Recently I got into a . . . discussion . . . on Twitter. (You can’t really have discussions on Twitter. For one, you’re limited to 140 characters. And for another, most people don’t want to discuss, they just want to bludgeon you. Sometime, if I’m okay with being sued, I might relay some of my conversations with Cathy Brennan, an extremely unpleasant radical feminist who is one of the most abrasive, obnoxious, litigious, angry people I’ve ever seen online. And I’ve been online a really long time. I mean, since Reagan was President. To say this woman is “transphobic” is to understate things so massively I can’t even express it. See, what happened was…Wait, where was I? Oh, right; Republicans and math.)
Anyway, this person––who was not a bad or unreasonable guy––insisted to me that “both sides” had problems with math, citing the amount that the debt has doubled under Obama, just like it did under Bush. I didn’t bother telling him it was a genuinely idiotic comparison, as Bush had been handed an economy running at a surplus and quickly destroyed it with two obscene tax cuts, two unbudgeted wars, a huge new (also unbudgeted) federal drug program, and some phenomenal mis-management, while Obama was handed an economy in free-fall with a skyrocketing deficit, which he turned around and now has the deficit coming down. But when you’re “debating” with someone who reiterates that absurd right-wing canard about the government giving away “free stuff”, you’re not speaking to a person well-acquainted with actual facts.
But it reminded me of a very basic fact: Republicans just can’t seem to do math. And I mean simple math, like addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. You know: K-6 math.
Let’s take immigration. The Tea Party, the Trumpsters, and of course the Republican Party as a whole want to get rid of every last illegal immigrant in the country. All of them. And what I wonder is: Can’t the G.O.P. do simple math?
(“Obviously not,” I hear you cry. Yes, you’re right: they think cutting taxes will increase government revenue; they think giving ACORN a few million dollars will bankrupt us, but fighting trillion dollar wars won’t; etc. Bear with me anyway.)
If figures are right, there are approximately 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States.
That’s a lot of people. I mean, a lot a lot. It’s basically the entirety of the L.A. metro area. I mean, it’s a lot.
So let’s assume that you can snap your fingers and gather all those people up with no effort at all. None. SNAP! 11 million people appear, ready to be deported. Now what?
Where are you going to put them? Empty all of L.A. and house them there? Put them in a corner of Texas or New Mexico where they can wait to be processed? Better be a damn big corner. And what would you do with them? Hand them shovels and seeds and tell them, “Good luck! You’re number 2,459,345–we should get to you by August of 2019; better start tilling and sowing!” and hope it doesn’t turn into an environmental disaster?
But let’s say you figure it out. You won’t; but let’s say you do. (“We’ll make them stay right where we find them while we process them, then when we’re ready we’ll do the finger-snapping thing! Yeah! That’s the ticket!”) So now you have 11 million people handy. How are you going to get them home? Bus? Let’s do a little math:
A typical school bus–you know, the yellow kind without air conditioning or seat belts–seats between 75-90 folks. Let’s go with 100, just to be conservative. If you want to transport 11 million people to Mexico, you’re talking about 110,000 school bus trips. How much diesel fuel is that going to take? How many bus drivers? How many hours of travel?
Or put them on a train. The CalTrain double-decker “baby bullet” trains seat about 150 folks per car. For 11 million people, that works out to around 74,000 cars. I’ve seen multi-locomotive trains hauling 75-100 cars on ocassion–not often–so that would work out to 740 100-car train, full-loaded.
(And we haven’t even considered issues such as luggage, children, sanitation for longer trips, the processing speed of the U.S. and Mexican governments, and other related issues.)
Bear in mind that the government couldn’t even get ice to New Orleans after a single hurricane while you contemplate the above–and remember too that New Orleans had only about a third of a million folks in it. So your problem is to move the entire population of 33 New Orleans’ from wherever they are to Mexico. I’m not too sanguine about the possibility, personally, even if they’re all right there in Brownsville or Laredo.
This is just the simple math of logistics, too. I’m not an expert in this stuff—I’m sure it’s way more complicated. And if the simple math shows it to be this bad, what’s the more complicated situation going to look like? (Answer: Ugly as hell.)
Not to mention what would happen when all the Orlandos, Carloses, Jesuses, and all the other folks who work the jobs nobody else wants to do (Picking strawberries? Cleaning out office buildings? Laying sewer pipe?) up an leave, all 11 million of them. Imagine all of New York City—not just the adults, but the whole friggin’ city—plus the whole of Newark, Nassau county, and most of Connecticut just pulling up stakes and leaving. I mean, seriously: think about it. Don’t you think it wouldn’t have some kind of massive effect for everyone else? What happens to the Northeast power grid? The trains? The airports? Imagine New York City being blacked out, but forever, instead of for a few hours as sometimes happens, usually to chaotic effect. It’s mind-boggling.
So it’s clear: Republicans can’t do math. Remind me again why they are ever put in charge?