OUR OWN ‘BERLIN’ WALL--So much for Mexico paying for it. According to a recent CNBC article, “Trump will request more than $4 billion in defense spending to build the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, marking the first federal dollars that would be allocated for one of his most divisive campaign promises.”
The same article stated that Trump’s “great, beautiful wall” will be significantly more expensive than the president’s original estimate of 12-15 billion dollars.”The U.S. border with Mexico is roughly 2,000 miles long and underlines four states, from California to Texas, more than half of it along the Colorado River and Rio Grande. It is a massive stretch of land — the Berlin Wall spanned just 96 miles comparatively, and it cost about $25 million to build in 1961, or around $200 million with inflation.”
We can all do the math.
Make no mistake. Trump’s wall is going to cost the American tax payers at least 25 billion. If Mexico won’t fork over a single penny then someone must pay for the wall. It will not be the president and his modest fortune. So the American people will pay for it at their own detriment. It is going to be a shark frenzy. It is going to be one of the largest pay to play rackets in the history of crony capitalism. It is going to be an unsurpassed fiasco that will have far reaching consequences for decades to come. In due course Ronald Reagan’s most historic words will be summoned to stop the bleeding and heal the wounds. Reagan’s words will instruct Republicans and conservatives that tearing down walls that separate and barricade humanity is fundamentally right. Until then it is going to be a disaster.
Referring back to the Berlin Wall, that is exactly what this Mexican-American division line will become in the eyes of the world. Like the Berlin Wall, as long as it stands, it will be used as a urine fence, art mural, protest site, commercial zone, terrorist magnet, money pit, and giant FU to internationalism and human rights. It will be climbed over and dug under. It will be burned through and broken apart. It will be a stupendous waste of time, energy, and all other precious resources needed to maintain it. It will be one of the stupidest things America has ever done. For every dollar used to build this wall, Trump will take one from the mouths of the elderly, the classrooms of the young, the hospitals of the newborn, and the lakes and rivers of our communities.
Allow me to get granular. The proposed budget eliminates the Global Climate Change Initiative and ceases payments to the U.N. climate change programs. The budget reduces funding to the U.N. and affiliated agencies and limits contributions to 25% for U.N. peacekeeping costs. The budget eliminates the Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance account; reduces funding for educational and cultural exchange programs, and calls for a nearly 18% cut next year at Health and Human Services.
As reported in the Los Angeles Times, Trump will take away $4.2 billion in grants, including the decades-old Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which helps low-income Americans with heating bills. It eliminates $403 million in training programs for nursing and other health profession; reduces the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) spending by $5.8 billion, including administrative costs and federal contributions to research funding; eliminates the Fogarty International Center, which coordinates global health research; and increases fees for Food and Drug Administration pre-market review of medical products.
The president will eliminate funding for Community Development Block Grants, cutting $3 billion; eliminate funding for community development groups that create affordable housing; eliminate HOME Investment Partnerships Program, Choice Neighborhoods, and the Self-help Homeownership Opportunity Program, cutting more than $1.1 billion.
Trump’s wall will be built at the expense of the land in which it is staked and the natural materials from which it is constructed. The Los Angeles Times reports that Trump’s budget “reduces National Forest System land-acquisition programs; eliminates the water and wastewater loan and grant program; reduces staffing in U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Service Center Agencies; cuts funding for the Clean Power Plan and international climate change programs; diminishes the role of the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, which uses civil and criminal litigation to target the most serious water, air and chemical hazards; and decreases federal support for employment services programs for unemployed seniors and disadvantaged youth, shifting the responsibility to state and local agencies.”
Sadly, I can go on. Trump’s budget cuts $60 million from the Bureau of International Labor Affairs; eliminates training grants from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration; eliminates or reduces more than 20 education based programs, including Striving Readers, Teacher Quality Partnership and International Education; and eliminates $1.2 billion for before- and after-school programs as well as summer programs.
But who needs clean water, safe food and after-school programs when you have a “big, beautiful wall?”
(George Cassidy Payne is a SUNY Adjunct Humanities Instructor and founder of Gandhi Earth Keepers International. This piece was posted first at Creative Commons.)