Friday, May 23, 2008

The Least Pleasant Jobs: Military Edition

One of my favorite EconTalk podcasts is Roberts on the Least Pleasant Jobs, describing how as the standard of living rises it becomes more expensive to hire labor for unpleasant work, creating a market for a technological replacement. I thought about this while reading a CNN article about unmanned drones:
"Unmanned systems cost much less and offer greater loiter times than their manned counterparts, making them ideal for many of today's tasks," Gates told Air War College graduates last month.
"It flies higher. It flies faster. It carries more of a weapons load," said Lt. Gen. Norman Seip, commander of the 12th Air Force at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona. "They're flying long, they are flying hard and they are making a big impact."
"After 27 years of experience as an intelligence professional, I had seen many agents place themselves in harm's way to collect information in some of the world's most dangerous and inaccessible environments," Gates said in his Air War College address. He welcomed the UAVs as a "far less risky and far more versatile means of gathering data."
Of course the government is having a hard time getting these drones in place because of the various bureaucracies, which is what the story is really about.

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