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January 11, 2018

Pelosi’s ‘Immoral, Ineffective and Expensive’ Argument

A wall is neither moral nor immoral any more than a baseball bat is moral or immoral. What matters is the purpose for which it is used.

If you try to attend next month’s Super Bowl at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, you better have a ticket or some other type of pass that allows you to legally enter the facility. If you don’t, you won’t get in.

They have built a great big beautiful wall around that field, which, according to the stadium’s website, was constructed with $1.129 billion in private and public money.

To enter, you will need to pass through a gate, where people will verify whether you have the right to do so.

Because of this, you can bet almost no one will migrate from other parts of the country or the world to see if they can illegally penetrate the security around the Super Bowl and attend the game for free.

They know they cannot succeed. So, they will not try.

That will also spare them the misery of standing outside in Minnesota in February.

The NFL may not be serious about players standing for the national anthem, but it is more serious about border security at its stadiums than Congress has been in recent decades about border security in the American southwest.

This column has used before a comparison of the barriers that keep people out of sporting events and those that could keep people from illegally crossing our borders. It may be a reductio ad absurdum, but it does clarify some basic points: Physical barriers can be used to stop people from going where they have no right to go; they are not inherently immoral; and, given a cost-benefit analysis of what it is you are protecting and how much it costs to protect, they can be well worth the cost.

This brings us to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s fatuous argument against President Donald Trump’s commonsensical proposal to build walls along the U.S.-Mexico border.

At a July 27, 2017 press conference, Pelosi fretted that a spending bill the House Republicans were then considering would “squander” money on “President Trump’s immoral, ineffective and expensive border wall.”

Pelosi did not go on to explain why she believes Trump’s proposed wall is “immoral, ineffective and expensive.” But here is why she is wrong:

A wall is neither moral nor immoral any more than a baseball bat is moral or immoral. What matters is the purpose for which it is used.

If Bryce Harper uses a bat to fairly hit a home run, that is a perfectly moral act. If another batter takes the same bat and deliberately hits an umpire over the head, that is an immoral act. If yet another batter, in a moment of unfettered rage, throws the bat into the stands — thus injuring a child watching the game — that is an immoral act.

The Berlin Wall, which imprisoned people in a tyranny, was used by a Communist regime to immorally deprive people of their God-given rights.

Walls constructed by the U.S. government at our Mexican border would aim at achieving a goal even Pelosi’s Democratic Party now claims to favor: securing that border.

This is a just cause.

A physical barrier at the frontier of a free country — which generously allows people to come and go legally through orderly processes — and that is designed to stop people from evading those processes to illegally convey themselves and contraband into the country is comparable to Bryce Harper’s use of the bat.

It is a home run.

It not only protects people on this side of the border, it also protects those tempted to make the dangerous illegal crossing (through desert territories and in the likely company of alien smugglers and drug dealers) by deterring them from doing so.

Does the United States not have the engineering skill to make a wall that achieves these moral purposes?

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York tried to argue that border walls are ineffective in an April 24 floor speech.

But, while ridiculing the idea of a “wall,” he called for building “fences” in conjunction with other “more sophisticated means.”

“In reality,” Schumer said, “a combination of drones and fencing and other more sophisticated means would be a much more effective way to secure the border.”

Of course, it depends on what the meaning of “fence” is.

A “fence” that effectively stops both pedestrians and vehicles is synonymous with a “wall.”

But border security based on technology that merely detects illegal crossings — rather than stopping them — would require Border Patrol agents to personally intercept those crossing in potentially dangerous encounters.

Who can doubt that most members of Congress would personally prefer to have a wall between themselves and a group of drug-cartel smugglers than a drone watching overhead that needs to call for a group of Border Patrol agents who are 30 minutes away?

And the cost of protecting America with Trump’s wall? The proposal the administration sent Congress last week asked for $18 billion over the next 10 years.

That equals 0.034 percent of the $53.128 trillion the Congressional Budget Office estimates the federal government will spend over those same 10 years.

It is also just 16 times as much as it cost to build one NFL stadium in Minnesota.


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