This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, May 1, 2017:
As Samuel Taylor Coleridge expressed it, “If men could learn from history, what lessons it might teach us! But passion and party blind our eyes, and the light which experience gives us is a lantern on the stern which shines only on the waves behind.”
Those unfamiliar with the lessons history teaches regarding attempts to legislate morality are about to get another one. One of those, surprisingly, is the Republican Senator from Texas who has just introduced a bill to let El Chapo pay for the wall. After all, said Ted Cruz, it’s “only fitting.” Cruz told Tucker Carlson on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight” on Wednesday:
These drug cartels are the ones crossing the border with impunity, smuggling drugs, smuggling narcotics, engaged in human trafficking. They’re the ones violating our laws and it’s only fitting that their ill-gotten gains fund securing the border.
Cruz’s bill specifically targets El Chapo’s assets for use in building the wall:
All illegally obtained profits resulting from any criminal drug trafficking enterprise led by Joaquin Archivaldo Guzman Loera (commonly known as “El Chapo”), which are criminally forfeited to the United States Government as a result of the conviction of [El Chapo] … shall be reserved for security measures along the border between the United States and Mexico, including the completion of a wall along such border, for the purpose of stemming the flow of illegal narcotics into the United States and furthering the Nation’s security.
Cruz sounded very much like another member of Congress who hasn’t read, or remembered, his history: Rep. James Sensenbrenner. In March Sensenbrenner offered his bill, cleverly titled the BUILD WALL (Build Up Illegal Line Defenses With Assets Lawfully Lifted) Act, explaining:
If we do nothing, we put the people of this nation at risk, as well as allow illegal immigrants to take away jobs, opportunities, and social funding from U.S. citizens – all at the expense of the American taxpayer. The BUILD WALL Act is a creative solution to a complex problem.
When quizzed about his bill in March, Sensenbrenner reiterated the case that drug lords should rightly pay for the wall:
This is a way to fulfill the president’s desire to have Mexico pay for the wall. Having the money seized from Mexican drug cartels would mean that bad Mexicans would end up paying for the wall – the bad Mexicans [who] have been terrorizing the good Mexicans with crime and kidnappings and murders within Mexico itself.
But why is no one asking the real question: if the wall is built, will it work in keeping drugs and criminals out of the United States? Or will it, just like the Volstead Act, cause misery beyond measure, with consequences still being felt today nearly a hundred years later?
Films over the last few decades have attempted to answer that question, films such as The Untouchables (1987) or, more recently, Lawless (2012) which just touch on the horrors inflicted upon innocents as those illegal liquor merchants plied their wares, operating as simply businessmen doing their best to “meet a demand.”
As Borderland Beat, the relatively unknown but highly-regarded source of information about the border drug wars, recently noted: “With U.S. support Mexican authorities have been able to kill or capture 33 out of the 37 most dangerous cartel leaders. The recent extradition of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman to the United States is a testament to the value of high-level cooperation between the two countries. As a result of these notable successes, several larger cartels have fractured and have descended into in-fighting.”
But they haven’t gone away. That have reorganized, are adapting to the new reality, and continue their drug trafficking. First, they consider themselves as businessmen providing a product to meet market demand. Thwarting border protections is an industry in its own right, whether it’s developing tunnels (with electric lights, air-conditioning and motion sensors) under the border, or creating false documentation to get their mules through border checkpoints. They still have immense resources and can buy all the talent they need to counter any protective schemes the Trump administration might dream up.
When they wish to move large sums of cash across the border, the cartels have used “cloned” vehicles that resemble official cars. When that fails, they buy up and ship across the border vast numbers of gift cards, thus reducing law enforcement’s ability to track down the movement of money.
When drones become pesky, they develop countermeasures to defend against them. And they are developing “narco drones” of their own to deliver drugs across the border to the U.S.
In addition, they have the resources to bribe successfully hundreds of Department of Homeland Security employees who have taken in nearly $15 million in bribes since 2006. As Borderland Beat notes, all of this means “that a new border wall will not end or significantly reduce the capabilities and power of Mexican drug cartels. From the days of tequila smuggling into the United States during Prohibition, illicit trafficking across the southwest border has remained a constant.”
As Kyle Smith wrote in his review of “Prohibition,” a PBS special a few years ago:
Banning the sale or manufacture of alcohol made ours “a nation of scofflaws,” as Burns and Novick entitle the second episode of their miniseries. After an initial dip in alcohol consumption, booze sales spiked, with one cop estimating there were 32,000 speakeasies in New York City.
No one who backed the 18th Amendment thought much about the additional police needed to enforce it, the ease with which those police would be bought off, the job losses it would cause, or the innocent bystanders who would be shot when the government decided to crack down.
Prohibition lessened respect for the rule of law and created a big business in bootlegging, which in turn led to murder and mayhem on the streets. Organized crime barely existed before the Al Capones of the world found their calling in Prohibition, and in order to lessen turf wars the gangland bosses began to carve out spheres of influence on a nationwide scale.
“Prohibition was the finishing school, the college and the graduate school for the criminal syndicates of America,” says Dan Okrent, author of “Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition,” in the film.
If the wall is built (regardless of who pays for it), people like Cruz and Sensenbrenner (and others who should know better) are very likely to learn this lesson from history: one cannot legislate morality, and attempts to do so are likely to have painfully negative and long-lasting consequences. Unfortunately, Coleridge’s lantern, for many, shines only on the waves behind.
The New York Post: What we learned from Prohibition
Washington Examiner: Jim Sensenbrenner: Make Mexican cartels pay for the wall
Borderland Beat: THE BORDER WALL: MAKING MEXICAN DRUG CARTELS GREAT AGAIN
Conservative Tribune: Congressman: Pay for Border Wall by Seizing Money From Mexican Drug Cartels