26 January 2017

Wall of words

The U.S. -Mexico summit scheduled for next week has been cancelled, the countries' presidents instead agreeing to disagree, for now, on whether Mexico should contribute to the cost of the wall planned by the new U.S. administration for the countries' shared border. Recent days' developments have many Americans wringing their hands and rolling their eyes, but for the President of the United States, no doubt, it's all part of the negotiation. Whether he can win while negotiating with statesmen rather than businessmen remains to be seen. There's a certain "you want it, you pay for it" logic to the Mexican position, while Trump's options are either raw intimidation or an attempt to prove that Mexico has a responsibility to contribute some or (as he apparently prefers) all the costs of construction. The question now isn't whether a wall will or even ought to be built; like it or not, the late presidential election has settled the question, so long as the President is understood to have sufficient power through executive orders to command it, until another raises the question of tearing the wall down. The question is whether Mexico can be made to pay, whether an obligation can be proved or not. Or at least I thought that was the question, until I read a few minutes ago that the President's press secretary had announced a plan to fund the wall by imposing a 20% tariff on imports from Mexico. That sounds suspiciously like Trump has decided that the American consumer should pay for the wall. Of course, the American consumer could simply decide not to buy Mexican, but then how does the wall get built in the event of continued Mexican obdurance? Well, how does Trump propose to upgrade his country's infrastructure while cutting taxes? It had already been suggested that the U.S. would borrow money to build the wall pending an agreement with Mexico. If having the wall is the priority, paying for it becomes a question for another time. Such a conclusion may disappoint those deficit hawks for whom President Obama's deficits were an argument for Trump, but they have only themselves to blame by electing a Republican who'll most likely perpetuate the Republican preference. as practiced by Reagan and George W. Bush, for borrowing over taxation, i.e. taking the easy way out of the situation. But who knows? Maybe Trump's real idea is to float these proposals in order to inflame public opinion against Mexico as the cause of consumers or taxpayers' pain. But what public opinion can do about Mexico, or what the President can do, remains unclear. For now, the Mexicans understandably take an "Or else what?" stance, but to the extent that they regard the wall itself, regardless of who pays for it, as an affront, they have less cause for complaint, if only because a sovereign nation can do whatever its rulers please with its side of a border. Would Trump complain if the Mexicans built a wall? Of course not; that would save his country money! Meanwhile, Americans can question the propriety of building a wall or the motives for building it, but you can't really question the right to build it. And at this moment in history the argument that a border wall is somehow morally wrong is most likely a losing one.


Anonymous said...

I don't see that there is a moral component to the question. I'm not a huge fan of the wall idea but I'm also not a huge fan of illegal aliens simply running amok across the border. Since Mexicans refuse to acknowledge our right to decide who comes in, then the most realistic options are either to simply shrug our shoulders and allow them to continue to stream in or build a wall (or some other method) to stem to flow. I don't think American citizens should be forced to pay for these people's education, welfare, healthcare, etc. If they can't be bothered to revolt in their own country and demand a better, more responsive government, that should be their problem, not ours. I think a large chunk of the wall's cost could simply be diverted from the money that would usually go to pay for illegal aliens' maintenance and upkeep by cutting down the block grants the government sends to the states to cover their welfare costs. NY, CA and the rest of the blue states who have decided to run "sanctuary cities" can be the first whose grants are cut.

Samuel Wilson said...

Trump has already taken steps to cut funding to self-described sanctuary cities, but it doesn't seem to have occurred to Mr. Smart Businessman that the savings achieved can build his wall, because he's obsessed with making Mexico pay. I read this morning that Miami is apparently the first such city to capitulate rather than lose federal money.

Mexico probably isn't so much disputing its neighbor's sovereign right as taking offense at the ideas that its people are particularly unwelcome here and that therefore they should pay the U.S. to keep them out. It's possible that more Americans than Mexicans dispute our right to decide who comes in, on the assumption that any exclusion is motivated by bigotry. Expect more marches and little else from that crowd.

Anonymous said...

It isn't "their people" who are particularly unwelcome here. It is their people who ignore the laws regarding crossing the border who are unwelcome here. Someone who breaks the law - regardless of the law - is a criminal. If they are willing to break the legal requirements for entry into this country, then why should we accept that, other than that, they will be law-abiding guests who contribute to the economy or tax base?

My problem with tRump - with America in general - is that we refuse to make the hard decisions because it will make us unpopular. A better idea than building a wall is building a ditch - 50 feet deep, 100 feet across. All the earth that is dug out will be piled on the American side, making that side even higher. The trench will then be patrolled by drones programmed to kill anything larger than a coyote. When would-be illegals are faced with the choice of either 1) remaining in Mexico; 2) making the effort to gain LEGAL entry or 3) getting shot and dying at the bottom of a ditch, our illegal alien problem from Mexico will cease.

Every country on this planet has a sovereign right to act in its own best interests. Most of them do. I don't give a damned about humanity. I care about the United States. If people want to come here because our country is better than theirs, then why the fuck shouldn't WE expect them to do what is necessary to make their own country better? Fuck the syrians, the mexicans and every other third world shithole. Let them starve, die and rot. Their cultures are inferior and if they seek to cling to an inferior culture, let them and their culture go extinct. That is the way of the universe.