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October 04, 2006

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The figure that this fence costs as much as the Panama Canal comes from this page saying the canal cost Americans about $375 million in 1914, and this Consumer Price Index table to convert that to modern dollars. The reference for the fence being $6 billion is already linked above.

for those non-city slickers, it's about $1,700 per foot.

Great post, emptypockets. With all the other stuff going on, I completely missed this. And I'm pretty sure I rank among the the few 34-yr-olds in the Internet who appreciate a good reference (or two) to Woody G.

Congressional Republicans last Friday, in between legalizing torture and shielding a child molester, sent a bill to President Bush. . . .

Some will rob you with a six-gun,
And some with a fountain pen.
--Woody Guthrie

No doubt Bechtel or Hallibugger will get the contract. Again a handout to friends without concern for consequence. Good post.

Fruit and vegetable picking is done by the most recent immigrants. As soon as they get a toehold, the men move into construction and landscaping, and the women into house cleaning and childcare, all of which pay more and are not quite as back-breaking. The recent pressure is on the new immigrants who cross the border; hence the decline in pickers. It covers vegetables as well. Watch for an increase in lettuce prices.

Immigrants do take some jobs Americans would take, such as construction and meat packing, and would take if wages were better, like landscaping. But fruit and vegetable picking have not been among those jobs for 40-50 years.

It is also undeniable that the standard of living has been improved for the upper middle and upper classes in California because of the influx of household workers. From what I have observed, African-Americans have gone into the health and retirement care industries in large numbers, where I see almost no Latinos (but large numbers of Filipinos and now Indians.)

Even in the border states a majority do not approve of the fence.

verplanck, thanks for the conversion. By comparison, it looks like a high-tensile electrified fence for livestock runs about 70 cents per foot.

A fence that covers a third of the border, at a cost inflated 100 to 1000x what it should be, and implemented without a plan to bring in the workers we need? Small government, my ass. And a $600 Pentagon-purchased toilet seat to go with it.

Mimikatz, very good points, which were in the Times article on the fruit harvest but I didn't include. It says, "As it has become harder to get into this country, many illegal immigrants have been reluctant to return to Mexico in the off-season. Remaining here year-round, they have gravitated toward more stable jobs." and includes the experience of a tomato farmer near San Diego who, after the September 11 attacks, tried to use the H-2A visa program to bring in workers legally but found it to be "a nightmare" and then tried to recruit local native-born workers but said it didn't work -- she says, "Americans do not raise their children to be farm workers."

Even in the border states a majority do not approve of the fence.

This is what I really don't get. It is one thing to push through a wasteful, nonsensical, slipshod plan a month before an election -- if it will bring in a lot of votes. But why do it with one that is so largely unpopular?? I can only guess that they worked through the numbers and figured that this was what was needed in specific districts, and among a certain wavering base.

One repub congressman said yesterday that the money was only authorized, but not actually appropriated. So depending on the election results, the fence may not even materialize.

I have watched all this firsthand. Richmond, CA was once one of the blackest cities around, but two years ago the graduating class at Richmond High was over half Latino. The Berkeley schools have undergone a somewhat similar change. Most people in my neighborhood have house or garden help, many have both. And as I walk around North Berkeley, there is an amazing amount of construction and landscaping going on, and virtually all the workers, and the roofers, are Latino.

But health and retirement care is very different. The jobs that are just above minimum wage are mostly held by African-Americans and immigrants from Asia.

Douglass Massey at Princeton has done some really good research on how making the border increasingly difficult and dangerous to cross has increased the number of folks without papers who would otherwise go home after seasonal jobs, but now stay and become undocumented permanent residents. That is, dams can have unexpected consequences. The fence is crazy. If we are going to have unregulated capital flows, we will have unregulated labor flows. And exploitation.

It is true the immigrants have moved into the unreglated areas of construction that were occupied by US born workers (like me) 30 years ago. They simply will work longer for less because they have to. This is not good for them or for our society.

Every night, I flip to Lou Dobbs at a random time to see whether he has something new on his relentless "Broken Borders" series (which is practically a brand name by now). Last night, he and an on-the-spot reporter in Easton, Pennsylvania, were talking about towns and cities in the U.S. - one in Illinois, one in Oklahoma, as well as Easton - that are seething with anger over what they consider the federal government's unwillingness to act. They seek to prosecute local employers of unauthorized workers. The legal aspects are a bit arcane, but we'll like see some test cases out of these.

More and more Mexicans are going to be staying home, and all those Americans, like Dobbs, who think this is going to help the U.S. economy, are going to be in for a major shock.

Sometimes, I wish Polk hadn't listened to the complaints of fellow Democrats and had annexed ALL of Mexico in 1848 instead of the 45% the U.S. took.

$6 billion is the cost of about six weeks in Iraq, if the reported numbers are right. Someone should make a list of all the things the Congress wants to cut funding for, or doesn't want to fund, vs what the are spending money on.

Maureen Dowd actually today noted the cost of Iraq at $6 billion per month:

Half a century of foreign affairs experience, and [Henry Kissinger] still doesn’t understand that humiliating young Arab men — and occupying Muslim land — just radicalizes them? We’re expanding terror at a cost of about $6 billion a month.

The amount of money Republicans waste is just an abomination. And then they say Democrats are going to raise taxes? You know, debts come due, fellas. Someone needs to cut up their charge cards.

MoDo got her figures from a year ago. Current cost of the war is estimated at closer to $8 billion a month by numerous sources John Murtha and the Congressional Research Service being just two.

And those figures do not, as Stiglitz and Blimes have noted, take into account the long-term costs associated with health care for veterans, rebuilding the military and some economic costs, which they figure will run $2 trillion, assuming the war ends by 2010.

thanks for correction on updated cost. $8 billion a month seems like a number every American should be getting taught by heart before now and elections.

6 Billion dollars for a 700 mile fence. Anyone recall how much it cost build the Berlin Wall. The 6 Billion dollar fence will not stop the flow of people, it will just be another obstacle to overcome. If Congress had the courage to pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform, there would be no need for a 6 billion dollar fence. As CIR would change an Illegal Flow to a Legal Flow of immigrants.

Saudi fence looks better. Soon they will have one for Canada.

Too bad someone doesn't make a chart showing who benefits from a $6B/700 mile fence, other than voters some companies must be feeling mighty fat and happy (not just Haliburton).

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