Monday, August 06, 2007

Robert Dacy rails against "The Concrete Hydra."

Highway Robbery


By Robert L. Dacy
The John Birch Society
Copyright 2007

Amidst a firestorm of opposition to the Trans Texas Corridor the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) held the second annual Texas Transportation Forum on Wednesday, July 18 through Friday, July 20 at the downtown Hilton in Austin, Texas. The Trans Texas Corridor would be part of the planned NAFTA superhighway running from Mexico to Canada.

The forum was attended by what amounts to Texas Governor Rick Perry’s constituency: highway construction companies, related contractors and sub-contractors, civil engineers, attorneys, bankers, international investors, and various state and federal bureaucrats, all seeing dollar signs in their eyes as they came together to discuss strategy and tactics aimed at conning the people of Texas into paying for their own economic and national demise by forcing Texas motorists to pay tolls on new and existing highways. Most attendees were there to promote their various business interests, but many were there to facilitate building the super-corridor system needed to make possible the North American Union — a merger of the United States, Canada, and Mexico into a single economic, political, military, educational, and cultural entity.

Rick Perry’s vision for Texas, the Trans Texas Corridor, made it through the State Legislature in 2003. H.B. 3588, the enabling bill for the Trans Texas Corridor and, hence, the largest spending bill in the state’s history, became law in large part because Texas’ mainstream press, used as a watchdog, was inexplicably asleep.

Alan E. Pisarski, an author and researcher on the subject of commuting in America, spoke at the first general session of the Forum, and his basic message was that the Texas highway system must expand to accommodate our ever-increasing population boom, or congestion is going to choke off our economy. This writer asked him if he had ever studied the impact on our transportation system of uncontrolled illegal immigration into Texas. He replied that it was a major factor, but he could not quantify it. (It is interesting to note that the crowd pushing for open borders, amnesty for illegal aliens, and full labor mobility within the North American Union is the same bunch wailing about the problems caused by burgeoning population growth.)

David Allex, chairman of the Cameron County Regional Mobility Authority, commented that the Rio Grande Valley of Texas and the portion of Mexico just south of the border should be thought of as one economic entity. Referring to the Rio Grande River, the international boundary separating the United States from Mexico, Mr. Allex opined that we should “treat it as a street with water in it.” So much for his opinion of a secure, distinct border between the United States and Mexico. His comments were typical of forum panelists. Defending our national sovereignty was never mentioned.

That afternoon, a session entitled “Freight — Trucks, Ports, Rail and Air” got underway. Tom Kornegay, executive director of the Port of Houston Authority, revealed the core economic reason why the multi-national corporate interests are so intent on having American commuters pay to build the TTC and NAFTA Superhighway: imports from China, not commuter traffic congestion, is what they are concerned with. (Perhaps that explains why the TTC skirts every city in Texas.) So much freight traffic is coming across the Pacific from China that existing ports in Mexico and the United States cannot handle it without expanding our present ports. Mr. Kornegay stated that his port authority is experiencing double-digit volume increases, and that volume will explode even more when the Chinese finish their expansion of the Panama Canal in 2014. To handle the influx of Chinese imports, on the Pacific coast of Mexico, the Chinese company Hutchison Port Holdings is working with Wal-Mart and the Mexican government to expand the port of Lazaro Cardenas. The enormous Port of Houston handled 1.6 million TEUs of freight containers in 2005. When complete, the Mexican port will be able to handle 2.2 million TEUs (a TEU is a twenty-foot equivalent unit, or the smallest conventional container). Mr. Kornegay was not at all concerned that the new Mexican port would negatively impact business at the Port of Houston, because of the tidal wave of freight looking for a place to land. It is like a Normandy invasion of ships, except that, instead of trying to repel the invasion, the insiders are feverishly preparing more beachheads to welcome the invaders.

Texas Transportation Forum attendees, obsessed with facilitating trade with the slave-labor markets of the Far East either do not know or do not care about what their schemes are doing to American manufacturing jobs and to American national security. Eager to see container ships from Communist China unload their cargos on our shores, they are giddy at the thought of a never-ending stream of slave goods improving their bottom lines. The vast majority of them are blissfully unaware of our increasing trade deficit with and dependence on an ideological enemy that executes political dissidents and harvests their body parts for sale in the underground organ “donor” market. Moral, ethical, and national security considerations have no place in the globalist world of so-called free trade.

The evening of the first full day of the forum brought Texas Governor Rick Perry to the hall to address the forum attendees, who comprised a sampling of his constituency. In his remarks, Perry acknowledged that legislation enacted earlier in the year contained a two-year moratorium blocking construction under any new Construction Development Agreements (CDAs). But he assured listeners that construction of the corridor would continue under existing agreements. He also reaffirmed his support for public-private partnerships of state highways. “Will we press on in our commitment to these public-private partnerships?” he asked. “I certainly believe that we should.”

The governor’s “commitment” to private enterprise does not include defending the property rights of the landowners in the way of his Trans Texas Corridor. In his zeal to have Texas motorists pay tolls to subsidize Wal-Mart’s manufacturing and shipping costs (Wal-Mart imports billions of dollars worth of goods from China each year), Mr. Perry has taken steps to assure that hundreds of thousands of acres of land will be seized from their rightful owners via eminent domain abuse.

After he returned from the globalist Bilderberg meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, earlier this year, Mr. Perry vetoed H.B. 2006, a bill that would have stopped Kelo-style property transfers in which private property is taken by the state from some private citizens to be transferred to other private citizens so that they can develop the property and make a profit.

In the infamous Kelo vs. City of New London decision in 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court turned on its head the takings clause of the Fifth Amendment, claiming that the Founders actually meant that private land could be seized not only for a public purpose but for a private purpose as well, as long as the state smells the possibility of a kickback in the form of increased taxes from the new owner. In the Kelo decision, the victims were middle-class homeowners whose properties bordered a lake.

An army of lawyers on the State of Texas payroll will now argue that it is legal for the state to take farm and ranch land and turn it over to a private company from Spain for 50 years so that they can build a toll road. Moreover, the bill Perry vetoed would have defined “market value” in an eminent domain taking as what market value actually is, based on a mutual agreement between the buyer and seller.

Thanks to Mr. Perry, those forced takings will be much easier on the state than otherwise would have been the case, and, of course, much harder on the private citizens who do not have the wherewithal to fight about the price. A case in point is the Harrell Ranch taking, where the state paid Mr. Harrell only about one-third of what his ranch was worth based on free-market sales in the same area of the state. The matter is still in court, but the land was taken long ago, and the Harrell Ranch is out of business. (For more information about the Harrell case, see “Paving Over Our Borders” by Kelly Taylor in the April 16, 2007 issue of THE NEW AMERICAN.) So Rick Perry’s vision for Texas, a Trans Texas Corridor built via the rape of an essential pillar of American freedom, the sanctity of private property, is still alive and kicking.

On Friday morning, a session was held concerning the availability of federal funds to assist in the construction of Texas highways. Presenters presented a bleak picture of the availability of federal dollars, asserted that our national transportation system was in crisis, and pushed the idea that the feds should get out of the way so as to enable the state DOTs to provide the solution to the “crisis.” The solution proposed, of course, was public-private partnerships to build and control highways and for tolling of new and old highways to pay for it all. A publication, “Forward Momentum, A Report to the 110th Congress, 1st Session,” was distributed to forum attendees. It contained TxDOT’s wish list. The wish list includes exempting private investors in toll-road schemes from federal income taxation, taking “pilot program” status off a 2005 law allowing the states to toll existing infrastructure, and allowing “states to buy back or reimburse the federal government for its share of federal investment in interstate segments” so that states can slap tolls on roads originally built with a prohibition against tolling them. You read that correctly.

Friday afternoon’s session on the Trans Texas Corridor drew a very large crowd. One presenter displayed a chart listing risks associated with investing in TTC-35, but the rising tide of political opposition to the entire concept of the corridor did not make the list of risks. Another panelist promoting the TTC-69 Corridor displayed the logo of the Alliance for I-69 Texas. That group’s logo consists of a state highway symbol with a ribbon running through the numbers. The ribbon was a Mexican flag sewn to an American flag sewn to a Canadian flag, indicating where all this road construction is supposed to be taking us.

The promoters of the plan to use tolls to force Americans to pay for the NAFTA superhighway system are acting as if all is well, but they are clearly worried — as the strategy they outlined to keep highway building moving forward showed.

The speakers acknowledged that trying to keep the TTC/tolling /privatization scheme from public view backfired. They admitted that when the people of Texas found out about their plans (in large measure because of the efforts of the John Birch Society), they got mad. So the pro-corridor people are lining up a massive propaganda campaign aimed at conning Texans into believing that, as Texas Transportation Commission chairman Ric Williamson once said, “We will have toll roads, slow roads, or no roads.” They will try to convince us that the old ways of building highways do not work anymore, that the federal money pot is empty, that turning our roads over to a company from Spain for 50 years so they can send their tax-free profits out of the country is a good thing, that a limited-access super-corridor system that skirts all of the congested urban areas of the state will alleviate rush-hour traffic, and that trampling the property rights of hundreds of farmers and ranchers is downright wonderful. Two examples of this propaganda were in evidence at the forum. Highway promoters parked a Toyota hybrid vehicle in front of the main hall, claiming that its fuel efficiency is causing gasoline tax collections to plummet. Hence, why they say Texas roads need tolls. They also presented a poster of Transportation Commissioner Fred Underwood in a farmer outfit, meant to assure ranchers and farmers that he was going to take care to see that rural interests were taken into account as the state steals farm and ranch land and turns small communities into ghost towns. Good ol’ Fred.

As part of their propaganda assault, they will also try to convince Texans that time is running out: hundreds of billions of foreign-investor dollars are chomping at the bit to “help” us solve our (actually, Wal-Mart’s) congestion problems, but if we drag our feet, all that money will go elsewhere, and the investor’s will build someone else’s infrastructure. We can’t have that, now can we?

This is not just Texans’ battle. Departments of Transportation from all of the other states are fixated on what happens in Texas. The globalists will probe for weakness and take what they can get. They are throwing a pile of stuff on the wall to see what will stick. They will replicate what sticks in other states. But so will we. The main battleground is still in Texas. We must counter the coming wave of propaganda with the truth; we must redouble our efforts to wake up more Texans; we must keep those that are already awake from going back to sleep; and we must put unrelenting pressure on our elected officials, letting them know that facilitating the NAFTA superslab will be the end of their political careers. We must show the other states how to fight.

On the national level, we must be vigilant, and we must alert Americans to the inevitable wave of enabling legislation the globalists will try to sneak through Congress. We know what TxDOT is after, so we know what to watch for. We must stop any new attempt to force American taxpayers to fund the Mexican portion of the superslab. The massive expansion of the Mexican port at Lazaro Cardenas requires a massive expansion of the highway and rail system in Mexico. While they tell us the federal coffers are drying up, they will nonetheless pull out all the stops to have U.S. citizens pay for roads in a foreign country. Also, we must support legislation to repeal the NAFTA treaty, as it is the trunk of the concrete hydra.

While we are fighting in the trenches, as we fight to stop the NAFTA superhighway, as we fight against the creation of a North American Union, we must never forget what we are fighting for: the continuation of the United States of America as a sovereign republic. We are fighting to preserve the very existence of our country. We are once again fighting to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. That has a nice ring to it. As we say in Texas, “Let’s get her done.”

Based in Austin, Texas, Robert L. Dacy is a political researcher and host of The Simple Truth, a TV talk show.

© 2007 The John Birch Society

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