Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Building a Dam

San Diego is located in a desert, and we import all of our water except for some small portion that is provided by local reservoirs. With an annual rainfall of less than 12" though, not much water is local.

So let’s suppose that the city decides to dam up another canyon to store some more water, and much controversy ensues between city supporters and environmentalists. (Which would be the case, but we are only supposing.) One side says we need the water, and the other wants to preserve the canyon.

Eventually the city prevails and, when construction begins it is discovered that soil conditions are such that the footings will not support a dam. The city says "Well, we really need the water" and continues with construction. They pour the footings and start laying bricks. Halfway up the whole thing collapses and a bunch of workers are killed.

So the city decides to make the dam out of concrete block. (You get where I’m going yet?) They pour new footings and start laying concrete block. Halfway up the whole thing collapses and a bunch more workers are killed.

So the city decides "We’re going to get a commission to help us decide how to build this furshluginner dam." The commission studies the situation for several months and says what everybody already knew which is, basically, that the dam can’t be built. But the city says that the water is essential and decides to try a poured concrete dam. Which, of course, collapses, killing even more workers.

The city then decides to enlist the assistance of El Centro…

Ah, to heck with it. I’ve made my point.

When a task proves to be impossible it no longer matters which side was right or which side was wrong. It doesn’t matter how noble the cause, if it cannot be done and is killing the people trying to do it, you must abandon the effort. To do otherwise is wasting lives: it is, in fact murder.

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