Apparently, as the Mexicans have refused to pay for Trump’s wall, he’s come up with a better idea… We’ll have the wall pay for itself!

I don’t think it’s that new of an idea. I’ve heard people say before, “You know, we should make that border wall of Trump’s solar.” Today, though, was the first time that I heard Trump say it himself. He was addressing a crowd in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, when he made the announcement. Referencing the campaign promise that his proposed southern border wall wouldn’t cost us a dime, as he’d somehow force the Mexicans to pay for the whole thing, he told the people of Cedar Rapids that, even better yet, his new, improved wall would “pay for itself.” That’s right, now that the Mexicans have told us point blank that they’re… in the words of former Mexican President Vicente Fox… not going to pay for the “fucking wall,” Trump’s come back with an even more magical, and less feasible, plan. Now, thanks to the addition of solar panels, the wall will pay for itself!

And this new plan of his, in case you’re the kind of person who appreciates facts, really is unfeasible. First, let’s start with the cost of the wall. Trump told us during the campaign that it would cost us approximately $6 to $7 billion. Since then, however, we’ve learned that, according to an assessment done by the Department of Homeland Security, it would actually cost more like $21.6 billion. And, on top of this, the folks at Bloomberg are estimating that the addition of solar panels would drive the cost up by another $7.6 billion. Given all of this, and the fact that the proposed solar system would likely generate about $221 million in annual revenues, the folks at Bloomberg estimate that the wall could pay for itself in “just 125 years.” Of course, they then point out that, in actuality, once you calculate in the the changing value of money over time, and a few other factors, it’s likely, after 215 years, there would still be a $25.4 billion gap. So, according to their modeling, the wall would never pay for itself. And this model, I should note, was constructed on the assumption that the wall itself could be built for $20 billion, and not the $21.6 billion estimated by Homeland Security. And, second, even if we could build this solar wall, getting the power from it would be difficult, seeing as how, according to the Financial Times, “less than 2 percent of the U.S. population lives within 40 miles of the Mexico border.” In the opinion of the Financial Times, for that reason alone, the President’s plan is a “non-starter.” Just to get the power from the wall to where it could be put to use would require an investment of several billion dollars more in electrical infrastructure. And, third, even if this wall did stand for 215 years, the solar panels would have to be replaced several times over that period of time, especially given that the panels would be pointed toward the south, where one would imagine they might be the target of rocks and the like. [The demonization of Mexicans as rapists and drug dealers may play well here, but I think you’d find that folks living on the other side of our southern border don’t much care for it.] Oh, and fourth, it probably couldn’t be built in the first place as 1,254 miles of our currently unsecured border with Mexico runs right down the middle of the Rio Grande River.

So you can clap all you want, but this isn’t going to happen. Trump can say that the wall will pay for itself, just like he said that the Mexicans would pay for it, but that doesn’t mean that it’ll actually happen. If a wall is built, you can be absolutely sure, it will be us, the working men and women of America, and our ancestors, who will be paying for it… not the Mexicans, not the sun, and not the wall itself. It’ll just be us, and us alone.

With all of that said, though, can you imagine the impact of investing $30 billion in the installation of rooftop solar units across the United States? I know Trump likes to brag that he’s putting more people back under the surface of the earth, mining coal, than any president since Nixon, or whatever, but, really, wouldn’t people rather be working aboveground, installing solar panels, than filling their lungs with coal dust in darkness every day?

One last thing… If Trump loves coal so much, why not build the border wall from toxic coal ash? Given the trajectory we’re on, I think it would be kind of fitting, wouldn’t it?

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9 Comments

  1. Jcp2
    Posted June 22, 2017 at 6:25 am | Permalink

    The wall is figurative and part of Trump’s story, which he tells so well to his audience, who are wanting to hear a story where they are the hero, since the other stories they hear make them out to be the villain. Who likes stories where they are the villain? It’s like the man bun Ken dolls. Mattel is trying to incrementally expand Barbie’s desirability to parents that might be on the edge of buying or not buying. There’s no real plan to sell a lot of Ken dolls. People that make fun of them were never going to consider buying a Barbie anyway, so what does Mattel care? My only observation is that Ken seems to wear mascara, the hair is molded instead of being semi stylable, and in Barbieland, only female Asians are admitted, and then only if they are thin and tall.

  2. site admin
    Posted June 22, 2017 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    Bonus points for trying together multiple threads. That puts you in the lead this morning, Jcp2.

  3. Julie Abuelsamid
    Posted June 22, 2017 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    Fer chrissakes, Mark. Don’t give him any more cockamamie ideas. He just might latch onto it.

  4. Jean Henry
    Posted June 22, 2017 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    Jcp2 is always ahead of the pack.

    They will find they can not afford to build a solar wall. And the energy companies will object. In high sun intensity areas, they are paying out more than they are billing during peak hours. Maybe this will actually start a conversation with utilities that restructures their model to work with renewable energy that can not yet provide service on demand. I will say a solar wall seems less egregious than the solid steel snake (replacing chain link) that I saw being constructed (under Obama orders)between El Paso and Juarez two weeks ago.

    Any sustainable energy project proposed by the GOP is a step forward towards them accepting the need to move forward towards a sustainable future.

    All that said, the wall is stupid and I want open borders. Until Reagan’s faux populism positioned immigrants as a problem, there was no wall between El Paso and Juarez. The border checks happened 30 miles out. People flowed freely from work to home. Commerce on both sides benefited. People suffered less. There were few problems. Less than today. The line of absolute poverty ( and violence and also admirable resilience) to gross prosperity (chain stores, suburban tract houses and proud desert fountains and overwhelming sameness overtaking what was a strong regional culture) between Anapra district and the 10 in El Paso is less than a mile. It makes the transition between Detroit and the burbs at 8 mile look like continuity. Open borders with open employment would force wage competition on American factories in Mexico. Most workers don’t want to leave Mexico. Like everyone, they simply want to make a living wage and provide better opportunities for their family. I have worked with many undocumented workers in the food business. They generally want to return home after building a decent home and saving enough money. (Their kids, raised here are different.) We force them to stay here with that wall.

    But the American people are not prepared to accept the full humanity of people who live across arbitrary national borders. Even while they serve our needs. Protectionism is stupid. But it’s one thing many on the left and the right agree upon. I don’t expect things to improve soon. And everyone thinks the narcos and crime will flow across the borders (like they don’t already) instead of understanding that, without the borders, the narco power would decline in Mexico.

    People universally seem to think poverty is something they can catch like a disease. I’ve seen similar responses to divorce and cancer. I have no idea what the solution to that fear based response is, but I know its easily manipulated by those with profit and political motive.

    Sorry for going on. I needed to get that off my chest. The trip is still resonating with me. I guess putting a solar wall on the border is a boldly cynical move. an appealing garnish on a shit sandwich. At least renewables as good business have made it to the public conversation on the right.

    This is the image of the boarder wall that I prefer:
    https://www.instagram.com/p/BVEEK5shYzt/?taken-by=jeanchenry&hl=en
    Translation: “We are neither delinquents nor illegals, we are international workers”

  5. Jean Henry
    Posted June 22, 2017 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    PS in Juarez, they hollow out mesas and bury the trash from factory production (for us) and a massive population (also there for us, most are not native) in them. Invisible from the road, it’s quite a sight from above.

    For coal ash, the Detroit river or Great Lakes will do. http://www.cleanwateraction.org/files/publications/FINAL%20Map%20MI%20Coal%20Ash%20locations.pdf
    No problem there. We still get the vast majority of our energy from coal in Michigan. Lots of work to do here. DTE is a terrible and corrupt utility. Driving an electric car is useless when the electricity comes from coal production. CO2 impact is the same. Bummer, right?

  6. Iron Lung Larson
    Posted June 22, 2017 at 9:33 am | Permalink

    I still blame every single one of you.

  7. Jean Henry
    Posted June 22, 2017 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    Blame is satisfying, apparently. What exactly do you blame us for, Pete?
    (everything…)

  8. Jean Henry
    Posted June 22, 2017 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    Mark– re the Rio Grande. I was assured by border construction engineers that they can build an impenetrable wall anywhere they need to, provided adequate funds. That black steel snake had steel posts going deep into the earth and over the culverts that have been vulnerabilities in the past. They are very serious about their job. From their perspective there is not enough political will to secure the border, and that has been true. It may still be. Adjacent to the expensive Obama steel snake is Christo del Rey Mountain a single standing volcanic mountain. It has no border wall at all, just white markers. It’s an easy climb, with many boulders for coverage. The patrol is there but people pass over daily. Only one has been shot in the last few years. (That may change) The Rio Grande is not a wide or fast river most places. The border wall is where it is in part to prevent looting from the freight trains which slow down curving past the mountain. It pays for itself. We don;t really want to stop immigrants that much. Trump surely doesn’. The border patrol do. I had empathy for their shitty impossible positions. They have to embrace a lot of paradox. The system once people are caught is more cruel than they are catching them. The personal and proximity seems to mediate absolute cruelty still for the most part.

    We have never really been serious about closing the border. Its current state represents well the inconsistency, denial and neurosis of the US position re foreign trade and foreigners.

  9. Jcp2
    Posted June 22, 2017 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    Pete has retained something as a Michigan alumni.

    Hold up the number of goals Michigan has with your fingers. If it has one, hold up one. After the band yells “Ready!”, you yell “One! We want moooooooore goals!” Then point at the opposing goalie and yell, “sieve, sieve, sieve, sieve, sieve, sieve, sieve! It”s all your fault, it”s all your fault, it”s all your fault, it”s all your fault!”

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