.

    I've tried that ever since and I'm here to tell you it works!

  • At 6/10/2006 6:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thank you Dubya for your infinite wisdom. You have changed this country in ways we may never recover from!


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