Pietrow: Turning it off and on again doesn’t work

David Pietrow, Staff Columnist

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If you have been following the news, you know that our government has been shut down yet again.

It almost happens like clockwork now, and each president has had their own reason for initiating  a shutdown. Former president Barack Obama shutdown the government for 16 days to negotiate legislation on healthcare. Before that shutdown in 2013, former president Bill Clinton had a shutdown in 1995 to negotiate a budget for the fiscal year. That lasted a total of 26 days.

Fast forward to today, and current President Donald Trump has shut down the government to get funding for his proposed border wall. The shutdown started on Dec. 22 and has lasted over 31 days. Already holding the record for longest shutdown, I think it is time that Trump’s shutdown was given a proper evaluation.

So why is the government not working? Well, to put it simply, Trump wants his wall. No, seriously. He really wants this wall. In fact, he claims that Americans need the wall “for the safety and security of our country. We need the Wall to help stop the massive inflow of drugs from Mexico, now rated the number one most dangerous country in the world. If there is no Wall, there is no Deal.”

He actually has more reasons for wanting the wall, but if I highlighted and broke down all his documented reasons for it, this article would turn into a research paper. Instead, I will just examine his claims in that tweet.

Trump is correct that Mexico sources most of our drugs, but his conclusion about a wall helping is far from accurate. According to the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), a non-governmental organization that advocates for human rights in Latin America and the Caribbean, 90 to 94 percent of heroin consumed in the United States today comes from Mexico. That is an unfathomable amount. If you have a problem with drugs, then it is more than likely you should have a problem with Mexico.

How is this happening, and how can we stop it? That is where Trump’s approach is flawed. How drug lords smuggle substances into this country is a complex system of coordinated attacks. It is difficult to pinpoint, but what we do know is that they tend to move smaller amounts across a wide variety of checkpoints, then have a rendezvous point somewhere north of the border. With this in mind, a wall would not help the situation.

WOLA agrees with me. On their website, they state that saying that a wall will deter smugglers “reveals a misunderstanding of how cross-border smuggling works.” Basically, Trump’s proposal for a wall to help the situation is not rooted in factual evidence. So how does Mexico factor into all of this, especially when Trump claims it is “rated the number one most dangerous country in the world”?

Although the criteria for such a metric aren’t entirely clear, Mexico does not appear to be the most dangerous country in the world according to any website. According to Atlas and Boots, Mexico is ranked the 24th most dangerous country in the world. In fairness, 24 out of 163 countries is not exactly a good rating. But that is a far cry from number one. No credible websites I searched had them at number one, with only one website placing them in the top 10.

So what grade could we give Trump’s shutdown? Considering the lack of factual evidence to back his reasons for having a wall, I believe this shutdown deserves a D.

For starters, the wall will cost much more than he is estimating. One can not just stick a piece of concrete in the ground. The government needs to hire experts to survey the land. Since the border between the United States and Mexico is quite long, that will likely be at a substantial cost. Factoring in transportation costs to get the materials to construct the wall, as well as paying supervisors and workers, I can reasonably estimate it will likely cost more than the $8 billion he quoted.

But that is not my main issue with this wall proposal. The primary factor in my grade for Trump’s shutdown was that he initiated it over a wall. Obama shut the government down to discuss healthcare, and it took half as much time. Trump just wants his wall.

It is downright silly, because shutting down the government is more than just a political move that forces Congress to compromise. It poses substantial security risks to this country. Don’t believe me? If you traveled over winter break, then you more than likely passed through an airport. Did you notice how relaxed the security was? That is most likely due to the fact that Travel Security Agency workers were forced to work without pay and, as a result, ten percent of them stayed home.

It doesn’t even end there. The government shutdown poses substantial risks to cybersecurity. If federal employees aren’t going to work, then that would include cybersecurity workers. In fact, NPR reports that “cybersecurity professionals say government websites are more vulnerable to security breaches during the shutdown.”

I understand putting this country at risk for an important protocol or measure that needs to be addressed. I am not denying that border security and illegal immigration are a problem. In fact, bringing awareness to these two issues is exactly why I did not give Trump a F. But to shut down the government, and therefore put this country at substantial risk, over a wall? That is a step too far.

David Pietrow is a second-year student pursuing a Bachelor of Science in computer science with a minor in applied data science. He was once hit by a bus, so if his reporting of the facts are a little off, please be forgiving.