In yesterday's post about the "obsolete-before-it's-built" plans for the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement, I concluded with the observation:
The very idea of nickel-and-diming infrastructure projects until they are "built broken" is asinine. The whole disposable culture has got to end. Remember when things were built to last, and one paid a fairly high price for durable goods? Now, we buy cheap crap that we have to continually replace, which is wasteful and stupid. It's wasteful and stupid when such items as shoes, clothing, and small appliances are concerned, it's tragic and suicidal when major infrastructure is concerned.
Speaking of tragic and suicidal, we can't even build killing machines (something we used to excel at) that work any more... weapons manufacturers have purchased over 59,000 cheap Chinese microchips for installation into weapons systems. Some of the chips may have been hacked so that they will fail at critical moment. Personally, I am appalled at the hypermilitarization of our culture and believe that we should have relied on "soft power" in foreign relations rather than a bloodthirsty policy of "kill them and take their stuff". That being said, even the bloodiest of hawks would be appalled that we are now buying cheap foreign components for our vaunted weapons. At the end of the Cold War, pundits were speaking of aUnipolar Moment (I believe that Charles Kraphammer coined the phrase, but I won't send any hits that ghoul's way), when the U.S. was a single "hyperpower" after the fall of the Soviet Union. Now, after eight years of Dubya dumbassitude and ten years of continuous war, we have now reached "banana republic with nukes" status. By cutting corners even in the construction of our war machine, with the resultant increase of profits for the war profiteers (reminiscent of Arthur Miller's All My Sons), we are even losing that dubious distinction. With the renewed drumbeat for drumbeat for strikes against Iran, the possibility that our weapons incorporate faulty chips could make a really, really bad decision into a positively disastrous decision. Hell, we're even losing the ability to be a belligerent rogue actor on the world state.
The "bad chips" scandal reminds of a key plot point in Jack Vance's novel The Killing Machine in which **WARNING: MAJOR SPOILER** the protagonist incorporates an intentional design flaw into a weapon which is being designed at his enemy's behest, a design flaw which is instrumental in the protagonist's victory over his foe. I don't know if any of the Chinese military brass are Jack Vance fans, but the intentional sale of flawed components to a greedy, stupid U.S. military industrial complex would be a plan worthy of a fictional mastermind.
Of course, the title of this post is a riff on a lyric from Making the Bombs by the Circle Jerks: