A Mexico-U.S.-Canada highway? Roll it out

By ROBERT P. CADY, Atlanta Journal Constitution, June 23, 2006


Reading recently on a conservative Web site about the Bush administration's quiet support for a major highway from Mexico through the heart of the United States to join Canada a so-called NAFTA superhighway I couldn't help but think the timing may be right to form the controversial North American Union. There has been talk of this for years. Support has grown since the successful formation of the European Union.

The idea is simple; create an open federation of the three countries, with a common set of trade rules. In so doing, allow the free flow of citizens within the Union. Finally, create a new currency that would combine the economic strengths of each country and compete against the Euro, the common currency of the European union.

The NAFTA superhighway is a good example of this. Building it would allow container ships to land at Mexico's new "Smart Port" at Lazaro Cardenas, travel in Mexican trucks up through the center of the United States, drop loads at designated depots and deliver containers all the way through to Canada, all under the watchful eye of a common security system.

We haven't heard about this from the administration but the plans are reportedly in place, with custom centers being built and the road ready to start in Texas next year. Perhaps it's been kept quiet until it is a fait accompli because such a plan bypasses the dockworkers' unions in the U.S ports, and the Teamsters truckers until after the offloads. It also becomes fodder for the jingoists.

The idea, however, illustrates how closely our three countries are intertwined. Mexico, with its 107 million people, is already informally joined at the hip with the United States as a supplier of low-wage workers. Its democracy would be moved forward, with more open, closer ties to the United States. Also, Mexico is a leading supplier of oil to the United States. Open entry to Mexican markets by U.S. firms would likely boost the Mexican economy and create new jobs. In turn, Mexico's lower wage rates would aid expanding U.S. and Canadian businesses, transforming outcries over outsourcing jobs to Mexico into a new frontier for North American business, aiding its ability to compete on the global market. Yes, Mexicans would pour across our borders until the free market settled the supply and demand needs of our labor force. The difference is, it would be legal. On the other hand, as more American business partnered with Mexican businessmen, more jobs in Mexico would keep many of those workers there.

Over time, the free market would regulate traffic and economic movement.... the new North American Union would present a much stronger economic and political face to an increasingly more powerful Europe and Asia.

We are already seeing the results of a global economy that flows over borders. As more people of the world get to know each other through mass communication, new markets are being created and major shifts are taking place. Just as the world's corporations are merging to meet this global competition, it may be time to seriously consider a North American Union. And if it's already being planned for secretly, bring it out in the open. It's a good idea.

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