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Alternate take:

Large civil projects are more complex than home renovation projects and are thus less likely to be accurately assessed by our simple planning heuristics. (see "the planning fallacy"). Each gap in the actual vs. planned outcome requires change-orders that slow down schedules and cost more money.


It's what happens when there are many contractors involved, each intertwined in a complex relationship, each needing to schedule around each other and each with half a dozen sub contractors under them with the same complex requirements.

So 200 square ft of tile takes three months because the tilers are hired by the tiling company who is hired by the contractor hired to finish the walls who was hired by the main contractor who was hired by the construction company. Along this long chain someone schedules tiling on the same day the electricians are wiring up the lights. They reschedule and crew arrives only to find the materials are missing, no one knows who ordered them or who to talk to. Once they sort that out and get the materials delivered the project is put on hold because someone stubbed their toe on a box of tiles and a stop work order is issued. A safety inspector arrives with the cast of CSI miami to figure out who to blame. Meanwhile, while everyone is busy blaming each other, the tiling contractor steals the materials for another job and everything goes right back to square one. Now multiply this story by the number of individual items to be coordinated... All this while, the crew has to be paid for their time even though they couldn't work. Absolute madness.

Seems like laws need to be drawn up to make this unprofitable. It should be easy enough to get out of paying people standing around not behaving in a "competent and workmanlike manner." Or even the entire company. If it doesn't happen, why pay?

As you've described, what is going on is corruption due to lack of oversight.

Similar to the coordination problems among different trades, I think there's a lot of interplay between competing interests that make something that seems simple on the surface much more complex.

Take crane operations for instance. An organization may require union crane operators as a means of oversight to help guarantee trained and certified operators for a hazardous operation. However, this often has unintended consequences as union crane operations may also require positions like a crane oiler, which are largely obsolete in modern equipment.

I don't think that constitutes corruption because it's completely transparent and above board, even if unwise.

Corruption is a moral issue that exists besides the law. If the payment occurring produces no net benefit then I see no reason to consider it just.

These problems seem complex and may truly be, but if they lead to payment for nonperformance then that needs to be addressed. I expect the market can figure it out from there.

I don't think I agree on your definition of corruption. Corruption in the legal sense is, by definition, illegal fraudulent activities, generally defined as using a public office for private gain. The fact that an operation is unproductive doesn't necessarily make it corrupt.

Even while I have libertarian leanings, I would be hesitant to "expect the market can figure it out" largely because of asymmetries of information and the tendencies of present bias in making decisions, especially those with a profit incentive.

This is talked about in the link above. Specifically, they call it "coordination neglect":

>The failure to think about how hard it is to put stuff together when other people are involved. And so that can make the planning fallacy bigger and badder when there are teams of people trying to finish work on time.

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