President Trump says the wall will be built. When I first heard him say that, I thought to myself … Good God!!! … a fence 1200 miles long! Being a former cattle rancher who used to maintain 120 miles of fence, I kinda have a feeling for the problems. Then I got to thinking about the logistics and ciphering the cost. I, like you, know that if the government makes it, it will cost orders of magnitude more than if I built it on the ranch … I wondered if I could make a profit on it.
Let’s see … 1200 miles at 5280 feet per mile = 6,336,000 feet. We know that the government will spend billions for it, because everything they do costs billions, so … let’s see how much we have to pay for the material per billion dollars. I always wanted to be a millionaire and a billion is a thousand times that much, a thousand million dollars … that makes a trillion a million million dollars. Sounds like we are beginning to talk about real money. But I digress, let’s see … divide a billion by 6,336,000 feet = $ 157.83 per foot.
I’m thinking a wall made of a concrete slab, probably re-inforced, say 15 foot by 20 feet, I suppose 6 inches thick. That way you could bury it 3 feet in the ground and still have a formidable 12 foot high wall. If you used reinforcing steel, you could extend it out of the slab so you could attach razor wire to it. That ought make a pretty scary wall.
Our 15 by 20 slab (15 x 20 x 0.5) = 150 cubic feet or ( there’s 27 cubic feet per cubic yard) 150 divided by 27 = 5.6 cubic yards of concrete which will cost less than $100 per cubic yard = $ 560 for the slab. By the time that we add reinforcement we can figure the cost of materials would be around $ 1000. So far, the cost of the wall is $50 per foot. Realistically, we can double the cost to pay for the labor. That’s $ 1000 in labor to make and install 20 feet of wall. We can add another $ 50 per foot for trenching and incidentals like the razor wire, if wanted. That leaves $ 7.83 for profit, or ($ 7.83 x 6,336,000) = $ 49,610,880. Looks like I should bid on the job if I want to become a millionaire.
However, we know that because this is a government job this will not be the cost … or profit. Chances are that my costs here on the ranch are going to be too low for a government job. The bureaucrats will probably double the thickness … double everything and bury the wall 6 feet deep to boot. So we can see that the real cost will be in the area of 2 to 3 billion dollars, which by this old cowboy’s thinking would yield a tidy profit of about $150,000,000.
As I write this, the bureaucrats are telling the news pundits that the wall will cost from 12 to 15 billion dollars … which is still a pittance compared to Obama’s $ 787 billion infra-structure “shovel ready” spending. Compare my outrageous profit above to that … it is 0.02% of his spending. Kind of makes you think that everyone in government, elected official or bureaucrat, is either clueless or crooked, doesn’t it? I wonder which!