Online Journal | March 23, 2007
The establishment of a Union of the Americas is the longed for wish of the neocon colonizers and their current enabler, George W. Bush. It is to be accomplished with the help of the North American Union (with Canada), Clinton’s NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) and Bush’s own CAFTA (Central American Free Trade Agreement).
The idea is to mix the United States, North and eventually South Americas into one banquet for the multi-national corporations to gobble. In the chewing and gnashing of nations, their laws and unions, labor would be fairly well digested into you know what.
In fact NAFTA is already being used to offshore U.S. transportation jobs to Mexico. Writing for the Monthly Review, David Vogel tells us, “Capital’s relentless search for cheap labor constantly alters the flow of surface transportation in North America with widespread consequences.
“The end-of-century deindustrialization of the United States and importation of cheap commodities from the Far East through the West Coast reversed historical east-west transportation patterns and established Los Angeles and Long Beach as the largest ports in the nation. To minimize transportation costs, which for many products are higher than the cost of production . . . transportation of containerized imports was developed.
“Manufactured goods are packed into mobile shipping containers at factories in the Far East and travel by ship, train, and truck to distribution centers and, ultimately, consumer outlets across the United States. Currently, intermodal transportation of cheap imported commodities is the lifeline of the American economy. In 2004, the Port of Los Angeles processed 7.3 million container units and Long Beach handled 5.8 million.
“These two ports alone accounted for 68 percent of the West Coast total and are, by far, the largest employers in California. U.S. workers, who have seen so many lucrative manufacturing jobs moved overseas, assumed that import transportation and distribution jobs could not be offshored and were, therefore, relatively secure.
“Current transportation trends are proving labor’s assumption to be dead wrong. Sparked by organized resistance and wildcat actions by workers against falling wages and deteriorating working conditions at America’s ports and on the nation’s highways, the flow of container traffic is being shifted to a south-north orientation.
“By leveraging both the U.S. and Mexican governments and taking advantage of the terms of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), big capital is developing container terminals in Mexico and using that country as a land bridge and labor pool to deliver shipping containers to destinations in the United States at discount prices.”
The trend is responsible for a mammoth 450 percent increase of container units to and through the Pacific ports of Mexico since NAFTA went into effect in 1995. The intention really is to undermine the working class on both sides of the border, significantly pitting one against the other. This plan has been facilitated by developing huge transportation corridors in the US and Mexico, along with extensive exploitation of Mexican labor to build and operate the system.
This involved establishing the NAFTA Railway (Transportacion Ferroviaria Mexicana, Texas Mexican Railway, and Kansas City Southern Railway, all merged under the latter’s control). It began operations in the Lazaro Cardenas-Kansas City Transportation Corridor in 2003 and gives you a picture of capitalists’ offshoring plan in action.
Even though the NAFTA route from the center of the Pacific Rim, Shanghai, including its overseas voyage, is almost 2,000 miles longer, a 30 percent increase in mileage, a 15 percent savings over LA or Long Beach arrival is being promised to customers. That’s the capitalists’ bottom line.
The Lazaro Cardenas-Kansas City transportation corridor
For a closer, if not frightening, look at the “Two Worlds—One Route”, click on the link to the left. Behind this KC Corridor is Kansas City SmartPort. It bills itself as “a non-profit economic development organization formed to promote and enhance the Kansas City metro area’s status as America’s Inland Port Solution.”
It goes on to say, “KC SmartPort.com, the online component of Kansas City SmartPort, Inc., has been created to assist companies with transportation and logistics activities. The pitch continues, “from basic industry information to locating service companies and improving supply chain logistics, SmartPort is America’s inland port solution.” Sounds benign, but it’s economically lethal for Kansas, Dorothy, the United States and Mexico. Since 1999, the preponderance of truck traffic of the KC Corridor has been massive, with well over 4 million trucks per year crossing the southern US border and headed north.
Add to that, the huge NAFTA highways converging, crossing the international border at Laredo. When they enter the US, they join with some of the most heavily trafficked sections of the Interstate Highway system, notably I-35, running through the center of Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, now nicknamed the “NAFTA Superhighway.” When the I-35 Corridor is completed it will cut 1,600 miles north to the US/Canada border, serving San Antonio, Austin Dallas/Ft. Worth, Oklahoma City, Wichita, Kansas City, Des Moines, Minneapolis/St Paul, Duluth, and if they have their way, all points north. But that’s not nearly all.
There is a proposed I-69 Corridor coming, originating in Laredo, that cuts northeast, serving Houston, Texarkana, Memphis, Evansville, Indianapolis, and Lansing to the US/Canada border so far, approximately 2,100 miles long at Port Huron. It is called the largest engineering project undertaken in US history. Of course, what they don’t mention is the price tag and how the construction will deface the environment and work force of America forever.
The monstrous size of the corridor
The NAFTA Corridor will be 1,200 feet wide, with separate lanes for passenger vehicles (three in each direction), sandwiched between truck lanes (two in each direction). Plus, the corridors will feature six rail lines (three in each direction), with two tracks for high-speed passenger rail, two for commuter rail, and two for freight.
The third part of the corridor will be a 200-foot wide utility zone, which can be filled in time with Burger Kings, MacDonald’s, and private space for people to stop and cry over what used to be their United States of America, one nation under god (for the religious), and under law (for the secular); a nation that used to protect their people, not serve them up for lunch on the free market counter.
This new hemispheric marketing monster/corridor, its underground utilities plus grade level railways and extensive bridging at crossovers and intersections, amount to 146 acres of right-of-way per mile. That means a land banquet for NAFTA corridors of 584,000 acres in Texas alone.
Total land consumption in the US for the NAFTA corridors could top one million, that’s one million acres. Since the corridors are routed for rural areas, they’ll eat up a total area of agricultural land and open spaces nearly as large as Vermont’s land area. So the corridors will be a state of environmental disaster, especially when you think of the pollution.
What with 82,000 plus vehicles a day by 2025, including 18,000 trucks (just for I-35), and with a speed limit of 80 mph, and with semi and tandem-trailer trucks ten feet longer and five tons heavier than anything on the road today, you will be welcomed to the future. With levels of air, water, and land pollution that far exceed those happening along the current NAFTA highway. As of now, in hotspots along I-10 east of Houston, you find the nation’s highest death rates from diesel particulate emissions. Sound like hell? It is. And here’s the itemized tab.
El tab-o for Texas alone
How’s $31.4 million a mile -- the 4,000-mile Texas sections some $125.5 billion, right-of-way and miscellaneous costs (and batteries) not included? R-O-W costs are $11.7-$38 billion, miscellaneous, $8-$20 billion. Total estimated outlay for NAFTA Texas corridors from $145.2 billion to $183.5 billion.
And despite the fact that these corridors will be toll roads, most profits will go to “private entities” under “exclusive development agreements with the “various state governments.” This is a massive move to privatize highways, in sharp contrast to the US Interstate Highway System built with public money for the nation’s public at large. If this doesn’t piss you off to perdition, we’re lost.
Offshoring US transportation jobs
Naturally, this whole plan takes an army of labor (with capital looking for the cheapest) to maximize profits. And Profit, that’s the new God of the free market. Pardon the editorializing, but while free-marketers turn our countrymen and our country into dog food, don’t talk to me about Profit. Let’s eat these guys alive.
The Profit in it is for a pack of useless suits, sitting around boardroom tables and their haciendas, cutting up pieces of your butt for lunch. Everything the US and Canada and Mexico ever worked for is the Profit. And a million American workers could end up working on this chain gang for lunch, and tens of thousands delivered daily from elsewhere “off the books.” It’s out of this world unbelievable. You can hear the labor vacuum sucking up workers down to the bottom of South America and spiting them up to the farthest reaches of Canada.
With Bush advocating a “guest worker” program for immigrants, and through their use, either legal or illegal, there stands to be unequaled offshoring of quality US transportation jobs: crane operators, warehouse workers, longshoremen, railroad construction and maintenance workers and supervisors, long haul and local truck drivers, a literal army of support workers for the network. Ironically, the privatization of Mexico and NAFTA has opened the door to the deconstruction of labor in the United States.
Thanks to the IMF and World Bank, you have only to look at the privatization of Mexico to see the effects. Privatized victims include Telmex, the national telephone company; Aero Mexico, the national airline; the state-owned copper mines; 100 percent foreign investment in terminal ownership, 49 percent in each port’s operating authority. A multibillion-dollar megaport at Punta Colonet is already planned to divert the import of Far East imports that presently go to LA and Long Beach to Mexico instead. For the full scheme read the Monthly Review article in full. And for the sake of brevity, let’s turn our heads north.
NAFTA Corridors to hook up with a North American Union
It took a Republican maverick, Representative Ron Paul, from Texas to spell it out simply: Superhighway about North American Union. As of October 30, 2006, Paul “denounced plans for the proposed ‘NAFTA superhighway’ in his state as part of a larger plot for merger of the U.S., Canada and Mexico into a North American Union.
“‘By now many Texans have heard about the proposed ‘NAFTA Superhighway,’ which is also referred to as the trans-Texas corridor,’ Paul said in a statement. ‘What you may not know is the extent to which plans for such a superhighway are moving forward without congressional oversight or media attention.’”
Paul explained that most members of Congress are unaware of the plans because only relatively small amounts of money have been spent studying the plans and those allocations were included in “enormous transportation appropriations bills.”
He added, “The ultimate goal is not simply a superhighway but an integrated North American Union -- complete with a currency, a cross-national bureaucracy and virtually borderless travel within the union. Like the European Union, a North American Union would represent another step toward the abolition of national sovereignty altogether.”
It would certainly do that and usher in a corporate hegemony that will turn North America’s people into a cultural and economic oatmeal, feed for the free-marketers, free to pirate North America and then cross over to Central and South America.
So, buyer, citizen, American, Canadian, Mexican, Central and South American, beware! Beware of one America under Bush, or any of his free-market followers. Fight back, wherever you are. Because it is your country they will desecrate. And these men’s allegiance is to no country, only to the turf of their greed.
These men form the multi-national octopus whose giant tentacles swirl in all directions, forever starved for more prey. We don’t need more of them but less, less of their economics of selfishness, less disregard for the common good, less hollow economic hit men. Let us begin by dislodging their current enablers, Bush, Cheney, et al, and their wars, and return the country to its people, before there is nothing left to save.
Saturday, March 24, 2007
Online Journal | March 23, 2007