Sunday, June 26, 2011

The ROI of Border Security

When someone asks about ROI--Return On Investment--they are really asking:
What do I get back ('return') for the money I'm being asked to spend ('investment')? What is it really worth (the "ROI")? ~from Resource Management Systems
This morning the Associated Press released data that should help the nation assess its ROI on border security:
how much have taxpayers spent to secure the U.S.-Mexico border?

The price tag, until now, has not been public. But AP, using White House budgets, reports obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests and congressional transcripts, tallied it all up: $90 billion in 10 years. ~from US Border Security: Expensive with mixed results

Border patrol agents now capture fewer unauthorized immigrants than before. But many attribute that to the decline in the U.S. economy that has produced fewer jobs to attract them. And the spending has not diminished the flow of illegal drugs into the United States. And, regarding the threat from terrorism, experts say that the U.S.-Canada border poses a more plausible threat than does the Mexico border.

The AP article cannot be criticized for neglecting to include other, more intangible, costs into its calculations.

  • How does one quantify the diminished quality of life on the border that an increased militarization has imposed? 
  • How does one assess the damages wreaked by the border wall to the fragile environment and border animal ecosystems? 
  • How does one heal the racism inflamed by vigilante militia?

I'm a newcomer on the border. I've lived there only half of the last ten years. Only $45 Billion dollars worth of time. But that has been long enough to have seen a palpable decline in the quality of life. While a good share of that is due to the drug war raging in northern Mexico, the entire problem is more than Mexico's responsibility. The U.S. political system has victimized the border.

Regarding border security, simply from the point of view of ROI, we taxpayers have not gotten our money's worth.


Big Mark 243 said...

Like most things that affect people, there is no bottom line or profit margin to make people pay any attention to quality of life. America has been slow in the last 20 or so years to recognize that people are living less meaningful lives because of social missteps like this border fence.

Keep fighting the good fight!!

One Fly said...

I'll never go near that border again. There will be no good decisions made here as well. Support companies of this policy are 90 bil worth of happy.