Uncle Eddy On New Administration

Me: So Uncle Eddy, I know you voted for Trump.  Are there any big changes in your life since then?

Eddy:  I’m disappointed, Charlie.   He promised jobs, jobs, jobs.  But nothing’s  happening.  He spends all  his time on that damned wall for Mexico and I could care less.  If we keep them Mexicans out that don’t mean the mills will rush back in.   We didn’t have no Mexicans here in the Valley anyways.

Me:  So what do you think of the choices for Cabinet so far, Eddy?

Eddy:  Most of them is rich guys – not good.  I mean, will a guy who’s never worked up a sweat help me out?   They got a labor guy who didn’t believe in unions or  over-time, but he didn’t make it. .  I do like that EPA guy from Oklahoma, because that damned EPA helped send the mills out of the country.  This guy seems to like smoke and fumes just fine, so he’s a good choice.  So maybe some mills might come back.  You know?

Me:  What about NAFTA?  Are you waiting to see what’s going to happen?  

Eddy:  NAFTA schmata!   I don’t even know what it stands for.  And I’ll tell you, ain’t no one else in any mill I ever worked at knows either.

Me: But back in October, you told me Trump would destroy it.

Eddy:  Yeh, yeh, yeh.   Because everybody at the rally was screaming about it and I didn’t want to look stupid.  Same with that Wall, you know?   It seemed like a good idea to keep them Mexicans out. But now I don’t care.

Me:  Did Mexicans have a lot of the mill jobs?

Eddy:  Nah – just white guys, black guys.  Never seen no Mexican guys.  They like to work outside, and the Union don’t  like it if somebody brings down visa problems on their heads. So what’s the big deal about keeping them out?

Me:  Well, what about keeping all the Muslims out?

Eddy:  C’mon, Charlie.  You seen any Muslims in Youngstown?  I never seen no Muslim guys around no mills when the mills was here.  I never seen no Muslim guys anywhere.  We’re wasting time.  Let’s get them jobs here.

Me:  Well he promised to get rid of Obamacare.  Are you still in favor of that?

Eddy:  When the mills was  here they took care of all that insurance stuff.   So I don’t know what the deal with Obamacare is.  All I know is if I was working, the mill would take care of it.

Me:  What about the Trans-Pacific Partnership?  When we withdrew from that it was supposed to give back some advantages over China.

Eddy:  Charlie, you’re making my head hurt!  All that stuff is just crap – – – we need jobs.   Hey, my friend, you been out of work and remember.  I don’t care about Hillary.  I don’t care about walls, or Muslims, or Korea, or Wall Street, or Iran, or China, or Russia,  or any of that other crap. I need work, my kids need work,  my neighbors need work, we’re starving here and everybody is screaming about walls.

Me:  Eddy, I’ve got to run.  I hope more mills do come back to the Valley, and hope you’re working.   We’ll talk again soon.







Why Walls Won’t Work – Part 2

We left off our lesson with the Maginot Line.  It’s only value: some of the forts and underground storage halls have been used as movie sets.  So it was not a complete loss – although the Belgians have never been happy about it.

Occasionally, someone ignores these failures and builds yet another wall.  Biggest example: the Berlin Wall. With Germany divided after WWII, East and West Germany were separated by 850 miles of fencing.  Because fencing is relatively open – compared to Walls – the East German government installed armed guard towers at close intervals.  All were armed, with orders to shoot potential border crossers. This wall kept East Germans in, not out.

Berlin was shared by East and West, but was in East Germany, so it got a ring of 30 miles concrete walls and fortified barbed wire down the middle, and a 90 mile ring around the outside. This was a pain in the butt for Germans, but a great setting for spy stories from John LeCarre, Len Deighton, and Elleston Trevor.  (Remember Quiller?)  But, still, people crossed over.

We in the US took our turn, with various sections of fences and walls between us and Mexico.  But that’s one long border, and it was impossible to contain it all.  So there are still huge open portions where the border can be crossed, especially in Texas where the Rio Grande runs shallow some months of the year.  In California and Arizona, where shorter distances are literally walled, enterprising drug dealers (who have lots of working capital) have bored tunnels up to 1000 feet long underneath.  This puts the concept of a wall back a little bit.  Build a wall, and someone figures out how to tunnel under it.

And who are we keeping out?  For starters, let’s not use drug dealers as a reason.  They do come across the Rio Grande, but these are the small timers.  The cartels, big time stuff, fly it in or use shipping containers in thousand pound lots.  Think about this – they did not get that big with 50 pound shipments.  They really didn’t.

Terrorists?   Give me a break.   A real terrorist, trained in a Middle Eastern camp, will not be kept out by any wall.  Probably he or she will come in through normal channels with a visa.  Or through the even longer and unprotected Canadian border.  (Did you not see “The Bourne Identity”?)  Remember our own 9/11.  Those criminals were here legally and did not wade across the Rio Grande.  To keep out terrorists of that caliber, we would have to literally ban everyone from every country.  Can we do that?

People often use the Israelis, and their methods, as a model.  And they do an effective job.  But consider this:  Israel is smaller than Vermont.  Sure, we could afford to build a wall all around Vermont, but the above arguments still apply.  Someone would still bore a tunnel underneath and start smuggling maple syrup.

Do I have an answer?  Not a clue.   But I’m at least smart enough to know what won’t work.  We talked about the Great Wall of China, the walled cities of Europe, the Maginot Line, and the East German wall.  But shouldn’t we have learned something from them?

Walls won’t work.