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June 24, 2016

The New Panama Canal Locks Are Mired In Controversy, Bloated Budgets, Crumbling Infrastructure, And Corruption (Just Like The U.S.) [CBD]


In a long and interesting article in the NY Times, The New Panama Canal: A Risky Bet, complete with interesting video and interactive fluff, there is some real journalism happening, including interviews with both sides of the debate. Weird...huh!

It's worth a read, in spite of its source, both for the very interesting descriptions of the new canal system, but also as a glimpse of the kind of corruption that is increasingly becoming just the way business is done. The unholy alliance of government and business, something that has accelerated in this country in the last decade, is anathema to free and open markets. This canal project is a wonderful example of what happens when government....any government...gets involved with private capital and makes decisions that should have been made by Adam Smith's invisible hand.

The canal authority's plan to move about 12 neo-Panamax ships a day now appears unrealistic -- at least for the time being, according to shippers, given that many East Coast ports are still preparing the infrastructure to accommodate the big ships.

Hmmm....maybe that is a bit backward?

And the 14 new tugboats purchased from a Spanish company with shady connections to the canal authority?

The Santiago is no outlier. Each Spanish tugboat can do a 360-degree spin. Each can move sideways, as Mr. Viluce demonstrated by positioning his boat perpendicular to the moving cruise ship and keeping it there. But to go confidently in a straight line, bow first -- that's another matter. Eric Viluce, a tugboat captain on the canal, guided one of 14 Spanish tugs purchased primarily for the new locks.

When it came time for the new tugboats to cross the Atlantic to Panama, all made the journey backward, Mr. Viluce said, adding, "They tried bow first, and it wasn't working."

I've been around boats my whole life, and while I am no expert, the best ones seem to handle going forward rather well.

Those tugs are a wonderful metaphor....

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posted by Open Blogger at 01:45 PM

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