I was watching a program on the History Channel the other day that talked about how, during World War II, we were able to construct the Alcan in eight months, versus the projected two years that the Army Corp of Engineers had originally planned for. So I started thinking; Could we accomplish this kind of feat today?
Let’s take, for the most recent example, the World Trade Center. The official groundbreaking for Tower 1 was August of 1966 and both towers were completed in 1971. So it took five years to build two of the tallest buildings in the world.
Going further back, let’s look at what happened during World War II. Specifically, the construction of the Liberty Ship fleet between the years of 1941 and 1945. During that time there were 2751 Liberty Ships planned and 2710 built, floated and sent into action. That works out to be almost a whopping 46 ships a month from all the shipyards. This is assuming that they started building these on Jan 1st, 1941 and stopped Dec 31 1945.
Not so much looking at the economy today, but at the nature of our nation and the way our current business, legal and production models work, could we accomplish this kind of engineering or manufacturing feat today?
Personally, I do not think we could. I think that business’ and industries have become so mired down in rules, laws, union vices and EPA restrictions, that were there suddenly a need for a large quantity of ships, planes, tanks, etc… we would just not be able to accomplish it.
A lot has changed over the years, and in spite of what some may say, it is not all good. Sure, we have better medicines, better electronics, better hospitals (in spite of what the Obama administration might be telling us.) all in all, many things have gotten better. Including the legal system.
As I see it, the problem these days is that we have burdened ourselves so far down with laws, rules and guidelines that many of the things we once could have done, are no longer possible because their are so many restrictions. While some of these restrictions and laws are needed to insure the safety and well-being of those involved… but there are some that I think just hinder instead of help.
Back to the original question, though. Could we do it again?
It took a little over a year to build the Empire State building and the Chrysler building took about a year and a half…
… Five years to build the Hoover Dam…
… just over four years for the Golden Gate Bridge…
… Lastly… The world trade center took about four years per tower to build.
On that last item, consider how long it took to build the towers and now, today, how long it has been since the towers were destroyed? Now why has it taken so long to build a replacement or suitable memorial?
Could we build these amazing things today? Again, looking at how inundated most companies are from the beaurocrats, unions, lawyers and laws, could we build another World Trade Center building in four years? Another Empire State building in a year? Anything like that?
We are too busy arguing over who wants what, fighting over how many hours this employee should work, why THAT employee should not get the same benefits, etc…
It boils down to one thought that I have on these things… Shut up and get it done. If it needs to get built, build it… if it need to be fixed, fix it. Just don’t sit around and talk about it.