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LG • 5 years ago

Looks like someone in your president's team reads your blog. this was tweeted today.


TTG • 5 years ago

The current fight over “the wall” and funding for that wall is pure politics on both sides. We are under a partial government shutdown for the sake of a symbol. Some kind of border barrier has been in existence since the 90s and the “Secure Border Act” of 2006 called for close to 700 miles of double fence barriers. Both Republican and Democratic legislatures and presidencies have maintained and added to this fencing as well as doubling the size of the CBP. According to a December 2016 GAO report on securing the SW border, the CBP spent $2.4 billion between 2007 and 2015 to deploy tactical infrastructure (TI) - fencing, gates, roads, bridges, lighting and drainage infrastructure distributed along the entire SW border area. That includes 654 miles of fencing and 5,000 miles of roads.

A total of $1.7 billion was appropriated in FY17 and FY18 for new and replacement barriers and fences. Most of those funds have been obligated to the Corp of Engineers and much of that has been awarded to contractors. Only a small percentage (6%) has been paid out for completed contracts. The following projects account for close to half of those funds:

- In New Mexico to replace 20 miles of fencing with bollard wall for $73 million. Contract was awarded in February 2018. Construction started in April 2018 and was completed in September 2018.

- In the Rio Grande Valley to build 8 miles of 18 foot bollard wall and replace existing levee wall for $167 million to begin in February 2019.

- In Arizona to build/replace 32 miles of “primary pedestrian wall” for $324 million to begin in April 2019.

- Near San Diego to replace 14 miles of 8-10 foot metal wall/fence with 18-30 foot tall bollard wall system for $287 million to begin in July 2019.

Trump’s current demand for $5.7 billion covers an additional 243 miles of fencing mostly in the Rio Grande Valley. It’ll probably be 2020 before a single bollard is set from that $5.7 billion and several years after that to issue the contracts and complete the construction. Given the shortcoming in the present border fences, that $5.7 billion would be better spent on replacing the present barriers in the most needed areas rather constructing new fence in less vulnerable areas. Just to maintain and replace what we have should require close to a billion dollars a year. I say again, this current battle over $5.7 billion for “the wall” is political posturing by both sides.

The more important demand made by Trump was the $800 million to address the humanitarian crisis on the border. These funds would provide for improved care/processing of refugees/asylum seekers, 2,750 more border agents and 75 more immigration judges. In my opinion, that would be a wise expense. I think there ought to be ten times that number of new border agents/officers to better address the refugee problem (humanitarian crisis) which will probably remain for many years. Climate change is making drought, hurricanes, floods and mudslides the new normal in Central America. The farming economy in this region, which includes southern Mexico is collapsing. Local governments are dysfunctional and impotent. These people are going to migrate or die in place.

If you want to declare a national emergency, we could use eminent domain to condemn and buy a lot of farmland at cost from corporate agribusinesses and start a “40 acres and a mule” program for refugee farm families and any native American family who desire a new start.

Mark Logan • 5 years ago

Have to agree. Trump only asked for $1.6 billion for his wall in his 2019 budget...and got it. He then decided to have a fight, one that he was loath to have when the Republicans held the majority in the House.

IMO Pelosi and co have also decided this is a good place to have a Waterloo. This isn't a struggle for a wall it's a struggle for dominance. They await a tide of public opinion to decide it.

kao_hsien_chih • 5 years ago

Definitely true: the so-called border wall is hardly new and mostly product of propaganda by both sides. But perception is the new reality, tgey say. They hate Trump, so everything Trump says has to be evil. Trump truly is Obama 2.0.

Mark Logan • 5 years ago

I can see it, both polarized segments of the population into rage, and in our political system rage is a valued commodity for a certain breed of politician. Successive reactionary movements by opposite sides.

I've heard it said that character is destiny.

Pat Lang • 5 years ago

Which character do you favor?

Mark Logan • 5 years ago

I'm ambivalent, nobody represents my views well enough for much more, but I was thinking about a flaw in character which causes us to elect such people and stridently support them.

Fred • 5 years ago

"If you want to declare a national emergency, we could ..."

We could use all the R2P language to justify intervening in a trio of central and South American countries - the ones generating all these refugees while enriching thier patricians. Perhaps we should "Make Colonization Great Again" and just take over. It would give this generation something to do. I can think of a couple of politicians who would make great governor generals.

TTG • 5 years ago

If climate change is making the majority of arable land unfarmable, all the R2Ping and colonizing in the world won't change the outcome. The peasant farm families are going to go elsewhere. I guess Canada can come up with a similar 40 acres and a moose program.

English Outsider • 5 years ago

A moose? You people over the way do think big. Ever since "Forty acres and a hoe" in indentured labour days. In 19th century England the cry was more modest. "Three acres and a cow."

We'd have to cut that down now. Less agricultural land than there was and more people. One acre and a pig? I'm probably the last surviving adherent of such a policy in England. At least it allows me to keep my politics simple.

TTG • 5 years ago

Can you imagine a couple of Guatemalan peasants trying to harness a plow to a moose? They'd have to be some tough and foolhardy lads.

The story behind the 40 acres and a mule line involved William T. Sherman's confiscation of plantations along the South Carolina and Georgia coasts and its distribution to freedmen. His order only mentions the 40 acres, but his army lent their mules to the freedmen. The land given in our various Homestead Acts was far more generous going from 160 to 640 acres.


English Outsider • 5 years ago

Some seem to have got 50 acres -

In 1617 the Virginia Company actively solicited the Lord Mayor of London to send poor children to settle the colony. The Lord Mayor complied by authorizing a charitable collection to grant five pounds apiece for equipment and passage money, while the children were to be apprenticed until the age of 21, and afterwards to have fifty acres of land in the plantation to be held in fee simple at a rent of one shilling a year.

23 This arrangement apparently worked well, and was initiated again in 1619 for "one hundred children out of the multitude that swarm in that place to be sent to Virginia."' The children, like all settlers, did not survive long in deadly Virginia, and the London City Council once again complied with a request in 1622 for the transportation of another hundred children, "being sensible of the great loss which [the plantation] lately susteyned by the barbarous cruelty of the savage people there."'


I can no longer find the reference to "40 acres and a hoe" but I seem to remember that was what indentured servants who survived could expect later.

You mention the princely amount of 640 acres. That's a square mile!

Er, could you put in a word for me? I can find my own mule, if that helps.

Eugene Owens • 5 years ago

I saw Viet families farm on a quarter acre,

Pat Lang • 5 years ago

And" So what?

Eugene Owens • 5 years ago

So nothing. Just responding to English Outsider's quip about "one acre and a pig".

Pat Lang • 5 years ago

I contracted amoebic dysentery eating Vietnamese farm produce cooked by them DOL

Fred • 5 years ago

"If" The sciene is 'settled', the economics not so much. Perhaps Honduras, Guatamala or Mexico could come up with 40 acres and an Alpaca since thier population density is lower than ours. BTW what's the carbon footprint of the latest caravan? Will it be lower here?

TTG • 5 years ago

Climate change is affecting all the northern triangle countries and southern Mexico as well. The changing precipitation and violent weather patterns are destroying the farming economy. That's fact whether it's due to natural cyclical changes or human induced changes. Maybe Mexico can contribute some arable acreage to their southern neighbors along with the requisite alpacas. I would imagine the carbon footprint of any of the migrating caravan is pretty damned low unless they all burn open wood fires.

Fred • 5 years ago

"The changing precipitation and violent weather patterns is destroying the farming economy." ? Really, I hadn't heard that rationale. I thought NAFTA hurt the small farmers of Mexico.

TTG • 5 years ago

Thanks to NAFTA, small farmers in the region can't compete with our agribusinesses. The changing climate on top of that leaves those farmers no choice but to migrate.




Fred • 5 years ago

Yes, so poor and helpless they can't get their own governments to do anything for them but take a commission while sending folks North for the gringos to take care of. How many generations of generations of obligation are we required to submit to because Central and South American governments are so corrupt?

Eugene Owens • 5 years ago

A pox on both their houses!

James Thomas • 5 years ago

I am on the left and I don't have a problem with the wall. That said, if you really want to reduce illegal immigration exit controls would be more effective (and much more cost effective). I went through a whole lot of trouble to get a work visa to work legally in Poland in the late 90s - and I wouldn't have bothered if Poland didn't have exit controls. Almost every country in the world has exit controls ... except for Canada and the US.

Pat Lang • 5 years ago

You need a wide variety of techniques. This will of necessity include border barriers.

EdwardAmame • 5 years ago

Oh cut it out. The wall is bullshit. If Trump was actually serious about illegal immigration he'd be pushing E-Verify for all US businesses to determine the eligibility of employees. But the GOP business lobby would never allow that so we get dog and pony shows like this so that Trump can act like he really means business.

Pat Lang • 5 years ago

Well, at last you have made a logical point. E-verify should be made mandatory. You would probably loose a lot of friends if it were. BTW, your many insulting comments today have caused me after many years to ban you.

John P. Teschke • 5 years ago

They should shut down the whole regime. The first things to be shut down should be the myriad of bases occupying foreign soil, particularly the bases that support the destabilization of middle eastern countries.

Pat Lang • 5 years ago

So, you want to abolish the government?

John P. Teschke • 5 years ago

While I know a total shutdown isn't realistic, I'm being rhetorical, stating my view that what the US regime does these days is more negative than positive. The Venezuela thing which has happened since is contrary to international law, as is the extra-territorial extra-legal application of sanctions regimes. I realize it would cost a lot of people a lot of money, but the negatives do seem to outweigh the positives. I think it is all a bunch of posturing in any event.

Lewis.Ballard • 5 years ago

Sir: While not directly on point, I knuckled under and signed up with Disqus simply to say how much I have appreciated this committee of correspondence over the years. Seeing your post recently about conversing with Glubb Pasha was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.

ex-PFC Chuck • 5 years ago

With regard to #1 I'm not holding my breath. Fundamental to the financial sector's business model is opportunistic predation. As Michael Hudson relentlessly documents in his recently published and forgive them their debts: Lending, Foreclosure and Redemption from Bronze Age Finance to the Jubilee Year, it has been this way since money was invented in the ancient Near East over five thousand years ago. In today's world few banksters can be expected to forego invoking the fine print terms regarding the late fees and interest rate hikes, especially considering the fact the careers of the CEOs and CFOs of publicly traded companies live or die by the next quarterly earnings report.
Sadly Hudson's important book is getting little traction. He could only get this published on a print-to-order basis in spite of the fact he has about a dozen prior books to his credit. As a PtO book it will not be stocked by chain book stores.

Adrestia • 5 years ago

In a sense there is a little bit of movement. Instead of debt jubilee the Universal Basic Income is being discussed in Davos at the World Economic Forum. That being said who will pay for it? The superrich and the supranational corporations pay less and less tax. The lower economic strata are being taxed more and are stretched to the limit. Enter the yellow vests.

In my country 4 out of 5 households are heavily burdened and economically vulnerable by fixed costs related to housing (mortgage or rent), energy and healthcare. And this is government research!

Not sure if Michael Hudson mentions it, but debt jubilees were not altruistic. When these were not given the citizens climbed the wall and settled in the ungoverned parts of the world which was most of the world then up to the 1600s.

Ironically in (ancient) history a lot of walls were not only constructed to keep invaders out, but maybe more important to keep citizens in. Hunter-gatherers have much easier lives (although with higher mortality rates because of tribal warfare) compared to 'civilized' farmers or city-dwellers. On average 10 hours of work a week was enough to get the basic needs. The following quote is from Tribe - On Homecoming and Belonging from Sebastian Junger

PERHAPS THE SINGLE MOST STARTLING FACT ABOUT America is that, alone among the modern nations that have become world powers, it did so while butted up against three thousand miles of howling wilderness populated by Stone-Age tribes. From King Philip’s War in the 1600s until the last Apache cattle raids across the Rio Grande in 1924, America waged an ongoing campaign against a native population that had barely changed, technologically, in 15,000 years. Over the course of three centuries, America became a booming industrial society that was cleaved by class divisions and racial injustice but glued together by a body of law that, theoretically at least, saw all people as equal. The Indians, on the other hand, lived communally in mobile or semi-permanent encampments that were more or less run by consensus and broadly egalitarian. Individual authority was earned rather than seized and imposed only on people who were willing to accept it. Anyone who didn’t like it was free to move somewhere else.

The proximity of these two cultures over the course of many generations presented both sides with a stark choice about how to live. By the end of the nineteenth century, factories were being built in Chicago and slums were taking root in New York while Indians fought with spears and tomahawks a thousand miles away. It may say something about human nature that a surprising number of Americans—mostly men—wound up joining Indian society rather than staying in their own. They emulated Indians, married them, were adopted by them, and on some occasions even fought alongside them. And the opposite almost never happened: Indians almost never ran away to join white society. Emigration always seemed to go from the civilized to the tribal, and it left Western thinkers flummoxed about how to explain such an apparent rejection of their society.

“When an Indian child has been brought up among us, taught our language and habituated to our customs,” Benjamin Franklin wrote to a friend in 1753, “[yet] if he goes to see his relations and make one Indian ramble with them, there is no persuading him ever to return.”

On the other hand, Franklin continued, white captives who were liberated from the Indians were almost impossible to keep at home: “Tho’ ransomed by their friends, and treated with all imaginable tenderness to prevail with them to stay among the English, yet in a short time they become disgusted with our manner of life… and take the first good opportunity of escaping again into the woods.”

Today there are hardly any places left where citizens can go to escape the ever more present and intrusive Government (the US is a paradise compared to most European governments and being a Chinese citizen must be a nightmare with the coming social credit score). IMO this creates a pressure cooker without a functioning escape valve within developed countries, especially when an influx from poor countries is expected. This applies both to the US and to Europe.

Pat Lang • 5 years ago

Why would anyone care what Sebastian Junger wrote about anything? This is the Restrepo man, the author of that disgusting book about a poorly trained and disciplined unit.

Pat Lang • 5 years ago

"the Universal Basic Income is being discussed in Davos at the World Economic Forum. That being said who will pay for it? The superrich and the supranational corporations pay less and less tax." Actually in the US the more money you make the more likely it is that you will pay a lot of tax. Most of the income tax revenue comes from the well off. At the lower end of the income spectrum people pay no federal income tax at all because of the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Adrestia • 5 years ago

With regard to income tax I agree, but with regard to wealth tax there is hardly any tax paid. This is where the real wealth is. Thus it becomes intragenerational wealth, which basically creates an aristocracy of the wealthy.

This also applies to wealth paid on capital gains, such as dividends. This is hardly taxed. The Quantative Easing trillions pumped into the economy didn't trickle down but inflated the stock prices and real estate prices. Who owns assets? Not the lower economic groups. Most of their income goes to day-to-day costs (including healthcare costs) and they are not able to save.

This is a difficult issue, but the voting of citizens against the ruling politicians and yellow vest-like movements indicate that citizens do not agree with the current state of affairs.

Pat Lang • 5 years ago

Ah, you want to confiscate people's money! I see. Yet another Marxist heard from.

Adrestia • 5 years ago

No matter what arguments I use, nothing will help so I finish with a few things which IMO are important (regardless of ideology and I'm not marxist.)

1. Cars dont buy cars. If you produce something and nobody has money to buy it , what will happen with your property?
2. Money is Fiat money, based on trust and no more than paper or a digital number. So what happens with your virtual wealth when trust evaporates?
3. When people cannot buy food anymore (or grow it themselves) this will result in revolution very quickly (eg France in 1789 or the Arab Spring, see below) especially when climate change influences food production as in 2018 https://uploads.disquscdn.c...

What might happen and to which categories of people when chaos comes may be described in Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond

After the explosion of 1994, André tried to track down the fates of Kanama’s inhabitants. She found that 5.4% were reported to her as having died as a result of the war. That number is an underestimate of the total casualties, because there were some inhabitants about whose fates she could obtain no information. Hence it remains unknown whether the death rate approached the average value of 11% for Rwanda as a whole. What is clear is that the death rate in an area where the population consisted almost entirely of Hutu was at least half of the death rate in areas where Hutu were killing Tutsi plus other Hutu.
All but one of the known victims at Kanama fell into one of six categories. First, the single Tutsi at Kanama, a widowed woman, was killed. Whether that had much to do with her being Tutsi is unclear, because she furnished so many other motives for killing: she had inherited much land, she had been involved in many land disputes, she was the widow of a polygamous Hutu husband (hence viewed as a competitor of his other wives and their families), and her deceased husband had already been forced off his land by his half-brothers.
Two more categories of victims consisted of Hutu who were large landowners. The majority of them were men over the age of 50, hence at a prime age for father/son disputes over land. The minority were younger people who had aroused jealousy by being able to earn much off-farm income and using it to buy land.
A next category of victims consisted of “troublemakers” known for being involved in all sorts of land disputes and other conflicts.
Still another category was young men and children, particularly ones from impoverished backgrounds, who were driven by desperation to enlist in the warring militias and proceeded to kill each other. This category is especially likely to have been underestimated, because it was dangerous for André to ask too many questions about who had belonged to what militia.
Finally, the largest number of victims were especially malnourished people, or especially poor people with no or very little land and without off-farm income. They evidently died because of starvation, being too weak, or not having money to buy food or to pay the bribes required to buy their survival at roadblocks.
Thus, as André and Platteau note, “The 1994 events provided a unique opportunity to settle scores, or to reshuffle land properties, even among Hutu villagers… It is not rare, even today, to hear Rwandans argue that a war is necessary to wipe out an excess of population and to bring numbers into line with the available land resources.”
Pat Lang • 5 years ago

Are you an American? Are you a Marxist? Are you a communist? you sound like one. You think the US is responsible for the world's ills? Is that not childish? I ask members of the SST community if I should ban you as either a troll or an irreconcilable enemy.

Stuart Wood • 5 years ago

There is a big difference between the amount of taxes paid and percentage paid as you well know. My favorite hometown billionaire, Warren Buffett, says he pays too little taxes. In an interview in 2007 with NBC's Tom Brokaw, Buffett took his "I'm not paying enough in taxes, and neither are my fellow billionaires" campaign to a new level, highlighting his contention that he pays a lower tax rate than all of his office employees.
He told Brokaw: "I'll bet a million dollars against any member of the Forbes 400 who challenges me that the average (federal tax rate including income and payroll taxes) for the Forbes 400 will be less than the average of their receptionists." Not one of the Forbes 400 has taken him up on the bet. With the latest tax cut I think Buffett can rest assured he will not lose his bet.

Pat Lang • 5 years ago

The US was founded on the basis of the right to hold private property. The government has no inherent right to seize people's property to include their money. We pay taxes as a an unpleasant necessity to fund the government. You seem to think that people who make more money should not be allowed by the government to keep it even though they produce most of the federal government's revenue. I have no interest in whatever Buffett thinks about other peoples' money. You are simply jealous of people who have more than you.

Stuart Wood • 5 years ago

By “inherent right” you must not mean the Constitution of the United States, Amendment XVI:The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration. Ratified Feb. 3, 1913.

Pat Lang • 5 years ago

IMO the XVI Amendment was a bad idea. I referred to the conception of inherent rights held by the framers . https://en.wikipedia.org/wi... IMO the present personal federal income tax should be abolished and replaced by some other form of taxation such as a flat tax or a consumption tax that would refund "X" dollars at the end of the tax year so as to make it less regressive than it otherwise would be.

Pat Lang • 5 years ago
Pat Lang • 5 years ago

At the lower end of the income spectrum the EITC results in refund of whatever taxes have been paid.

Bill H • 5 years ago

It can result in "return" of more than taxes paid. People can receive EITC "refund" on low income when they had no income tax withheld at all.

Eric Newhill • 5 years ago

Not only do the top 10% of income earners pay 70%+ of taxes, but if you went all 1917 and took every penny that the top 10% have, you still could not pay for all the social programs the left wants; not as a package and, for the most part, not even your favorite single one (e.g. Medicare for All); especially given an infinite influx of poor immigrants from all over the world who are attracted to all the freebees - when we're talking about the top 10% of income earners, we're looking at anyone making more than $140K/yr. So white collar workers, doctors, lawyers, state troopers with seniority and a little overtime, I think even active duty Colonels are getting lumped in there as targets for The People's Great Revenge.....At some point that arrives very quickly you run out of other people's money and have to build a wall.

NYYankeesfan • 5 years ago

They would never admit it, but of courser the Democrats want all the barriers gone and an open border.
There are approx. 22 mil. illegal aliens in this country and the Democrats want more and more.
Then they can push for amnesty (which the swamp Republicans, in their gross stupidity, will go along with) and PRESTO: 22 mil. plus entitled Democrat voters.
Who needs those redneck goober (white male)Trump voters, anyway?

Eugene Owens • 5 years ago
ex-PFC Chuck • 5 years ago

As Philip Giraldi points out in a post a The Unz Review today, the Democratic establishment isn't opposed to walls per se. It depends on who's building it and for what purpose.


RaisingMac • 5 years ago
Pelosi, Schumer and the other Democrats who prattle about the immorality and uselessness of physical border defenses should be asked each and every day if they want the present border barriers demolished so that anyone can cross the border whenever they want and anywhere they want … The wall, barrier system or whatever you want to call it presently exists on a number of sections of the border.

In honor of Sen. Chuck 'Shomer', I vote that we call our border barrier a fence, just as Israel does: https://www.youtube.com/wat...