There’s a running debate on the merits of a liberal arts education. Detractors generally claim that it’s useless in “the real world” and supporters generally counter that it “teaching you how to think” or provides some non-monetary worth. But there are times when being moderately well-read could have some financial benefit.1
Today’s NYPost reports that the Manhattan DA’s office is investigating fraud related to the demolition of the 9/11 damaged Deutsche Bank building. Thus far the demolition process has compounded tragedies from the worst of political bureaucracies to the fire which claimed the lives of two firefighters. WSJ’s Daniel Henninger covered the negligence in detail.
But aside from the general risks of government waste, there were some more obvious red flags. As the NYPost reports:
The construction site’s manager, Bovis Lend Lease Corp., which was contracted by the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. to oversee the entire $150 million project, retained the John Galt Company to demolish the building and remove hazardous materials from it.
The LMDC, which purchased the land and the building for $90 million, was under pressure to get the demolition moving because the building was slated to be replaced with a new structure and remained a bitter eyesore next to Ground Zero.
“They were in a bind and wanted it done,” one of the sources said.
“They did not ask too many questions, and that may be why there was room for f- – -ing around.”
As it turned out, Galt was little more than a corporate entity utilizing officials from two other companies working on the site: Regional Scaffolding and Hoisting Co., and Safeway Environmental Corp., which had its own questionable histories and little experience.[Emphasis added]
Readers of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged will immediately recognize the name “John Galt” as one of the stories main characters. But since “John Galt” is a normal enough name and not as well known literarilly it would be easier to pass off than “Dumbledore and Associates” or “Hamlet Incorporated.” But had anyone literate been paying attention, someone should have at least asked if it was a legitimate company. On the other hand, given the irony of The John Galt Company being instrumental in government waste and special interest pandering, it’s possible the founders were just being postmodern.2
In either case, the lesson here is that liberal arts can be rewarding – either in identifying fraud, or apparently, perpetuating it pretentiously.
1. Excluding quiz shows.
2. It’s possible they could have been referring to the Scottish novelist, but I find this reference more ironic.