Playing Games

Here’s what SchedNet reported last week:

“In a lengthy interview appearing in UK-based Infinity Business Media, Mr. Quijano (an official of the Panama Canal Authority) said extra funds would be needed to complete the channel that connects the new Pacific locks to the Culebra cut to bring the locks project to completion on time.

“‘We started with a large contingency fund containing over $ 1.5 billion to account for inflation and all possible unknowns in the field. As projects were designed, bids made and awarded at or under budget, the remaining contingencies have been consolidated to complement the final components of the expansion if we see that they are needed,’ he said.”

About the only one able to see through that double-talk was that little seventh-grader we spoke to the other day. She recalled telling us way back in Volume XII, Art. 32, that she remembered Panama originally quoting the expansion project at $ 10 billion … and that’s when she and her little classmates became suspicious.

“Is that $ 10 billion a misprint?” she remembered asking. “Two years ago I remember them estimating that the cost of expansion would be at least $ 15 billion. It seems to me,” she said, “that if they’d just go back to smaller ships and deliver at more ports, their problems would go away.”

And she’s right, but what that little girl doesn’t know yet is that officials pushing the expansion project don’t have any problems – the end users have the problems. Those officials would have us believe that it’ll cost only $ 5 billion for the project – not the $ 15 billion originally estimated, or the revised $ 10 billion. That reduced $ 5 billion figure recently put out was so that U.S. consumers and taxpayers would drop their guards, go back to sleep and never know about those “extra funds”.

Back then we thought those youngsters were kinda dumb. “They actually thought,” we wrote, “that Nippon Yusen, Wal-Mart and those other countries pressing Panama were the ones that should be funding the canal expansion. They just don’t understand the ways of big business. Even a professor warned Panama that if it didn’t knuckle under to the demands of those advocating the use of megaships, the shipowners would take alternative routes such as the Suez Canal to reach ports along the Atlantic coast. Just to be spiteful.”

So just who are the dumb ones? Not the Panamanians. They’ll never foot the cost of expansion. They’re among the poorest of the poor.

And not “Nippon Yusen, Wal-mart … those other countries pressing Panama” or the “shipowners”. That’s not the “ways of big business”. The U.S. consumer/taxpayer will pay. That has always been the way “big business” plays the game.

Except for one thing. The gullible U.S. consumer/taxpayer is being strangled. The game is over.