Seven Wonders of World-Class Wasteful Spending

1. The Great Pyramid of Giza


Yeah, we get it Khufu, you were hot shit in Fourth-Dynasty Egypt, but… maybe you were compensating for something here?  The Pyramid has been able to keep it up for the past few thousand years; we’re not so sure about you, buddy.  Granted, the use of slave labor probably kept costs down, but… we’re not buying it.


2. The Hanging Gardens of Babylon


This Nebuchadnezzar will always be #2 in our minds.  Do you know how much Hammurabi’s Code cost us?  Nothing, Nebuchadnezzar.  Nothing.  And it provided the basis for modern law.  Also, there’s no sign that you tried to recoup construction costs by charging admission or opening up maintenance to private contractors.


3. Temple of Artemis at Ephesus


Go home, Greeks– you’re drunk!  Ephesus isn’t even in modern-day Greece– it’s near the town of Selçuk, Turkey.  Shows what a lot of good foreign aid does.  Amongst the ancient wonders, we give this one an Eph.


4. Statue of Zeus at Olympia


Elaborate cedarwood throne ornamented with ebony, ivory, gold, and precious stones– and it was only 13m tall?  If you’re going to be wasteful, at least make us proud.  This is the Zeus we’re talking about!  You’d think with all that funding, they could have at least made him taller than the Temple of Artemis.


5. Mausoleum at Halicarnassus


We pictured this one lying in ruins because, unlike most other of the Wonders, this was in honor of just one man, Mausolus.  Was he a tyrant?  Was he an emperor?  Was he a democratically-elected official?  Nope.  Just a satrap, and a subject to the Persian Empire.  Mausolus, you may be #5 on this list, but you’re Enemy #1 as we’re concerned.


6. Colossus of Rhodes


The Colossus of Rhodes was actually a pretty good idea.  Giant statue.  Shows where the harbor is.  Brings praise both to Rhodes and the sun-god Helios.  All good for commerce.  But this being a publicly-funded project, of course they found a way to screw it up.  Within sixty years of its construction, an earthquake toppled it.  Gee, you think it was a no-bid contract to a friend of the ruler of Rhodes, maybe?  Talk about government pork at its worst.


7. Lighthouse of Alexandria


This one we actually have to give some credit.  A government project that helped private merchants get into port, probably increasing local commerce immensely, not to mention allowing triremes to move into open sea.  Perhaps this can shine as a beacon that small government can occasionally do some good.



My name is Adam, and I want you to be my Eve.

ADAM WEISHAUPT is a Professor of Law at the University of Ingolstadt.  His hobbies include rationalism, masonry, and opposition to Kantian idealism.

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