Boston’s wildly more expensive sequel to “Waterworld,” the trouble-plagued “Big Dig,” is almost finished — at least until the next colossal structural failure.

The outcome was typical of almost every government project (by the way, the fastener company mentioned is no relation — at least I hope not):

BOSTON – When the clock runs out on 2007, Boston will quietly mark the end of one of the most tumultuous eras in the city’s history: The Big Dig, the nation’s most complex and costliest highway project, will officially come to an end.

Don’t expect any champagne toasts.

After a history marked by engineering triumphs, tunnels leaks, epic traffic jams, last year’s death of a motorist crushed by falling concrete panels and a price tag that soared from $2.6 billion to a staggering $14.8 billion, there’s little appetite for celebration.

Civil and criminal cases stemming from the July 2006 tunnel ceiling collapse continue, though on Monday the family of Milena Del Valle announced a $6 million settlement with Powers Fasteners, the company that manufactured the epoxy blamed by investigators for the accident. Lawsuits are pending against other Big Dig contractors, and Powers Fasteners still faces a manslaughter indictment.

Heck, even uber-liberal Barney Frank said, before the project, that it would be cheaper to raise the city than lower the expressways.

That aside, is any of this surprising at all?

What’s the difference between the “Big Dig” and any other big government project? The water. The “Big Dig”, minus the water, would still be a failure, but nobody would notice as much because there wouldn’t be the reminder eerily dripping through the walls.

Take any government program, such as Social Security, and pretend it’s a tunnel under a river. Then, substitute water for accountability, common sense, reason, and fiscal prudence. Nobody in their right mind would drive through the thing.

Remove the water from the equation though, and nobody immediately notices the incompetence and inherent dangers… until the very structure collapses.

Remember, some of the same politicians who thought up The Big Dig are the same types of people who will be in charge of designing National Health Care. What could possibly go wrong?

The truth is, most government programs are “Big Digs” on a scale that makes the “Big Dig” look more like a “modest scoop.”


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