Original Audio Version and Show Notes
Jennifer Briney 00:00
Look at the timing: the CHIPS Act passed both branches of Congress and was sent to President Biden’s desk during the last week of July and Nancy Pelosi landed in Taiwan on August 2. Taking that risk of pissing off China, which did piss off China — they immediately closed the airspace and launched days worth of massive military drills around Taiwan. Nancy Pelosi going to Taiwan caused all that, and the world knew it would. But her visit, taking that risk and being willing to piss off the Chinese like that, was a big move meant to reassure Taiwan of U.S. support, despite the CHIPS Act becoming law. And as you heard, Joe Biden’s words have gotten even more direct as they try to reassure Taiwan that even though we are preparing for that sort of country to no longer exist, we will totally, definitely make sure that never happens.
David Ippolito 00:57
[Intro Music] Tired of Being Lied To
Jennifer Briney 01:26
Hello, my friend. And thank you for listening to the 259th episode of Congressional Dish. I’m your host, Jennifer Briney. If this is your first time listening to this podcast, thanks for checking it out. You have just discovered a podcast that is hosted by an irritated taxpayer who just wanted to know what Congress was doing with my money and in my name. I do not have any kind of ideology that I am loyal to and I’m certainly not loyal to any party. I am loyal to my country, and that’s about it. This episode of Congressional Dish will focus on the money, specifically the money in the CHIPS Act, which is what all the cool kids in DC are calling it. The CHIPS Act is the nickname of a new law, a law that’s designed to build factories that will build computer chips, aka semiconductors, here in the United States. But the CHIPS Act is actually just one part of this law, which is a package of bills that were stapled together and became law all at once. It’s a dingleberry salad, if you will. This new law is a very expensive new law; the Congressional Budget Office estimates that it is going to cost us over $60 billion. That’s money that is out the door, not just authorized. The vast majority of that, about $54 billion, will be spent on creating ourselves a homegrown semiconductor industry. A semiconductor is a computer chip, and semiconductors are teeny, teeny tiny little sucker, and they’re getting teenier and teenier all the time, even though they’re made up of billions of components that store, move, and process data. Honestly, I don’t know how they work. To me, these things are magic. But there are humans who exist who understand them enough to actually create them. And thanks to those wizards, computer chips are now essential pieces in damn near everything we use in this increasingly amazing, technologically connected world. Semiconductors are in your computers, obviously, but they’re also essential for those computers in your pocket, otherwise known as your phones. They’re also essential to modern cars and airplanes and refrigerators and your Ring cameras and virtual reality headsets and manufacturing plants. And, of course, weapons of precise and/or mass destruction. Industry, military, and mere mortals alike all rely on semiconductors. And that’s why it matters where they’re made. Companies that sell computer chips, or semiconductors, fall into two categories. Some companies design and create the actual chips themselves, companies like Intel, Samsung, Texas Instruments, Toshiba, Sony and others. But there are also companies that design the chips and then outsource their production. Companies that choose to outsource the actual production of semiconductors do so because the factories that make the chips — factories that make semiconductors, are called foundries — are expensive to build. In general, a new semiconductor foundry costs at least $7 billion to build, but foundries for more advanced chips can cost up to $20 billion. Semiconductor design companies have figured out that they tend to have higher profit margins when they just skip all that and pay people as little as possible to make the actual chips for them because there are humans required to assemble the parts of the computer chips and test them to make sure that they work. Thanks to the World Trade System of laws written in partnership with multinational corporations allowing multinational corporations to labor-shop around the world and make their products in countries where there are no minimum wages, these corporations are choosing to build their foundries in countries where they can get away with paying workers obscenely low wages. The enabling of global labor shopping since the 1990s has led to a steep decline in the percentage of semiconductors that are produced inside the United States, a location where we do have minimum wage laws. In 1990, before the World Trade Organization became a thing and taxes on importing computer chips from other countries dropped to damn near zero, 40% of computer chips were created in the United States. Now, post-World Trade Organization, that’s down to 11%. From 40% to 11% of semiconductors manufactured in the United States over the course of 30 years, but so called US companies still control around the same percentage of the market that they did in the 1990s. Despite only 11% of semiconductors being physically produced in the United States, US headquartered multinational corporations that own and design semiconductors control about 47% of the global computer chip market, as measured by sales. It’s just the production of the semiconductors themselves that has moved overseas, movement done by multinational companies that we call American, but loyalty to country be damned. They are loyal only to shareholders, only to profit. And as the multinationals abandoned the United States in search of cheaper wage slaves, one country in particular wound up dominating the market for physical production of semiconductors: Taiwan, which is kind of sort of, but not really a part of China. And China itself is making a larger and larger percentage of the world’s computer chips as well. And there are problems with this dynamic for our country, some of them more obvious than others. In the obvious category, if we don’t make semiconductors here, access to them can be cut off or tampered with by other countries. And this is a major problem for our military. Through its trusted foundry program, the Department of Defense has, for over a decade, depended on a single US based foundry owned by IBM to supply verified secure semiconductors directly to the military. But the defense department makes very little of its own equipment anymore. The military industrial complex is the biggest of businesses, so the trusted foundry program is only supplying about 2% of the 1.9 billion semiconductors that the Defense Department pays for every year. And since the Department of Defense only buys a small fraction of the world’s semiconductors directly, only about 1%, the for-profit corporations that make semiconductors are not all that worried about keeping the military as a customer. And they’re not all that motivated to design chips to meet the military’s pain-in-the-ass desires. They have plenty of other lower maintenance customers that they can profit from. On top of that, because most of the semiconductors used by the military are not being produced by their trusted foundry, there are concerns that foreign countries that are home to the majority of foundries operated by low wage peasants have the ability to hide tech bugs inside the chips and weasel them into US military systems. And there is clearly one country in particular that the military is concerned about. Here’s Ellen Lord, she is the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisitions and Sustainment. This was in a Senate Armed Services Committee in October of 2020.
Ellen Lord 08:55
I believe there may well be a lot of this, frankly, not continuing to engage with these Chinese companies on sensitive issues, but in turn, developing industrial bases here [in the U.S.] that makes us not reliant on that back and forth. There’s quite a bit of discussion within the inner agency right now about constraining Chinese involvement in everything from investments to specific commodities. But again, I think one of the areas where we could have the most impact on China broadly, is reshoring micro electronics. And right now, my team is working very closely across DoD as well as the inner agency to come up with a very specific recommendation for some public-private partnerships in order to develop the capability here domestically. We at DoD are only about 1% of the overall microelectronics market, however, we have some critical needs.
Jennifer Briney 10:11
And so that’s one motivation for this new law. In the United States right now, if there’s one thing that is an undisputed fact, it’s that what the military wants, the military gets. But it’s not just military concerns that pushed this semiconductor issue to the front of the line in the 117th Congress. Corporations are worried too. Because with so many computer chips being physically assembled and tested outside of the United States, the United States has also lost the ability to regulate the quality of the chips. Although throughout my lifetime, the United States has stopped believing in regulation in general, so this factor is probably not as important as it once was many moons ago. But China is not exactly known for its high quality products, so China getting an increasing share of the computer chip market is a concern for companies that are concerned about the overall quality of the products that they sell. Another, and I think more influential, risk that has been increased during the reign of the World Trade Organization, is that intellectual property, the information that’s used to make the semiconductors is more likely to be lost or stolen when that information has to be transferred between designers in the United States and the physical chip makers in another country. China, again, has long been credibly accused of stealing intellectual property and then making cheap knockoffs of profitable products using the information they stole. In particular, China has been stealing information about semiconductors from companies in Taiwan. For example, in 2018, our Department of Justice charged a company owned by the Chinese government with working with three engineers at a Taiwanese semiconductor foundry to steal technology for semiconductors designed and owned by Micron Technology, a multinational corporation headquartered in Idaho. You know, it makes some sense. China and Taiwan are neighboring countries, or are both China, depending on who you ask. So this type of stuff is going to be hard for our government to police on behalf of the multinationals that we call American, because it all happens on foreign land. But there are also totally legal partnerships being formed between the Taiwanese businesses and Chinese businesses that the United States is powerless to prevent, and with those partnerships often come information transfers. If multinational corporations have hired companies in Taiwan that end up later partnering with the Chinese. As we have discussed at length in previous episodes that are included in this episode’s show notes, China is considered an overall threat to our country because of their refusal to obey the economic laws of the World Trade System. And Taiwan’s relationship with China makes Taiwan an increasing threat too, because at some point, Taiwan could become China. Now, I’ve kind of alluded to this already, so let’s get into the broad details just for a second. It is more nuanced than this, obviously, but Taiwan’s relationship to China is super weird. Basically, a while ago, there was a war between two governments in China, both of whom thought they were the rightful rulers of China. At the end of that war, one of the governments controlled the area that we all refer to as China, the big one. The other government, dare I call it the losing one, fled and set itself up on Taiwan. Now, instead of just being two different countries after that, China still considers Taiwan to be its territory. And China’s government has vowed that one day the territories will be reunited, as in Taiwan will someday be under mainland China’s control. But in reality, Taiwan is governed independently of China. Taiwan has a totally different economic system. Unlike China, which has an economic system unique to itself, where the government has co-ownership and partial control of many of its industries, Taiwan plays according to the World Trade system playbook. That’s why the U.S. is on team Taiwan. Well, that and Taiwan is also basically a large unsinkable military base that we get to use off of China’s coast. But to further explain why Taiwan matters, here’s Senator James Risch of Idaho in a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing that took place at the end of 2021.
Senator James Risch 14:38
Unilateral change in the status quo regarding Taiwan would not only threaten the security and liberty of 23 million Taiwanese, but also significantly damage vital U.S. interests and alliances in the Indo Pacific. We would lose a model of democracy at a time of creeping authoritarianism. It would give China a platform in the first island chain to dominate the Western Pacific and threaten, indeed, U.S. homeland. The consequences for Japan’s security, and therefore, the US-Japan alliance are hard to overstate. Semiconductor supply chains would fall into China’s hands and it would embolden China in other territorial disputes, including with India, and in the South China Sea.
Jennifer Briney 15:26
For those reasons, we have been sending Taiwan weapons for decades, and we paid for the island’s missile defense system. We’re still paying for that system. We are not neutral in the Taiwan and China relationship, yet we’ve been operating on a ridiculous, although somehow effective, policy known as Strategic Ambiguity. Basically, we’ve been telling China, yep, Taiwan is yours. We are believers in the One China Policy, as in China and Taiwan or one country, while simultaneously winking at Taiwan and sending them weapons that they can use to defend themselves against the Chinese. This weird policy made news again this week, when President “Loose Lips” Biden went off script during an interview on 60 minutes on September 15, 2022.
Scott Pelley 16:14
What should Chinese President Xi know about your commitment to Taiwan?
President Joe Biden 16:21
We agree with what we signed on to a long time ago, and that there’s a One China Policy and Taiwan makes their own judgments about their independence. We are not moving, we’re not encouraging their being independent. That’s their decision.
Scott Pelley 16:36
But would U.S. forces defend the island?
President Joe Biden 16:38
Yes, if in fact, there was an unprecedented attack,
Scott Pelley 16:41
After our interview, a White House official told us US policy has not changed. Officially, the US will not say whether American forces would defend Taiwan. But the Commander in Chief had a view of his own. So unlike Ukraine, to be clear, sir, U.S. forces, U.S. men and women, would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion?
President Joe Biden 17:06
Jennifer Briney 17:08
So at some point, this wishy washy bullshit policy of strategic ambiguity is going to stop working. And that point might be kind of right now, because how can we possibly continue to get away with telling China that Taiwan is theirs, but then we won’t allow them to physically control it? The leaders of the Chinese government are a lot of things, but stupid is not on the list. The reality is that China could realistically attack and take over Taiwan. And clearly that reality is being acknowledged openly and increasingly more directly by the most powerful people in the world. And if that happens, all of those semiconductor foundries in Taiwan could become Chinese, or they could be destroyed in the war. And destruction is actually kind of likely because the foundries belonging to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, which is the world’s largest semiconductor production company, they’re located on the west coast of Taiwan, facing China, only about 80 miles from China’s shore. Both of these scenarios would cut off the United States, or more accurately, the multinational corporations headquartered in the United States, which our Congress currently serves, from much of the global supply of semiconductors. Because so many military industrial complex manufacturers get their semiconductors from Taiwan, if the Taiwanese foundries were taken over or destroyed by the Chinese, the concern is that the US could be cut off from the most advanced computer chips needed for advanced weaponry and our military would become inferior to China in every domain of warfare. And of course, if the multinational corporations get cut off from the semiconductor supply, well, then they can’t make planes and cars and phones and magic fridges that order your food for you and Ring cameras that we use to spy on our neighbors with, and the ring on my finger that tells me if I’ve moved my fat ass enough today. They can’t make any of it, so the profits would come to a screeching halt. While this dynamic was certainly not explained clearly by the corporate media to the citizens of the United States, this is why the CHIPS Bill had to become law and why it had to happen now. This is the urgency: a war with China over Taiwan. Congress and the Biden Administration are preparing for it. And by the way, this is why Nancy Pelosi went on that trip to Taiwan that pissed off a significant portion of the world. And maybe you were in the US when that happened — I wasn’t — and you’re not aware of how negatively that trip was covered outside the United States. I was in Poland at the time and Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan was widely viewed as extremely stupid, because everyone knew that the person who is third in line to the U.S. presidency visiting Taiwan, which legitimizes the Taiwanese government, would infuriate the Chinese. The international press was baffled by it, but it made perfect sense to me. Nancy Pelosi is the Speaker of the House of Representatives and her party got the CHIPS Act all the way to the finish line. The CHIPS Act which is designed to build foundries that will compete with one of Taiwan’s most profitable industries and as a result, set up the United States to need Taiwan less. Taiwan would have every right to look at that and think, “What the fuck?” And so, look at the timing. The CHIPS Act passed both branches of Congress and was sent to President Biden’s desk during the last week of July. And Nancy Pelosi landed in Taiwan on August 2, taking that risk of pissing off China, which did piss off China — they immediately closed the airspace and launched a day’s worth of massive military drills around Taiwan. Nancy Pelosi going to Taiwan caused all that, and the world knew it would. But her visit, taking that risk and being willing to piss off the Chinese like that, it was a big move meant to reassure Taiwan of U.S. support, despite the CHIPS Act becoming law. And as you heard, Joe Biden’s words have gotten even more direct as they tried to reassure Taiwan that even though we are preparing for that sort of country to no longer exist, we will totally, definitely make sure that never happens. Winky winks. So what does the CHIPS law do exactly? The biggest thing is it creates a new fund to finance expenses authorized almost two years ago, actually in the 2021 Defense Authorization Act for semiconductor manufacturing located in the United States. To be clear, this law says unambiguously that it will be illegal to use this money in this fund to construct or improve a foundry outside of the United States. As for funding to build the new foundries for these corporations, the fund is going to get $50 billion over the next five years. $50 billion. Just for some context, I like to compare costs to the Big Dig in Boston, which is a project that fundamentally changed my favorite US city for the better. Boston removed a hideous highway that cut right through downtown and put it underground, doing so in a way that tunneled traffic in a smart way in three different directions. Where that heinous highway once stood, the Big Dig then transformed the footprint into an amazing pedestrian Greenway. The Big Dig project also constructed the iconic Zakim Bridge and built a tunnel that connects the airport with South Boston. It was a huge project. It’s the most expensive highway project in the United States, and it costs $15 billion. Even with inflation, we could afford to do two more of those in this country with the money that we are giving to the semiconductor industry. This is a massive investment. On top of that $50 billion fund, the new law also creates a separate $2 billion fund, again authorized in the Defense Authorization in 2021, to finance public-private partnerships between the Defense Department and private companies to develop and produce micro electronics, just like the department asked Congress for. This money is allowed to flow to foreign companies and so-called American companies that outsource their production to companies overseas in locations where they’re allowed to pay people amounts so low that the paychecks would be illegal here in the States. Unlike the big fund, the War Department money may, it’s an option, be used to incentivize companies to build a factory in the United States. But that’s not required. Basically, the military is going to get $2 billion to give to multinational corporations, foreign or domestic, who can outsource production of micro electronics, paying workers who will accept as little as possible anywhere in the world. But that’s not all. The CHIPS section of the law also creates a third fund for the State Department in USAID, also again authorized in a war authorization. This fund is going to be for the common funding of semiconductor production, supply chains, and research into technology that telecommunications multinationals will eventually profit from. The other countries that we are going to be co-funding this project with are the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan, which are the Five Eyes countries, plus Japan. I guess Japan is a bonus eye now. But if you don’t know what the Five Eyes alliance is, it’s a spook alliance formed during World War II, but which a lot of us, myself included, learned about in 2013 when Edward Snowden showed us the documents proving the existence of the global spying program called PRISM, which was launched by the criminal gang known as the George W. Bush administration. The PRISM program directs information collected by the giant tech multinational corporations to the government, which I believe was created in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, which is supposed to protect Americans from illegal searches and seizures of our belongings and our information. The constitutionality of the PRISM program is still being fought over in our courts. In the meantime, the Five Eyes are still using it in their public-private partnerships with the tech multinationals to create digital storage files on every single one of us. The CHIPS law creates this fund authorized in a war authorization for collecting funding with the Five Eyes plus Japan for telecommunications expenditures. So just in case you thought for one second that any of that enraging, probably unconstitutional spying had stopped since all of us peasants found out about it almost a decade ago. Let me assure you, it hasn’t. And this third international fund is getting half a billion dollars of our tax money. Now big picture, is this CHIPS law a wise move? At least for the section that requires foundries to be built in the United States, which to be fair is most of it, I think so. We need to have some self-sufficiency in this country. Allowing all these companies to labor shop and leave the United States with no tax penalties for doing so has left us straight screwed when we’ve needed things that are made primarily overseas. Like when we needed masks that were made primarily in China during the beginning of the pandemic. I did a whole episode about that too, which is waiting for you in the show notes if you haven’t heard it. But there’s two things about the way this is accomplished in CHIPS that have been bugging me while working on this episode. First of all, it’s the hypocrisy. Like I said before, the main reason that China is the baddie all the time, according to the World traders in our government, is because the Chinese do not adhere to the rules of the World Trade System. When China’s sins are listed….well, here’s an example sin list. Here’s then-Attorney General Bill Barr in a speech he gave in the summer of 2020. And though he’s not in government anymore, I assure you this sin list is not controversial in the halls of power in Washington, DC. It’s just the most complete and succinct one that I could find in under five minutes of searching through my disorganized mess of a clip library. In this clip, you’re going to hear a term, he’s going to say PRC, and that stands for People’s Republic of China, otherwise known as China. The PRC is China.
Bill Barr 27:19
Made in China 2025 is the latest iteration of the PRC’s state-led mercantilist economic model. For American companies in the global marketplace, free and fair competition with China has long been a fantasy. To tilt the playing field to its advantage, China’s Communist government has perfected a wide array of predatory and often unlawful tactics: currency manipulation, tariffs, quotas, state led strategic investment and acquisition, theft and forced transfer of intellectual property, state subsidies, dumping, cyber attacks, and industrial espionage.
Jennifer Briney 28:07
State led strategic investment and acquisitions, state subsidies….When other countries do it, especially China, it’s called illegal. It’s an unfair economic sin. But that’s exactly what the CHIPS law is. It’s the state, the government, investing in and acquiring by paying to build new factories for companies that we at least claim as our own. But these aren’t our companies are they? They’re multinational companies that are headquartered here. But our government has no partial ownership of them. You know, at least when China invests tax money in a company, they make sure the government gets a direct return on that investment, oftentimes via co-ownership. We don’t even make sure that our government breaks even. As you heard, there were billions of dollars that are not required to be spent inside of the United States. In fact, some specifically won’t be. And even in the majority of the funds, the big fund, which is required to be spent on building factories in the United States, there’s no profit sharing required in return for our money, not even temporarily until we get refunded before the unlimited profit making by the private companies can begin. There’s no requirement that other parts of that multinational corporations’ business remain in the United States. There’s no requirement that companies that take our money move the operations that they have outside of the United States back into our country. And there’s no requirement that these companies don’t shift money around and buy shares of their own stock while taking our money for research at the same time. There is a provision that says that they can’t buy back shares of their stock to enrich their shareholders using this money, but that’s super easy to get around with a few accounting gimmicks. When reading this law, all of these omissions were glaring to me. It was a one way deal. Our tax money to the companies. The return of the cycle, it just wasn’t there. And I was expecting at least some Democrats who generally seem to care about the corporate takeover of our government to spot this and care. Because I was fully expecting Republicans, the party of big business, to either support this bill or to not support it because it spends money at all during a Democratic administration. And that’s exactly how it played out. The Republicans were split, but the Democrats, they were united in both the House and the Senate: every Democrat voted yes. But one name jumped out at me in the “no” category, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont. And it looks like he read the same bill I did. This is Senator Bernie Sanders on the floor of the Senate trying to get some amendments to the bill before it passed.
Senator Bernie Sanders 30:47
Despite the fact that half of the people in our country today are living paycheck to paycheck, despite the fact that half of our seniors live on incomes of $25,000 or less, despite the fact that we have more income and wealth inequality today than we’ve had in 100 years, where three billionaires own more wealth than the bottom half of America, despite all of that, whenever it comes to protecting the needs of low income or working families, I hear over and over again, we just cannot afford to do that because of the deficit. Well, Mr. President, guess what? All of that profound and serious concern about the deficit fades away when it comes to providing a $76 billion blank check to the highly profitable microchip industry with no protections at all for the American taxpayer. Somehow, the deficit is of great concern when it comes to providing help to working families to low income Americans, to children, to seniors. But it’s not a concern when you provide massive corporate welfare for enormously profitable, multinational corporations. I guess, Mr. President, when the semiconductor industry spends $19 million on lobbying this year alone, and when Intel spends $100 million on lobbying and campaign contributions over the past 20 years, when that industry says jump, the response from Congress is “how high?” Let me be very clear, there is no doubt that there is a global shortage of microchips and semiconductors, which is making it harder for manufacturers to produce the cars, cell phones, household appliances, and electronic equipment that we need. And that is why I fully support efforts to expand U.S. microchip production. But the question we should be asking is this: should American taxpayers provide the microchip industry with a blank check of over $76 billion at a time when semiconductor companies are making 10s of billions of dollars in profit right now and paying the head of Intel some $170 million a year in compensation? And I think the answer to that question is a resounding no. Over the past decade, semiconductor companies have spent nearly $250 billion, 70% of their profits, not on research and development, not on building new microchip plants in America — what this bill is presumably about — but on buying back their own stock to enrich their wealthy shareholders. Over the last 20 years, the microchip industry has shut down over 780 manufacturing plants and other establishments in the U.S. and eliminated 150,000 American jobs while moving most of its production overseas. In other words, what taxpayers are doing are rebuilding an industry that was destroyed by the industry itself by going abroad in search of more profit.
Jennifer Briney 34:47
And that’s how I see this too. And I’m so disappointed to see no protections with teeth in the bill to prevent that behavior from continuing if they take our money and no return on investment is even attempted. This is a one way giveaway. Senator Sanders, of course, was on the floor of the Senate because he did try to make some changes to the bill, but all of his amendments were shot down. And even my favorite part of the law, because this is all about securing our supply chain of critical materials, right? Well, even the part of the law that could have done that was tainted with clear deference to corporate wishes. I was excited to read that the director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology will create a national supply chain database. The idea is to have an assessment on hand of manufacturing capabilities inside the United States. The database is supposed to include basic private sector company information: an overview of that company’s capabilities, accreditations and its products, and information about who owns the company. That’s about it. And if it sounds like companies might be worried about private information going public, all of this information would be excluded from the Freedom of Information Act; the information couldn’t be made public. And it couldn’t be used in civil court cases without the company’s written consent either. And so I see this as a good idea that does protect the companies. A national supply chain database would let our government know what our country is capable of doing in-house. It’s stunning to me that we don’t have this information on file already. But after this new law, we still won’t, because participation in the database will be voluntary. Neither States nor private sector companies are required to give any information. Why is this voluntary? Don’t companies owe the United States anything in return for all the benefit that they get from us, from our infrastructure, from our education system that trains their workforce, from our courts that enforce their contracts and prosecute those that steal from them? Is it really that draconian to require that they tell us the very basics about who owns their company and what they do? But it doesn’t really matter, because even worse than that, no money is appropriated to actually pay for this database to exist. After everything we just went through, from masks to tampons to baby formula — so many shortages — this is the solution Congress came up with. That’s it. An incomplete database to monitor our corporate production capabilities may exist someday, if another law provides the money, and if all companies in the country choose to participate in it. I mean, even if it does exist, it’s incomplete at best. This can’t be the best we can do. But this is what we got. And so that’s the CHIPS part of the law. But like I said before, this law is a package of many bills. In fact, the vast majority of the pages in this law are not about semiconductors, but instead make investments in research and product development. And from what I can see, a decent chunk of this money will be benefiting the shareholder class too. For most of the programs, there are a lot of eligible entities that will get the money for research and development. They include government agencies, nonprofits and universities. I want to be clear about that, because I am focusing on the private sector here, but the money is spread around to plenty of people that are not the shareholder class. But I am concerned about getting ripped off, and the private sector is getting money all over this law. In many cases, too many cases in my opinion, the research money will be directed according to what the industries want and need. As you might imagine, developing new manufacturing technologies and computer chip design, is expensive. These are complicated technologies that require straight-up brilliant and highly educated people to create. When it comes to semiconductors, the companies that own and design them tend to spend far more on research and development than manufacturers in general. As you can imagine, these companies would prefer for tax money to be used to invent their products so that they can save that money and pass the savings out to shareholders as profit, and this new law will facilitate that. For example, we are going to be funding microelectronics research and energy innovation centers. This idea was introduced on its own in its own bill, and it was introduced only in the Senate. The bill in the Senate was discussed in one hearing, but there were no votes: not in a committee, not on the Senate floor, and certainly not in the House, where it never even made an appearance. It just got stuck on the CHIPS and became law. What this dingleberry does is it creates four microelectronics research and energy innovation centers, which will cost us almost half a billion dollars. The purpose will be to create new micro electronics products, train people to make those products, and then hand the technology and workforce over to the industry. Our taxes are going to pay to train corporate employees and invent the products they will sell for profit. And there’s no profit sharing required for the government. I saw no avenue for us to get our money back or to even break even. So much more money is going to be funneled into new technology and innovation hubs. Between this law and others, there’s going to be about $10 billion total that can be passed out for these research hubs through 2027, with the federal government paying between 80% and 100% of the costs, depending on where the hub is located, because at least a third of the grants have to be in rural areas. But some of the grants, not all of them, but an unknown percentage of them, so it’s possible it could be high, we don’t know, will be used to foster partnerships with industry and the government, nonprofits and schools to create new technologies, and then transfer those tax money created technologies to the private companies. It’s another program to socialize the development and privatize the rewards. And just so you know, I do understand that the theory behind this is that they say that if we invest, if we use tax money to pay for this research, and to train the workforce, we will theoretically, as the United States taxpayers, as the government, we will theoretically get paid back because these workers will get jobs and contribute to our society via their income taxes. But these workers are going to get jobs regardless, because you need money and jobs to thrive in American society. It’s not like a brilliant student is going to end up begging on the street corner if tax money isn’t used to invent new products and hand the results over to for-profit corporations with no strings attached. So the idea that a smart student will eventually get a job, I see that as a wash, it’s something that’s going to happen anyway. Their contribution to the tax base at the end of it all, this doesn’t count as a return on these specific investments to me. I want the company, I want the shareholders who will profit endlessly from these tax funded gifts of new inventions to directly pay us back, as in at least profit sharing, until we get what we invested back. And if the companies don’t like that, then they are perfectly free to turn down the money and invest their own money into research and development, and train their own workforce, and then take 100% of the profits forevermore. But how this law funds these things over and over again, these are one way deals: our tax money to them. And then they get 100% of the profits. You know, no wonder our country is sinking further and further into debt. Our government is being used as a corporate piggy bank. Here’s another example. This law also creates the Foundation for Energy Security and Innovation. Now, this is yet another idea that was introduced on its own as its own bill, this time in both the House and the Senate, and then, poof, became law. No hearings, no votes: Dingleberry. And what this foundation is going to be is a new nonprofit foundation — so it looks independent — that will be created by the Department of Energy. Now, the mission of the foundation is going to be to advance “collaboration” between government, schools, nonprofits and industry to “accelerate commercialization of energy technologies,” which translated into normal speech, that means to create new products for the private sector to sell. Let’s break this down for a sec, because first of all, it’s a nonprofit foundation being created by our government. And where have we seen that before? That’s right, the National Endowment for Democracy, which is a nonprofit, that meddles in other countries’ elections, which looks independent from our government, but it’s actually funded with tax money every year. Its money is funneled through the State Department. I created a whole episode about it and I’ve been talking about how crazy the existence of this organization is for years. The National Endowment for Democracy episode is in the show notes for you if you haven’t heard it yet, but it’s a must-listen episode, which has multiple executive producer credits on it. But that structure of the nonprofit that looks like it’s independent, but it’s not, that’s ringing similar to me here. This is looking like something that will look independent unless we dig. But it is certain that our tax money is going to pay to get this thing off the ground. We’re going to pay at least $40 million dollars to create the foundation until it can hopefully take off its training wheels in 2027. That’s a minimum though, Congress has been given permission to provide as much money as they want to. There are no caps. Who will determine how the money that this foundation gets is spent? Well, industry representatives and representatives of the “investment community,” aka bankers, are guaranteed seats on the governing board, the board which will write its own rules for how members will be seen elected, the board which will write its own ethical standards, and the board which will determine how the foundation’s money is going to be passed out. Congress made no laws governing this thing that will be given startup money from our taxes. Now, as far as conflicts of interest are concerned, it says the board members are not allowed to participate in the foundation deliberations about matters that would “directly or predictably affect any financial interest,” of themselves, their family members, or a business that they have a stake in. But there’s no consequences mandated for those that break these rules. It doesn’t even say that if someone is caught with a conflict of interest that they can’t serve on the board anymore. There are literally no consequences at all. But regardless, one of the main tasks of the board of the foundation for commercializing energy technologies will be to fundraise for the foundation, “including from private entities.” And so that’s how it’s going to look like this thing is independent from our government, because there’s private sector people on the board, and they’re going to be collecting money from the private sector. And it’s going to look like they’re not using our tax money to create products for the private sector. And yet, although the law does say that the US is not responsible for the foundation’s debts, it is definitely, once it’s up and running, still going to use resources paid for with our tax money to develop technologies that will be sold for profit by the private sector. Because the new law requires our National Laboratories to establish procedures that will allow these laboratories to do work for the foundation. The National Laboratories are funded by our tax money, and the Secretary of Energy is allowed to permit the foundation to use other tax-money-funded facilities and services as well. And again, there’s not a single sentence in this law that guarantees taxpayers a financial return on these investments. It’s a one way investment: our taxes to the foundation, products from the foundation to the private sector. Same thing with the bio energy research centers, we are going to use $900 million, almost a billion dollars of our tax money to pay for six bio energy research centers to accelerate the development of biofuels, bio energy, chemicals and other products. And the goal of these centers, quoting from the law, is to “facilitate the translation of research results to industry.” Taxpayers will pay to research and create the products that private companies will sell to us, and to our farmers, for a profit. And here again, there’s no requirement here that companies that benefit from the research, sell Americans, our farmers, and anyone else who uses this stuff, the resulting products for a discount for even one day. And so Americans who end up using these products will end up paying twice, because we’re all paying in advance for the startup costs for these products. But then you will be charged full price when the product is ready to be used. It just seems wrong that Americans are asked time and time again to pay for the development of new technologies, and then pay full price when the results of our investments are realized. I’m sick of being double charged and being told it’s for the greater good. It’s for the shareholders’ good. Almost half of Americans are not shareholders of anything, so how do they benefit from this? And even those of us who are lucky enough to have enough money that we can gamble in the stock market with it, we only have the crumbs. As of last year, over half of the US stock market was owned by the top 1% of Americans. Chances are you’re not in that club. You know, I’m clearly annoyed by the corporatism in this law. But what’s even more annoying about this, why I fully understand and can’t really fault anyone for voting for this law, voting for this corporate welfare law, for me, I can’t say that it’s a fireable offense because the products that this one-way tax money transfer is going to facilitate are things that I and most of us, I assume, definitely want to exist. We all need semiconductors and microelectronics. And there’s real investments in here for things that are important to humans on an existential level. For instance, this new law authorizes a bunch of really important climate studies. It’s going to fund research into the reaction of our atmosphere and biosphere to greenhouse gas emissions. This law also somehow dingleberried onto it was the reauthorization of NASA and we need their satellites to measure such things. We’re also going to fund research into clean water and how the changes to the climate are affecting our water systems, which this lady with family in Southern California definitely likes to see. We’re also going to do studies on land and water interactions and our infrastructure’s current ability to withstand inundations. We’re gonna do research into improving weather prediction models by developing more accurate sensors and sensor networks. And by the way, there’s a hurricane forming, and it’s on its way to Florida. And so even if you’re somehow unconcerned by the historically unprecedented rate of change to the global climate that our burning of fossil fuels is causing, accurate weather prediction models save a lot of lives. That’s undeniable. And it’s especially important in the middle of the country in the Red states in Tornado Alley, where the difference of a mile in a forecast is deadly. This new law appropriates over $5 billion to research like this. I want that. I think that’s fantastic. But then there’s corporate welfare that we’re just going to have to swallow in this section too. Take the clean energy partnerships, for example, which are partnerships between government and higher education, labor unions, the private sector, trade and industry associations, aka lobbying organizations, venture capital organizations, aka banksters, and the banks themselves. The purpose of these partnerships is going to be to “improve the competitiveness of the United States’ clean energy technology” by “facilitating the commercial application of clean energy products,” as in our tax money, again, will pay to create products for the private sector to sell for profit. Profits that will be handed over to the shareholder class. You guys know me, I want green things, so new clean energy products, no doubt, that’s a good thing. But who exactly are we improving the competitiveness of here with our tax money? Is it the United States that benefits? Or is it multinational corporations who are headquartered here, but who are not actually loyal to our country? There’s some strong evidence that this is going to be directed towards multinational energy companies, which I suspect because this law adds this partnership program to our international energy programs section of current law. Many multinational energy corporations are fossil fuel companies that are greenwashing their images with minor investments in clean energy technologies. You know, full disclosure, my solar power engineer husband works for one of them, he works for a multinational corporation with plenty of fossil fuel holdings. I know how this works. And so what I see here is a high likelihood that we’re going to use our tax money to partner with and develop the technologies that these multinational companies are going to take credit for, and then profit from, because these companies, the money is still in fossil fuels, they’re not making massive investments in these technologies on their own. So we’re going to do it for them, we’re going to pay for their greenwashing. At the end of this, we won’t be told about the tax money used in these companies’ press releases, they never say thank you to the government, to US taxpayers at the finish line, do they? But as always, even in this section that I could like because it funds things I want, the devil is in the details. This particular program might not even happen at all because of the way this law was written. Because first of all, the quarter of a billion dollars that is authorized for this is simply that, just authorized. They didn’t actually provide the money for clean energy technology corporate welfare, like they did with the well over $50 billion for the semiconductor industry corporate welfare. And even if some future law does fund this corporate welfare program for clean energy technologies, the government will only pay 50% of the costs, unlike the 80% to 100% share for semiconductors and microelectronics. And finally, they put in a kill switch for the Secretary of Energy, who was given the power to kill the grant funding if the secretary says that a partnership is underperforming, and nothing has to be proven for that to be concluded. It’s just based on the whim of one person alone, one person, the Secretary of Energy, who is in a presidentially appointed position. Remember when Donald Trump appointed the CEO of Exxon Mobil to be our Secretary of State? That’s a thing that happened. So a fossil fuel industry mole can easily be appointed to be the energy secretary by the next — let’s name it — Republican administration. And that person could kill this entire program, if it ever even gets funded to begin with. You know, just once when I see some kind of clean energy funded in one of these laws, I would like to see it in a way that doesn’t have so many devils lurking between the lines. I’m happy some of this stuff is funded, but is it worth the cost? I’m torn on it. I’m really torn on it. Another area where I’m torn is the education section. I fully support educating our young people. I think it’s immoral that we require our young people to take on decades’ worth of debt to bankers in order to educate themselves beyond a high school level. I personally have no problem at all with using tax money for education, because an educated population is good for progress, and is essential in a democracy where the people are supposed to govern themselves. Honestly, I think that keeping so many of us uneducated and making educated and indebted people seem like suckers is a deliberate strategy used by the wealthy, who currently control our government, to get away with all the shit that they do. They can’t get in trouble for the things that we’re too dumb to know about. Big picture, this law authorizes, but again, doesn’t actually provide the money for a massive investment in education. If all the money is funded later on, it could be over $81 billion towards, essentially, science and engineering education. That’s something I want to support, and that’s something that explains the level of support this bill got, especially from the Democratic Party, in its journey towards law. But on a societal level, what that education serves to achieve, that matters. The largest single required use of that money, $16.3 billion, if it’s funded, is authorized to go towards a new program authorized in March called the Directorate for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships, the director of which said this year that it aims to, “rapidly bring new technologies to market.” Here we go again. The way the decisions will be made is going to be via an advisory committee, which will recommend the activities to be funded. This committee is going to have 10 members and three of them are going to be required to be from the private sector. There’s only one person that even has to have expertise in national security, and that person doesn’t have to be in the government. In fact, no one on this committee that will theoretically determine where billions of dollars are going to go is required to be in the government. Possibly tens of billions of dollars is going to be funneled through this board and no elected officials are required to be anywhere in sight to determine where that money goes. Industry representatives will clearly be a loud voice in the room when this money is passed out. They’re about a third of the room by law. But what’s good for industry is not always and, in fact, is quite often, the opposite of what is good for society. Shouldn’t it be the government, which is the collection of all of us, which has leaders chosen by us? Shouldn’t that organization be the one that determines the direction, that determines where tax money is spent? And then industry adapts to that vision determined by the people we chose? Because the way this is done, this feels backwards to me. The government is abdicating their responsibility, yes, but more importantly, the right to shape our society with investment decisions. Instead of one vision, one cohesive goal for what we’re trying to achieve as a nation, our goals are being fractured into the whims of individual profit seeking groups. Because what is our goal with all of this new tech? What is the one overarching mission we’re trying to achieve? Do any of us really even know? Don’t we want people we elect to be making that call instead of randoms from the private sector on a government created board? For example, this director is going to research technology for the artificial intelligence industry. But for what end? For better speech to tech technology? For robot slaves? For facial recognition for advanced mass spying capabilities? For more sophisticated weapons of mass death and destruction? That last one is almost definitely on the list. Are these societal goals that we’d strive for? Is this what we want? Are those industry goals? Are those on autopilot, not necessarily serving any kind of societal master plan, but goals pursued because there are clear avenues for profit on each of those paths? Where are the guarantees at the end of this, after commercialization is achieved, that these technologies won’t be sold to those who will end up using them against us? Is it even possible to invent a thing and prevent it from being used against us? Should we maybe have some elected representatives in the room to ask these questions? Have we learned nothing from inventing the atomic bomb? When you are an employee of a company on a committee like that, you represent the company, not your own morals, not your community, or society at large. I want people who we pay to represent society at large, who we pay to represent all of us, in charge in decision making rooms, and that’s not who’s going to be in there passing out tens of billions of dollars. It’s the big picture that disturbs me by what I saw in this law. It’s the process. It’s the decision makers. It’s the abdication of the decisions, which we elect people to make, the way they have just handed that ability over to the people in the private sector, the guaranteed role of those whose goal is corporate profit. Back to the individual level, where education is a clear societal good, the good news is that the funding — granted, the funding is going to be determined based on what these industries want — is going to be coming at all educational levels, from pre-K all the way to graduate. The corporations are looking for scientists and mathematicians and engineers, and our tax money is going to pay to train them. That means that there is money available for you, or for your kid. So if your brain, unlike mine, functions in a mathy, sciency way: go get it. You can look for names of scholarships and how this all will work in the clearly labeled STEM Education section of this law, the text of which I have highlighted for you in this episode’s show notes. Like I said, this law has me emotionally torn. I want these scholarships for you. I want them for artists and teachers and nurses and doctors and everyone else too. But this is undeniably good for those who enjoy math. I just wish that we didn’t always seem to have to pay so much to the corporate titans in order to get returns on our tax investments at the individual level. But it is what it is. Now, before I wrap this up, I do want to end this episode on a somewhat hopeful note. I saw something in this law, kind of a side note here, but I got some information in a hearing and saw something in this law that has me very hopeful indeed, and I wanted to share it with you. It has to do with an advancement in nuclear power that could be a game changer for the entire world. When it comes to nuclear energy, there’s two kinds of plants, but only one kind currently exists. The kind we currently have is fission reactors. Fission is a process that doesn’t occur in nature, which involves the splitting of a large atom into two or more smaller ones. When you do this, it creates energy, a lot of it, but it also creates radioactive particles. And the nuclear power plants that use this technology produce radioactive waste that no one in the world knows what the hell to do with. I did a whole episode about the problem of not knowing what the f*** to do with nuclear waste. That episode is also a must-listen if you want to understand why I very openly do not support building any more nuclear power plants using this technology. I also don’t support this kind of energy because once these types of nuclear power plants get up and running, they don’t know how to turn the damn things off. So when things go wrong, there are meltdowns of the radioactive shit that leave entire cities radioactive and unlivable, at least if you don’t want cancer for many lifetimes. But there is a different kind of nuclear power that scientists have been working on. Unfortunately, for the basics of the world like me, the word is way too close to fission, it’s hard to keep them straight, but the other kind is fusion, and fusion is better. Fusion is a process that does occur in nature. It’s the energy that powers stars like our Sun, and like the name suggests, it involves fusing atoms together. This kind of nuclear energy wouldn’t produce nearly as much nuclear waste, and they could turn the damn things off. Most importantly, there’s little risk of poisoning whole cities for generations. Unlike the fission reactors we have now, fusion requires an enormous amount of energy to get it up and running and it doesn’t yet exist, but that might not be the case for long. Here’s Robert Mumgaard, the CEO of Commonwealth Fusion Systems, which is a company working on this technology. Here’s his testimony to Congress in a hearing that took place in the House late last year .
Robert Mumgaard 1:03:51
From where I sit, I see three reasons why I’m very optimistic the US can create a definitive lead in this new industry. First, the growth of the private sector. Over $2.4 billion in private capital has been invested in the fusion companies that now number nearly 30. This is a similar amount of capital as in all the nuclear fission small modular reactor companies. This is coming from a large range of investors across venture capitalists, to university endowments, to large energy companies. They are putting capital at risk in fusion because they understand that the world needs a fundamentally new source of clean energy if we are going to meet our decarbonisation goals, and these companies are highly ambitious, with a recent survey stating that 84% of them believe that fusion will be on the grid in the 2030s or earlier.
Jennifer Briney 1:04:39
That’s not that long from now. And that includes his own company.
Robert Mumgaard 1:04:43
We will proceed with the commercialization of our first fusion pilot plant called ARC. We hope to have that online in the early 2030s.
Jennifer Briney 1:04:52
But they want tax money.
Robert Mumgaard 1:04:55
The third reason I’m hopeful is the movement towards public-private partnerships. We know that when the public and private sectors work together and recognize what each side is good at, we create vibrant ecosystems. I saw this in commercial space with NASA and SpaceX. We saw it even more recently with the COVID-19 vaccine.
Jennifer Briney 1:05:12
He had a great example with that COVID vaccine, because we did help pay for that. And you know what we got in return? The vaccine. I paid $0 out of pocket. You know, the Cares Act guaranteed us a return on our tax investments when it came to the vaccines, which is proof that guaranteed returns on our tax investments have been included in other laws, and it could have been done here. But regardless, the private sector, which would certainly profit enormously from creating the holy grail of clean energy, they want tax money to front their development costs.
Robert Mumgaard 1:05:45
And we are not alone. The other companies like TAE and General Fusion, Helion, Tokamak Energy, are looking at similar timeframes, and experiencing similar growth. All these companies are looking to see which governments are going to be the best partners. And unfortunately, we’re already seeing defections with a major facility that could have been built in the US instead being built in the UK. It’d be much better if the US public program leveraged the private sector, aligning with the technical goals and timelines to keep it happening here.
Jennifer Briney 1:06:12
There’s corporate loyalty for you: give us money or we’ll defect to other countries. Well, that argument was influential in our Congress, probably because this guy’s company, along with the others, have spent a lot of money lobbying our Congress. Commonwealth Fusion Systems spent 6x more on lobbying in 2021 than they spent in 2020, and they’re on track to spend even more this year, although we’ll see now that this became law if that goes down a bit. But one of the reasons that they’re spending has jumped so high is that they’re paying a former member of Congress to roam Capitol Hill on their behalf, and those are the expensive lobbyists. Former member of Congress Bart Gordon, who represented Tennessee for 26 years and was the chair of the House Committee on Science and Technology before he cashed in as an influence peddler in 2010 cost Commonwealth fusion systems $210,000 in 2021, and he’s gotten another $100,000 so far from them this year. And what do you know, the Commonwealth Fusion Systems, they’re getting what they want in this new law. What they are getting is that by the time Superbowl Sunday rolls around, two national teams made up of government and private sector representatives will develop designs for a pilot plant, just like the one they were talking about in that hearing, that will “bring fusion to commercial viability.” And I’m too dumb to know what research in the Nuclear Energy Division is related to fusion energy, so I can’t give you a specific total for this. But for nuclear energy research into, you know, protons, electrons, micro-waves, accelerators and sh**, it’s many billions of dollars. At least $15 billion is authorized to go towards paying the private sector to create this holy grail, and I genuinely wish them good luck. I just wish, again, that our government secured some kind of profit sharing agreement for when the Holy Grail is found. But not once in this entire bill did I see that happen. Not once did I see any financial return required by the private sector before they could profit from the research and products invented with our tax money. No wonder our country is in so much debt. Many Republicans, but not all of them, voted against this bill and it was because of the cost of the law. The cost truly is enormous, especially if the upcoming funding laws that no one reads follow through and provide the money for the things that were authorized, but weren’t actually funded in this law. If that happens, this law is going to cost us many tens of billions of dollars more. But it was really just Bernie Sanders who was the no vote who was speaking my language by noting that the cost which lacks a return on our investment is the problem. If the corporations were required to profit share with the government, at least to the point of a fair repayment of our tax investment, I wouldn’t have been nearly as irritated with our government partnering with industry to create new products. But what kind of financial partnership is it when only one side gets to profit? This law is a bad financial deal for our government. There’s just no way around it. Because when the government money intersects with the private sector in this law, the money pretty much only flows one way from government to the shareholder class. The Democrats, all of them, voted for this law because of the benefits to individuals who will get the education scholarships and the new tech jobs and because we do want the products that will be created to exist, and for them to be made here on US soil. Having computer chip factories here does make our country more self-sufficient. We need that. We lost that when we switched over to the World Trade System economic rulebook and allowed multinational corporations to close factories here and labor-shop around the world and pay no tax penalties for doing so. When we embraced free trade, we made it free for them to do that, quite literally. Now we as a country don’t make anything here at home anymore. The pandemic exposed the dangers in that lack of self sufficiency. And this investment does, for the first time in a long time, start to correct that mistake. So I can see why everyone voted the way they did. And I can’t fault anyone for it. So while I do aim to make it easy for you to know what’s in a law so that you can judge representatives for their vote on it, I’m sorry, but this one is just not black and white. I’m hopelessly torn on it to the point of almost ambivalence. There’s some good, and there’s some blatant corporate welfare. That is what it is. But if you have strong feelings about this one, the votes are in the show notes for you. Good luck. You can try to use them to determine how you will vote in November, but I know I won’t be. This bill is just too much of a gray area for me. But despite my ambivalence towards the law itself, what’s most fascinating to me, what keeps going through my head as I did the exercise of reading and analyzing this law, what I keep coming back to is what this law means in terms of the global economy, our role in the World Trade System, it’s kind of like a foreign policy thing for me. Because the World Trade System, which is made up of the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank, this system was designed to be the system for the entire world’s economy, right? That’s why they named it those things: World Trade, World Bank, it’s for the whole f***ing world. Well, China was welcomed into the World Trade System. They’ve been there for decades. And the goal of doing that was to transform China to be more like us. We want China to open their country up to multinational corporations, to let the multinationals pay their people as little as possible to make their products, which they did. But we also wanted them to let the multinationals own Chinese land. And we wanted them to let multinationals own businesses in China without partnering with the government, which they did not do. The goal was to assimilate China into our system that allows the multinational corporations to be free. But it didn’t work. China played by its own rules, and I’ve been watching recent developments and thinking that China has been leading the way in creating a different economic system to compete with the World Trade System. But with this new law, after reading this whole CHIPS thing, now, I’m wondering, is that maybe not what’s happening here? Because China’s still in the World Trade Organization. They’re still veto holding members of the United Nations. They haven’t pulled out of anything. But now we, the United States, have just passed a new law, which is a massive state subsidization of industry here in the States. We just took an economic action on a massive scale that we say is wrong and illegal when the Chinese have done it. But we just behaved like the Chinese. And so maybe the world isn’t splitting economically into two. Maybe the World Trade Organization really is the global system, but China is now leading the way. Because what’s the phrase? “If you can’t beat them, join them?” Well, it seems to me, maybe that’s what we just did. Thank you for tuning into this episode. And, yeah, when it comes to this law, there were so many programs that were funded, and there was a lot of details and the money is going to be spread around so much. I focused a lot on the private sector authorizations here, but I just want to make sure that you understand that it’s not that all of this money is going to go to the private sector, it will also go to schools and nonprofits and other government agencies. But I wanted to focus on the areas where US taxpayers were funding corporate welfare, because that’s where the results can be privatized, and they’re not shared equally. If you have any questions about the details of this law I did highlight the entire law for you, I included the PDF in the show notes for you. The show notes also have other articles and documents but this was such a broad law, that it was hard to know what to cover. I hope I did an okay job for you. The next big project I’m going to work on is the inflation Reduction Act, which is also going to be extremely broad. We’ll see how that goes. This was a really tough project, and if you appreciate having someone who’s independent, at least look at the law for you and tell you the details — This law did have it had dingleberries in it, obviously, that weren’t closely examined before they became law, but there also wasn’t anything super scandalous in it. It was a relatively clean law. The corporate welfare was the point of it, so you can’t really call that a hidden scandal. It was the whole damn bill and it was a bipartisan effort, so it’s hard to look at this one through a partisan lens. It just is what it is. Some of these bills are like that. And it’s gonna be really hard to judge it because it was so broad-based. This episode was tough. So if you did appreciate the episode, if you learned anything in it, please support this show. This work is not easy, and I do not do this for free, even though you didn’t hear any ads. That’s on purpose. Because if I’m going to tell you things about bills like this, which so clearly benefit corporations, if I was also being paid by corporations, I could be incentivized to describe what I’m seeing in a completely different way. Because corporations don’t want to pay people to expose things in a negative light that bring them billions and billions of dollars. So I think independence is essential to do this podcast. And if you agree, please support the show by visiting the support the show page on congressionaldish.com. If you want to pay per episode, then you can go to Patreon. We also have a private feed up there with some bonus content. You can really pay any way that works for you: we accept paper checks, and PayPal and Venmo and Zelle. Actually, I’d like to thank Corey Anderson, who sent me an audible book that a lot of people think that I need to read: “American Exception.” Because I read too much for my job, one of the challenges for when I do episodes like this is that my eyes just ache by the end of it from staring at the screen for weeks at a time. So I’m really enjoying having an Audible subscription. Corey sent me the book American Exception and what I think is funny is that when I went through my emails, I hadn’t gone through my emails in like three months, and when I did, there were multiple people that were recommending that book, and then it magically appeared, already paid for. So that is super cool. And I guess what I’m trying to say is, if you want me to actually read a book, buying me the audio version of it is an excellent way to go. Because I don’t read anymore in my spare time, I just do enough reading for work. Thanks Corey, that was really thoughtful of you. And more than anyone else for this episode, I want to thank Kevin. Kevin is our new executive producer. For those of you not in the know, Executive Producers are people that pay a significant portion of an episode’s production costs. But because you never know what the next topic is going to be, you never know if you’re going to even like the next episode, I do let you put your Executive Producer credit on an episode of your choice, which also allows you to basically lend your cred to an episode that you really like and that you think people should check out. I just find that the episodes have more than one executive producer are the ones that the audience likes the most, so it really does tell new people which episodes they should go for. And so Kevin’s name is now going to be on Episode 128, which is the episode that I titled Crisis in Puerto Rico, which I think is quite timely considering there is another crisis going on right now in Puerto Rico. And, you know, I got kind of fascinated by Puerto Rico during the Obama administration, when the financial governing of the island — it’s a territory, so they don’t have as many rights as we do as full American citizens, even though they are American citizens — changed during the Obama administration. Congress created a fiscal oversight board in either 2015 or 2016, its now 2022, and that thing is still governing the island. It’s all kinds of corrupt. The people on the island call it La Junta, and the problems with the structure of it were obvious from the beginning. So that is when I started my fascination with Puerto Rico. So if you want to understand why their entire electricity grid went down during the most recent hurricane, one of the reasons is it never got repaired after Hurricane Maria is because the fiscal oversight board prioritized privatization of the electricity grid over actually fixing the damn thing, even though plenty of tax money has been appropriated to it. So the Puerto Rico situation is insane. I’m very happy to have an executive producer on that episode, because it really does go into a lot of the background of our relationship with Puerto Rico. What Kevin said about why he picked that particular episode — because I’ve done multiple episodes about Puerto Rico — is “Thank you, Jen for the episode about Puerto Rico. I cannot think of a way you could have improved my knowledge of our country more than the research and write-up you did for episode 128. If anyone thinks they know the relationship between the United States and its territories, they need to listen to this Congressional Dish masterpiece. I am proud to support your podcast and help produce episode number 128.” And I’m so happy that you did. I will add that episode to the show notes for this episode, if you guys want to check that out, because that history is so relevant to what’s going on today. As always, thank you for being an Executive Producer, thank you to all our Executive Producers. I don’t think we have one yet for episode 260. So if you want to pick your episode, go ahead and do that. The cost of that is $535 and it is a cumulative thing, too. So a lot of people, they contribute weekly, monthly, however much they want to and when they get their contributions up to $535, then they pick their episode for their Executive Producer credit. It doesn’t have to be all at once. Thank you, Executive Producers, and thank you to all producers who are producing the show, who are paying for it, that have kept it going for all these years. I really appreciate you guys, even though this job is now making me switch from reading a 400 page bill to an over 700 page bill. Times like these I kind of don’t love this job. But this is why you pay me. So if you’re looking forward to knowing what exactly is in the Inflation Reduction Act, I will have that episode done for you by the election so that you can understand what’s in it before you vote. That’s going to be out sometime in late October. I do think I have a couple other hearings that you guys might be interested in, so there’ll be something else before then, but the next big project is that one so please support this work while I read that bill for you. All right. I’m clearly tired. I’m done. I’m done. So until next time you hear my voice, please support the show. Take care of yourselves, stay safe, and I’ll talk to you soon. Bye.
David Ippolito 1:22:02
[outro music] Tired of Being Lied To