Patricia Nell Warren

Superhighway to an American Hell

Filed By Patricia Nell Warren | February 20, 2008 3:03 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, Politics, Politics, Politics
Tags: Hurricane Katrina, NAFTA, national debt, property seizure

Last night CNN was asking viewers whether the Presidential candidates should be pressed for their positions on the Trans Texas Corridor. I say yes. I want to know Obama's and Clinton's position on this giant construction project that has hardly been mentioned in the campaign so far. The TTC's quarter-mile-wide toll route is global trade's answer to the Great Wall of China. It's the first leg of the long-planned NAFTA corridor that will roll truckloads and trainloads of consumer goods north from Mexican ports, through Texas and the Midwest heartland to Winnipeg, Canada. The statistics, and the human costs to Americans, simply boggle the mind.

NAFTA boosters are offering all kinds of glowing pros why the TTC should be built. But the cons are not so glowing. Construction of the TTC alone will cost at least $182 billion, destroy half a million acres of Texas' best farmland, impact the environment in a massive way, and seize the property of at least 1 million people, displacing them to who knows where. Under a state law passed to facilitate the project, most of these residents will get eviction notices that give them just 24 hours' notice to move. The project is a cutting edge of global privatization -- the contract was secretly let to a Spanish construction firm without any public input.

And how convenient that the U.S. Supreme Court recently weighed in with a decision that makes it easier for government to seize private property for public use. Do we have to wonder if some of the justices were leaned on...or even put on the NAFTA payroll?

According to MRZine, "The corridor is being built to bypass West Coast labor unions and sustain the flood of cheap imports from the Far Eastern Pacific Rim to the heartland of America." But construction couldn't start till the environmental impact report was in. After many delays, that draft report was finally delivered in early February, though getting one's hands on a copy is evidently not easy in Texas. But many Texans haven't waited to read it -- they've already been protesting the TTC for some time. A powerful grassroots opposition movement is building momentum across the state, as thousands of angry citizens flood into meetings to shout about everything from the loss of their property to loss of more jobs in the state. Even some staunch Lone Star conservatives are lining up against the project.

Well, good luck, highway builders -- Americans are downsizing their consumer buying because they are fricking broke. The rich market envisioned for these goods won't even be there by the time the NAFTA corridor is open for business. That collision between an irresistible force and an immovable object will be something to see -- when the "flood of cheap imports" hits the wall of an epic national depression.

The TTC is the latest, worst-yet example of a widening accountability gap between the U.S. government and the people whose welfare the government is supposed to serve. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, we've already seen the Bush administration's complete lack of concern for human misery along the Gulf Coast. But Katrina was a natural disaster. The NAFTA corridor, which the Bushies are supporting 110 percent, will be a MAN-MADE disaster. The main benefit for the state of Texas, and other participating states across the U.S., as well as corporations involved in the project, will be revenue -- lots of revenue.

With government operating in the red at every level, it's now the game to squeeze ever more federal and state revenue out of thin air and taxpayers' hides. I imagine that California, where I live, must be busy hatching its own grandiose scheme for fabricating new revenue -- especially since the NAFTA corridor will have a negative effect on California ports. Local network news feeds reported the other day that our fair state will be out of money in June. So California legislators are desperately whacking at budgets of education and healthcare services, trying to put together some emergency operating funds. One commentator wondered aloud, "Where are sick people supposed to go for care when this is all over?"

Clearly the big shots in Canada and Mexico have gotten together with the American big shots to plan the NAFTA boondoggle. We American voters can't do much for Canada or Mexico -- but we need to call our own big shots to account on this one. What are we supposed to think of this entrenched American politico/corporate ruling class that continues to enrich itself by creating giant for-profit projects like this? Especially when they have such complete disregard for the economic disaster that is already gripping our country? With the United States already trillions of dollars in debt, and spending uncontrolled billions on a Middle Eastern war, where will the government and builders find all the additional trillions of dollars needed to build the NAFTA corridor across three countries?

Even the Chinese, who already have most of our money and have been loaning it back to us at interest, are getting a little worried because their markets have been hit by the wash from our subprime problems. The foreign banks and investment firms that bought into our subprime mortgage market woke up too late to the realization that they'd been sold the Brooklyn Bridge. The moment may come when nobody out there will lend us the money for another Brooklyn Bridge -- especially one that is thousands of miles long.

The only kind of construction project that will help America is the bootstrap variety -- one that generates more real income and jobs for our people, and less debt. But I don't see any Washington light bulbs coming up with that kind of human-friendly program.

Yes, Obama and Hillary, I definitely want to know what you plan to do about stopping the superhighway to an American hell.

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I imagine that California, where I live, must be busy hatching its own grandiose scheme for fabricating new revenue -- especially since the NAFTA corridor will have a negative effect on California ports.

As someone who once lived just north of Long Beach, I must say that I'd never heard of the Trans-Texas/NAFTA Corridor project --- but it sounds like southern California's Alameda Corridor project writ large.

I always loved the Long Beach Freeway --- but the proposal that we should build it out until it is as wide as it is long always seemed a bit presumptuous to me ...

Bilerico readers who are interested in briefing themselves have only to search their favorite search engine for TTC or NAFTA corridor. There are miles of links out there -- both pro and con. It's surprising that the subject hasn't been in the news more.

The whole NAFTA corridor thing is a pet conspiracy of the Ron Paul/John Birch Society/Black Helicopters crowd, but the TTC is, well, a bit crazy. That said, America has serious shortages of infrastructure, not just in Texas, but everywhere else too. The TTC plan includes a new mainline rail corridor, for example, which is a welcome change from the trend of tearing up railroads across the US.

The Nation recently ran a Christopher Hayes piece on the TTC and the NAFTA Corridor conspiracy theories, which is online here.

Also relevant, I-69 up here in the Midwest is an especially fraught topic, and a part of this NAFTA Superhighway plan. Construction's supposed to start sometime in the spring here in Southern Indiana, even though depending on which poll you're looking at, 75-90% of Hoosiers don't want it.

We hate it just as much as the folks in Texas. I've read of highway plans successfully defeated in England, and it's a tough road, but we're still trying--even in the eleventh hour. Protestors are flowing in already from all over the country. More info here:

Re railroads: I am actually very pro-railroad. I think that a great deal could be done to enhance the environment and improve American transport infrastructure by supporting and improving rail service on the existing right-of-ways. It's the sheer scale of the NAFTA corridor, that puts it way off the scale into the destructive category, that concerns me.

The Europeans have been smarter than we are, with improving railroads. And I'll tell you what -- the EU would never get away with plowing a project of this magnitude across the European landscape. The Chunnel got built only because it went through virgin geology under the English Channel and didn't displace much of anybody. People and national governments would not put up with an EU version of the NAFTA corridor. There would be a war over it.

it's a good idea lest truck in all our Chinese goods for Wal*Mart from a port in Mexico.
Those American Truckers don't need jobs the Mexicans need them worse. Those Longshoremen who work in Long Beach (now leased by the Chinese in a cash for assets swap) Don't need to make house payments or feed their children. They don't need any of that....
Besides CNN and our good buddy Micheal Savage. says the NAFTA Super Highway doesn't exist.

Give all of our jobs to outsiders
what a country!

Take care
By the way when i was in Texas this TTC made such a big stink that 250 of the 253 counties in Texas longed a formal protest with Governor Rick Parry.

He doesn't give a damned he like Bush Clinton and the rest of them are bough off by the criminal Elite that run this country.

Sorry about the sarcasm in my last post.

I have known about this since early 2005.
There was hints of this in the Original NAFTA treaty Clinton sighed way back in the mid 95's.
This is Exactly i don't get my news from TV, or i would have first found about this this last October.

Here is one link

Just about the Texas Part

Just go here for a bunch of links

Yup Kiss Good old Glory Good Bye.

Take care

Tell y'all what: I'll support I-69 and the Trans Texas Corridor, if NAFTA is repealed.

Normally, I'm all for any highway anyone wants to build. But I never supported NAFTA and voted for Perot in 1992 to illustrate that. NAFTA and CAFTA need to go, along with the tax breaks given to corporations to cover the costs of offshoring production.

Oh, and not everybody on CNN is in denial on the NAFTA corridor. Lou Dobbs is up in arms about it.

you know it's really sad to see the end of our country. We don't make anything anymore. We owe something like 2+ trillion to China and they own Long Beach Harbor among other peaces of our infrastructure. Dubai owns over a dozen ports on top of that highways electric companies, water companies and all manner of infrastructer are owned by firigian interests because we wanted cheap inported goods.

A country that doesn't make things is doomed to be a third world nation in one generation, if they are lucky not faster.

Take care