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Brian Hodge

It may sound hokey to say that you should be thankful year-round and not just at Thanksgiving, but I thank my wife pretty much everyday for not killing me while I sleep. For those of you out there looking for the “perfect” mate, my advice is to find someone you trust around kitchen knives and firearms while you are sleeping.

This Thanksgiving many of you will encounter “Creepy Uncle Larry” who won’t stop talking about politics or football. I don’t want to throw stones in a glass house. At most family gatherings I at- tend at the holidays I AM the creepy uncle. Though to my credit I try never to initiate political discussions; though I am often a target for those who want to talk politics. Also I don’t give a damn about football.

Thanksgiving and Christmas, for marketing purposes have merged into the Holiday Sea- son a two-month observance marked by high consumer spending, high gas prices, gaudy sweaters and lots of cheap plastic. Thanks- giving has its militant defenders who want a clear demarcation between Turkey Day and Christmas. I have personally seen screaming matches that nearly came to blows over the question of putting up the Christmas tree prior to Thanksgiving Thursday. Sayre’s Law, attributed to Wallace Stanley Sayre, states that Academic debates are so vicious precisely because the stakes are so low. Stated another way, “"In any dispute the intensity of feeling is inversely proportional to the value of the issues at stake."

What Uncle Larry needs is something more substantive to argue about. For that I have a suggestion.

I don’t normally use this space to recommend books, but I just finished a rather good one from Peter Zeihan called “The End of the World is Just the Beginning.” Broadly the book covers the subject of a looming demo- graphic collapse in most of the world, not so much for the United States. Its also includes a geopolitical forecast that will be marked by: a near-total collapse of China’s energy, agri- cultural, manufacturing and financial sectors simultaneously and curiously a global short- age of aluminum. Moreover in light of an ir- reversible disengagement of the United States in global affairs which has been manifesting over the terms of the last four U.S. Presidents, including Joe Biden, in both par- ties a global food and energy crisis is looming that will leave 2 billion people starving in the dark. Be thankful you aren’t one of them.

Zeihan lays out the story of how an American-led global security order established after World War II gave rise to safe, world- wide global trade (globalization) and bribed up an alliance against the Soviets that enabled countries that never would have been able to support a modern manufacturing base, let alone an empire, to become global leaders in products the U.S. didn’t want to bother making.

But according to Zeihan, demographics have already hobbled most of the world to the point where a collapse is not only unavoidable but imminent. The whole world, not just the United States, had a baby boom after World War II. But unlike the United States in most of the world those babies aged and moved to the cities where their birth rates dropped. In China a two-child and eventually one-child policy hobbled birthrates even more to the point that the average Chinese citizen is now older than the average American and the gap is widening fast. The same is true for Japan, Germany and Italy - all Axis powers in World War II, and all are facing dire futures on a demographic front.

My takeaway from Zeihan’s book is that for all the nonsense you hear from those wearing aluminum foil hats, the world is not facing a problem of overpopulation but under-population. That problem is not going to start to reverse itself for another 20 years when the millennials move into the age bracket where they tend to be the most skilled and highest earners.

In the meantime the United States is going to have to start manufacturing things within our borders, and within Mexico’s borders where semi-skilled, low-cost labor can replace China, or go without. Americans are generally not good at going without. This means that we could see many thousands of mid to high manufacturing jobs in the United States over the next two decades. Acquiring stuff is going to get more expensive, but the stuff is likely to be higher quality and made in America. Thankful?