What do a U.S. Navy Destroyer and a proposed fence across the nation’s southern border have in common?
Both are ripoffs in their own fashion, designed to enrich private corporations and pay off politicians with campaign contributions or even old-fashioned bags of cash.
The Zumwalt destroyer began as a great idea: build a modern, stealth destroyer with a super gun – the Vertical Gun for Advanced Ships (VGAS). Some 32 vessels were planned, but only three will be produced at a cost of $7.5 billion each, a total of $22,500,000,000.
By contrast, the fleet of Arleigh Burke destroyers, ordered for future construction, will cost about $900 million each, or 1/8th the price of a Zumwalt.
The Burke is a proven design. The Zumwalt is a catastrophe.
To show the gross incompetence of private contractors, once the first Zumwalt was launched, someone decided to analyze the cost of projectiles (shells) for its fancy new gun. The bill was $800,000 each round. This “surprise” was one of the reasons the ship was discontinued.
The proposed wall on the Southern border falls right into the no-expense-spared Zumwalt fiasco – another blatant use of private contractors for government (public) projects.
This year Congress has approved $1.375 billion to build only 55 miles of wall. That’s $25 million per mile, or $4,735 per foot.
What White House and Congress are proposing for $25 million per mile is really a fence – same design as politicians allowed President Obama to build – the type you see on tv with the teenagers climbing easily and sitting atop.
What would a real wall cost? Not an 18-foot flimsy, but a solid, concrete awesome structure, ready for adornment on the Mexican side by urban mural painters flown in from Chicago, New York and Philly
Could we build it for less than $4,735 a foot? You bet we can. Check this estimate:
|Wall Plan for Dummies|
|Concrete Per yard||$90|
|Shipping Per Yard||$60|
|Total price per yard||$150|
|Above grade wall in feet||25|
|Below grade wall feet||8|
|Total above and buried feet||33|
|Thickness of wall in feet||2.00|
|Cubic feet per running foot||66|
|Total cubic yards per foot||2.44|
|Concrete $ per running mile||$1,936,000|
|Rebar price per running foot||$3|
|Rebar price per running mile||$15,840|
|Digging Trench per foot||$20|
|Digging trench per mile||$105,600|
|Price per mile||$2,057,440|
|Price per running foot||$390|
|Total miles $1.375 Billion||668|
Using public management, not favored or friendly-to-politicians private contractors, we could build 668 miles, instead of 55 – with the same amount of money.
And you might build the wall thicker, taller, adorned with barbed wire and cameras, but no matter what you did, it should never cost $4,735 a running foot.
Fortunately, some contractors are still honest enough to question this waste of money. At least one has suggested that overpaying is not a blessing (unless you’re part of the gang in power approving the project).
What happens if you take away the payoffs and get down to bare essentials,
Fisher Sand and Gravel Company’s President and CEO Thomas Fisher said the government is more than overpaying.
“Our whole point is to break through the government bureaucracy,” Fisher said “If they do the small procurements as they are now … that’s not going to cut it.”
Fisher explained that the $1.37 billion is enough for him to build 20 miles of levee wall in the Rio Grande Valley, plus another 214 miles.
That price would include warranty, electronic surveillance and a paved road on top of the structure, plus adjacent highway.
While Congress is aware of this proposal (it was one of the demonstration projects), it has ruled that the White House cannot construct it or any other concrete wall.
Compounding this disaster is the Army Corps of Engineers – which used to build using the Army, but now places contracts to private companies, so they can profit from public projects.
And the Corps doesn’t appear ready to even start looking at how to allot the $8 billion total that Trump is hoping to spend on the wall in coming years.
Reportedly, the Corps is also still considering how to spend $900 million for the project that Congress gave Department of Homeland Security last fiscal year, and has not requested bids from the private sector, because it’s still in the “procurement process.”
Despite the uproar by both political parties, only 35 miles of wall have been constructed in the two years since Trump took office.
How hard is it to just copy the Wall Plan for Dummies, email it, and request quotes?
Or maybe it’s just time to cut the red tape and call Tom Fisher at 800-932-8740.