News & Politics

The Money We Spend on Noise Barriers for Rich Suburbanites Could Pay for Trump's Wall

In the never-ending morass of arguing back and forth over whether or not walls work to keep out whatever unpleasant or annoying thing you need to keep off your lawn, an obvious solution has been missed. Have you ever heard of noise barriers? These are the giant cement walls that the states install to block the traffic noise from the highway from interfering with the hoi polloi as they barbecue on their stainless steel grills next to their jacuzzis. Unbelievably, their college degrees didn’t prepare the wealthy suburbanites of America for the burdensome process of finding homes that aren’t near noisy highways. And so, because Mr. and Mrs. don’t do basic research (or the state hasn’t insisted that builders stop putting developments next to highways), the state has to build noise barriers—miles and miles of walls paid for by the state for the comfort of idiots who buy McMansions right next to a twenty-four-hour Grand Prix. (I’ve yet to see a noise barrier blocking a housing project from highway noise pollution.)

There are bills like the “Neighborhood Noise Barriers Act of 2017” (H.R 268) that spell it all out for us. These are serious issues, people. The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure has to convene to work out the problems that doctors and lawyers with sensitive hearing and bad real estate mojo have. And the solution? Walls. The Federal Highway Administration reports,

From 2014 to 2016; States constructed 23,073,413 square feet of noise barriers…Total construction costs for these barriers were approximately $671 million. From 1963 to 2016 Forty-eight states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico constructed 247,567,044 square feet of barriers…The barriers total 3,263 linear miles in length. Total construction costs for these barriers were approximately $7.44 billion.

Consider yourselves lucky to have me on the case. I’ve just solved the border wall problem. The area of the border that needs to be secured is less than 2000 miles. We already have over 3000 miles of walls constructed. All we need is for trucks to come and load them up from their fancy neighborhoods and move them down to the border (if you can drag them from the cold, greedy hands of the dance moms who whined long enough for some state representative to build them). You’re welcome.

But seriously, if we can pay to muffle the sound of crotch rockets so the Johnsons can entertain the Joneses in their backyard, why is it asking too much for similar protection to make sure drugs, cartels, and terrorists aren’t pouring over the southern border? And spare me the “walls don’t work” argument. If that were the case, would the state have paid $7.44 billion for walls for the Whole Foods shoppers? These are people who eat avocado toast. They really don’t need subsidized walls, but they have them.

And even more infuriating is that every couple of years they tear down these walls and rebuild them—for real: “A new trend that is expected to continue is the demolition and reconstruction of older noise barriers… older barriers may have to be removed or relocated to accommodate new roadway geometries.” (See? We can move them to the border!)

The time for excuses is over. If the kale chip set can have state-funded border walls on demand, then so can we all.