Cost Overruns at the Tower of Babel


“When do you think it will be done?” Nimrod asked. He always asked the hard questions.

“I don’t know, sir. We’re already over budget.” Furg, the Builder, said.

“Over budget?” Nimrod was not happy. “How can we be over budget?”

“We just are. After all, we’re having to ship brick all the way from Egypt. The Egyptians raised their prices.”

“Why can’t we use good Babylonian brick?” Nimrod was no builder. He was a warrior, good at chopping off Sumerian heads in battle. Not at this budgeting kind of thing. Wasn’t it about time he went and started a ruckus with Ur? The Urians had been smart mouthing him lately.

“Babylonian brick just won’t hold in place. Egyptian brick will.”

“I sure hate to go back to Congress and tell them I need more money. They weren’t happy about that chariot cost overrun. How was I to know the Philistines upped their prices?”

“Yes, sir. So do you still want the Glorious and Magnificent Nimrod Wing or not?”

“Darn tooting, I do. And in pure gold trim too. Now I have other business to attend to.” Nimrod was thinking that he was already late for his tete-a-tete with Belatsunat. His wrist sundial said a freckle passed a hair already. She was going to charge him double. It sure was hard being a conqueror.

As Nimrod was turning to leave, Furg threw him another fastball. “There’s just one more thing.”

Nimrod wanted to say, “What now?” But he didn’t. After all, he was a kind ruler. At least, he liked to think of himself that way. He said, “Yes?”

“What do we do about the quicksand?”

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