American Elephants

Local News, National Reprecussions. by The Elephant's Child

Exciting times in Seattle. Not only has Seattle’s U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star diverted to the rescue of the climate scientist publicity seekers, the crew of the Russian ship Akademic Shokalskiy, which may turn over in the ice, the Chinese icebreaker Xue Long (Snow Dragon) which is stuck, and then heads on over to McMurdo Sound to break a channel through to our researchers there.

Seattle has its own “big dig”, as it tries to dig a tunnel along the waterfront to replace an elevated roadway (The Alaskan Way Viaduct) along the waterfront that was an annoying eyesore for the expensive condominiums and high-priced office space that marred the view of Puget Sound and the Olympics. This has been a years-long battle between those who were concerned about cost and efficiency and those who owned the aforementioned property. The tunnel machine “Big Bertha” stopped working on December 3, when its cutting teeth hit an immovable object.

The object, subject of much speculation turned out to be a 119-foot steel pipe left buried in 2002 by one of Highway 99’s own research crews. So essentially the Department of Transportation neglected to tell the Department of Transportation that there was a long 8 foot diameter steel pipe there, meant to measure groundwater for the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement project. Now they have to decide what to do and how much it’s going to cost.

In the meantime, the Machinists Union finally, on Friday accepted a contract proposal from Boeing management by a slim 51 percent. The local leadership was sure that Boeing was bluffing and would not pick up their airplane business and take it to a more friendly business climate, and did not want to allow their membership to vote. Politicians and officials were pretty sure that Boeing was really, really tired of negotiations with the International Association of Machinists. Boeing will build the 777x jetliner in Everett and its wings will be fabricated nearby by Boeing machinists. Boeing was founded in Seattle and remains a major employer in the region, though company headquarters picked up and moved to Chicago a few years ago.

In an economy that has not recovered with millions of unemployed, bureaucratic bumbling and unions demanding ever more money and ever more benefits, things are going to get a little more tense, if not a lot more. Businesses will pick up and move. Overly costly employees will be replaced by robots. Government’s excessive regulation and general ignorance of economics and free market principles will play out on local battlefields with national repercussions. It’s a time when we can ill-afford an ill-informed public.

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