Monday, April 11, 2016

Wall Nuts

Estimates for constructing a massive “Trump wall” have varied from the Donald’s initial estimate of $8 billion (revised upwards by some of his “peeps” to more like $12 billion) to John Oliver’s staff suggesting more like $25 billion. That doesn’t cover the maintenance and surveillance that will probably add at least a billion a year or the cost of Mr. Trump’s rounding up and deporting every single undocumented alien (mostly targeting those from south of the border) of the estimated 11 million plus here: legal costs in deporting and the massive losses to businesses who employ them or cater to their business. I haven’t seen a single hard dollar estimate here from a credible source, but I have a feeling the cost would far, far exceed the benefit.
Every year, according to the Mexican central bank, it is estimated that Mexican nationals receive about $25 billion from Mexicans living outside of Mexico, mostly through money transfers. There are no precise figures on how much of that can be allocated from U.S. sourced payments (but we can guess “most”), or how much of that money comes from legal residents or U.S. citizens versus undocumented U.S. residents. Either way, that massive sum is the backbone of the Mexican economy, without which the Mexican economy could face collapse. As Mexico’s economy faces massive cutbacks because of the low price of oil, stopping the bulk of such payments would result in starvation and decimation of so many impoverished Mexicans, a humanitarian crisis of staggering proportions.
But stopping that money flow from U.S. sources is precisely how “President Donald Trump” would get Mexico to pay for his 1,000 mile border wall: use Mexico’s poorest residents as hostages putting the United States and Mexico into a diplomatic standoff (or more?), turning allies into bitter enemies. Drug cartels are smiling, since they know how to get around, over or through walls no matter what. From airplanes, submarines, shipping, bribes to tunnels, this is their business. They see the price of drugs soaring, a benefit that makes their dangerous trade even more lucrative.
On April 4th, Mr. Trump issued a two page release to the press explaining the “how” to his plan. “In the memo, Trump said he would threaten to change a rule under the USA Patriot Act antiterrorism law to cut off a portion of the funds sent to Mexico through money transfers, commonly known as remittances. The threat would be withdrawn if Mexico made ‘a one-time payment of $5-10 billion’ to pay for the border wall, he wrote… ‘It’s an easy decision for Mexico,’ Trump said in the memo, which was written on campaign stationery emblazoned with ‘TRUMP Make America Great Again.’” Washington Post, April 5th.
But Mexican presidents, former and sitting, have already stated that they will not pay this charge, some in pretty strong language. And that means Trump would have to create one of the most avoidable humanitarian crises in modern times to build a wall that would wreak economic hardship not only on Mexico but on the United States as his immigration policy would strip out labor in farm-working, slaughter houses, food services and construction that Americans clearly will not take, leaving crops rotting in the fields. Consumer prices would soar… perhaps not as much as cartel-driven narcotics prices.
But Peter, given the Donald’s steep and rising unpopularity with the very groups that he needs to get elected, the malevolence his efforts are being greeted with by his own party, he is simply unlikely to be elected to the presidency. While I agree with that statement, knowing stranger things have happened, the damage to our nation has already been done… and is getting worse.
Even our non-Mexican allies, or those in Latin America, are looking at a country where such a large proportion of its residents so openly despise black and brown peoples, so completely apply their “take it or leave it” religious fundamentalism not only to immigrants but their fellow citizens, that they are willing to rally and vote for the most exclusionary, racist mainstream candidate in modern American history. Even as Europe is facing its own migration crisis. We are looked upon as if we were a gun-crazed, racist bully with little regard for anyone else. We are begging for a trade war, if Trump is to be taken seriously, which would foment the very recession Trump claims he would avoid. And the comparisons to Mussolini’s Italy and Hitler’s Germany are everywhere in the international press.
According to the March 17th, “Donald Trump winning the US presidency is considered one of the top 10 risks facing the world, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit…The research firm warns he could disrupt the global economy and heighten political and security risks in the US… The EIU ranking use a scale of one to 25, with Mr Trump garnering a rating of 12, the same level of risk as ‘the rising threat of jihadi terrorism destabilising the global economy’.
In my combing through the most-read/viewed periodicals and online presentations from all over the world, I have yet to come across a single piece that compliments the Trump policies. Sure there are right wing elements everywhere that embrace his message, but the mainstream is quite shocked that such feelings are growing in the most significant democracy on earth. To them, we are increasingly becoming an isolationist bully, with an oversized military, in a world mired in global threats and massive economic interdependence. We seem to be baiting terrorists. The two GOP frontrunners, a demagogue and a zealot, have the world’s major political powers on edge.
I’m Peter Dekom, and most of the world is truly shocked and terrified at the rise of intolerance and isolationism that seems increasingly to define a growing segment of America’s population.

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