Declaring a national emergency to build a piece of wall at the U.S./Mexico border is simply indefensible.
- First, to understand – in generalities – the numbers:
- One billion equals one thousand millions.
- A billion has 9 zeros. 1,000,000,000
To build a 4 lane highway is costs about 5-10M / mile – about the same as for Trump’s wall. Trump wants approximately $5B.
… not that there’s anything wrong with the idea of securing the border by undertaking a massive infrastructure project. Except. Except we have choices to make. Everyone is in favor of border security. And most folks understand that public infrastructure expense is generally a good idea.
But, specifics matter. Process matters.
Public policy is not as simple as choosing between ‘guns or butter’ or ‘law and order or fairness and equity’… Life is complicated. Collective decision making – democracy – is messy… Yet, sometimes simple examples and comparisons may help.
What else can $5B in infrastructure get you? Take your pick – or a combination of:
- 5,000 rural community centers
- 50,000 affordably priced apartments.
- 100,000 opioid treatment centers
- 1,000,000 internet ready classrooms
- 5,000,000 safe crosswalks
- 10,000,000 phones for the homeless
Every year, somewhere between 30,000 and 60,000 people in the U.S. die each from:
- Gun violence
- Car accidents
That’s over 100,000 people dead. Every year. Could you imagine how many of these deaths could be avoided if $5B was dedicated to addressing these issues?
On and on and on… Statistics can only take us so far….
… just think: Future Presidents will be tempted to use “national emergencies” to address any of the above data points. They will all have credible rationale to justify going around the power of Congress to do it. Now they will have a precedent to declare a “national emergency” for political purposes.
If the the illogical, strong-man, near-dictatorial behaviour of this President does not bother you, then there’s nothing much we can talk about… There’s so very little ‘common ground’ or ‘intersecting agenda’.
Welcome to the new U.S.A.