Privatizing the wall

President Trump's promise to "build the wall" has been much delayed.  Its funding seems mired in multiple other immigration-related problems, and given the contentious history of such legislation, construction may wait years.

For those who want faster action, there is an option: partially privatize it.  To be sure, private citizens can do only so much, but one must start somewhere, and to wait until Congress acts is unnecessary.

With that in mind, let me suggest several private fundraising options.

Plaques.  Visitors to any New York City hospital, museum, or concert hall will see countless brass plaques honoring donors, ranging from naming entire buildings to more modest ones at the entrances of waiting rooms.  With a border wall stretching for miles, hundreds of sponsorship opportunities exist.  A "benefactor" might donate $1,000 for a one-foot section, a "patron" $10,000 for a ten-foot section, and so on.  Mega-donors – members of the "President's Circle" – might have an entire mile named after themselves or their family foundations.  Easy to implement – just hold periodic lavish dinners at tony banquet halls such as the Waldorf Astoria to honor those keeping America safe from unwanted immigration.  Let rich critics of open borders put their money where their mouths are.

Concerts.  Remember Willie Nelson's Farm Aid?  Why not a twice-a-year or so "Fund the Wall" open-air concert featuring prominent patriotic entertainers such as Charlie Daniels and Billy Ray Cyrus?  Funds would come from selling broadcast rights to HBO; admission tickets; and themed merchandise such as C.D.s, hats, keychains, and tee-shirts (an extra $10 if the tee-shirt is signed).  All would be "collectible," and, no doubt, speculators would buy huge quantities for future sale on eBay.

Volunteer labor.  Thousands of college students might enlist, given opportunities to meet those of the opposite sex, party, and embellish their résumés, as many college students did during the heyday of the civil rights movement.  Particularly savvy undergraduates would also see this work as a networking opportunity.  A few might even learn useful post-graduation skills such as how to mix and pour concrete.  These "build the wall" camps could be funded by wealthy anti-immigration activists and labor unions opposed to cheap scab labor.  This is the right-wing equivalent of the early '60s fad of college students traveling to Cuba to help in the sugar harvest.

Murals.  Paint the wall with artistic murals to make it a tourist attraction.  Rich conservative patrons would buy wall space or fund new sections and commission artists to paint huge murals celebrating America's traditions.  Art-loving tourists would surely pay $50 for an all-day excursion to see the art and take selfies with the artist.  Think Mount Rushmore or the millions of Berlin tourists who made "the Wall" a major stop on their itinerary.  Another parallel is the approximate 1,400 government-funded Post Office murals painted during the New Deal.  As with all modern art exhibitions, every few miles, there would be a café and gift shop that would feature Trump's many books, posters, and souvenirs.

Billboards.  Use the wall (both sides) as a rentable billboard area that would provide miles upon miles of revenue-producing space.  Recall the days when the sports stadiums plastered walls and scoreboards with advertisements.  Conceivably, pro-immigration groups might buy space to protest Trump's exclusionary policies and offer advice to those planning to sneak in.  Meanwhile, anti-immigration candidates for public office would take out ads to establish their bona fides as opponents of open borders.

Hard to say exactly how many millions these tactics would generate, but every drop would count and certainly speed up a quest that seems mired in political squabbling.

President Trump's promise to "build the wall" has been much delayed.  Its funding seems mired in multiple other immigration-related problems, and given the contentious history of such legislation, construction may wait years.

For those who want faster action, there is an option: partially privatize it.  To be sure, private citizens can do only so much, but one must start somewhere, and to wait until Congress acts is unnecessary.

With that in mind, let me suggest several private fundraising options.

Plaques.  Visitors to any New York City hospital, museum, or concert hall will see countless brass plaques honoring donors, ranging from naming entire buildings to more modest ones at the entrances of waiting rooms.  With a border wall stretching for miles, hundreds of sponsorship opportunities exist.  A "benefactor" might donate $1,000 for a one-foot section, a "patron" $10,000 for a ten-foot section, and so on.  Mega-donors – members of the "President's Circle" – might have an entire mile named after themselves or their family foundations.  Easy to implement – just hold periodic lavish dinners at tony banquet halls such as the Waldorf Astoria to honor those keeping America safe from unwanted immigration.  Let rich critics of open borders put their money where their mouths are.

Concerts.  Remember Willie Nelson's Farm Aid?  Why not a twice-a-year or so "Fund the Wall" open-air concert featuring prominent patriotic entertainers such as Charlie Daniels and Billy Ray Cyrus?  Funds would come from selling broadcast rights to HBO; admission tickets; and themed merchandise such as C.D.s, hats, keychains, and tee-shirts (an extra $10 if the tee-shirt is signed).  All would be "collectible," and, no doubt, speculators would buy huge quantities for future sale on eBay.

Volunteer labor.  Thousands of college students might enlist, given opportunities to meet those of the opposite sex, party, and embellish their résumés, as many college students did during the heyday of the civil rights movement.  Particularly savvy undergraduates would also see this work as a networking opportunity.  A few might even learn useful post-graduation skills such as how to mix and pour concrete.  These "build the wall" camps could be funded by wealthy anti-immigration activists and labor unions opposed to cheap scab labor.  This is the right-wing equivalent of the early '60s fad of college students traveling to Cuba to help in the sugar harvest.

Murals.  Paint the wall with artistic murals to make it a tourist attraction.  Rich conservative patrons would buy wall space or fund new sections and commission artists to paint huge murals celebrating America's traditions.  Art-loving tourists would surely pay $50 for an all-day excursion to see the art and take selfies with the artist.  Think Mount Rushmore or the millions of Berlin tourists who made "the Wall" a major stop on their itinerary.  Another parallel is the approximate 1,400 government-funded Post Office murals painted during the New Deal.  As with all modern art exhibitions, every few miles, there would be a café and gift shop that would feature Trump's many books, posters, and souvenirs.

Billboards.  Use the wall (both sides) as a rentable billboard area that would provide miles upon miles of revenue-producing space.  Recall the days when the sports stadiums plastered walls and scoreboards with advertisements.  Conceivably, pro-immigration groups might buy space to protest Trump's exclusionary policies and offer advice to those planning to sneak in.  Meanwhile, anti-immigration candidates for public office would take out ads to establish their bona fides as opponents of open borders.

Hard to say exactly how many millions these tactics would generate, but every drop would count and certainly speed up a quest that seems mired in political squabbling.