Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Pombo Makes A Giant Sucking Noise

Kudos to Malcontent over at Oakland’s Drinking Liberally blog for noticing this story about the NAFTA Super Corridor way back in June:

Supercargo ships, carrying goods made by cheap labor in the Far East and China, will unload in the Mexican port at Lazaro Cardenas, eliminating the need to use costly union longshoremen workers in Los Angeles or Long Beach. Rather than transporting the containers by trucks from the West Coast, using Teamster drivers, or on rail, with the assistance of railroad labor in the United Transportation Union, the containers will be loaded onto Mexican non-union railroads at Lazaro Cardenas. At Monterrey, Mexico, the containers will then be loaded onto Mexican non-union semi-trailer trucks that will cross the border at Laredo, Texas, to begin their journey north along the Trans-Texas Corridor, the first leg of the planned continental NAFTA Super Corridor. […]

The whole point is to move cargo fast, using cheap, below union-wage scale Mexican workers to move the containers from Asia into the heart of the USA.
The implementation of a NAFTA super highway has stealthily been underway for quite a while now. The plans call for widening the I-35 corridor in Texas to a point where it’s four football fields wide to accommodate not only the widened highway but expanded railway and pipeline operations. The Mexican port city of Monterrey will handle incoming (and outgoing) Asian cargo destined for truck transport; the other port city of Lazaro Cardenas will become the rail terminus for Asian imports (and exports).

Meanwhile, American rail companies are busily acquiring foreign railroad rights, so that they can participate in outsourcing railroad jobs. This, according to the same story:
Kansas City Southern, or KCS, has just completed putting together what is being called ''The NAFTA Railroad.'' On Jan. 1, 2005, KCS took control of The Texas Mexican Railway Company and the U.S. portion of the International Bridge in Laredo, Texas.

Then in April 2005, KCS purchased the controlling interests in Transportacion Ferroviaria Mexicana, which KCS promptly renamed the Kansas City Southern de Mexico, or KCSM.
The railroads will operate in much the same way as the trucking industry. In the Mexican port cities, the cargo will be loaded onto trucks or rail, which will then be “certified” safe for border crossing. Both the trains and the trucks will barely slow down to pass across the Texas/Mexico border, not stopping until they reach Kansas City.

Once these goods reach the new “port” of Kansas City, they will either clear a Mexican customs office (the first foreign customs office EVER to be located within the US) and be transferred to American trucks for shipment to the Eastern or Western US; or, if they are headed for Canada, the Mexican drivers will be waved all the way through to our northern border.

The first stages of this highway (known as the Trans-Texas Corridor or TTC) are currently at the center of a tremendous controversy in the State of Texas. The widening of I-35 from a regular freeway into this “super corridor” will require the condemnation through eminent domain of some 584,000 acres and newly create some 4,000 miles of toll roads.

But what are the costs to other Americans and, closer to home, Californians for this vast scheme to steal American jobs and lower the cost of business for multinational corporations? Well, look again at that map. Do you see where the action ISN’T? Close to home, the ports of Oakland and Stockton can expect to see their business, along with their good union jobs, disappear. Truckers and railroad workers throughout California will see their business drop precipitously.

So… guess who, as a member of the House Transportation Committee (currently on leave to pursue "more important issues"), has voted for over $500 million in federal earmarks to build the NAFTA Super Highway?

Heh. So much for border security. So much for property rights. So much for American jobs.


Anonymous malcontent said...

Jobs? We don't need no stinkin' jobs!

BTW, thanks for the hat tip. I'm glad to see you're getting this story out to your large readership. I implore everyone to contact their Senators and Congresspersons about this issue, in their local offices, during the current 5-week recess. Try Congress.org -- it's a great resource for locating your representatives.

8:28 AM, August 15, 2006  
Anonymous Tom Benigno said...

This is a joke we can't get our congressman to even show up to a debate or a forum. He just will not answer the question, are you a crook? Now you tell us to contact our congressman, on his recess. Boy are you really a Malcontent? When our congressman comes home he has empty suitcases, so they won't serch him at the airports. If you get the drift. We need Jobs NO MORE PEOPLE?

Tom Benigno

3:36 PM, August 15, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The whole thing is a joke cooked up by the tin foil hat crowd. Lázaro Cárdenas is not a major container port. There's only an oil terminal and two cranes. It's not exactly a post-panamax transpacific paradise.

A Google Maps Link

1:37 PM, August 18, 2006  
Blogger babaloo said...

Anon --
Oh, right, like those tin-foil-hatters from the Los Angeles Times:

The freight train that left Mexico's Pacific coast on Monday inaugurated daily service to the U.S. Midwest and points beyond, carrying the high-roller hopes of a U.S. railroad and a small Mexican harbor to grab a share of the Asian cargo boom.

The 7,000-foot train is run by Kansas City Southern, which spent $1.5 billion for a controlling interest in every foot of track from the port of Lazaro Cardenas to Laredo, Texas. From there, the route heads north to Kansas City with connections along the way to Chicago, New York, Atlanta and other cities.

The start of daily rail service is a big step in the plan to create a bustling waterfront out of the quiet port at the far southern tip of Michoacan state. Mexican officials and the Missouri-based railroad already have gained some heavy-duty allies, including the world's largest operator of port terminals and the world's largest shipping line.

"We think Lazaro Cardenas is the growth mechanism for trade on the West Coast," said Art Shoener, Kansas City Southern's chief operating officer. […]

Mexico is repositioning itself in a world in which its manufacturing base is eroding and its labor is considered relatively expensive by Asian standards. Part of that repositioning, Banks said, is as a logistics and supply chain corridor for goods heading to the U.S.

Indeed, Kansas City Southern is pushing its rail service as a shorter route from the Pacific coast, saving shippers money. The railroad said its route from Lazaro Cardenas to Houston is 532 miles shorter than the BNSF route from Long Beach to Houston.

Another factor in the project's favor is a labor pool that is less expensive than the one represented by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, whose U.S. dockworkers command some of the highest blue-collar wages in the nation.

You’d better let Kansas City Southern in on the fact that there’s nothing to all this. I bet they’ll be mighty pissed off that they just wasted $1.5 billion.

6:31 PM, August 18, 2006  

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