MDRC in the News

How I Would Spend Trump’s Wall Money

Op-Ed by Nicholas Kristof with Stuart A. Thompson, The New York Times


Is an additional $5.7 billion for a border wall really the best way to protect Americans? While President Trump is playing with billions of dollars and millions of lives, I decided to play with that money, too – to advance the greater good.

Here’s our own toy wall, which may be as real as Trump’s will ever be, and what we’d use the money for.

I propose allocating the $5.7 billion in ways that I believe would be far more effective in benefiting Americans and the world. Below, you can use a calculator to make your own choices. It’s thrilling to hand out billions! (Jump right to the calculator.)…..

…..More than half a million American children still are poisoned with lead each year, damaging their brains and increasing the risk that they will become criminals. One study found that a large-scale effort to reduce lead poisoning would save the United States billions of dollars in costs of crime and special education. Likewise, job training for prisoners through the Center for Employment Opportunities costs $6,500 per person and has a good record of turning offenders into taxpayers…..

…..So I challenge you. How would you spend the $5.7 billion to make America better off? You can use all or part of the money to begin to build a wall (credible estimates for the cost of the full wall start at $22 billion), or you can allocate it to whatever area you believe generates the most bang for the buck. Then you can post your results on social media.

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