|No such thing as a small change|
I think the important thing is to consider just how costly the other options are. I'm no expert when it comes to GC, but there are a myriad of options available and I think that timely destruction has one particular benefit: consistancy.
When you create an object, its created immediately, when you assign something to one, or call a method on one, all of this happens immediately. To take one particular operation and declare "This could happen at any old time" instantly puts the programmer into headache mode, they can never be sure anymore whether a given hard-to-find bug isn't being caused by an object being destroyed too late or equivalent, you end up having people put unnecessary gc forces throughout their code in the process of debugging, and forgetting to remove them later, or even worse having modules end up on cpan with explicit collections to get around obscure issues.
I see little choice but to make timely GC an option, but I am confident that there is enough collective brainpower available to make it efficient as an option under reasonable circumstances.
For example, we could say "Yes, you may specify this class requires timely destruction, but if you do so, its *construction* will take longer than normal", and we could then take that construction time to run down the graph tagging all the parents and containers of that object to indicate that there is a child that requires timely destruction.
Or we may hold a seperate list of objects that require timely destruction, and every time an object goes out of scope, if we have anything on that list we run up the graph from each looking to see if we can reach the object that went out of scope, if so we trigger a gc immediately.
Not all of these are practical within the architecture available, my knowledge of the parrot internals is pretty much zero, but there are a number of options that, in the case in which no destructors are specified as timely, will run pretty much equivalent to a system that has no optional, but in which when one is specified, we start making performance compromises in return for time guarrantees.
Of course, in the end, the one who does the coding, gets to make the choice. If I don't like it, I'll do it different later on :)