The Cost of Food

Saturday’s Wall Street Journal had an article centered on the difficulty of passing a farm bill that, among other things, continues subsidies for farmers. The article included some words on the bill’s food stamp program and funding, including this remark:

...SNAP, the food-stamps program is generally aimed at helping low-income households afford to buy food.

There are at least two ways to help low-income households afford to buy food. One is to restore work/train for work/school requirements to the program, which in the end, increases those families’ income.

Some Corporate Values

Recall Major League Baseball’s, Coca Cola’s, and Delta Airlines’ reactions to Georgia’s voter integrity protection law, SB202, passed last year. That law, after all, created such nasty things as

  • signature matching
  • voter ID
  • restrictions on drop boxes
  • ban on the mass mailing of absentee ballot request forms to those who did not ask for them,
  • mandatory citizenship checks

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said baseball’s decision to pull the All Star Game out of Atlanta that year, causing the loss of upwards of $70 million of revenue to Atlanta’s small and medium businesses, was the best way to demonstrate our values as a sport.

Ubiquitous Battery-Powered Vehicles

These need things; here’s a partial list of Critical Items and some problems associated with their acquisition.

With respect to batteries, the raw materials—lithium, nickel, manganese, cobalt, among others—are expensive to mine and destructive of the environment to mine. Both the metals themselves and the mining tailings are highly toxic and expensive to handle and to dispose of.

Refining those materials comes with its own problems:

[The People’s Republic of China] processes some 70% of the world’s lithium and cobalt, and 99% of the manganese, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers. [The PRC] also dominates the market for the parts that go into batteries, such as cathodes and anodes, as well as the production of batteries themselves.

Why Do the Workaround?

NVIDIA Corp is busily looking for ways to circumvent newly enacted rules barring export of computer chips and chip technology to the People’s Republic of China.

Nvidia Corp has begun offering an alternative to a high-end chip hit with US export restrictions to customers in China, after the new rules threatened to cost the American company hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue.
Nvidia said the new graphics-processing chip, branded the A800, meets US restrictions on chips that can be exported to China under new rules rolled out last month. The chip went into production in the third quarter, the company said.

Anti-Democratic

Progressive-Democratic President Joe Biden claims he’s worried about anti-democratic forces in play in today’s American politics.

We must vote knowing who we have been and what we’re at risk of becoming. We must vote knowing what’s at stake and not just the policy of the moment—but institutions that have held us together, as we’ve sought a more perfect union, are also at stake.

Here’s one of those democratic institutions that’s at risk even after the just-completed elections—from Biden and his National Labor Relations Board:

[The] National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced it would start the process rescind a 2020 rule implemented to protect workers’ right to vote on removing union representation.

DHS Responsiveness

House Republicans have put Department of Homeland Security management on notice to hold onto a variety of data; they’ll be investing the department if they win a majority of the House this Tuesday (and the out-days of vote “counting”).

House Oversight and Reform Committee Ranking Member Congressman James Comer (R, LA) has warned Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas that Republicans would seek to hold him and his agency accountable for the ongoing crisis at the southern border should they win in next week’s midterm elections.
“We cannot endure another year of the Biden Administration’s failed border policies,” Comer and his fellow committee Republicans wrote to Mayorkas, per the Washington Times. “We have written DHS fifteen times this Congress to conduct oversight over the border crisis. Again, we request documents and information to understand the Biden Administration’s plans, if any, to secure the border.”

The Ubiquitous Computer

It’s coming to our homes?

Imagine this scenario in the not-too-distant future. You’re awakened at 6:11 a.m. by the gentle sounds of tinkling bells and birdsong, even though you live in a 12th-floor apartment. Your alarm clock uses radar to track your breathing, and wakes you gently, with sound and light, when it detects you’re in a lighter phase of sleep.
Your transition to wakefulness triggers a cascade of changes in your apartment. Your window shades open automatically. In the kitchen, coffee starts brewing. As you pad into the bathroom to brush your teeth, a display projected onto the mirror above the sink shows your calendar for the day. It highlights what time you’ll have to leave to get to your office for the in-person meeting you scheduled for 8:30.
Returning to your bedroom, you find your stowaway robotic bed has retracted….

Some Contextual Questions

Sundar Pichai, CEO of Alphabet and of Alphabet’s wholly-owned subsidiary Google, in addressing anti-trust questions regarding Google’s ad-tech business, claimed that

Ad technology is a small part of what Google does, he said, and doesn’t make up a significant share of the company’s revenue, according to people familiar with the meeting [Pichai’s with Senator Mike Lee (R, UT)].

That begs a number of questions though. Questions being begged include these:

  • How much ad-tech revenue is there in the aggregate in the ad-tech market?
  • How many players are there in the ad-tech market?

A Couple Questions

Renault and Nissan are trying to reduce Renault’s participation in Nissan from its current 43% ownership to 15%—or at least Nissan is. The French government owns 15% of Renault. There are a number of impediments to the partial divestiture, including the divvying up of intellectual property that might have been developed jointly. One of the deals that would be made from the divestiture, though, involves Nissan investment in another arm of Renault (which raises the question in my peabrain about what Nissan would be getting, really, from Renault’s reduction in direct ownership of Nissan, but that’s for another time):

Another Reason to Move the Supply Chain

This time for the Republic of China’s Foxconn, which among other things, assembles iPhones in a People’s Republic of China factory in Zhengzhou.

In Foxconn’s main Zhengzhou facility, the world’s biggest assembly site for Apple Inc’s iPhones, hundreds of thousands of workers have been placed under a closed-loop system for almost two weeks. They are largely shut off from the outside world, allowed only to move between their dorms or homes and the production lines.

The mainland Chinese workers are causing their own problems for Foxconn, also.