104. CULTURE | The Cobalt Crisis - Transcripts
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Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, degens and degenets to another episode of the Alfalfa podcast. We are four radically moderate entrepreneurs and investors, swimming in the messy gray ocean, serving up alpha in money, politics, and life. We are Nick or Bonnie, Eric Johansson, Steven Cesaro, and I am Arman Asadi. All links at alfalfapod.com. Make sure to hit subscribe wherever you are listening or watching on YouTube and follow us on the socials. And most importantly, hop in our discord to join the community for the after party and more alfalfa. So Nick's reading about the Saudi Arabian intervention in Yemen. I was like, wow. No, it's a good place to start. Tell us, tell us about the atrocities in the world that we don't speak of, know of, and turn to
apply. I guess we're going to talk about a different one, but we were just mentioning that we're on year seven of a civil war in Yemen that no one talks about. I don't, I don't hear it.
First of all, once, what's Yemen? There's probably a lot of people listening
who literally said that. I know. I'm not making fun of you. That's a good point. Um, let me be a little sensitive to that. It's a country, I don't know. I think it's got about 30 million people. Is it next to Oman? It's next to Saudi Arabia. Um, what's also next to Oman? South Oman. Yeah.
Like west of Oman, south of Saudi Arabia, kind of like north of Somalia.
That is, let me be a little sensitive to that. What's also about Somalia.
I'm on Oman. Let's not be cute. We're not all the same. Okay. Country name.
Human name. Um, but anyway, there's, you know, 30 million people there, probably half of them facing some kind of like deep humanitarian issue, whether it's like sickness or actually getting murdered in the civil war. Um, you know, not enough food, um, straight up poverty because of this war. And it's, it's backed by, you know, two countries that don't involve Yemen. I mean, Saudi Arabia and Iran are basically battling out each other, um, in Yemen with the U S kind of providing, you know, I'm sure they're providing like intelligence to Saudi Arabia and weapons and, and whatnot. And no one talks about it. I know nothing about this. Right. It's amazing. It's going on for seven years. Wow. Um, it's crazy.
It's crazy. I don't know,
maybe a quarter of a million people died. It's crazy. It's crazy. Like Obama drone the fuck out of a lot of people in Yemen, right? That's right. He's the worst. Yeah.
That was his go-to move, right? Yeah. He was. Yeah. That was his go-to move. Right.
Yeah. He was the drone or yeah. He, he, he triggered finger on the drone.
Yeah. A lot less than Trump actually. Fun facts. So that's sad. Um, and it's a brutal situation that's been going on for quite some time. I mean, I was saying right before we started recording, like one of my favorite things, I don't watch the news at all ever, but when I travel and I go to another country, you get in the hotel room, turn on the TV, it always defaults to BBC world and BBC world is this like very unbiased, at least it's traditionally been unbiased centrist. Here's the news, take it. That's all I have to say about it. And they have these like very wonderful, like sort of speaking reporters who just tell you exactly what you need to know in as few words as possible. There's no extra emotion. There's no sort of trying to, to manipulate the mind in any shape or form whatsoever. Cause most of the time they're also speaking about events in other countries.
So it's like some English reporter or Indian reporter or Tibetan, you know, covering a situation in Tibet or whatever it might be, or some Ukrainian in another country. And they're just giving it to you. They're like the things that you never knew happened. Like this, this morning, there
was, and it's a brutal situation, train crash in India. I've received replacements, uh,
the surgery. Um, we'll report back and the news shortly. And it's like, that's it. And then 30 minutes later it circles back. It's like, here's the latest update, you know, and that's it. There's just nothing else. And even when they talk about something really politically charged, like the type of stuff that goes on in America, there's just no emotion behind it. Now again, I know some people out there would be like, Oh no, BBC is not what it used to be. That's totally true. Nothing is what it used to be. But that BBC world that you get outside the U S is something completely different. And when Eric said, when you said, I know nothing about this, I'm like, yeah, welcome to America.
No one knows where the fuck Yemen is. No one knows what's going on there.
I mean, that's just like, I don't blame anyone. I avoid, uh, avoid, uh, American news like the
plague. It's awful. I just found another source, another tragedy. No, no, just the number is actually close to half a million people dead in this. This was an article that says a 30 days old.
So it's actually more than I originally thought. Yeah. It's like 2% of the population. Yeah. Oh my
God. Imagine that. Anyway, terrible. Anyway. Well, let's talk about something else that's terrible.
Yeah. Um, so Steve, by the way, yeah. Um, so Steve, by the way, audience, like this is going
to be a real happy episode today. So did we think about that before? First of all,
Steven plan this episode. So take it up with Steven. I didn't think it was going to be an
app. Even in the discord for any complaints. Yeah. Uh, but you, you came across something recently. Um, that's that's yes. It's obviously a little bit like, wow. And not the most positive
thing, but it's important. Why is it important? And what'd you uncover? Yeah. Uh, no, but yeah. So I was listening to a Joe Rogan last week as I sometimes do not when he's talking to MMA fighters. Cause I just don't care. Uh, or most comedians don't care, but like some of his other guests are really good. And this guy came on, what was his name? Siddharth Cara. Um,
and his, uh, six people, you were the sixth person that told me to listen to that episode.
That never happened. I guess it went like super viral. And I understand why. Cause I was listening to it like, Oh my God. Like, um, for, for people who haven't listened to this yet, like please go listen to it. Um, he also has a book coming out end of January, I think, right? Called cobalt red. Um, and it's, it's about like his journey to Africa, uh, to the Congo specifically where they are mining, uh, cobalt. And for people who don't know, cobalt is like a critical, uh, element used in, in, in battery production. I guess it, Nick, you probably know more about this than I do, but I guess it makes the batteries like longer and like blow up and catch fire less,
which are both good properties of batteries I hear. Right. Right. But it's in any rechargeable battery. So every phone, every laptop, I mean, and in, especially in electric vehicles, it sounds
like, I mean, obviously every phone, I mean, obviously every electronically powered battery
powered device, iPads. Yeah. I mean, we're all kind of complicit in what we're going to talk about. And, um, the fact that it's in everything is also part of the problem. Yeah.
Yes. I mean, so this guy went like basically undercover effectively in the Congo, which is a dangerous place to these mines because they're literally guarded by dudes with like automatic rifles and machetes and stuff who just don't really care about killing you apparently. Um, and he, he went to all these mines where cobalt was being mined, um, were, were like allegedly this element was being dug up from the ground, you know, using like machinery, uh, and that sort of thing. And like he, he showed a video on, on Joe Rogan of one of the minds and it was just like a pit full of tens of thousands of people. Um, like many of them, like basically kids, like young
teenagers, um, just digging by hand for this, this, this, uh, cobalt and literally like the
scene of a scary movie. Yeah. So roughly for like, so roughly for like a dollar a day too, is what they, yeah. And like this, this stuff is like highly toxic too. So they're, they're just sitting, they're just in this mass pit, like tens of thousands of people, uh, no personal protective equipment, just inhaling toxic dust, uh, laboring and getting paid like a dollar a day, um, to, to do this stuff with like horrid work conditions. Um, but it's just, it's just like the whole pod like kept getting like worse. And I was like, surely it can't be worse than this. Surely it can't be worse than this. And like the part that really got me was we just talked about everybody. That they're just going into these like tunnels to dig. And they're just like held up by like sticks and he's just like every day, basically like one of these things collapses or multiple of these things collapse. And like dozens of people die and you just like, he's just like tens of thousands of people have just died like, um, mining a cobalt and slavery.
Yeah. The thing he said that like really got me was like, he was like, this is the worst, like tragedy in human history basically, like he's basically like this is worse than slavery.
Well his background is studying, roughly for like a dollar a day too. It's happening. His background is studying human slavery, right?
Yeah, he's going around the world studying human trafficking and just like all of the worst elements of society. And he's like, this broke him. And he was talking to Rogan, and he's very but I was pretty passionate about it. And it was just horrible. And it just hit me. Everything that we have that we use, people, skin the kids died making all of our stuff. And nobody talks about it. Nobody's ever talked about it. That I know of until I heard this.
Do you guys think that's because of a lack of awareness people like Siddharth that have exposed this information, or do you think that there's enough of that information and it's falling on deaf ears and humans just choose to ignore this stuff at times until it becomes like, oh my God, it's in the media and the news and everyone's listening to it
and you're a bad person if you don't do something about it. I think it comes down to what are you gonna do after we talk about this conversation? And 20 minutes after we finish this conversation, we're all gonna probably agree how fucking terrible this is, but are you gonna throw away your laptop or are you gonna throw away your iPhone?
I don't know. No, maybe not for me immediately tomorrow, but at least first it's level awareness. I would argue awareness, right? And then that awareness changes everything and it's like, okay, people, like children today care so much more about how their products and services are made than we ever did. And every generation seems to care more than the previous one about that. So things are changing. And I think there's so many things to be cynical about, but that's like a very positive thing I see is like as we move toward things that are more sustainable, things that come from sources that are actually deemed like they're not coming from the hands of a child slave, and there are different foundations and groups that will help us identify products and services, even food as well, right? Like some of the big documentaries last year, what was the one about seafood that went absolutely nuts and viral? Forget the name right now, but it was all about tuna. Things like that and understanding like, then you get into a whole political situation about the biases and ulterior motives of the organizations that actually rate these things and try to filter for us, which is just a whole nother fucking clusterfuck. But the point is, I think it starts there. And I think personally, there's definitely a lack of awareness, but I would also guess that there are plenty of people like Siddharth that have been screaming for a long time, trying to get attention.
And everyone's just like, sorry, Joe, like no time for that right now.
I would argue awareness, right? I think people are trying to keep it under wraps. And the reason is because the incentives are designed to keep it under wraps. Like A, the companies that produce all these electronic products want profitability, right? They're driving towards that. If they can get cheaper labor, of course they're gonna go for that. And consumers wanna pay low prices for their electronics. So of course we don't want to necessarily like ruffle the feathers and think about, okay, so where we're on the supply chains is stuff coming from and what are they getting paid? We're just happy to pay less for our iPhones
and our devices. And if that information is suppressed from us, the consumer, and there's no pressure on the manufacturer and the Apples, and Googles of the world, then nothing's gonna change. So these things always come down to the information and it getting to people and the citizens and the awareness. The moment that the decentralization of information happens and not just the decentralization, but the proliferation of it happens and it reaches people, that's when change happens. That's what, I mean, we talked about Iran. Like, look at that. That never would have happened previously. It's been 45 years of like trying to make something happen. It couldn't happen, now it can, because people are becoming aware. That's what it takes though.
I think that's how you create these different changes. Well, what's interesting is that, you know, basically, electric vehicle batteries are the largest rechargeable batteries that we have. And I think EVs are expected to 10x the amount of units actually pushed out in the market in the next 10, 20 years. So, I mean, you're gonna go from, I don't know how many there are, five fish million EVs out there to 15 plus million. So the amount of demand for this is gonna skyrocket. Like, it's already bad right now, but imagine when electric vehicles, you know, increase in usage. And I think maybe you're right. I didn't really consider that the awareness of it and obviously, like, I know a little bit about the battery industry. And there are some nascent technologies that, like, lithium, nickel, and cobalt are the three ones that are tough to find and kind of controlled, the supply chains are controlled by other countries. And the idea is that maybe one of these technologies, like a sodium-based technology that doesn't necessarily require those rare earth minerals could take off, but these are still so early. I mean, I think they're really far away from ever powering your iPhone. And maybe they're never gonna be perfect for something like that, but maybe your Tesla home battery or your, you know, EV
or something like that. I feel like we could explore the actual atrocity a little more before moving to solutions as well. But speaking of solutions, like, what was mentioned in the pod, or I don't know if you guys listened to it too, I have it. Like, what was mentioned by Siddharth is like, okay, this is happening, like, it's the worst slavery we've ever seen, the worst human atrocity we've ever seen. Then what do we do?
So the solution has to come from like the manufacturers. Like, those guys need to pay livable wages and we need to demand it. Like, as consumers, we need to become aware that this thing exists. And then we need to say like, hey, Elon and everybody, like, it's not just Elon who's the enemy, you know? Apple, Samsung. Siddharth calls it, it's everyone. And we, as consumers, need to basically demand these people get treated like people.
Like we can't, we got into such a bad situation that like we can't do anything about it, right? Like we, what are we gonna do not buy electronics tomorrow or are we gonna buy like grass-fed electronics? It doesn't exist. Like, what is it? Like 75% of all of the cobalt in the world comes from this one region of Congo and 15 of the 19 mines are controlled by China. So this is part of like a larger problem that we've let like get away from this. Brought to you by the Belt and Road Initiative. Yeah, but this like fits into so much of the other stuff like we talk about. Like in the US, we've over the years, we've stopped building things. We've turned into this like hyper-financialized economy and we're like, oh, we're like environmentally savvy people. We don't do these things because they're bad. We don't do the dirty things here because they're bad for the environment.
Like we don't mine these things here. We don't like build these things here
cause it's bad for the environment. Brought to you by the Belt and Road Initiative.
Yeah, but like they just, it just goes somewhere else. Like we're all on the same planet. Like so for decades, like China was happy to kind of just run around and just scoop up all of like the raw materials. Like we're out here basically like printing dollars and just like funding like a big military, I guess, and just like sitting behind our two oceans, but China's been like running around like getting all of the raw stuff that goes into building all of the things we need and not just like the green stuff, like solar panels and all of the battery like, we've even talked about the problems like in China and like he alluded to this like you think like, within China's own borders, there's not like basically like human slavery like we talk about the Uyghurs, like that stuff is definitely going on. It's definitely happening in Apple products from what I've seen. It's one of the reasons I think Apple is trying to hightail it out of there as quickly as possible because I think they feel like the public backlash coming against what they've done. But this is the essence of some of our good, well-intentioned policies go awry. You mentioned the largest thing in the world that's soaking up cobalt right now is the batteries in electric cars. And why are we building all these electric cars? Well, it's like allegedly to save the environment, right? But it's just like a very, like people don't, like Doomburg, for people who don't read Doomburg, he's a green chicken like anon on the internet, and he writes about energy a lot. And like he's written a lot about how electric, moving to all electric vehicles right now is incredibly stupid if you look at just like the total sort of like reduction in environmental impact that you get.
Like he did an analysis that people should read on like hybrids versus like full electric vehicles. And hybrids, like they have like just orders of magnitude greater impact, net impact positive on the environment than these electric vehicles right now for a variety of reasons, right? But one of them is that like you are, you're making the battery so much bigger than you need to. And like the benefit you're getting like isn't that much more because like the energy still largely comes from a grid that isn't full renewables. We have, as you said, like we now have to get all of these like rare earth minerals and cobalt, lithium, where? Like the kind of quotas they want us to meet over the next like decade or two are ridiculous. And like who controls all this stuff? China, does China care about human rights or the environment? No, and that's the other thing like we didn't touch upon. Like he was talking about like the environmental impact there, it's almost feel secondary like next to the human tragedy. But like they're just annihilating like the entire country. It's like turning into like a wasteland from the mining.
It's just so bad on so many levels. I had a deeper question. How come some of these nations with all the resources like Venezuela, the Congo, they end up just getting absolutely pilfered. Is it like I thought about it myself and I thought is this just like a human coordination problem? Like those who had the resources right at their doorstep, they couldn't coordinate well enough to be able to negotiate good wages and sell this for themselves. So then a better form of human coordination came in
and basically exploited it. I don't know if it's down to human coordination. It reminds me of the economic hit man. It's a great book by the way for those people who haven't read it. I mean, I think that these societies are inward facing. They had the resources, they kept them for themselves. They nationalize them to a certain degree, right? Sometimes they did trade with other countries. Once other countries became aware of the power of those resources, they come in and go, whoa, whoa, wait a second. What do you got over here?
It's literally like an old cartoon. Literally like a movie. They just haven't developed enough to know
the value of their cobalt and then are willing to sell it. Maybe they haven't developed the value, but it's not about that. Maybe they recognize the value. They do recognize the value. They do initiate trade, especially with their border countries, but then a country like the United States comes up and I'm sorry to say but we're a big villain. I'm sorry, the reality is that we go into countries and we put countries into debt, and that's what the economic hit man is about. It's like, hey, we'll help you out. Let's figure out some opportunities to have some trade and we create terms for them that are impossible to meet. We put them into debt, we essentially enslave not the people but the entire economy, and then we take that economy and we go, in return for this debt, we'll help you get out of it, But like you owe us forever, and the way you owe us is with paying us, giving us your natural resources for pennies on the dollar. We're the worst of the worst. It's not just the United States as well, by the way, but it's Western countries that do this to Britain.
Spent a few centuries, a few centuries doing this, a few centuries. Funny you mentioned that what you described is essentially what's going on in Congo. So, you know, you talked about economic imperialism from the U.S., China has this initiative called the Belt and Road Initiative. And just in January 2021, China canceled all of their loans to Congo. They said they're no longer loans. And Congo joined the Belt and Road Initiative. And I think that's essentially what you're saying. They were in debt, canceled the debt. You're now part of this. We developed the country to produce goods to export. And I think it's not only just the idea of getting money to develop the country. I think as a leader of these countries, China literally hands them an authoritarian playbook.
It's like, hey, do you need a 5G network? Cool. We'll give you that.
But also we can give you all the monitoring capabilities that an authoritarian would love. It's so funny. We pick and choose our dictators. Why do we have what? Same thing with oil, right? Like, why do we have a good relationship with Saudi Arabia? Why do we have a bad why did we have a bad relationship with Iraq?
Why do we have a bad relationship with Iran? It's just like, you know, we had a good relationship before the oil or Congo. Like we pivoted to oil like we were in the Congo. And like, this is in. The first time this has happened to the Congo. This isn't the first time it's even happened to them because of the automobile. like they were pilfered in the early part of the century by King Leopold of Belgium, I think. I think that's what Heart of Darkness was about, was his travels to see what, it's basically this book, but like 100 some odd years earlier.
It's economic imperialism, man. So I think it's the coordination part, like the wrong economic model for the country, like authoritarian democracy, open market,
that has to be the coordination problem at the root of it, because if you can organize your citizens to not be authoritarian and fuck over the other citizens, then you wouldn't have this issue. They have to ultimately take the deal with China.
Coordination and corruption, probably. Yeah, it's coordination and economics, I guess, right? Because you could be like a well-coordinated, poor country and just say no, right? With a good government that's responsive to the citizens, but like the poorer the country is, the greater they're willing to maybe sell out, and then the worse the government is, the more authoritarian it is, the more one person can kind of benefit and sell all of his people down the river,
the more likely that is to happen.
Yeah, coordination and avatar is pretty good, for the, what are they called? The nonny people. Just like harmony with the environment. Hold on, no spoilers, we haven't seen that. No, no, no, even avatar one. What are they there for in the first place, right? This is like a non-capitalist speech. A tale as old as time. They don't give a fuck, like when they come in, the villain doesn't care. They're like, oh, you want to do a deal? Oh, you don't want to do a deal. Okay, now your terms are worse.
Now we're gonna take it. Now we're gonna take it. Yeah, this is, I don't like placing the blame on the nation because it's just, I've never seen that to be correct. I think that the nation is the victim, for sure, in this regard. Now, could they have set themselves up some of these nations in a way where they at least get a better version
of the deal, absolutely, like there's many versions of that.
Were they called? It's like harmony with the environment. Hold on, no spoilers, we haven't seen that.
No, no, no, even avatar one. This is like a non-capitalist speech. A tale as old as time. I mean, I think we wooed the old kind of leader of the Congo back in the day by like sending him like a military plane that was full of like Coca-Cola stacked to the brim of Coca-Cola because he like really liked Coca-Cola and we're like, yeah, let's just take control of this country by sending this one guy a plane full of Coke and the drinkable kind.
I think sometimes we don't look at things, life in the world feels so complex, but I don't think this is any different than like a bully in the playground. It's all the same and these adults that run the world and make these decisions are actually, they're children in so many ways. They never really grew up and the thing that they love most is power and the game that they're playing is the schoolyard game. It's just bigger toys, better weapons,
better baits, better baits. Can I push back on this a little bit though? Because the bully in the schoolyard analogy feels like, oh, there's like some dictator like invading another country. This to me feels more like a failure of like capitalism. It's just like the markets themselves and all the forces of them are just like incentivized to basically like exploit edges for profit. Like within our own borders, like as we've sort of like evolved as a society, we sort of realized that unchecked capitalism does pretty nasty things. It cares about profit. It doesn't care about people, right? And it's kind of like the early industrial revolution.
It doesn't, doesn't, doesn't, unchecked capitalism essentially just expose human nature
when it's totally a free for all. Yes, but like the bully analogy to me feels more like it's like kind of Putin going in there.
Well, the bully thing is very specific, but really what we're saying is like it's the behavior that's very simple and expected is what I'm driving at. It's human behavior.
It is and like this is like why I think even at the world level, like as much as like, you know, some people don't want to say we should do this, like there is like a need for collective action because even if one nation is like, we're not going to do this, it's sort of wrong. It just makes the incentive for like one of the other nations to defect and go exploit the rest of the world, like even greater. And then unless all the other nations come together and say like, hey, don't do that. You can't trade with those candidates. Like it's always going to be like extremely profitable for somebody to to defect and to do that. It's like a really difficult problem. I mean, this whole, this whole episode, like really like made me like rethink like a lot capitalism like how like how does this even happen like he said it in the episode he's like what kind of a system like produces these goods like off the back of like dead kids and like nobody even notices it for decades it's it's
kind of wild to think about so yeah I mean in the same line like when the US fails to kind of I guess get the resources that it's going to need in the future like let's say cobalt as an example like it didn't an established relationship with Congo and keep it before China had a chance to get into into it does that mean it was a failure of capitalism like the fact that you know we don't centrally plan our economy so there wasn't someone in the State Department being like okay this is the path of our economy so we need to make sure that on like a diplomatic you know nation-state level we have these relationships like do you think that part is also a part of its failure of
its well was that a failure of like government leadership oh no a part of
its failure of capitalism it's sort of a failure of capitalism in that the reason that there is this incentive to go in and exploit people and maximize profit is because like it's a system that just optimizes for profit and like the Chinese are sort of notorious for like taking that to like an extreme right, given their treatment of people within their own borders and like, they're, they're, they're just like a collective machine or they just don't really appreciate the individual like we do. But it is absolutely a failure of capitalism that like Tesla, Apple, every like large electronic, like Apple could probably stop this problem overnight if they really wanted to, but it would be, it'd be really bad for their share price. It would disrupt their entire supply chain. Same with Tesla. And the reason that this doesn't like, I find it very hard to believe that nobody in these companies knows what's actually going on on the ground there and they're like, they eat like in their in their quarterly statements. They talk about how their whole supply chain is like cruelty free or whatever. It's a stupid word. They used for it.
So do that point on profitability, corporate profitability. I've, I've been thinking about that and I, I've been struggling with the idea of like where you draw the line of like, what is like fair labor practice? Right? Cause you would have to pay more, but maybe not that much more. or if they're making a dollar a day, you can like make them feel a lot better with $5 a day and that doesn't affect your bottom line if you spread that out amongst so many electronics companies like that's actually not that big of an expense.
Well, ultimately you consume eight hours. Well, ultimately you consume eight hours. You know, how about that? Like just some basic, like let them sleep at night.
Yeah, but I think the cost doesn't come from the marginal labor costs. It comes from the restriction and supply, right? Like that is what makes it more expensive, right? The fact that you- You would extract less cobalt. You would extract less cobalt. Yeah, you would pay. What if you just paid him more? You'd pay them more but still work.
Yeah, but they'll already work too many hours. You wouldn't just pay them more.
But they'll already work too many hours. Yeah. Well, the other reason this is like a failure of capitalism is because like the system we live in has sort of morphed or maybe it was always this way but it's just morphed into this beast that needs to get fed over and over again. Our entire financial system is based on perpetual growth, right, and what is perpetual growth based upon? Well, it's based upon perpetual consumption, and it's crazy how much of this we've just, has just transpired within our own lifetime. I remember being a kid and you just got a thing and you played with it for forever and it was cool, and even farther back, you got some shiny red metal fire truck made out of steel in Pittsburgh, and I think it was last year, you handed it down to your grandkids and it just lasted forever, and now we get a new supercomputer iPhone every single year, and it doesn't even do anything different than the previous one. It's just like, and we're just like, accepted it as the norm, and this perpetual growth thing is like, we need more stuff.
I hope they're recycling the cobalt in all of our devices.
I don't think they are. Battery recycling is a... I think it's not a very efficient process.
Like I don't know what I do. Like I don't know what I do with my old TVs. I don't even know what I do with them. What do you even do with them? There's no place to take them.
There's no process that everyone knows.
What do you even do with them that everyone knows. It's hard. You have to look it up. Yeah.
There is a process. What are we gonna do? Yeah. There is a process. What are we gonna do with the EVs where the batteries just, they're too old, and you need to recycle your entire car.
We don't think about that. We just want to think about how good it makes us feel to like promote electric vehicles, to own an electric vehicle, to post-buy your, we have no concerns about what it does to the grid. I like what it actually costs to produce these things. The money we're putting here versus alternatives. Like nobody we don't think about.
I mean, I mean, I do like.
I still think I just think the EV thing is still a good idea. It's just that the road to get there is hard. Just like crypto. I see the same argument happening in crypto as I do with the EV movement. Like yes, we want the energy to be sourced from sustainable energy in general. Yes. We know that there's like 10 factors that exist within Doomburg's analysis, but like at the end of the day, we want cars that run off electricity, like electric, we want electric vehicles. Yes. We want them to have higher sort of like a range in general to not need energy as often. And as battery, battery technology improves, as we need less energy in the end net, net,
this is like a good move for humanity, but why, why this is a good move for humanity is like, you, you sort of said, and I know this isn't what you meant, but you said, what people do. You're like, we want more electric vehicle. Why do you want more electric vehicles? You want more electric vehicles because you're optimizing for some combination of the wellbeing of humanity and the wellbeing of earth. And like if your intentions are good it almost doesn't matter. Like if you do something with good intentions but it actually produces like worse outputs
for the things you're actually optimizing for down the train. imaginary maybe temporarily in the beginning.
Thats its crypto analogy. That's it's crypto analogy. That's the crypto analogy because in the immediate term in crypto people are getting fucking scammed. There's money being lost left and right from retail.
Or the energy of proof of work, All of the complaint and proof of stake, and the complaints against that.
It's like ruining people's loves. It's like ruining people's loves. Crypto's the opposite of this though because crypto is ruining things on the opposite end of the spectrum because it's completely like Wild West, free market. Whereas like this is ruining things because it's like sort of like central planning gone like badly awry. And I would argue that this isn't necessarily making the future any better just because it's worse today. we could still get to the same future we want by just like pushing the use of hybrids more today and incrementally going here as the battery tech gets better
as we know how to like optimize the supply chain. There's always a more optimized efficient way today but the compass is pointed in the right direction
is what I'm trying to say. To your point, the California electric vehicle mandate that takes place in 2035 where all new light trucks, passenger cars will have to be EV, only 20% of them can be plug-in hybrids. It's funny, why would they limit? Why? Yeah, why? I mean, I don't like the mandate in the first place
but like they limit, I mean, I don't like the mandate
in the first place but like the amount of hybrids. I mean, we talked briefly about, you know, capitalism maybe being the cause, a cause of this but I certainly like it as the best path towards a solution because if you look at it, there is opportunity for a set of entrepreneurs to create battery technology that doesn't necessarily need cobalt.
Well, the greed that the problem is that this corruption is occurring in countries outside of our own. That's where people get away with it. That's where capitalism gets away with it. That's where we can exploit people and go to some other country. We don't have to play by our own rules anymore and we're so removed from the supply chain that we're like, eh, we're good. Like our corporate report says we're good. Like go check it out for yourself. Like, and then you gotta spend $100 million a year just to like create some department that says everything we do is sustainable. It's all bullshit.
It's all politics. And both of the things you said are why we need like an effective government. Like we need an effective government to like know that it's a good foreign policy to not give all of the rare earth minerals to China, which seems like not that difficult to do. But like, this is like the, this is a problem I had like when we, you know, we were doing our culture episode. Like the reason, the real reason I hate the culture stuff is because we have like a finite amount of attention capacity, right? Like the reason like controlling the algorithm on TikTok is so powerful is because you get to focus all of the stuff that happens like basically in the universe on somebody's screen, like one thing at a time. And the more you put all the focus on like stuff that I would say is like largely nonsense relative to what's happening in the Congo right now, the less people have like the ability to kind of take in and focus on these other things. And then the solutions of like all the, like all the power of government right now is just, it's just being pulled at like these very like ineffective areas. Like it feels like we're like about to like fight some very critical war over the next couple of decades. And like, we just have our heads like completely
up our asses.
And those are the things I've said or what is that general Madison, I think when he's in charge of the defense department, he had a famous quote that says, like, if you cut the funding of the state department, the department that would like work on this, I'm going to need to buy more bullets. I'm going to need to buy more ammunition if you don't do this. So yeah, to your point, I mean, you could be hurtling yourselves to war unnecessarily over these,
you know, rare minerals. But until now that we mostly did kind of like a griping episode, not a lot of problem solve. Maybe we, I don't know. I think it'd interesting to dive into some of this stuff and figure out like a. Well, I mean, we teased, we teased it
at some point at some point. Well, yeah, I mean, we teased we. We said, like, okay. Well, I felt like Nick, maybe, you know, your initial question was like the kind of like maybe normal cynical take that a person might have after hearing something like this is like, all right, well, what am I going to do? Am I going to give my iPhone away tomorrow? Is that really going to change every anything? But then to your guys's point, okay, you have a certain level of awareness. And Siddharth said, apparently, you know, you, you go and you push the
corporations to enact change. I mean, even like, uh, for, you know, Steven's tuna, he was eating before this episode, it's like, now we're eating like line caught tuna because it's more sustainable for the oceans and stuff. Like once it becomes part of the awareness, then you, you do change your behavior.
Yeah, we need a, uh, uh, well, I guess there is no kind of like good type of cobalt because it all comes from bad sources comes from, but if you have legitimately good sources, like let's say the 3% that comes from Australia, that Siddharth mentioned, if you came up with a nice little logo icon that goes on every box, you know, that's how people recognize stuff like that.
They just see it on the box and kind of make a person. I think we're sitting on an opportunity to actually help these people. Like you can just, if you could imagine like the worst situation, you'd imagine like, what's currently going on, but imagine being able to go to a nation and actually, uh, support. Like the economy, like back to your point, Nick, the problem was a supply problem. But if you were paying better wages, you could attract more people to come and take those jobs and you could actually increase your supply. You'd increase your costs net net, like overall down the supply chain to the manufacturer. But hey, if consumers want people to not die extracting cobalt for us, would we be willing to pay for that? I think the answer is yes overall. Well, what's the cost of that? More dollars probably to us. Okay. And what's the benefit to society in the Congo?
They can work eight hours a day and sleep eight hours a day. And maybe this actually becomes like a an opportunity for a lot of people to get a decent paying job. And then we actually bring money into the economy instead of like a dollar a day under the table. Like there's opportunity here to create a world in a system that we want to see. And oftentimes I think that it's so I just get more cynical myself, even though I'm so optimistic at the opportunities, it's like we can do something. We can create these even in a even in a capitalist system, we can make it what we want it to be because I think we forget the individual, the consumer is the most powerful part of the equation in a capitalist system. It is the most powerful part of the equation in politics as well in policy. It's like we're not victims. And I think oftentimes we behave like we are. The systems too
big. It's too strong. We can't change it. But we can we absolutely can. Yeah. Rant over. We're not victims. I think we're all just like addicted to cheap crap, accessible crap. We've we've just gotten so used to that for decades. We I'll live like I'm like, there's no way around this. I feel like other than like we all have to just go through like some collective pain for a while to like reset that system. Like what, what else are we going to do?
Like ultimately anything we want done is going to like kind of increase the price of goods. Like the reason a lot of stuff is cheap is because a lot of people get, you know, some might say, and this is true to an extent, like people have been brought out of poverty by, you know, globalization. Like it's not like all bad, but also like a lot of people did get exploited like these people in the Congo. And I don't know, I would like to have an episode at some point kind of talk about more of the capitalism side of this because I, I think it's a super interesting discussion, but like, I think for now, like we're doing what we can. I think we, we wanted to do this episode because we were like, Oh my God, this is a big deal. We need people to see this creating awareness ourselves. Yeah. And like, if you're listening to this and you haven't seen this episode, go, go, go watch it, go listen to it, tell a friend about it. Like it's already spreading like wildfire and this change is only going to come from the top down when the people on the bottom like just kind of rise up and become loud enough. And I think that's all there is to it here.
We're gonna see this creating awareness. The acronym for the sustainable investing. Environmental ESG. Where the hell are the ESG advocates on this? God, don't get me started.
Yes, you were the advocates on this. God, don't get me started. It's gonna be three hours. All right. Good job ESG. Yeah, good job.
It's gonna be three hours. All right. Good job ESG. Yeah, good job. Elon's friends. All right. Let's wrap. Well done. See you guys in the next episode. Bye. Peace.