In 1961, West Berlin had already become an economic powerhouse thanks to a market economy and very generous economic aid provided by American taxpayers.
On the other hand, East Berlin and all of East Germany, which surrounded West Berlin, was an economic basket case thanks to the yoke of communism.
East Germany was also losing both human and financial capital — big-time. East Germans headed to West Berlin to spend the little money they had. In large numbers, they also simply fled East Germany for West Berlin, never looking back.
Were these people layabouts who then drained the economy of West Berlin? Sure, some probably were. Many more, though, were hard workers who wanted freedom, material wealth and self-determination for themselves and their families.
Nothing staunched this growing drain of human beings and their cash out of East Germany until August 13, 1961 when East German guards – under Soviet Union-approved orders – sealed off the border between East and West Berlin with a barbed-wire fence. East Germany eventually fortified its “Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart” with a concrete barrier.
What happened? From the perspective of the East German government, the Berlin Wall was a smashing success. The Wall had a dramatically positive economic effect. It trapped people – and their labor, their skills and their money – in East Germany.
The only problem for the demented East German and Soviet communists was that the Berlin Wall became a symbol of tyranny and a decades-long public-relations disaster.
There is much talk these days, particularly among conservatives, about the need to limit illegal immigration from Mexico (and Central America) that has easily run into the tens of millions.
Many Republicans – and some Democrats, including The Daily Caller’s own Mickey Kaus – make the case that massive illegal immigration is a disaster for American wages and much else.
Other Republicans – and many Democrats – make the case that such illegal immigration is an immense net positive because it infuses the nation with hard workers and entrepreneurs.
However, no one – least of all Mexico – is addressing the issue from the other side: The massive outflow of people from Mexico has unquestionably been a decades-long economic and social disaster for Mexico.
Much like East Germany circa 1961, Mexico is a perpetual economic basket case despite its two coastlines, its millions of acres of farmable land and its ample supplies oil and other raw resources.
As East Germany did in 1961, the Mexican government could dramatically improve its economy by building a large, well-patrolled concrete barrier between Mexico and the United States. Just as East Germany did, Mexico could start with a barbed wire fence and then build a large concrete wall complete with a super-slippery pole along the top and legions of armed guards.
This wall – call it the Great Wall of Mexico, or perhaps the Ciudad Juarez Wall – would stem the tide of millions who are defecting with their feet to the United States because the Mexican economy is so perpetually pathetic.