Further Thoughts on the Big Dig
Interesting article, Justice. But, is Big Dig a hallmark or metaphor of empire? Only after a fashion, and in a very perverse way. If there were no fiat money from Washington, there would be no Big Dig in Boston. Big Dig is a big gummint boondoggle (Reagan initially vetoed it, bless RR's heart), but imperial? I don't think so.
Imperial would be pyramids, or the coliseum, or even the Appian Way or the Great Wall of China. Or the temples of the Maya or Aztecs. But the Big Dig? These former items memorialize the greatness of Pharaoh, of Ra the Sun God himself, of the glory of Rome or the power of the emperor of China. What does Big Dig commemorate? Convenience for the motoring public? That is, unless the roof panels inconveniently fall down and squash you like a bug. Even the Panama Canal was a "Path Between the Seas," but the Big Dig? It is nothing but a monument to the vanity of politicians. In a few hundred years, Big Dig will be a series of water-filled, partially collapsed underground tunnels with copious amounts of waste gumming up the works. It will not even be up to the scale of Rome's catacombs.
Big Dig is a "social" monument, not a monument to imperium. It is a so-called "solution" to the problem of automotive congestion in a city that was laid out three centuries past. The old street grid was just "not good enough" in the era of the ubiquitous automobile. So, Boston had its Central Artery Project of the 1960s. Construction of CAP destroyed entire swaths of older communities, same as the bombers flattening Dresden, except without the body count. By the 1980s, people hated the sight of CAP and its maze of surface and elevated roadways, so they said: "let's put it all underground." Hence the Big Dig.
Big Dig is a monument to government "doing something" to look good for the motoring public. Let people drive underground, goes the thinking, unbothered and unmolested by the sight or sound of the city above them. Get from one end to the other sort of fast, on a good day, without seeing anything or participating in the life of the community, save for paying a toll.
Big Dig is a monument to cheap gasoline and cheap credit. Now that both of those things are vanishing behind the sunset of the oil age, Big Dig is just a monstrous monument to the misallocation of resources in an era of political garbage.