As I’ve stated before, Donald Trump’s main strategy as a politician is to just say offensive and stupid things, then walk the comments back a little when they generate controversy, then double down when they gather some support (presumably via Twitter).
His wall proposal is no different, and functions as a literal realization of his insular logic and worldview — all of America’s problems come from outside, and shutting outsiders out is how we’ll “make America great again.”
If Trump actually cared about other opinions, he would consider a few very basic points, such as how a border wall will impact how people work, shop and live, and not just in Mexico. Chris Wilson, deputy director of the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, recently noted:
“The economic livelihood of [border] communities are on the line if the relationship with Mexico is not managed in a cooperative way.”
At the same time, I don’t want to be insular myself. Consider how Mexico will be impacted, and if it should be. A regular argument is that Mexico presents nothing but a problem for the United States, yet plenty of stuff comes from there, and a 20 percent tax on any product will simply drive up costs for consumers. At the same time, Trump’s border ideals won’t save taxpayers money anyway, as it calls for tens of thousands of new border agents and more detention facilities. How will that be funded? Most certainly by taxes.
That’s right, the Republicans will re-introduce us to small government and make us “great again” by driving up costs of our consumer goods and by raising taxes. It seems like Republicans want to make us great again every single election year, with the same awful results. When Bush was President the economy tanked, yet the conservatives seem to have collective amnesia about that. They also seem to not understand how laws and policy ideas typically require something called funds, or they create deficits and debts.
Another very simple question emerges: If Mexico really is creating lawlessness in America, will taxing its economy actually reduce the odds of violent crime and other social ills? Probably not. Look at it this way: If violent crime is happening somewhere in America, the most logical response isn’t to increase taxes on any products made there (which is an increasingly lofty assumption). That only threatens to drive businesses out, potentially closing factories and driving the economy further underground, making a black market more likely. Well, the same principle applies with Mexico. You reduce the appeal of crime by creating a more open and less hostile society, with opportunities and people who care. Punishing people just because they are “born wrong” does not promote stability (also, the drug war makes drugs far more profitable, and the drug trade more violent).
And what about people living in or near border towns? Did Trump even bother asking them how they feel about a wall? Apparently not. It turns out that a majority of people around the border probably actually don’t want a wall. In addition to it being unsightly and unseemly, it would be a literal wall dividing communities and economies. Some people who were polled said the border is mischaracterized, and that it’s nowhere near as crazy or violent as Trump and his ilk would have us believe.
Still, despite all of that, Trump just doesn’t care. It’s who he is, and why he got elected. He got elected to not care, and just go ahead with his idiotic plans. He became President of the illusion that all our problems come from outside the United States. That’s what this is all about, really. The awkwardness and implausibility of the plan does not matter, so long as he’s not the one paying for it all with his own money. That’s really the bottom line.
So, in closing, I propose that, if a wall is to be built, it should be funded by its vocal supporters, and they should have all of their individual goods and services taxed (whether they’re buying, selling or renting). This would be the only fair way to render this service to the American people. The resulting tax revenue would then be divided between the United States and Mexico equally, as a way of having the wall and eating it, too.