Americans like to joke about being fine with the desires of Texan secessionists. It usually goes like this, “let them Bush voter crazies go their own way and not damage our country anymore”. It’s all fun and games until one looks at the economic relation of Texas to the rest of the federal union. The simple reality is that United States not only needs Texas more than Texas needs United States but that economic survival of United States depends on Texas.
First, here’s a visual presentation of how dependent the country is on Texan transport infrastructure. The entire state is a vast transport hub and a heart that pumps goods and supplies to other regions. It is more interconnected than even the northeastern Boston-NYC-DC transport axis. Without Texas, the country’s regions would be virtually cut off from each other bringing economy to a standstill. As such, the state government in Austin has a bigger political leverage on Washington DC than Kiev or Minsk did over Moscow during Soviet times. The loss of the region larger than that of France (269,000 sq miles vs. 260,000 sq miles) would leave a lot of United States cut off not just from itself but from Central American supply feeds that Texas straddles.
Rick Perry, the longest serving Texan governor who appointed his men to all the key posts in the state, has been pressing his state’s advantage as the biggest transport hub in the world. He exerted incredible amounts of political capital (often over bipartisan objections) to push through construction of Trans-Texas Corridor. Logistical details of this proposed Mexico-Great Lakes ports-Canada transport axis can be found here and here. The project is to be privately funded by corporate interests for the most part and thus budgetary concerns will not be major road bumps. United States Supreme court has recently increased the power of the government to use eminent domain for land seizure (that projects of such magnitude would require).
Mark Sanford, the chairman of the Republican Governor’s Association, has been a staunch critic of the court ruling and objected to the new ability of corporations to use government force to seize land for various development. He has recently been implicated in a rather suspicious scandal and displaced as chairman by governor of Mississippi Hayley Barbour. The new chairman is less critical of land seizure for promotion of corporate transport networks. Mississippi of course straddles a nationally vital cross country waterway and very traffic heavy ports to the Gulf of Mexico. The finance chairman of the Republican Governors Association (the organization’s task is to coordinate GOP governors when crafting national policy) is Texas governor Rick Perry who is seeking an unprecedented third term in office.
(side note: My article concerning the suspicious nature behind Mark Sanford’s and John Ensign’s removal in one week showed that Federal power under control of Democratic party wing stood the most to gain from Sanford’s departure. The article was not a direct conspiracy theory accusation and neither is this article pushing a seemingly contradictory secondary conspiracy allegation at regional republicans. It is important to point out however that in politics things happen for a reason vast majority of the time after careful strategic thought process and alliance building. Texas would be better off economically in many ways if it was a separate nation today but Trans-Texas corridor allows Perry’s power (versus the rest of the nation) to grow further still. Perry’s April threats that Texas is willing to secede if Federal government economically infringes too much seem like a combination of pre-election rhetoric and defense of Texan economic autonomy and status quo. It is in Perry’s interests to partially work with Obama considering that Obama’s map for 8 billion dollar high speed rail construction stands to improve Texan transport and create jobs before the election. As such, it is currently in the interests of both Washington DC and Austin to continue the status quo in an uneasy quiet truce. )
Texan congressman Ron Paul has recently warned that the process towards potential North American economic union would be rapidly accelerated by Trans-Texas corridor. It would amount to a second stage of further physical integration that began with NAFTA in the 1990s. Regardless of what people may think about such possibility, importance of Texan territory and economy would make Austin elites the key players in such developments. There are enough billionaires living in the state to give New York a run for its money.
We can’t simply laugh off secessionist statements from governors of strategically vital states that can be better off as sovereigns. There have been 10 states that publicly mentioned the S word and that should bring discussion rather than dismissal as political grandstanding for election purposes. The current slide into a severe economic depression increases the economic logic of session.
Texas is one of only 6 states that is not currently running a budget deficit. Since national news are filled with tales of sorrow from California and New York state budgets, it’s easy to think the whole country is in the same boat. Texas is in a totally separate boat. It has consistently run trade and budget surpluses and is even equipped with a multi-billion dollar fund for a rainy day. By being part of the American federal union, Texas is actually losing money by contributing more than it receives in return (94 cents back for every dollar it gives). The average national GDP growth has lagged behind Texan for years and is now showing negative growth as the depression takes hold. Austin government is trapped in an increasingly impoverished political union that has sharply escalated the printing of money for survival.
Secession allows Texas to not only end the economically parasitic Federal contact on an annual basis but to rapidly expand its economy. Austin can:
1) Hike up transit fees for goods traveling from Mexico along thousands of miles of advanced infrastructure
2) Create a corporate investment boom that exploits the large pool of cheap labor (Texas will soon be majority Hispanic while the political control of course will remain in the hands of wealthy white Anglo-Saxon ethnic group). An independent Texas can further lower union protections and minimum wage while placating middle class whites with tax breaks.
3) Hike up the price of food, oil, and raw materials that feed and house millions of Americans daily. Texan position as a net exporter within the union allows it to win in any trade stand off.
4) Appropriate military and space industry assets that allow it to become a strong new technologically advanced regional nation with substantial influence on neighbors. Justification for such appropriation can be provided in terms of previous inequality of economic contribution
5) Make international agreements as a sovereign state, trade with whomever it wishes, and enter into economic blocks on its own terms.
6) Take full advantage of its geography for tourism, off shore drilling, and fisheries.
Texas has more than enough in terms of high technology, resources, attractive land, and exploitative capitalist socioeconomic structure to get Kazakhstan type levels of high GDP growth of over 6% annually. If it was an independent nation today, its economy would be 15th largest in the world. This is the real meaning of Perry’s words concerning the heavy hand of federal government. Interruption of the Texan-USA economic union would bring catastrophic damage to United States but tolerable short term discomfort for the lone star state (with economic bonanza in case of success).
Secessionist party consistently runs popular candidates for office and Perry had to tackle them again and again for political support. In the last election he won on a plurality (libertarians and independents are strong challengers there on a regular basis) and his third run for office will be especially vicious. The background of the economic depression and pressure from libertarian (Ron Paul for instance supports freedom of secession) and secessionist political opponents should make the country follow closely what Perry’s intentions are. Powerful politicians with influence on a whole continent are notoriously unpredictable if there is fear of losing. Americans should carefully watch for political stunts that may outgrow themselves.
Texas is not a Jesustan to smirk at and shrug off but the most important jewel in the American federal empire. Only this terminology is applicable as the days of any sort of union are long gone. Americans have a “federal” structure the way Soviets did. To project its reach deep into Eurasia, Washington DC must constantly consolidate/centralize imperial power among its increasingly domesticated and impoverished subjects. Perhaps the most key aspect to this process is that United States must hold on to and exploit Texas’ raw resources and technological infrastructure if USA is to survive and climb out of this depression by 2020s.