Posted by on October 17, 2019 12:03 pm
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Categories: Weekly Update












Rare earths are just the beginning



It’s no mistake that past ages of human history were named after metals. The ability to produce and use minerals has not only been the foundation of each era’s technology, but has also shaped society and guided the advance of civilization.



During the Bronze Age, Mediterranean trade networks extended in search of copper and tin to make the crucial metal alloy for tools and weapons. This early globalization brought together the region’s great civilizations, the Egyptians and Hittites, in mostly peaceful commerce with relative newcomers in Mycenaean Greece and Minoan Crete. But it also set the stage for the collapse of the entire system, with marauders known as the Sea Peoples following the same maritime trade routes.



In the Iron Age, cultures equipped with the new, stronger metal quickly triumphed over their peers. The expansion of the Bantu peoples in sub-Saharan Africa literally transformed the face of the continent. Their mastery of ironworking allowed them to subjugate rival tribes with iron weapons and clear vast forests of tropical hardwoods with iron axes.



Fast forward to the present, and we find ourselves in another mineral age, the Silicon Age. But the truth is we’re only just starting to see the implications of a new technological revolution. Fierce global competition for Tech Metals–key to manufacturing smartphones, electric batteries and military weapons–will shape the path of human civilization for generations to come.



TES GeoPolicy Editor Dan McGroarty lays out the geopolitical stakes in a speech on the Age of Tech Metals delivered last week at a Critical Materials conference in Perth, Australia.


 — Erik Sass, TES Editor-in-Chief



Featured Opinions


Guess who’s at the bottom of the Property Rights Index

By the Property Rights Alliance

The Index ranks countries on how secure (or insecure) individuals and companies are in their ownership and use of physical, financial, and intellectual property, and it certainly makes for interesting reading. No coincidence, the countries at the bottom of the index are a regular rogues’ gallery of dysfunctional states, proving once again that property rights, freedom, and good government are all closely intertwined.



U.S.-Japan trade deal is all about propping up American farmers

By Sybrand Brekelmans and Uri Dadush, Bruegel Institute

The agreement’s direct impact on the huge US and Japanese economies is likely to be minuscule. Politically powerful US farmers for whom improved access in Japan’s markets matters will gain, and companies engaged in digital trade will be reassured, but nearly all other sectors of the Japanese and American economies will be only marginally affected.



California’s AB5 will kill gig economy

Kerry Jackson, Pacific Research Institute

California’s legislators in their wisdom passed AB5, which would force companies like Uber and Lyft to classify their drivers as full-time employees, rather than freelancers, entitling them to benefits and putting the companies on the hook for huge tax bills.  New regulation, higher costs, more taxes — that’s how you foster innovation and encourage economic growth, right?



South Africa’s mining industry in danger

By Eustace Davie, Libre Afrique

The South African Parliament needs to review the legislation and regulations governing the mining industry, which do not respect the Constitution and are responsible for the uncertainty that hangs over the South African mining industry. The goal is for the economy to regain its previous dynamism, for the economy to grow, for investment to flow, and for jobs to be created.



Carbon Taxes Will Never Be Enough

By Hayden Ludwig, Investigative Researcher, Capital Research Center

Carbon taxes drawn up by conservatives are often presented as pro-free market, revenue-neutral, or even taxpayer-friendly. But they are neither market-friendly nor effective, and liberal environmentalist activists know this – which is why they have discarded such “moderate” policies in favor of far more radical, all-encompassing plans.



Greater price transparency will reduce medical costs

By Brian Blase, Galen Institute

Price transparency is an obvious driver of effective market dynamics: the more buyers and sellers know about the actual cost factors underlying the prices of competing products and services, the better equipped they will be to compare their relative value, driving down prices in the long run.



Policy At Work…



By Andy Blom, TES Correspondent


Congress is consumed with an impeachment inquiry that looks increasingly like a kangaroo court, as Republicans aren’t allowed to call or question witnesses, and anyone who even dares to ask a parliamentary question is at risk of getting the mic shut off. Remember when Congress used to pass legislation and make policy? Meanwhile free-market thinkers are confronting issues and advancing ideas to move America forward…



  • Some Ugly Surprises in Surprise Medical Billing Legislation. Finding solutions to the consumer trauma of punishing “Surprise Medical Bills’ — bills from out of network physicians who have no fee agreement with insurers or the health plan enrollees they treat — is a growing national issue. Sixteen states have some type of protection, and nine have comprehensive protections for state-regulated insurance. But the devil can be in the details, and (mixing metaphors a bit) in Texas it seems the fox is in charge of the regulatory hen house. There, the regulatory and arbitration process is being handled not by the State Department of Insurance, but by Physicians and Physician organizations with a real dog in the hunt. The result? Surprise billing can still be a big surprise to the patient, in spite of regulatory legislation. Read more at



  • Which is the Bigger Threat — Anonymous Companies or More Regulation? Anonymous Companies can be used to launder money, avoid transparency, exploit programs meant for legitimate businesses and hurt honest competition. New legislation, The Corporate Transparency Act of 2019 (H.R. 2513) and (S.1978) would require U.S. companies to disclose their beneficial owner(s) to the Treasury Department when they incorporate and keep their ownership information up to date. But the Wall Street Journal says the legislation raises questions of (1) Whether anonymous companies would simply continue to break the law by not following the regs and; (2) whether this would just be a burdensome regulation on legitimate companies while exposing their owners’ personal information unnecessarily. Get more information at and



  • Understanding the Mess in Syria. James Jay Carafano, a National Security and Foreign Policy expert at the Heritage Foundation says we must look at Turkey, not President Trump, to fully understand the situation involving Syria, the Kurds and Turkey. Parsing past history and present realities, he makes the point that the U.S. must first protect its own interests. Read the thoughtful piece here.



  • Pelosi’s Drug Tax Plan is Making ATR, and Others, Sick. Americans for Tax Reform is leading the charge against Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s prescription drug pricing bill. A coalition letter to members of Congress signed by 70 organizations and activists says the plan would stifle innovation and distort supply by imposing price controls and a 95% medicine tax on the companies that develop and produce medicines. Read about it



  • It’s Showtime…with PLF’s Quota! Okay, this is really an upcoming event, but it’s a little bit different. The Pacific Legal Foundation invites you to a red carpet screening of “Quota” a fascinating tale of minority children being denied seats in their neighborhoods’ world class magnet schools because the places are reserved for suburban white students who don’t want them. To the rescue… the Pacific Legal Foundation! Food and drinks will be provided and the event is free. Wednesday, October 23, Reception 5:30 PM. Screening 6:30 PM. Landmark Atlantic Plumbing Cinema, 807 V St., N.W., Washington. Tickets at Eventbrite or RSVP.



Upcoming events: Fall is full of Galas, Exciting Educational Opportunities, Informative Discussion and Just Plain Fun… Don’t forget to RSVP!



  • BEHIND THE MASK, Antifa’s Plan to Undermine Liberal Democracy. Keynote by Andy NGO, Independent Journalist. Thursday, October 24, 12 PM – 1 PM. The Heritage Foundation’s Lehrman Auditorium, 214 Massachusetts Ave., NE. RSVP: org/events.



  • BIG DATA & BIG BROTHER, The Rise of the Surveillance State and the Death of Privacy? Panel Discussion. Friday, October 25, 12 PM – 1 PM. The Heritage Foundation’s Allison Auditorium, 214 Massachusetts Ave., NE. RSVP: org/events.



  • HONORING AMERICA’S VETERANS THROUGH IMPROVED CARE AND SERVICES. The Honorable Robert Wilkie, U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Friday, October 25, 2 PM – 3 PM. The Heritage Foundation’s Allison Auditorium, 214 Massachusetts Ave., NE. RSVP: org/events.



  • U.S. DEPT OF LABOR — THE RIGHT TALENT, RIGHT NOW: A Conversation About Mental Health in the Workplace. Wednesday, October 30, 1 PM – 2:30 PM. Great Hall, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave., NW. RSVP:



  • DAILY CALLER NEWS FOUNDATION Annual Gala. Courage Under Fire Award: The Honorable Lindsey Graham. October 30, The Mayflower Hotel, Washington. Cocktails 6 PM, Dinner 7 PM, Dancing 8:30 PM. Write to Haley for more info. 



  • LIBERTY FORUM & FREEDOM DINNER 2019 – November 6th-7th in New York City. The Atlas Foundation’s annual Liberty Forum brings together amazing freedom champions to exchange ideas, share strategies, and celebrate successes that create the conditions for liberty to thrive. The gala Freedom Dinner serves as a fitting grand finale to this conference, celebrating heroes of the freedom movement and the principles that Atlas Network’s partners are advancing worldwide. More information on attending is available here.



  • THE AMERICAN SPECTATOR 35th Annual Robert L. Bartley Gala. Featuring Kimberley Strassel, Grover Norquist, R. Emmett Terrell, Jr., et. al. Thursday, November 7, Trump International Hotel, 1100 Pennsylvania Ave., NW. Reception 6:30, Dinner 7 PM. RSVP by Oct. 21 here.



  • 8th INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE – THE AUSTRIAN SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS IN THE 21ST CENTURY. November 13th and 14th. One of the premier gatherings of the sharpest libertarian economists in the world. The Economic Standard will be covering the conference as an official media partner. The program will include the presentation of the 2019 Hayek Lifetime Achievement Award on November 14th. Learn more at



  • THE INAUGURAL CHARTER CITIES CONFERENCE – March 17th and 18th, 2020 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Ever wanted to build your own city? Well, here’s your chance. Participants will learn how to build the foundation for strong, economically vibrant charter cities from experts who are traveling from around the world to discuss projects both planned and in progress. This is your opportunity to get in on the ground floor of an exciting movement to build the future of governance for the cities of tomorrow. Visit the conference site for more. 


Andy Blom is a veteran political and public policy pro with decades of experience in Washington, D.C. circles.