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The news media and the political blogs are enraptured with handicapping the political races. No one has time to worry about real issues anymore. This is the silly season, when immigrant nannies and comments from comedians become “important”. When shady television hucksters are inexplicably taken seriously and hold huge political rallies.
Yet the real world, the one that operates on tangible things that make an actual difference in our lives, keeps chugging along.
While all of you were busy obsessing about political trivialities, the governments of the world were entering a global trade war. This development entered a scary stage yesterday when Brazil decided not to attend the coming G20 summit.
However, that was nothing compared to China’s latest move.
China, which has been blocking shipments of crucial minerals to Japan for the last month, has now quietly halted shipments of some of those same materials to the United States and Europe, three industry officials said on Tuesday.
“The embargo is expanding” beyond Japan, said one of the three rare earth industry officials, all of whom insisted on anonymity for fear of business retaliation by Chinese authorities. They said Chinese customs officials imposed the broader shipment restrictions Monday morning, hours after a top Chinese official had summoned international news media Sunday night to denounce United States trade actions.
China mines 95 percent of the world’s rare earth elements, which have broad commercial and military applications, and are vital to the manufacture of diverse products including large wind turbines and guided missiles. Any curtailment of Chinese supplies of rare earths is likely to be greeted with alarm in Western capitals, particularly because Western companies are believed to keep much smaller stockpiles of rare earths than Japanese companies do.
American officials had announced on Friday to investigate if China was violating trade laws by subsidizing their clean energy industry. China responded on Sunday with the statement that Washington “cannot win this trade fight.”
The war of words ended today. The trade war is on.
There is no Green Revolution without rare earth metals.
Rare earth metals, located on the bottom of the periodic table of contents, are essential for the creation of batteries. As a result they are critical to hybrid and electric cars, wind turbines, and much of the world’s alternative energy plans.
It was only a few days ago that Obama proposed a huge clean energy subsidy. It takes about three to five years to get a mine up to production levels after a deposit has been discovered.
Once again the brutal realities of economics has intruded upon the fantasy land of politics. That disconnect from the realities of economics is especially prevalent when it comes to the environment.
A state of war
America has been at war for many decades now.
I’m not talking about the War on (some)Terror, or the War on (some)Drugs. I’m talking about the ongoing War on Reality.
For the left-wing, well, they’ve forgotten their roots. They pretend that economics don’t matter in their vision of the future, when in fact all left-wing thought originated from economic theory.
China’s recent action should give the liberals with environmental-leanings a hard slap in the face. Yes, you do have to know how economics work in the real world. The two are directly related.
Dudley Kingsnorth, a rare earth market analyst at the Industrial Minerals Company of Australia in Perth, said that if China adopted a further reduction in export quotas of 30 percent for next year, manufacturers elsewhere could face difficulties.
“That will create some problems,” he said. “It’ll force some people to look very carefully at the use of rare earths, and we might be reverting to some older technologies until alternative sources of rare earths are developed.”
The solution to our employment problems was never simply adopting green technologies. It may make a good sound bite, but it has nothing to do with reality. If you want to fix the employment situation then you start with age old topics of monetary and trade policies.
Put simply, we have an extremely serious situation developing here, and it won’t make a difference if control of Congress is divided between the two parties or not. These are structural problems that transcend petty partisanship.
The global trade war is happening for reasons other than which party controls the White House and Congress. We need to stop focusing on the useless handicapping of races and start focusing on actual policies. We need to make a conscience effort to be aware of who wins and loses amongst the various monetary, fiscal, and trade rules.
If we don’t care about things of substance, if we don’t demand the media and politicians address these issues, why would powers that be ever discuss them with us?