To Wall, or Not To Wall? That is NOT the Question!

by Phil Erwin

The decades-long debate over how we should, as a nation, manage immigration across any of our borders is really about how to augment our existing population, and how – and whether – to share our resources with people from elsewhere.

I wrote that sentence with care to highlight what the concept of “immigration” is supposed to be about. It has two fundamental purposes – two equally-important sides of the coin. From the perspective of the existing citizenry of a nation, immigration is a means of bolstering not simply the numbers of citizens, but the talents, skills, personal resources and future contributions available to enhance the nation’s wealth and it people. This is not an altruistic intent; it is a self-preserving one.

But for people seeking to enter a nation, their focus is not what they can bring to the party; their focus is what they can get for themselves (and their families) by crashing the party. Theirs is not an altruistic intent, either; it is a self-preserving one.

Now, if you put these two naked purposes next to each other, it does not seem likely that you can serve both intentions (and thereby please both groups) at the same time. Each group has their own self-preservation at heart.

But viewed against the backdrop of capitalism, you can see that there actually is hope for a good, workable, mutually acceptable outcome.

Capitalism is not just an economic theory; it is a description of how people with differing desires can actually enact agreements (a.k.a. contracts) in which each participant accepts some costs, gains some benefits, and considers that he comes out the better for having made the bargain. In fact, the very best contracts, the gold standard for capitalist activity, is what is known in game theory as a win-win interaction, in which each participant thinks he has gained more than he has given up.

It seems almost paradoxical: Both participants think they are better off. But the genius of capitalism is that this is not a paradox. When capitalist contracts are well-designed, both parties actually gain more than they give up.

America is a capitalist country and society. Many argue that’s no longer true, and they have good points to make; but at heart, American culture and society run on the notion that economic interactions must be mutually agreed-to. This notion lies at the very heart of the nation’s psyche. It sparked a revolution; it informed our founding documents; it structures our laws. Even taxes, which are a form of economic coercion, are not to be levied without the expressed agreement of the voters (as approved through their elected representatives.)

But: We currently have millions of uninvited, undocumented, non-legal trespassers resident within our borders – and we never agreed to their presence. Nor were we asked to allow it. The privilege of residence was stolen from the nation, and it represents a constant and continuing cost to the citizenry. The number that’s been quoted for years is eleven million. (Remember, these are non-documented people, there’s no official registration!) Let’s say conservatively that it’s grown to 15 million over the last 10 years. That would mean that almost 5% of the nation’s residents are not supposed to be here!

That is not an insignificant number.

And when you realize that the vast majority of these people came from poor backgrounds with limited resources and education, it’s obvious that this influx has increased our nation’s bill for welfare, child-care, education and healthcare very significantly, without having increased our nation’s collective wealth in kind.

So the question to ask is not whether we should build Trump’s Big Beautiful Wall. The question we need to ask is: What is the cost-benefit calculus of illegal immigration?

It is estimated by immigration watchdogs that our annual national bill for handling illegal immigration in all the ways that we do is currently $135 Billion. That is nearly 1½ Trillion dollars over ten years. Can anyone show that we’ve gained more than a Trillion dollars in benefits for our nation over the past decade by having tacitly tolerated illegal immigration?

Not hardly.

The problem with illegal immigration is that it is unquestionably a win-lose proposition: Illegal immigrants clearly win, and America definitely loses.

And California, with the largest state population of undocumented people, naturally bears the highest cost of all the states. California’s share of the nation’s burden for an illegal population is estimated at $23 Billion. That is one-fifth the size of Governor Brown’s 2018 budget!

All the pious protests of Democrats and Dreamers and La Raza aside, illegal immigrants do not contribute $135 Billion worth of economic value to the U.S. economy each year; but they do cost us mightily. Illegal immigrants contribute only $19 Billion in taxes at federal, state and local levels – a mere one-seventh the magnitude of the costs associated with their being here. (And how much more do they send back to the “home country” in support of relatives, thus bolstering other nations’ economies while depleting ours?)

Illegal immigration costs America mightily.

That is why Donald Trump’s “big beautiful Wall” got him elected.

It’s that simple.

It’s not that Middle America wants to see a huge, unsightly barrier erected all along our southern border. And it has absolutely nothing to do with race! What Middle America wants is to stop being forced to pay, constantly, for non-Americans to have better lives – without our even having been asked! – and without ever being offered anything in return.

Not even so much as a “Thank you!”

What we get for our openness, our acceptance, our patience and generosity is ever-increasing costs, increasingly-disruptive social interactions, and constant charges of “racism,” “white supremacy” and xenophobia.

Frankly, we’re tired of being forced to always pay more and get nothing in return but problems and insults.

So Middle America hired Donald Trump, not to be a wall-builder (although that clearly was a part of the bargain.) Donald Trump was hired to stop the flood of trespassers, interlopers, ingrates and other invaders – including terrorists – who are violating our borders and forcing us daily into win-lose contracts that we never agreed to.

What the Wall really represents is Middle America saying – no, screaming – “STOP TAKING ADVANTAGE OF US!”

That sentiment is not in any way “racist” or “xenophobic.”

It is self-preservation raising its voice. It is capitalism struggling to re-assert itself.

And that is as American as it gets.

Phil Erwin is an author, IT administrator and registered Independent living in Newbury Park. He would like to support some Democrat ideals, but he has a visceral hatred for Lies and Damn Lies (and is highly suspicious of Statistics.) That pretty much eliminates supporting most Democrats, and a bunch of Republicans to boot.


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