Anyone who follows my blog and my writing, you know these names. Whatever you’re doing, find an hour and a half and see all three together at once.
This is such a profoundly arrogant statement for anyone who actually believes it. I’m really glad that liberals likeand answered, providing good, nuanced viewpoints from the liberal side. It’s been important to see good examples such as theirs for displacing the anger many people living in this situation may experience when liberal outlets and individuals speak from such a profoundly wrong and disrespectful point of view. The only thing wrong with their answers is that they don’t address the question specifically from our viewpoints. So with thanks to those gentlemen, I’ll offer that.
I remember the first time I heard “you’re voting against your interests”, immediately after the election by yet another person who was just so sure that he knew the conditions of my life better than me. Yet this same person was shocked, shocked I tell you, that Clinton didn’t win with the New York Time’s predicted 90% chance of victory a few weeks before. What does that tell you? It told me that a bunch of people who had absolutely no understanding of me and my life days ago suddenly became experts on my condition, as well as suddenly being able to view every policy proposal on the books from my perspective — better than me!
I want to be honest, every single time I have seen this levied in earnest, it has been by someone bitter about the election wanting to mock us and not from genuine concern. If it had been a concern, they would understand that mostly, they are wrong. They rationalize policies they wanted and then argue how that would have been better for us than what we wanted. This is positively asinine since, right up until about a year ago, our needs, concerns, wishes, and grievances were being mocked by the people making these plans, so to say that they in any way would solve our problems is laughable. I’m sorry, but no one who calls me and people like me part of a “basket of deplorables” has my best interests at heart.
Okay, at this point, it just sounds like I’m angry. I am, but let’s look at some real arguments to give substance to the outrage.
I really love that my good friendbrought up the book. I’m a conservative, he’s a liberal, and we have a lot of respect for each other so I would recommend him to anyone. But here, I’ll offer the other side of the story.
Much of the ideas behind What’s the Matter with Kansas stems around the fact that Kansas, like many red states, takes up more in government aid and welfare than they contribute, specifically when compared to wealthy blue states like California and New York. This phenomenon of people who soak up government aid in spite of their conservative voting patterns appear in places with namely two things in common:
- They once were solid Democrat and are now solid Republican
- Their main source of income was from agriculture or some other displaced industry.
Those points are important because you need to understand how amazingly rich my community used to be. I live in a small town in Oklahoma. For all intents and purposes, they could have written that book about us, but they chose Kansas. First of all, there is a reason that we want to “Make America Great Again.”
We look to the 1950’s with nostalgia because of how truly wonderful it was for us. First of all, if you look out to the open fields, everything was farmland. People were working and providing well for their families making cotton that made American clothing as well food for Americans. Fortunes were made as small towns like mine were looked at as great places to raise a family with lots of opportunity and wealth to go around for those willing to work and live peacefully.
Then it all went away. Price controls on labor and government subsidies for some made it impossible for agriculture to be profitable for the average farmer. My grandfather actually ran the last cotton gin in the 1970’s before it went under because there were no more growers. Furthermore, the jobs around cotton disappeared, such as the pants factory, one of only two factories in my town, that is not just a cement slab, as it has been… also, since the 70’s. After that, a few mega-growers overtook all industries and the region was gutted. Many of these mega-growers, now maintain their prices through illegal immigrant labor, but that is a whole other story. You don’t hear much from this because both the Republicans and Democrats are guilty of supporting the subsidies and supporting the mega-growers, so neither are ever going to say a word about. The collapse of the labor market for agriculture was much of the same as the story of the Rust Belt, but instead of seeing withered factories, I sit surrounded by some of the most fertile farmland in the country that hasn’t seen a plow for more than 40 years.
But then the government came to save us.
After the collapse of agriculture from the viewpoint of farm labor in the 1960s, millions developed a dependence on government aid to save themselves from the decline which was ironically brought on by government intervention into the market. This was actually the second time they did this.
I want you to understand what the world is like for us as a unique culture in the US. Long after slavery had ended, most of us, as in my very white, very poor ancestors were still picking cotton in the fields. Both mine and my wife’s grandmothers told stories in visceral detail about what picking bowls of cotton, the weight of hauling that heavy bag through the fields, and the scorching summer heat of a West Texas farm in the 1920’s and 30’s. For perspective, this image is one taken about 30 miles from my home at about the time people when people were desperate for “someone to do something”.
After that, the New Deal did those things. It brought out huge government works programs and told people it would take care of them. Work hard and Social Security would be there for you. What actually brought us out of poverty were millions of men returning from World War II with saved up money, a massive industrial base that built up from the war, and the relaxing of war-era rationing. All this combined was an explosion in economic growth the likes of which that generation had never known. However, many believed that the promises of the New Deal would be enough to get them through retirement. There was no need to save because Social Security would be enough for them. While the region was growing immensely wealthy, my grandparent’s generation was making choices they had no idea would straddle their children’s generation with hardships they never foresaw because they thought the good times would continue on forever.
As the crops disappeared in the 1960’s and 70’s, however, they had a horrific wake-up call… right about the time of the War on Poverty and the Great Society began to take effect. These programs gave out exceedingly more benefits based on need, particularly to those who weren’t working or who had children born outside of marriage, not to mention numerous housing decisions that were terrible for the neighborhoods they were affected.
Following that, what we saw wasn’t a world where the government helped us or where people were mostly lifting themselves out of poverty. Quite the opposite. Funds were distributed, but here, there are people who live in poverty as a career. They are able to maintain a minimum lifestyle off government funding. Since that point, what we are seeing nationally is that the poverty line has mostly flatlined, while handouts continue to rise. This is most prominent in the areas like mine, where welfare is already normalized and where the tax base is having a harder and harder time keeping up with its rise.
I’m not talking about some distant statistical scarecrow. I am talking about real people I see daily. I mean the parents of many of the students at the school where my wife and I work and the people who live next door to me. This lifestyle is not conducive toward raising healthy homes or giving their kids a good foundation, let alone a future. It certainly isn’t capable of creating the types of wealth that people can safely retire on, nor does it produce the sorts investment into future growth in their community. Instead, it drives down the tax base while increasing the amounts infrastructure requirements by way of city utilities to schooling. You wonder why education is so low here? It isn’t because no one thought to pay teachers more. It’s because we have too many kids and not enough of a tax base. Multiply that by everything we’d like to give our people. This is what small-town conservatives fear when we talk about the welfare state.
If you’d really like to understand how the welfare state has affected the family in culture, as well as what life is like for millions of Americans who absolutely no one is listening to, I would strongly recommend readingIt outlines far better than I could how culture has declined in the rural areas most likely to be the topic of this question.
Secondly, a very good juxtaposition of What’s the Matter with Kansas? would be something like What’s Going on in Texas?
Texas is the best embodiment of what many want to see happening, as far as the white working class. Granted, they didn’t suffer from the destruction of the agricultural labor market, or at least they were able to transfer their economy over into oil, shipping, and finance. But they’ve also made some very good choices and have a particular culture that has made them very wealthy, serving as to disprove much of narratives surrounding what left-leaning advocates believe should happen in states like theirs. They have wealth, they have investment, they have manufacturing and industry. They also have greater protection of property rights, not to mention being the anchor of job recovery during the massive recession over the last decade for the entire nation.
This is particularly true against far more left-leaning states like California. I couldn’t find a more current one, but it is worth noting that this graph ended almost immediately before the graph above started.
Furthermore, it has a lower cost of living with higher living standards and even manages to have better income inequality than most other states. Particularly egregious is comparisons to states like California, where Texas’ saw growth for both its wealthiest 1% and the bottom 99% over the period of 2009 to 2012, while California saw similar growth for its top 1% but a -3% decline in income for their 99% over the same period.
Are there problems? Sure. But they are sitting pretty by most people’s standards, particularly the states which have suffered the long-term effects of collectivist policy, such that Democrats are currently suggesting, as well as those who had no major industry to replace agriculture after the state intervened into it. So this is where we are now. People say that states like mine vote against their interests because we wholeheartedly reject modern collectivist measures to “raise us out of poverty”. We, however, are already straddled with the financial and culture burden of exactly these same kinds of measures from generations past.
The worst part, when we say these things, we are completely ignored. In the best cases, we are dismissed as not knowing what is best for us because we are just the working class, more commonly known as rednecks, white trash, and hillbillies, and mostly by people who have never set foot in our towns. In the worst cases, we all suddenly became racists for pointing out images like the family of poor whites picking cotton or for mentioning that according to the US census in 2010, the number of poor whites outnumbers the number of poor blacks by about 12:1. If I say that, you hear me saying that “there is no problem with black poverty” instead of hearing what I am actually saying that the problems of poverty are not due to racism, but are rooted in exactly the same kind of bad governance. But mostly, you just don’t hear from us at all. That’s because the same sorts of metrics that gave The New York Times and virtually every other major news media outlet absolute certainty that Clinton was going to win, can only come to such an unfathomably wrong conclusion because they completely and totally don’t reach out to more than a third of the nation who don’t live in easy to reach, mostly urban, mostly rich, liberal cities.
Yet these people are the ones who want to tell us what our interests are? Pure arrogance
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Again, these are not pretty solutions, and won’t stop a determined anything from scaling it. No one is reasonably expecting it to cut off 100% of either crime related to the south of the border sources or illegal immigration. There will still be novel solutions to ever-growing problems, however, like the Great Wall of China, the main source of exploitation for both crime and illegal immigration en masse, being a largely unchecked and unenforceable border between the US and Mexico will be removed from the options for those attempting to break US laws of entry. In some places, tunnels will be dug, but for the 170,000 people who entered the US illegally in 2015 to try to pop out of a single hole in the ground… it’s going to be noticed. Across more than 2,000 miles of open border? Not so much. A person with enough desire and motivation can scale a line of Hescos just as easily as anything else. Whether we’re talking about a massive wall taking years, or a few piles of really elaborate sandbags, it serves as a very strong barrier to slow people down and prevent the movement of much larger goods, such as large amounts of drugs, weapons, or vehicles carrying even more. While you might be able to get over such a wall, the time it took to get a huge backpack filled with this sort of contraband is enough that someone watching a camera feed will probably say, “Hey Joe, you see that down at mile marker 87?”
Some will even be able to overcome the massive walls planned out, but the vast majority will be turned away, attempting to try their luck through some fraudulent means at border checkpoints. Given that we will then have the manpower to check these resources, that too will become tougher to execute. So it won’t work for 100%, but we have every reason to believe that a 95% reduction in illegal border crossing and south of the border originated international crime is completely possible. That’s great news. That’s the point of this wall, and by all evidence we have, there’s nothing to say it couldn’t do the job.
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There are also numerous avenues on how to approach the building of such a wall beyond just the extreme assumptions of building the most expensive variant of proposed walls across the entire border. We can even look to implementation set up in Iraq and Afghanistan for such examples. If you’ll look at my profile picture, you’ll see what are called T-barriers.
Also called Bremer Walls and Jersey Barriers, these are large and freestanding concrete slabs are cheap to build, transport, and install. They essentially fit together like massive Lego bricks with a notch fitting two together that is mirrored on the opposite side so that an infinitely long chain can be created able to bend around objects or buildings and adjust with the terrain that is impossible to destroy without heavy machinery. They’re like legos for big boys.
In Iraq, we used them for two reasons. You can see behind me, that they were lined around our prefabricated living units. This was because the walls were able to absorb the blast of an incoming mortar, small missile, or random rocket-propelled grenade, which might come our way and endanger the thousands of Marines inside. The second way we used them was during the “Surge”, a change in tactics to our counter-insurgency efforts where, overnight, entire city blocks could be quarantined off with these units. This allowed Marines and soldiers to wall off whole neighborhoods within hours, allowing few points of entry and exit that could be manned and checked while teams searched house to house for weapons, contraband, or other signs of enemy activity. Just as quickly, the walls could be moved or removed to clear other parts of the city.
I want to be clear, that like the Great Wall of China example, there is nothing stopping someone determined from getting over one of these walls. A ladder could do it. What they do, however, is prevent the free flow of large numbers of people, and more importantly, a large amount of cargo to pass freely. You might be able to sneak over the wall yourself, and you might even be able to get over with a rifle, but there is no way you are going to be able to sneak an entire team with heavy weapons, rocket and bomb parts, and other logistical considerations over the wall clandestinely. That’s what the T-barriers did. They broke up the enemy’s ability to move and, in my mind, had a major part in the story of how the United States successfully quelled the insurgency around 2007… not that anyone heard about that.
All that to say… I’m a big fan of these simple impediments. They saved a lot of lives.
Even more humble is the HESCO barrier. These ingenious little devices are little more than 21st-century sandbags, literally. They are large canvas bags supported by a metal frame which be broken down and stacked by the hundreds when unused, taken out and unfolded where they will be installed, and then just have sand, dirt, rocks, or anything dumped in them.
Installation of these barriers is even easier than that of the T-barriers requiring little more than two unskilled technicians, a truck, and a lot of dirt.
Importantly, I’ve seen these things stacked four high, making a wall of about twenty feet. Interestingly, it can be filled with dirt excavated in other areas of the construction project. These “insta-forts” are able to be installed, and just as importantly, taken down, in a matter of days, rather than weeks, months, or even years and at a fraction of the cost of what most are assuming such a wall would cost. Granted, this is not a solution that will last a thousand years, but it will get the job done in many of the areas where a massive wall isn’t required, but some impediment is.
This is why the same technology (yes giant bags of sand and dirt still count as technology) is used in the United States civilian side to protect against the sudden threat of flooding.
So now let’s ask, can it be done?
The best places to look for that answer is where others are attempting similar feats. Case in point, Saudi Arabia.
Along the Northern border of Saudi Arabia, bordering Iraq, the Saudis began plans to build a series of walls and fence works in 2006. Construction was expedited after the invasion of Iraq’s Al Anbar and Nineveh provinces in 2014 by Islamic State forces, where construction began around September of that year. The project calls for some 1000 km long stretch of varying degrees of fortified walls, fencing, and some areas manned with remotely operated UAV surveillance.
From the Independent Journal Review
“…consists of 78 monitoring towers, eight command centers, 10 mobile surveillance vehicles, 32 rapid-response centers, and three rapid intervention squads, all linked by a fiber-optic communications network.” 
Also is Israel’s southern border which, in the words of Israel’s Prime Minister, worked out pretty well.
Bringing us back to the contemporary, what would “success” for the US Southern Border Wall be?
The first thing that has to be accepted is that the scale of illegal immigration from Mexico is staggering with huge effects on the United States.
Likewise, according to the same Pew Research centered, illegal immigrants currently account for some 3.5% of the US population. With regard to Mexican immigration, this is most readily felt in parts of the country where few people go, the small towns. There is a map created which represents every person on the US census as a color-coded dot –
Zooming out shows the map as apparently completely blue, but when you zoom into many areas, such as my town highlighted with the arrow above and shown below, you see the homogenous blue zones suddenly become remarkably racially diverse.
Why my town, as well as so many towns, become suddenly homogeneously blue as you zoom out, I don’t understand, but I do understand that this is a mostly invisible issue to many who do not live in small towns like mine, nor are the externalities of it. Those externalities include that the low wage low skill jobs that employed the majority of the population are gone. There are still people doing them, but much of the work for people starting their careers have shifted to immigrant and often illegal labor. Secondly, is the impact on the schools. In my town, the population has shifted from 5% Mexican population in the 1970’s, to around 50% today. In general, this isn’t a problem except when we factor in for illegal immigrants. I’ve polled Mexican-American students at the school who volunteer that they believe at least 25% of the students are living in the United States illegally. By that, we can estimate that some 8 to 10% of the students of the school are not legally supposed to live in the town or the country for that matter. These students do have access to the same education and the same resources but are not bearing the same tax burden. For small towns like mine, having 10% of the students not contributing to the tax base is devastating to the educational standard provided, with ripple effects that can be felt for generations. This, along with many other factors, is part of why Oklahoma education is facing an existential crisis.
Likewise, let’s look at some numbers from the US Federal Sentencing Commission in 2015. Illegal immigrants accounted for 37% of all federal crimes, discounting all immigration-related federal crimes, this accounts for 14% of all federal crimes. In that remaining category, they accounted for 75% of drug possession, 30% of kidnappings, 21% of national defense crimes such as exporting arms, munitions or military equipment, and providing material support to foreign terrorist organizations, 18% of drug trafficking, 10% of money laundering, and 5% of all murders. 
I want to be clear, this isn’t saying that Mexicans are bad people or even that all illegal immigrants are bad. I don’t even believe the majority are guilty anything more than knowingly attempting to subvert our immigration laws, but all of these crimes… should not be able to happen at all. We simply must accept that the United States would be better off with fewer people selling drugs, fewer kidnappings, and fewer murders, and if an easy to prevent much of that is tougher enforcement of immigration law, then great.
Similarly, the economic burden placed on our rural labor force and education systems should not be happening at all.
That is how we will be able to measure if the Southern Wall will be a success. If it can dramatically reduce the influx of illegal immigration as well as the crime coming through or dependent upon an open Southern border, then it will be a success.
Having established that, let’s ask first if there is evidence to support the building. San Diego built their own wall and saw perhaps the best proof we need.
The wall in San Diego reduced illegal immigration apprehensions by 95%.
Back then, Border Patrol agent Jim Henry says he was overwhelmed by the stream of immigrants who crossed into the United States illegally just in that sector.
“It was an area that was out of control,” Henry says. “There were over 100,000 aliens crossing through this area a year.”
Today, Henry is assistant chief of the Border Patrol’s San Diego sector. He says apprehensions here are down 95 percent, from 100,000 a year to 5,000 a year, largely because the single strand of cable marking the border was replaced by double — and in some places, triple — fencing.
Furthermore, let’s look at the national level implementation in the US. Most illegal immigrants to the US actually came over in the 1990s when apprehensions reached a staggering 1.6 million per year.
Policies beginning around the time of 2000 halted much of the illegal immigration into the US but just as much was the 2006 Secure Fence Act, which saw the construction of 653 miles of reinforced fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border. Due mostly to this, US Border Patrol now is forced to make far fewer apprehensions. Extending the 653 miles would further reduce the need for US Border Patrol agents to make what still amounts to a quarter million apprehensions a year.
It’s worked before.
In fact, studying the purpose of the Great Wall of China serves well to explain what success for the Southern Border Wall would look like.
At that time, the threat came from populations to the north that wasn’t set on invading and overthrowing China, but from small raiding parties looting borderland villages. Militarily, a raid is an attack which isn’t meant to occupy territory but to inflict some harm on an enemy before retreating back to a safe location. In this way, the harm that was visited upon the Ming Dynasty could come from literally anywhere along the empire’s northern border. Without warning, some independent tribe of anywhere from 15 to 200 soldiers could show up and ransack a borderland village or even a small city. They could take with them slaves and treasure, preventing development in the region and representing a constant drain on the empire.
So there are two possible solutions to this problem. You either dedicate an army, literally a whole army, to the entire border that could respond with reasonable force to any possible raid attempt, or, you build some static defense that could prevent the majority of such attacks. In the case of China, the solution was the northern border wall, a static option. Could a determined foe scale the wall? Sure, but the wall prevented the main tool necessary for these raids from getting over — the horse. By denying that tactical necessity, it no longer became profitable for the types of raids to occur. No longer did the region suffer from the raids, but also, the types of people who would do the raiding also died off. At the same, the army that was saved was allowed to be redeployed to other areas, sometimes to expand the borders of China, sometimes to protect them invasions themselves. To say the least, the Great Wall of China was necessary to providing the culture with much of the stability and security to become the cultural centerpiece of world history it is today. Eventually, the wall was overcome by a determined force from the north, but it still bought the Chinese more than 1,200 years of security after it was built.
Not too shabby.