Now that both houses of Congress have approved the construction of a fence on the U.S. border with Mexico, the question is: Who will get the contracts to build this multi-billion project and the infrastructure projects needed to support it? I assume that we can expect bids from the usual suspects: KBR (Halliburton), Martin Marietta, Bechtel and Parsons. Between cost overruns and long-term upkeep, it will end up costing taxpayers a fortune -- and the illegal immigrants will just shift their border crossings to areas beyond the reach of the fence. I have a proposal that will get the fence built for less money and then, after it is finished, convert it into an income-producing tourist attraction. Instead of turning over construction to one or more of the usual suspects, why not give it to Christo?
For those who are unfamiliar with the world of environmental art, Christo is a Bulgarian-born American who is known for his unusual large-scale art projects, such as wrapping the Reichstag in a polypropylene and aluminum curtain, and lining California's Tejon Pass with 1,760 oversized yellow umbrellas. Christo's installations are expensive as art works go, but by Halliburton standards, they're cheap. Christo even has fence-building experience, having once constructed an 18-foot high, 25-mile long nylon fence in Northern California. He is even well-versed in the mechanics of dealing with government bureaucracies. For example, to build the Northern California fence, he had to endure eighteen public hearings and file a 450-page environmental impact report. Surely Christo and his wife Jeanne-Claude can come up with a way to build an effective border fence that would also look attractive and draw tourists who would spend money at the concessions, restaurants and motels that would spring up near the fence -- on our side of the border, of course.