The Texas Floods and "Free Market" Development

A residential area near the Brazos River, May 29
A flooded residential area near the Brazos River, Granbury, TX, May 29. AP photo

June 1, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Days of torrential rain caused massive flooding and significant loss of life in Texas, Oklahoma, and northern Mexico last week. The rain was a natural, and not unexpected, disaster. In fact, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, “The state of Texas leads the country most every year in flood-related deaths and property damage. Texas actually holds half of the 12 world records for rainfall in 48 hours or less.”

But the damage and death caused by the rain were worsened by the irrational, chaotic, destructive growth of freeways, shopping malls, and housing subdivisions that has spread across much of Texas. Houston, San Antonio, and Dallas are now the 4th, 7th, and 9th largest cities in the country. Four of the 10 fastest growing counties in the U.S. are in Texas.

This unplanned, twisted growth has been justified and amplified by a “free market fundamentalist” ideology that enshrines private property and is fueled by anti-scientific contempt for any environmental concern. The result has been bayous canalized (dredged and modified for navigation), wetlands contorted into suburban sprawls, forests uprooted, endless prairies transformed into expanses of concrete, and seemingly bottomless aquifers drained—all in the name of “progress.”

The extent to which climate change and untrammeled “growth” contributed to the current ongoing catastrophe in Texas can't be precisely determined. But Katherine Hayhoe, a climate change researcher at Texas Tech University, wrote that the mad rush of construction is “increasing flood risk at a time when ... the risk of heavy downpours is also on the rise.” And Andrew Revkin wrote of the destruction in Texas in his New York Times “Dot Earth” blog that “what’s vividly clear is the extreme vulnerability created by the continuing development pulse in some of the state’s most hazardous places.”

Do you know anyone else—any person or organization—that has managed to bring forth an actual PLAN for a radically different society, in all its dimensions, and a CONSTITUTION to codify all this? — A different world IS possible — Check out and order online the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal).

Contrast all this madness with the approach to sustainable development in the Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America (Draft Proposal):

A socialist economy operates according to principles of “socialist sustainable development.” It takes the “long view” of what is needed to benefit humanity and the planet. It organizes and regulates production and growth on the basis of awareness of natural limits and the interconnected web of ecosystems. It emphasizes safe and renewable sources of energy.

And in that context,

Land, waters, forests, minerals, and other natural resources are protected and managed as “public goods.” They fall within the scope of public-state ownership. Socialist-state ownership recognizes its responsibility to preserve the “commons”—the atmosphere, oceans, wildlife, and so forth—for all of humanity and for the future.

That kind of planning and development is impossible under a system where “the market” drives development, but it IS POSSIBLE in a revolutionary society.


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