Moreover, the CHIPS Act ignores the rest of the labyrinthine semiconductor supply chain. Silicon chips, once fabricated, must be put into packages, an industry the U.S. no longer has onshore. Similarly, an array of chemicals and components are critical inputs for chip fabs, and most are not found in America. For example, with over 60 percent of global supply, China dominates the mining of fluorspar, which is used to produce critical chemicals for chip fabs. Two Ukrainian companies produce over half of the worlds semiconductor-grade neon, another critical input for fabs. U.S. production of such materials has declined in recent decades because America’s policies have been hostile to chemical refining and mining industries. The CHIPS Act does nothing to ameliorate that.
The regulatory state, not any lack of subsidies, is the principal reason that it’s so hard to build big, industrial, supply-chain-critical projects of any kind in the U.S. In the 1970s, filing an environmental-impact statement took only a few years. Now it takes over eight years, on average. It took five years to get a permit merely to expand the Bayonne Bridge in New York. Completing the environmental review process to dredge the supply-chain critical Port of Savannah took 14 years.
Building a business, especially an innovative business in a complex environment, requires many, many decisions. You can be lucky with any one decision, but to get enough decisions right to make the business work takes much more than luck.
However, few of these proposals do anything to address the underlying driver of high child-care costs — namely the dwindling supply of care providers. Instead of throwing money that we just don’t have at the problem, policy-makers would do better to remove the regulatory hurdles that are keeping prices high and potential care workers jobless.
For example, child-care costs are significantly higher in cities and states that mandate low child-to-staff ratios — the maximum number of children one staffer can supervise. A 2015 Mercatus Center study found that raising the ratio by one reduces costs by up to 20 percent.
Licensing burdens also play a big role in limiting the supply of child care and driving up costs. An analysis by the Institute for Justice found that 44 states require a license to start a child-care business, and 24 states require staff to hold a high-school diploma. Some states charge up to $300 in licensing fees, and it can take a year or longer to get a license. Parents don’t need a government mandate to tell them they need to be able to trust the people caring for their kids while they’re away. Those who are willing and able can pay a premium to send their children to a center where staff have college degrees. But what about people who need a more affordable option? They ought to be able to hire a nanny or an experienced care provider, regardless of whether that person has finished high school. Mandates and requirements limit these options, shut out workers, and increase prices.
If you had any doubts that those in power have dropped the pretense of fighting for the working class, you can dispense with them after the Biden administration’s latest concessions to the laptop class. From student loan forgiveness to subsidies for people who drive pricey electric cars and profitable semiconductor company CEOs, this administration is working hard to shower its friends with handouts paid for by hardworking lower-wage Americans.
We learned of the most outrageous handout of them all, of course, when Biden announced that he will — unilaterally, mind you, and for no apparent reason that I can see — extend the pause on student loan payments until the end of the year and forgive up to $10,000 for those persons making less than $125,000 a year. This generosity with other people’s money extends up to $20,000 for Pell Grant recipients.
As David Stockman, a former director of the Congressional Office of Management and Budget, reported recently, “Only 37% of Americans have a 4-year college degree, only 13% have graduate degrees and just 3% have a PhD or similar professional degree. Yet a full 56% of student loan debt is held by people who went to grad school and 20% is owed by the tiny 3% sliver with PhDs.”
Take Anthony Fauci, for instance, who recently announced he’s stepping down as chief medical adviser to Joe Biden. Even though he once claimed to ‘represent science’ in the eyes of the American people, he misled them about the likely duration of the lockdowns (‘15 days to slow the spread’), overstated the efficacy of the Covid vaccines when they were first rolled out, refused to countenance the possibility that Covid-19 leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (it later emerged that the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, under his leadership, had given a grant to the EcoHealth Alliance, which helped fund ‘gain of function’ research at the Chinese lab) and conspired with other prominent scientists, such as Francis Collins, to besmirch the authors of the Great Barrington Declaration (‘There needs to be a quick and devastating published takedown of its premises,’ Collins told Fauci in an email). A recent editorial in the Wall Street Journal concluded: ‘His legacy will be that millions of Americans will never trust government health experts in the same way again.’
American children, especially poor and minority kids who suffered the worst learning losses, will be paying for the harms of pandemic school closures for the rest of their lives. Every state should have followed Sweden’s example and kept schools open.