What John McCain’s “Just build the danged fence,” campaign ad fails to tell you

So here’s John McCain, or whatever he calls himself these days, making an attempt to be the un-maverick “tough guy”, and capitalize on the current immigration debate. Sure he voted YES on building a border fence in 2006. But I realize that he is in a political fight for the survival of his career, so yes, ushering in the sound-bite, “Just build the danged fence,” bodes well for him as yet another battle cry. I mean, he is fighting for his political life, right?

In the sales and marketing field expertise, it is often said that a bargain is what is perceived. So while McCain appeals to the sense of larceny of mainly his supporters in Arizona and elsewhere. Let’s take a look at the cost of building the Great Wall of Mexico, shall we? Yes, let us examine the cost of construction and maintaining a supposed fence across the 2,000 mile southern border.

According to the independent, non-partisan citizen watchdog group, Taxpayers for Common Sense. In a recent report, it is estimated that the cost of building and maintaining the fence will cost an astronomical “$300 million to $1.7 billion per mile, depending on materials.”  [Fact Sheet: Border Fence Cost Out of Bounds]
Congress mandated the constuction of hundreds of miles of fencing along our Southern border in 2006 without any real knowledge of its true costs. Taxpayers have paid $2.4 billion for fence construction to date, and annual funding has jumped from $6 million in 2002 to $843 million in 2008. Yet all signs indicate the fence is bound to cost us much more.

The only estimate of the fence’s cost in 2006 was a 1999 Army Corps of Engineers study which said the most common type of pedestrian fencing would cost around $431,000 per mile. The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol reports the fence already costs ten times that amount. In some locations, costs can run as high as $12 million per mile.

Construction contracts, however, indicate actual costs are even higher. These contracts show average costs at $4.5 million per mile for primary fencing and $1.6 million for vehicle barriers.

But the biggest future cost to taxpayes may be the high price of fence maintenance. U.S. Army Corps estimates for maintaining the 370 miles of “primary” fence range from $5 and $8 million per mile each year. The Congressional Budget Office estimated annual maintenance costs at 15 percent of construction costs. That means maintenance costs will surpass construction costs within seven years. These estimates—probably low, as they do not address the increasing problem of fence vandalism—indicate taxpayers are looking at least $8 billion to maintain the fence over its 25-year life cycle.Yep, and keep in mind, those figures don’t factor in:
Fluctuating fuel, labor and materials prices, exacerbated by the use of private contractors.

The high costs of purchasing land from private owners and fighting lawsuits challenging the Department of Homeland Security’s waiver of nearly 40 environmental and regulatory laws. Though CBP added $0.8 million per mile for land acquisition costs in their most recent estimates, this figure is likely low considering the more than 100 cases challenging the DHS awards currently before the courts.

Environmental mitigation. The $50 million Congress added to DHS’ 2009 budget for “regulatory and environmental requirements” is a drop in the bucket. Taxpayers often end up with the bill for long-term environmental impacts when the government is exempted by legal waivers.

So yeah, while the solution to the problem of “illegal immigration” may be the holes in the border. Why then don’t we just go ahead like John McCain suggests and build the danged fence? Certainly the people who rallied against the Health Care Reform Bill, or the $787 billion for the Stimulus, wouldn’t mind the very runaway spending spending they rally and complain about.

That is, only if it involves keeping “illegals” out of the country. Who needs to worry about a budget deficit then, when you’re willing to spend more in enforcement than could be gained from  true comprehensive immigration reform. Like I mentioned before, they think this way mostly because they believe that “illegal immigrants” are taking away jobs from citizens who are willing to commit crimes. That plus they’re willing to work for $1.48 per hour…

Listen, I’m not particularly good at math, but even I can see that this is not a bargain. But then again, we could just make the fence a priority like the two wars we’re involved in and borrow some more money from China to make it happen. But here’s an even better idea. Why don’t we save the expense and build a fence around the entire state of Arizona, so as to keep everybody else out. Ethnic studies ban aside, if that were the case, them being their own country, we couldn’t say much. Sounds good to me; after all, do we really want to be all Arizonans now, as Sarah Palin alluded to this past weekend?

Build baby build!