Terrible Symbolism

I know that many of my readers have more skepticism than I about open immigration.  We will leave that for another day.  But I am not sure how any American who prides themselves on American exceptionalism and our leading role in the world promoting freedom wouldn't cringe at seeing these pictures.  What a terrible image they will make running for thousands of unbroken miles.

I am not sure why we are going through all this engineering effort when we could just be borrowing from the experts:

Postscript:  Congrats to our local entrants from the Phoenix area firm that submitted by far t

he ugliest design.

Update:  Just to confirm, based on the comments:  Yes, I do not see an ethical difference between stopping people from coming in and stopping them from going out.    Others of you do see a difference, and we will have to disagree.  I don't think the Berlin Wall would have shifted from evil to OK had it been built by the West Germans instead to keep communists bottled up on their side.  I know folks love to use the home analogy, that it is OK to fence folks out of your home but a federal crime to fence them in.  But I have always thought equating a whole country to private property is a bad analogy.  Basically, such an assumption rests on socialist community property ownership assumptions.   A Mexican man wants to drive a car he owns, using gas he buys along the highway, along a road paid for with the gas taxes he just paid, to take a job at my company I freely offer him and rent an apartment I freely lease to him.  Voting, government benefits, holding office -- we don't necessarily have an obligation to offer any of those things, at least initially.  But I don't think it is ethical to erect this wall in his path to exercising free exchange.


  1. J Crain:

    Amen, brother. Of all his lame ideas, the wall has to be one of Trump's worst (after trade). What a terrible symbol that will become if it's built.

    And just think of all the tunnels waiting to be dug. My guess is it won't stop illegal immigrants but it may drive up the cost & danger of finding a "coyote".

  2. mckyj57:

    The Berlin Wall was to keep people in. That is all.

  3. BobLouGlob:

    The election of Trump and mere threat of a wall on our southern boarder has sent illegal immigration to record lows. The symbolism isn't terrible at all, but a reminder of U.S. sovereignty.

  4. The_Big_W:

    I don't know it looks a lot like the barriers that are put up alongside many freeways. Those types of barriers are always sold to us as "beautification".

    And while I know you're an open borders advocate, as a libertarian the view has to be "open immigration"/"extensive welfare state" pick one...

  5. The_Big_W:

    On another note. Those wall samples all look a lot like that modern art the lefties love so much...

  6. TruthisaPeskyThing:

    Coyote, your inclusion of the Berlin Wall is an outrageously false analogy -- worthy of a Democrat. I expected better from you.

    The purpose of Berlin Wall was to create a prison to keep people in. A country that cannot secure its borders will suffer. Just ask the Powhatan tribe about that. Or ask Estonians what happened when they could not secure their borders. Tibet is another example.

  7. thesafesurfer:

    I cringe at the author's ignorance of the nature and purpose of the Berlin Wall.

  8. TruthisaPeskyThing:

    I would agree that the border-adjustment tax idea is probably the worst idea. However, I am not so sure about the wall. Something has to be done about Immigration. Noteworthy is that the main source of illegal immigration is not crossing the Southern border, but rather overstays of temporary visas. Nevertheless, the wall could be an important statement about how serious we will be about illegal immigration.

  9. CapnRusty:

    Coyote, while we're at it, we could put up some nice space-age restaurants, like this one over the bridge in Bratislava, Slovakia that leads to Austia. Well, that wasn't a restaurant until after the Iron Curtain fell. It was a watch tower, over the bridge that led to freedom, manned by Soviet soldiers, with orders to shoot to kill. It was not built by the Austrians.


  10. Michael Stack:

    These comments are depressing. I'm quite sure Coyote realizes the purpose of the Berlin wall - I'm guessing that was part of his point.

    I see all sorts of false comparisons between letting people in who want to work, and people who actually want to invade and take over a country.

    If your (not TruthisaPeskyThing, but general 'you') goal is to minimize reliance on the US welfare state, then fine - let's have relatively open immigration, but no welfare state for folks who aren't citizens.

    If that doesn't appeal to you, then I'm guessing this was never really about the welfare state to begin with.

  11. Mercury:

    "But I am not sure how any American who prides themselves on American exceptionalism and our leading role in the world promoting freedom wouldn't cringe at seeing these pictures."
    In a nutshell: because America is so exceptional, WAY more people want to live here than Americans want, sort of like how WAY more people would like to attend Harvard, which is also exceptional, than Harvard wants.

    Harvard gets to make up their own rules (some practical, some political, some silly) about who gets to attend Harvard and most Americans similarly want to be able to collectively decide who gets to come to America and under what conditions.

    Ironically, most people at Harvard don't want Americans to have the same discretion over America's admissions policies.

    BTW - The USA could never let another immigrant into the country -ever- and still promote the hell out of freedom all over the world - just as Harvard students and scholars of all sorts go out and promote worthy causes abroad.

    If the rest of the world were more free there wouldn't be as much demand for American citizenship. Maybe if it becomes harder to emigrate to America more people around the world will agitate for their own country's governments to get their shit together. Would that be such a bad thing?

  12. John Smith:

    Because we know that once the illegals get in, the democrats will spare no effort to make it a crime to deny welfare to illegals.
    Why do we know this? Because they already have.

  13. John Smith:

    Coyote just proved what a liberal he is.

  14. Mercury:

    Right, in theory, a giant wall with a gate that never gets closed is just as effective as perfectly serviceable laws that are never enforced.

    So, the terrible symbolism here is really that "nation of laws" has become sort of a joke - immigration law is just the tip of the iceberg.

  15. EDM:

    I agree, terrible symbolism. I would like to see machine gun towers ever 100 yards. Great jobs program as well.

  16. kidmugsy:

    "American exceptionalism" seems principally to be a claim that the constraints that apply to the behaviour of other countries should never apply to the US.

    "our leading role in the world promoting freedom": what on earth do you have in mind? Iraq, Libya, Syria, Serbia, ......

  17. F.Inahoy:

    I see that same terrible image when I drive through my suburban neighborhood. Home after home, yards all fenced in. What kind of people do this? Restricting freedom of movement and trying to keep people off the land. As if they're special or something. What kind of Americans are these people that they can do this?

  18. me:

    Honestly, the thing that pisses me off most about it is that it is guaranteed not to work and will cost billions that could be much better used in oh-so-many ways.

    Really closing off a country with a surrounding wall is not feasible (ladders, tunnels, boats, ...). Illegal immigration is best fought in the cities and at the enterprises employing illegals, and oddly enough we have the laws an law enforcement agencies to do that already.

    Just so happens that they are underfunded - talk about a better use of the wall money.

  19. me:

    Actually - what makes you so sure that the wall will in the future not be used to keep people in? Nations building walls have historically not a great track record.

  20. Thane_Eichenauer:

    The US of A is not East Berlin. The comparison Coyote makes is not apt. I second this comment (at least for this week).

  21. ErikTheRed:

    Ah, the hilarity of the Republican platform on immigration:

    1) Embrace the welfare state and electing politicians that build it up, while endlessly complaining about it.
    2) Prevent illegal immigrants from working, while endlessly complaining about jobs requiring cheap labor going to China.
    3) Watch the Democrats force illegal immigrants into welfare (hey, they can't work legally) while doing nothing to stop it, and endlessly complaining about it.
    4) Prove their complete and absolute ignorance of economics and praxeology by demanding a wall be built to stop illegal immigration and endlessly complaining about it.
    5) Lie with a straight face about being the party of "small government" while endlessly complaining about it.

    It's like watching a person hit themselves in the head with a baseball bat over and over and over while endlessly complaining about how they always have headaches.

    The Republican failure to attack the welfare state - a deeply insidious destroyer of the human spirit - is a moral failing, an economic failing, and a political failing as it allows their opponents to trap people in welfare and then buy their votes with the threats of cutting their standard of living further.

    To then whine about how a problem that they steadfastly refuse to address creates problems with immigrants is beyond pathetic. I can't even comprehend the lack of character in a person that would prevent other human beings from improving their own lives just because they are too cowardly to stand up to their political opponents. Absolutely disgusting.

  22. C078342:

    But just tell me, what part of "illegal" don't you understand.

  23. Dan Pangburn:

    My quick calcs for a 30 ft high 1 ft thick reinforced concrete wall should cost less than $1000 per foot material and labor (tilt-up design so minimum 'forms'). The Israeli wall cost about $606 per foot and it works. At that rate our 1257 miles of wall should cost about $4 billion. If you don’t like how it looks, don’t look at it.

  24. mlhouse:

    Many countries have walls and other barriers along their border. I get the Libertarian dream of open borders. In theory, labor should go to where labor is needed. However, the inclusion of the modern welfare state makes that impossible.

    Further, I agree with Mark Steyn. If you do not put walls around your border, at least figuratively, you will need to put walls around everything else. This is so true.

  25. marque2:

    I like the blue one. I don't know if it meets all the qualifications, but would vote for that.

  26. marque2:

    No he is a libertarian. Who will supply us with all the drugs that libertarians are always pining for if we build a wall?

    This is again, a person who lives in a wonderful gated community, who has no clue about the suffering of the rest of us. In the Northeast and large parts of the Midwest, drugs have destroyed lives - and is lowering the general well being of the nation. Of course maybe that is another libertarian plan. After all they were the ones who alone with rich elites decided it would be great to export jobs from the Midwest and northeast to China - telling us these people would find more productive jobs. That didn't happen, so in despair they all sit around and abuse opioids. It is a way to placate the masses while the elite get rich off their Chinese investments.

  27. marque2:

    And they are suppose to cut sound to nearby homes, but that benefit is apparently dubious

  28. marque2:

    Of course as liberals rename illegal immigrants, merely immigrants. Libertarians, have renamed fake trade, free trade. It isn't very free if one country is allowed to ship all their goods (for the most part) one way, but the other country isn't allowed to ship and sell anything back.

    What Trump really wants is for China to open up their borders to our goods and services, and yet this is somehow an abomination to free trade, even though Trump's plan is freer.

  29. marque2:

    Interesting how just about every other country has an import tax. We alone allow goods in without significant tax. Why should Germany tax our goods 10% and then demand we allow everything in for free. Same with China, though their taxes are 50 - 150% if the import isn't banned outright. How is that free or fair? How is that in the interest of middle class workers - rather than the elite? We are told we just have to get more productive, well to get 100% more productive just to compete with Chinese goods, is a tall task to ask, even for one of the most technological counties in the world.

  30. marque2:

    How is it guaranteed not to work unless political opponents sabotage the effort? Your examples are only valid for the current wall. Did you see the video of the Mexican lifting his child over the wall, on MSNBC while filming the above samples? It becomes much harder when you need to carry a 30 foot ladder, and gives our guys time to get to the scene before anyone can get over. Also these walls will go down a significant number of feet limiting the tunneling as well.

    Also the point is not to make it impossible to cross, but so much more difficult that people don't bother to attempt it.

  31. Agammamon:

    So let's get rid of the state welfare.

  32. jon49:

    Dude, people in this comments section don't even know their history. Just look at passports. You can't friggin' leave this country if you owe child support because of the passport system. Yes, putting up a wall is one more brick in the wall that represents taking away our freedom. Just like going over seas to fight "evil" people causes the citizens in this country to have less freedoms. YO, STOP WANTING SLAVERY FOOLS!

  33. marque2:

    That is the swamp, that the Trump administration is trying to drain, kicking and screaming. MAGA!

  34. marque2:

    I think your figure of $1000 is too low. That would be a bargain, with a 1200 mile border wall costing about $6billion. $20 - $30billion is more likely, but it is still a bargain.

  35. marque2:

    I think the point of the wall, is not so much to take away my freedom, but to take away the freedom of non-citizens to wantonly enter without permission.

  36. texasjimbo:

    He knows the purpose of the Berlin wall but insist on repeatedly comparing it to a US boarder wall that would do the opposite of the Berlin wall, keep out people who do not have a legal right to enter the country. As opposed to keeping in citizens who want to leave. You think the fact that Coyote *knows* the difference and still behaves as though there is no difference doesn't make his argument much worse. In other news, people who push child out of the path of on coming cars are exactly the same as people who push them into the path of on coming cars.
    The only explanation for people like you and Coyote making this kind of argument is either pure stupidity, which clearly is not true for Warren. Or pure dishonesty, which I doubt in Warren's case. Or ideological blindness.

  37. texasjimbo:

    Dan is citing a figure for a wall that is comparable and built in a more challenging environment. That suggest there is a way to build it for less than the $1000.00/ft. figure, doesn't it?

  38. texasjimbo:

    Also, Warren's and your comments are remarkably similar to how totalitarian government's propagandize events, turning reality on its head to characterize something as bad that a reasonable person would think was good.

  39. marque2:

    I should also mention all the hidden tariffs, through regulation. Countries that won't allow US beef import, or orange import, because we don't feed the cows to some standard they made up, or in Japan's case, the government thinks our tangerine skins are thicker than Japanese ones. We grow the best rice in the world but are not allowed, for the most part to sell it to Asian countries as another great example. Airbus specs out their requirements to favor European industry - when American companies say, he we have perfectly good displays except for a few of your crazier requirements, Airbus says no dice, we are going with Thales - oh do they happen to be a French company. There are others, like production requirements. OK we will let you in but you have to build it here as well.

    US is not innocent of this, I can think of FDA drug restrictions and the Sugar support, etc, but we do it much less than anyone else.

  40. Chris:

    I'm confident Coyote is wrong. The wall will not be unbroken for thousands of miles. I doubt if there will be a single stretch of 1000 miles without a break. There will manned road crossings, pedestrian crossings and other breaks in the construction. Such silly hype.

  41. Dan Pangburn:

    Apparently you missed this "The Israeli wall cost about $606 per foot and it works."

  42. Michael Stack:

    Well, it's nice that you defend your arguments as reasonable but I think that's a bit circular. Plus, I wasn't making the argument about the wall (Warren was), I was just interested in shooting down lame arguments against it.

  43. Chris:

    You could do it for less. Let the .gov use emminent domain to take a 300 yard strip all along the border. Build a 50' high earth berm just on the US side. Also build berms to protect legal crossing areas. Then fence off the rest with chain link and install signs like those in some of the areas where I used to work: "Lethal force authorized." Allow any legal gun owner in the US to shoot anything from the fence to the base of the berm with no repercusssions at all. Not only will this cost less, admission to the border-range could be charged and the wall become a profit center.

  44. Michael Stack:

    That's hilarious

  45. Michael Stack:

    Is that a joke or serious?

  46. marque2:

    Not necessarily. Israel has other costs. It is a much more heavily guarded border, guarded by military. What they spent a few bucks less on the wall (if they really did) is overcome by the cost of keeping a more severe military presence. This wall is suppose to be a bit more passive (though not 100% passive).

    Though I do know that Israel can produce things for less, since they have fewer environmental lawsuits, and even the Israeli liberals realize, whether or not they like they like the wall, it protects them so they are less likely to sue. Also we have more environmental costs. Israel built a desalination plant in California near Carlsbad, which cost several times as much and produces half the water of a typical Israeli desalination plant as an example (same company building plants) it is just more expensive in the US due these environmental regulations.

    Anyway, it would be interesting to see how much the Israeli wall really cost. I have a feeling that cost is either low, or not inflation adjusted.

  47. marque2:

    I see terrible symbolism in movies all the time. Oh flock of crows, someone will die!

  48. mx:

    This plan seems like it would result in a lot of dead border patrol agents, fence repairers, and berm maintainers.

  49. jon49:

    @marque2:disqusAnd if you look at my comment you will see that something that is meant for one thing at first soon turns into something used against its own citizens. There's no reason to believe that a wall would be any different.