What it would cost to build Trump's snake-and-alligator border moat

Earlier this month, we learned that one of the most enduring frustrations of Trump's presidency is that no one will take his suggestion of building a moat filled with man-eating alligators and poisonous snakes along the US border (something he's been talking up for at least 35 years!).

The editorial staff of Defenseone, presumably still stinging from being accused of being anti-Trump propagandists by a belligerent CBP officer at Dulles Airport, have decided to give Trump a little help by costing out the total budget for such a project.

They have to make some assumptions, of course -- such as a minimum of 10 gators and 1,000 snakes per moat-mile -- and they also count on making some cost savings by sourcing cheap gators from police auctions.

Here's the bottom line, though: 19,450 border gators will run $40.4m, including shipping. 1,954,000 snakes, meanwhile, will cost $683.9m, a cost that must be reupped every seven years, due to the regrettably short lifespans of coral snakes and water moccasins.

Then there's the feed issue: if the snakes and gators work, there will be a shortage of human border-crossers for them to eat, so that's $291m/year for frozen rats and gator pellets. The accompanying zoologists will cost $135.7m/year.

Then there are the medical costs for border crossers who are injured but not killed by the moat-dwellers, ballparked at $1.3b/year (much of that is price-gouging by monopolistic pharma companies who have giant markups on their antivenom).

The total bill? $2.5b to set up and $1.8b/year to operate. But that's before the beltway bandits get a chance to put in their no-bid, cost-plus contracts, so probably safe to quintuple that.

This budget estimate, of course, does not include the cost of building the actual moat into which the guard force would be deployed. Here we can draw upon the past precedent of diverting $3.6 billion from the U.S. military construction budgets towards border wall repairs. While there has not been a single terrorist attack over the last 15 years linked to illegal immigrants, we can make the case that the alligator and snake moat is a far better national security investment than new military housing for our troops, repairs of base schools for their families, or training ranges and command and control facilities to allow them to win any future wars.

In conclusion, the multi-billion dollar costs of a snake-and-alligator filled moat along the U.S. border are a major commitment. But what better way to show President Trump’s own commitment to American values than by putting tens of thousands of dangerous animals right alongside its citizens?

The Snake-And-Alligator Border Moat: A Budget Analysis [Peter W. Singer/Defenseone]

(via Lowering the Bar)