I’m afraid of becoming a Peripheral Canal advocate, because I don’t actually care that much and am afraid that just taking sides will induce more emotional commitment than I really feel. I also think the Peripheral Canal is inevitable, so I don’t have to get all emotional about it or anything. But then I read Peripheral Canal opponents saying really stupid shit and it hurts my brain. I have to call this out, but my main point is more that political rhetoric is inane and meaningless, not that the Peripheral Canal is The Best Ever. The Capitol Weekly quotes an Assemblywoman I’d never heard of:
“The canal would be the biggest public constructions ever made in the United States, equivalent to the Panama Canal” said Assemblywoman Buchanan, “and I want to make it clear I will not vote for a Panama Canal.”
I don’t mean to get all engineer-y on you, but is she out of her mind? She wouldn’t vote for a Panama Canal? Didn’t the wealth of the world, like, double the instant the Panama Canal was completed*? It frickin’ opened the entire Western Americas to trade. I cannot imagine any comparable current engineering project that offers such disproportionately high benefits. Funny enough, one of the few that might come close is a canal that would protect the wealth of the entire southern half of California. But I don’t think that is what Assemblywoman Buchanan was thinking.
Perhaps she was worried that like the Panama Canal, almost 30,000 workers would die of malaria and horrific working conditions while building the Peripheral Canal. That would give me pause. But despite California’s budget disaster and the recent arrival of West Nile disease, I do not think we have to fear turn-of-the-century, third world worker death rates. I’d be shocked if we lose even one percent of the construction workers on the Peripheral Canal. Rest easy on that front, Assemblywoman Buchanan.
*I completely made that up. Don’t quote it to anyone who knows real facts about the world trade or shipping or anything. But I’m pretty confident that the Panama Canal was a spectacularly good investment. If SOMEONE in my family wanted to return my McPhee book where I read about the Panama Canal, I might be able to source that assertion.