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The Wall Probably Fails a Market Test

Summary:
I was telling a friend today about my recent blog post titled “A Friendly Amendment on the Border Wall.” He hadn’t read the post but quickly understood my point. His reaction: Almost no property owner would take that deal. Of course, whether the owner would take the deal would depend heavily on how much was offered. Make it high enough and many property owners would take the deal. This suggests a valuable use of the GoFundMe moneys used to pay for the border wall: Offer various amounts of money to various property owners for their allowing a wall on their property. My friend is implicitly speculating that the amounts would be high. (By the way, the amount of money raised on the GoFundMe site is now .6 million.) Then we could estimate the cost of building the

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I was telling a friend today about my recent blog post titled “A Friendly Amendment on the Border Wall.” He hadn’t read the post but quickly understood my point. His reaction: Almost no property owner would take that deal. Of course, whether the owner would take the deal would depend heavily on how much was offered. Make it high enough and many property owners would take the deal.

This suggests a valuable use of the GoFundMe moneys used to pay for the border wall: Offer various amounts of money to various property owners for their allowing a wall on their property. My friend is implicitly speculating that the amounts would be high. (By the way, the amount of money raised on the GoFundMe site is now $17.6 million.)

Then we could estimate the cost of building the wall across the whole border. I suspect that the cost is much higher than Donald Trump and other believers in the wall think.

Isn’t it interesting that a number of conservatives support the wall but don’t seem to be at all aware of or, if they are aware, don’t seem to care much about, the extensive violation of property rights that building such a wall using eminent domain would entail?

David Henderson
David Henderson is a British economist. He was the Head of the Economics and Statistics Department at the OECD in 1984–1992. Before that he worked as an academic economist in Britain, first at Oxford (Fellow of Lincoln College) and later at University College London (Professor of Economics, 1975–1983); as a British civil servant (first as an Economic Advisor in HM Treasury, and later as Chief Economist in the Ministry of Aviation); and as a staff member of the World Bank (1969–1975). In 1985 he gave the BBC Reith Lectures, which were published in the book Innocence and Design: The Influence of Economic Ideas on Policy (Blackwell, 1986).

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