Monday, August 20, 2007

'Conspiracy theorists ' aren't the only ones worried about the Trans-Texas Corridor

No secret

State conspiracy theorists look too far afield for flaws in Trans-Texas Corridor plan.

Aug. 20, 2007

Houston Chronicle
Copyright 2007

The implications are chilling. Whether it's the shadowy Bilderberg financial conference that took place in Turkey, or the triad of U.S., Canadian and Mexican chief executives convening this week in Quebec, the secretive master plan that is surely being implemented bodes ill — for Canada.

That's the fear of conspiracy theorists up north, who are convinced that Gov. Rick Perry's Trans-Texas Corridor plan, among other developments, is swirling into a tornado that one day will sweep away their national borders, fuse the governments of Mexico, Canada and the United States, and ultimately force everyone to buy groceries with fresh-minted "Ameros."

The Canadians can hardly be faulted for worrying about melding with the chaotic nation just to the south. If the Canadian conspiracists are anxious, their more numerous counterparts in the United States are in a complete froth. As Chronicle reporter R.G. Ratcliffe wrote in the Saturday Chronicle, conspiracy chatter here also has fixated on the Trans-Texas Corridor. A Google search featuring "Rick Perry" and "Trans-Texas Corridor" produces 13,400 Web page results. That's in addition to the escalating rhetoric on radio and the urgent warnings by groups such as the John Birch Society and Texas Eagle Forum.

"There is absolutely a connection with all of it" — the corridor plan, the Bilderberg meeting that Perry attended and the summit of North American leaders — Eagle President Cathie Adams told Ratcliffe. Not for her any chance that three friendly governments might plausibly discuss mutual interests such as security or economic growth.

Like a throbbing artery, the Trans-Texas Corridor has become the crucial connection between these theories in recent years. But anxieties about foreign infiltration and loss of national sovereignty have periodically flared in American culture for centuries. Current talk of a looming "North American Union" began in 1992- 92, when first a Republican and then a Democratic administration implemented the North American Free Trade Agreement. The tragedy of our Iraq adventure and the overheated campaign rhetoric about immigration — plus completely rational concerns about shrinking manufacturing here and lower wages for U.S. workers — are setting the NAU fears on boil.

Yet the Trans-Corridor Conspiracy crowd in Texas is looking too far abroad. There's no reason to try to smoke out secret international cabals in this deal. Spanish company CINTRA has already proudly prevailed in the 50-year, multibillion-dollar deal. Though foreign investment brings Texas needed economic juice, 50 years is too long a time to cede control and revenue from the very heart of the state.

Nor are Mexico and Canada the first beneficiaries of Perry's plan. Those would be the contractors — including three of Perry's top campaign donors.

Poorly thought-out trade deals at the federal level certainly can hurt us. But there's little chance that easing the drive from Laredo to Kansas will by itself spawn one-continent government.

All too real, on the other hand, are the effects the corridor itself will have on Texas. Bisected communities, carved-up farmland and devastated wildlife habitats are some of the provable results the corridor will leave in its wake. These threats are considerably more real than the possibility of continental government, and it doesn't take a conspiracy theorist to worry about them.

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