What hit our productive adults?
I read that the navy has just tested a drone, stealth fighter bomber than can take off and land from a carrier.  The picture they show suggests that instead of a cockpit there is a huge air scoop to feed the engines.  It has no provisions for an occupant at all.  The article did not say but it is reasonable to suppose that the machine is designed to come closer to falling apart during maximum performance maneuvers than they would dare come if there were to be a pilot.  Or maybe not, it has long been said that the jet fighter could take more punishment than the pilot could.  They might keep the same structural robustness and simply exploit the greater maneuverability; since it is a flying wing it is extremely maneuverable and can carry an enormous load; think fuel.  This puppy has an enormous range. 

They say that China has built up her costal defenses to the point where an American super carrier cannot move safely to within current striking distance of the coast.  The same is said to be true for most of Iran. 

But I don’t think either country is liable to attack us.  Iran knows it would be suicide, and China does not have the demographics to engage in a serious war – although of course nobody has the demographics to engage in a serious war with China.  China’s work force is declining.  That will be a help as they continue to become more efficient and face a terrible restriction with regards to things like fresh water.  But it is not something that would tempt them into a war.  If the work force is declining, their military age young men must have been in decline for some time.  The leadership cannot be utterly mad; they have managed a spectacular growth in income for the biggest country in the world, unless India has passed them.  So the incredible weapon, which the navy points out is only a piece of the overall strategic military capability, is probably just another payment for indulging in the luxury of paranoia. 

The troubling part of all this is that the US work force is in decline as well.  (Where did everyone go? ECONOMIST vol. 406 no. 8828 March 23, 2013 page 82)  This bodes ill for a resounding rebound from our economic slump.  We just don’t have the skilled people, nay we don’t have the people at all in the work force, that we had only a few years ago.

I was quite prepared upon seeing this to say, “Aha.  You see it is all demographics.  A declining work force will place a severe limitation on our economic prospects as long as that decline lasts, and it is likely to last all the way to the bottom unless we tame the biological beast.” 

But it is not so simple.  Unlike China we still have a growing cohort of people who are in the age bracket for employment who are not in the work force, neither studying, working nor looking for work.  Apparently they are disabled. 

Although the number disabled because of combat injuries and/or combat associated post traumatic stress disorder is enormous and growing, it just cannot be that big compared with the entire population of working age people. 

So what has hit us?  I do not know.  There have been some ideas mooted.  One is that the definition of “disabled” has been, shall we say, relaxed.  Ormaybe it’s fraud.  Somebody should be looking into that intently.  Another possibility is that the obesity epidemic we are having is causing people to have complications of obesity at a rate that could account for the decline.  Again, if they are not looking into that one, somebody is asleep at the switch.

And the final thing, which I am sure nobody is looking at, is that perhaps going too many generations without marrying sufficiently close cousins not only reduces fertility but has other deleterious effects on the body.  Perhaps if we ever get over our phobia of making biologically judicious mating choices an analysis will be done.

There have been 93 visitors over the past month.

Home page