Note: Behind the green door is a long post on the Star Trek franchise. I have been watching these off and on for a couple of years and have some thoughts on how the series evolved foreshadowing today’s events.
A popular plot in science fiction shows is that the human stars of the show discover technology from an ancient race. In trying to figure out how it works, they set off a reaction that puts them at risk. They realize they have to figure out the ancient alien technology in order to save the day. Usually, the moral of the story is that humans are infants in the universe. They may have conquered interstellar travel, but they are nowhere near ready to handle the complex stuff.
It is a popular storyline in science fiction shows because it allows the writers to cook up exotic technology without thinking about how it works. The technology can operate like magic to make the plot happen. It also lets the writers do some finger wagging at the enemies of Hollywood. The white cast members are humbled to learn that they are not at the top of the humanoid hierarchy. Mostly it is just an easy way to grind out a script for a television series like the Stargate franchise.
This concept is not without some parallels in this world. There were people in the early Middle Ages confronted with the same issue. They inherited things like aqueducts from the Romans but lacked the social capital to keep them going. The ancient Greeks assumed the Mycenean ruins were built by a race of giants. They could look at the ruins and imagine what they were at their peak, but they had no idea how they were built or who had built them. It was beyond their knowledge.
America may be entering a similar period. One of the growing complaints in the dreaded private sector is the lack of talent. The mass media notices the labor shortage in things like retail and hospitality, but the real scarcity is upstream. Finding people with the cognitive ability and work ethic to fill important roles is not easy. Often the choice is one or the other. The person has the talent but is unreliable or they are reliable but maybe a click below what the position demands.
The main driver is demographics. The Baby Boomer swan song is upon us, and it is showing up in the payroll registers of American companies. The first wave Boomers are in the prime retirement range. Covid has led many to clock out early. The second wave is in their early sixties, so they are planning to wrap things up. Generation-X is a much smaller cohort, and the Millennials are not ready for prime time. The talent – work ethic dichotomy is very obvious with Millennials.
Of course, it is with Millennials where the glories of diversity appear. They are the second least white generation. The Zoomers are mostly nonwhite. That talent – work ethic dichotomy is exacerbated by “the tax”. The cost, in terms of human capital, in hiring the younger generation is much higher, which means the talent for other things is decreased even further. Basically the private sector is facing a smart fraction problem that promises to get much worse in the near future.
This talent shortage is showing up in strange places. College football coaches are not considered super-smart guys, but it is a challenging job. They run what amounts to a mid-sized business with hundreds of employees. They also have to master the complexity of a game that has reached its peak in complexity. Here is an example of one part of a college football playbook. Finding men with the required skillset to run a college football program is becoming increasingly difficult.
The solution in sports like football is to simplify things. This is the new trend in the game to reflect the demographic reality. Instead of complex passing plays the offense just gives the ball to a fast guy and lets him run around with it. One of the top young quarterbacks in the NFL is Lamar Jackson. He scored a 13 on the Wonderlic test, which is what you would expect from a janitor. Lamar is not working a Rubik’s cube in his off hours nor is he studying a complex offensive system.
The dreaded private sector is going the same way. Automation is the way to reduce the need for talent. Using robots is one way to do this in manufacturing. Another way is software systems to atomize and control the required tasks. In the office, software is doing more of the analysis and decision making. Dispatchers, for example, are being replaced by software that routes field personnel. Those people in the field have mobile devices that fill in the blanks of their knowledge.
Part of what is driving the ruling class is the belief that technology can replace those retiring white Baby Boomers. The dream of the multicultural paradise, free of white power structures, assumes the robots will take over from the white people. No one thinks much about who is going to code, operate and maintain the AI. That is the fatal flaw in the plan. There will never be a time when the machines become self-sufficient and anything but super-racist.
The fact is, there is no escaping the ramifications of the cognitive decline. We have created a society that requires an average IQ of about 97. The distribution of smarts provided sufficient talent at each layer of society. The smart fraction was large enough to carry the rest. Now that IQ has dipped below that threshold, we are starting to see problems like the supply chain issues. This is just the beginning of a systemic collapse brought on by the lack of social capital.
That is the real supply chain crisis. Each generation is supposed to build on the next but starting in the middle of the last century this system started to break. The Baby Boomers did not create enough replacements. Worse yet, they did not train them to take up their positions. The waves of immigration have watered down the system further, creating shortages that will only get worse. Soon, Americans will be like those humans in the sci-fi shows, unable to operate ancient technology.
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