Unfit for service

Wouldn't you know it? Not only are the numbers of U.S. troops in Iraq about to reach an all-time high, so are the numbers of troops in Afghanistan.

Between this, and all the talk of an Army that's nearly "broken," one might be tempted to think a draft is in the cards. But then we see the news that nearly three-quarters of Americans between ages 17 and 24 are considered “morally, intellectually or physically” unfit for service in the Army. “It’s the lowest it’s been in more than 10 years,” says the general who oversees recruiting. Presumably that's after taking into account the Army's already-lowered standards.

Oh, and according to the Army Times story featuring the general's remarks, "patriotism among the country’s recruitable population has been sliding since 2002."

As someone who hews to the notion of cyclical, every-80-years-or-so crises as described in the book The Fourth Turning, this only reinforces my theory that the developing secular crisis will be marked by dissension and not unity. The "Millennials" are not going to be another Greatest Generation. (For more evidence, there's the recent study purporting to show college students these are more narcissistic than those who came before.)

That's not a value judgment, by the way, it's just a snapshot of things in the twilight of the Republic. It might be worth keeping in mind as we think about our investment portfolios in the years to come.