Muse mentioned Hank Gilbert’s visit to Sugar Land the other day. He came 250 miles down US 59 to inform local Democrats about issues that surround the Trans Texas Corridor.
Now I have not posted anything on this because I see the issues as huge, overlapping, and very complex.
That isn’t the half of it. The Trans Texas Corridor, or TTC, is an amazingly complex issue whose very roots go all the way back to the signing of the NAFTA agreement. A signing whose effects, intended or not, are still haunting us to this day.
The issue is so huge that one is daunted by encapsulating it in a single blog post. It’s impossible. All the things I learned today in the 1 and a half hour extemporaneous presentation would take days to research, summarize and comment on.
So let’s start by looking at the origins of the TTC. How did it all come about?
I mentioned above that it came from NAFTA. But where did NAFTA come from? Ostensibly NAFTA was created to a tariff and duty free agreement between Mexico, the US and Canada in order to encourage trade between North American countries. It was strongly supported by the Bush-41 administration and conservatives in general, but in looking at the vote for passage in the House, it really looks like it had bi-partisan support (and opposition) with 132 Republicans and 102 Democrats voting for it. Bill Clinton opposed it at first, but had two companions added to the agreement to make it more palatable to him.
And to this day, people blame NAFTA on Bill Clinton.
Hank Gilbert pointed out why NAFTA became such a necessity to conservatives and businesses in the US. Throughout the 70’s and 80’s American manufacturers were being hit with high costs to build factories. Loans were expensive, American labor was expensive. Rather than face that, many American manufacturers relocated their plants to Mexico where both loan rates and labor were cheaper. But now they were hit with the fact that they were producing goods cheaply but couldn’t bring them to market in the US without paying tariffs and duties on these goods.
With NAFTA, the tariffs vanished as did restrictions on trucking the goods into the US. And trucks are all about the Trans Texas Corridor: a plan to build concrete swaths from Texas’ southern border to its northern border, and also going east-west. To move goods produced in Mexico to markets throughout the US.
But it gets worse. We have a non-signatory in NAFTA who stands to reap huge benefits: China. China owns the ports in Mexico. They ship their manufactured goods – you know, the ones with the lead paint – to Mexico and Mexico ships them in their trucks, duty-free, to the US.
That’s it. That’s why WalMart is the saving place. The products on their shelves, nation-wide, is mostly produced in China, shipped to Mexico, and trucked to the US. To make it easier still, now foreign manufacturers and American retailers want Texas to build ribbons of concrete for their trucks to move product.
This is why Rick Perry, or 39% as Hank Gilbert calls him, is such a huge enthusiast for the TTC. As Hank explains it, Perry is so behind this that he claims it as his brainchild, and has been stupid enough to sing its praises so loudly that Texans and even those in Washington are taking notice, and realizing what a raw deal we have been handed.
Hank told us that Perry has a half a million reasons why he is so behind this project, all donated to his campaign by Sam Walton’s heirs.
And there’s tons of other issues that Hank mentioned, things that can be covered here someday, but not now.
Building tollways instead of freeways, with tolls not ever going away
Building these highways in rural areas ostensibly to “relieve
Paying thousands of dollars per year in toll fees for passage on tollways as opposed to 80 dollars per year in increased gasoline taxes for passage on freeways.
Eminent domain issues – the state can take your land at their price even if you are in an arbitration process on the issue.
Market based evaluation will decide how valuable a tollway is, and charge accordingly.
Who produces the cement that will be used to construct these highwas? China.
Can water lines be run under a highway? No. Existing water districts willbe split by TTC highways.
Access to TTC will only be available at state and federal highway intersections.
Mixing and pouring 4000 miles of concrete – what does that do to the water supply?
See what I mean? Huge.