Let’s Really Think About the ‘Great Wall’

Editor, News-Register

The current presidency has dominated headlines for almost a year. Even after all the scandals, tax plans, tweets, and rocket men, there is one issue that has never left the national debate.

I am talking about the proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Even after many months of debate, the wall is still a highly charged and polarizing issue. As such, I will not discuss my political affiliation nor my opinions regarding current policy. What I will say is this, my name is Robert Lally and I have been a resident of Wheeling, W.Va. for my entire 76-year life. During that time, I have started and operated several successful businesses within the area. What I am saying is that I am not some random, senile old man, I know about business and profit. From what I see, the current idea of a giant concrete wall a la China is not going to cut it.

There are several reasons why a Great Wall of America will not cut it. First, no matter how high, how deep, or how thick you build this wall, people will manage to cross illegally. The border is almost 2,000 miles long. You cannot track every foot at every moment.

Second, there is much inefficiency to be had with just a physical wall. The government spends vast amounts of our nation’s finances on defense and technology associated with it. Why not instead make a fence and survey the land with drones, cameras, etc? Let’s put our technology to use.

Third, the current estimates for the wall’s cost could go up to $100 billion, excluding the constant maintenance required. These finances could instead go into areas like education or infrastructure. Is there any way to lower costs?

My current proposal is this: Let us make a wall made of solar panels. With the cost of solar panels falling dramatically and major figures like Elon Musk investing heavily into the field, the cost would not be too great. In addition, the electricity generated by these panels would offset those costs, and eventually even bring a profit.

What about the international view of the wall? Would America look like the villains for keeping out desperate Mexicans looking for a better life? There is nothing wrong with Mexicans coming over legally. It is the same reason we fence off and guard power plants and hospitals; we do not want illegal activity to harm our important institutions. If we can make an eco-friendly, profitable wall while encouraging legal avenues of immigration, then America can set a positive example for the international community. Meanwhile, we can better protect our nation while keeping the American spirit of freedom alive and well.

To summarize my explanation, I want to describe efforts done by Chinese activist and artist, Ai Weiwei. Last November, this international figure made a massive art project, called Good Fences Make Good Neighbors, and a documentary describing the dire situations refugees are forced in, and the representation borders have in how a nation thinks. This issue needs to be addressed, but it is more complicated than most realize. We need to be cautious, and think of how to protect ourselves and those desperate people abroad. We should not think of the wall as a simple yes or no. There are many solutions, with many consequences to this issue.

Simply ignoring or writing off the problem will not help things. I encourage everyone to take some time and figure out how to keep our borders secure, help immigrants cross the border legally, and keep costs down or even earn a profit from this. Is the current plan for the wall worth anything to anyone? Can we do better?

Robert Lally



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