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Boondoggles

Boondoggle is a either a project that is considered a waste time and money or a government-funded project with no purpose other than political patronage. The word Boondoggle became famous in 1935 during the Great Depression. The term arose from a New York Times report that more than $3 million had been spent on recreational activities for the jobless. These activities included crafts classes, where the production of “boon doggles” (Gadgets made with cloth or leather) were taught.

Government Boondoggles usually involve large numbers of people and heavy expenditure. Failed projects can be allowed to continue for long periods, as senior management are often reluctant to admit that they allowed the project to fail. If the cost of a project overruns the profit it is declared a Boondoggle, which does not necessarily mean the project had no benefit.

Examples of Boondoggles:

Interstate 180, United States
A 21km freeway intended to serve an Illinois steel mill that closed soon after the freeway was completed. Roughly 2000 to 2500 vehicles use the road per day. It has one of the lowest traffic loads of any Interstate highway in the United States.

World Trade Center, New York, United States
By 1975 the World Trade Center lay half-empty in spite of 25 000 employees relocated to the complex. They were destroyed on September 11, 2001.

Suvarnabhumi Airport, Thailand
Labelled a Suvarnabhoondoggle (Golden Boondoggle)
An extremely long planning cycle, cost overruns, allegations of corruption, criticized for its poor construction.

Sydney Opera House Australia
The cost of construction ballooned over 1400%.

RCA “SelectaVision”
Their video disk system project started in the 1960s and continued for nearly 20 years, long after cheaper and better alternatives had come to market. Estimated spending of about $750 million, commercially unviable system, bankruptcy in 1988.

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