General Mike Flynn helps the viewers of Non-Beta Alpha dissect the current relationship between the United States and China while shedding light on key factors influencing the 2020 election. Flynn stresses the importance of the United States’ preparation for unknown events in areas such as our nation’s military, the economy, and areas of political concern. He expresses concern for the growing spread of misinformation in and around the United States as a result of China’s heavy surveillance of social media and its dis-information campaign aimed at both U.S. as well as Chinese citizens and the growing level of sophistication which China has attained in the realm of informational warfare.
Flynn is pleased with how American’s have responded thus far; however, he is not optimistic that morale will continue to stay this high if these issues persist. If the United States reaches a tipping point in which Martial Law is viewed as a viable solution, societal responses may lead to anarchy and could be catastrophic for the nation. With these dangers in mind, General Flynn believes that our nation’s leaders must focus on what it is that they can control and do everything in their power to maintain the United States’ status as the most influential nation in the world.
Ryan Morfin: Welcome to NON-BETA ALPHA. I’m Ryan Morfin. On today’s episode, we have General Mike Flynn, talking to us about the current pandemic, relationships with China, and what to expect in the 2020 election. This is NON-BETA ALPHA. General Flynn, thank you for joining us today. Great to see you.
General Mike Fl…: That’s great to see you Ryan, and thanks for the invite.
Ryan Morfin: Well, we’re excited to chat with you today. The world has really changed since we last got together. Coronavirus, relations between the US and China have played out, election 2020 is upon us. I’d like to maybe just kick off with some of your thoughts on, what is this current state of play between the US and China? And what are your thoughts about what’s coming in the next six to 12 months there?
General Mike Fl…: Yeah. So, there’s a lot going on, obviously, and everybody is laser focused on what’s happening with this COVID-19 virus, and all of the back and forth that you see every day, from both the White House, local actions around people’s communities, where people are having a tough time trying to deal with what might happen, and certainly the uncertainty of everything surrounding our lives these days. I mean, we’re at 1929 depression level, unemployment right now. So, that has to change.
There’s a lot of things that are different than it was in 1929, so I won’t get into the details there, but I would say that in the next six months or so there’s going to be an evaluation of everything going on from how do we, one, get the economy going again? How do we get the engines of America roaring again? Which I believe we will, because the American people I think they feel that they are ready to go back and get everything going. And I think that there’s a real sense of community to respond to this in a very coordinated way, although it doesn’t feel that way when you read certain things in the media. That’s number one. That is going to happen. I think the American public are going to respond to the needs of our country going forward. That’s in the next six to nine months.
The other thing that’s going to happen is, there’s going to be a self-assessment by the United States of our level of preparedness. And the one thing that I do know from all of my training, all of my studies, is that we are never ever prepared for the next war, we always are prepared for the last war. So, the unpreparedness, frankly of America for to deal with this pandemic the way it has been described to us, has shown a shortcoming frankly at the local state, and to a degree somewhat the federal level. But the federal level, I think responded primarily because of our military capabilities.
The one thing I do know is our military medical capabilities, which primarily comes out of the United States Army are phenomenal. And we’ve seen our engineer corps respond in some amazing ways by building hospitals and stuff like that. So, our ability to react to an unpreparedness, or something that happened to us that we weren’t ready for, i.e. this pandemic, I think, was very positive and it should make Americans feel pretty good about our military’s ability. At the state and local level, clearly there’s some challenges that we are going to have to fix and invest in as we are… People have gotten to know more about ventilators and masks, and such, than they ever knew about. So, that’s the second component.
The third component, is an investigation of sorts, or at least an inspection of how did this happen? How did this virus come to be? And what should be done about that? So, we all have heard it emanated out of Wuhan, China. So, what does that mean? And what are the penalties? Are there going to be penalties that China is going to have to experience going forward? And I would add in on that note, on the Chinese inspection or investigation that is occurring, will occur. We also have to look at what’s going on within the military component of the Chinese communist system. Because I’m paying very close attention to that, and I’ve been in touch with some friends who are still in, and some who are real expert China watchers, particularly of their military component.
So, there’s a lot of activity right now. And what we can’t lose sight of is the military component of what is going on, particularly out in the Pacific. And there’s always a period of time when you go into an emergency where you have to let your military know, go to a different level of readiness, just in case. And I would say for the Chinese military, and as a former senior military officer who’s studied these guys, and also studied warfare, that is a norm. I mean, they’re going to go to a higher level of readiness, as we should as well. And there’s a reason for that, and it’s a just in case reason.
So, those are three big chunks that we are going to experience. The next six to nine months getting ourselves back to… Get the engines rolling. The second thing is an investigation of how did this happen? Why were we so unprepared? Why do we feel so unprepared? And then, the third thing is, what do we do about China? Because China has to… They have to pay some type of price, if not financially, certainly politically.
Ryan Morfin: Those are all great points. And I think the corollary to 1929, I do think the government stepped in and flooded the economy with cash, unprecedented amounts. So, I’m hoping that fast response will take a little bit of the sting out of the demand destruction that’s going on. One of the challenges you mentioned is state and local response. And we’re starting to see municipal bonds gap out in terms of pricing, which means it’s credit pressure. What are your thoughts about the conversation about letting states go bankrupt today? That seems to be a real risk that we need to politically get our arms and our mind wrapped around as a country.
General Mike Fl…: Yeah. I tell you, I’m mixed on the allowing our certain states to go bankrupt. Although, I would say that, having looked at and have had a couple of conversations on pension funds, state pension funds for retired state workers. And when you look at size of employers in particular states, particularly up here in the Northeast region, which is where I am, of the country, a lot of these states up here the number one employers is that is the government itself. So, you have these giant pension funds, and those pension funds are going to be at risk. So, those are large sums of money that are invested, and they sit in different places.
So, that’s one area that’s going to have to be seriously looked at. If a state says, “Hey look, I can’t afford to do the following things. I can’t afford to pay the people that are at work, as well as pay pension funds forever.” Right? And the older population that we have in this country, who are in the retired mode and receiving pretty much local state pension funds. A lot of people out there, Ryan as you know, that’s one of the areas I think that we have to really concentrate on, if we’re going to make decisions about states going bankrupt.
And obviously, there’s other industries that are at risk that based in certain states that gives certain states a large income. I mean, places like Wichita with some of our aircraft manufacturing, Wichita, Kansas. We have, as you know down here in Texas, which seems to be very healthy right now, but it has a lot of the airline industry, we have our trucking industry. And then, there’s going to be other larger industries, that based in certain states and those incomes that go to those states from those industries and jobs et cetera, are going to have to be examined. Because the criteria to go bankrupt for a state, and allow a state to go bankrupt, has to be a conversation that’s going to happen between the White House and Congress, and those state governors.
And each state is going to have its own needs to deal with. So, it’s not going to be a blanket fit for everybody. It’s just going to have to be looked at in terms of what are the dimensions of the potential bankruptcy, because this is a very real question if things don’t change, and people aren’t able to get back to work here in the very near future.
Ryan Morfin: Yeah. No doubt, it’s putting a lot of pressure into the political conversation. And what’s striking to me is that, people who mismanage pension funds in the private sector go to jail for that, if you do it as a politician, you’re just trying to get reelected with more pork projects. So, it’s going to be an interesting conversation for the country to have in the coming weeks of what states get the bailout, and which ones don’t. Thank God we have a great military, the US Army has mobilized the Air Force as well, the Navy, here in the homeland.
A question for you is, thank God we haven’t seen a disruption of food access, because food supply I think is there for now. But under what scenarios do you think, or what is the tipping point where the military would be called in, or the federal statute would be called in to have a precedent where there’d be an environment that martial law would be required. I know Cuomo and Trump have been going back and forth on some of these control issues. Cuomo, I think clearly laid out what he thought the specifications were for the military to take over. But what is the doctrine for North Command, or what is the teachable moment?
General Mike Fl…: I think that what… Because you mentioned the food industry being at risk. Our healthcare industry is already showing itself to potentially be at risk because just sheer numbers of people that we lack in the healthcare industry, nurses, skilled technicians that run certain types of equipment, and of course, just the whole doctor community. The numbers aren’t there to protect a pandemic, that we have discovered this is… What the numbers of the pandemic has shown, the numbers are high, it’s sad what is occurring With the numbers of people that have died from this, but our capacity to deal with that is at risk. So, do we need to go to martial law? No, I think that the conversations and the cooperation between federal and state really has been remarkable.
But however, when you look at the food system in our country. The food system, it becomes at risk, and all of a sudden you have the potential for an underlying sense of fear that can then rise and get certain groups to penetrate that fear within the country. If groups on both sides, the aisle so to speak, or certainly the right side, the left side, that take advantage of that fear and create conditions of anarchy, local anarchy, then you may need a conversation between the President and the governors, where the governor say “Hey look, for a certain period of time, I’m going to need to declare some type of locking down of New York City.” Or locking down of Dallas, or locking down of Seattle to protect the food distribution, to protect and stop potential rioting, or stuff like that.
When there is a feeling that those kinds of things are going to start to occur, that’s when governors and mayors are going to have to step in, and they will then put on demands of the federal government to allow decision making to be done at certain levels, local and state level. And that’s when the governors and the president are going to have a conversation about declaration of either limited “martial law” or it’s expanded based on what conditions we see around the rest of the country. And I think right now, I’m not there yet. I don’t think that our country’s there yet. I think that people are being very patient, and being very supportive of the decision making right now.
But there will come a time if this goes on any longer Ryan, if we’re talking about another month, or another two months for some of these states that are talking about, I think it’s Virginia is not talking about opening up until the middle of June. I don’t know how that’s going to be, or how that’s going to play out with so many people, and Virginia is a big state. There’s so many people that feel like, “Hey, we’re okay. We can go back to work. We’re willing to take the risk, and we’re willing to follow the guidelines that have been put out and do the right things, but we need to get back to work.”
Ryan Morfin: No doubt the country needs to get back to work, and there’s certain parts that I think can open up without overdue risk. But I think your point about protecting the food supply, and the food distribution system is critical. Because I think if grocery stores are empty for a week or two, I think all civility may be thrown out the window. Maybe one area you can touch on, or talk about is, right now we’re all living in a period of maybe social media where there may be information disparities and misinformation going on, an infodemic perhaps. Can you talk a little bit about what some of our adversaries might be doing here in the homeland to really push misinformation? I mean, it seems like an opportune time for them to cause chaos if they can.
General Mike Fl…: Oh, yeah. No, I mean, that’s for real. And that’s internal and external. So, the taking advantage of the information spectrum has always existed. I mean, it goes back in time and particularly in warfare. From the Chinese perspective, and I’ll just focus on China for a second here. But the Chinese perspective is pretty extraordinary, because when you look at Chinese doctrine, they have really six components of their doctrine. And the first five have everything to do with information warfare. The sixth is really where, they would be ready to go to the gates, and maybe conduct military operations. But really, the first six have to do with the information war that they believe is the dominant form of warfare.
So, we’re in that fight right now. So, the taking advantage of the uncertainty and the fear factor. Now, here’s to flip it on its head and go back to internal. This is where, when we talk about this business of fake news, and another way to look at fake news, or another way to state it is political correctness. And I’ve been saying for years that political correctness kills. Political correctness will destroy, and being politically correct will destroy the fabric of the information domain. Because the funny thing about what I call digital soldiers out there, is that they will find the truth, and once they find the truth, then they will shut off the false advertising that’s out there, and they’ll begin to…
There’s a great book probably written back in the ’90s called Wisdom of the Crowd. And, The Wisdom of the Crowd, basically the thesis is that the larger body of people are smarter than the experts. And the experts will say, “There’s this many things here.” And the crowd actually as it begins to look at everything goes, “No, actually this is right.” And typically, and the way that particular author describes, and there’s pretty good example goes through and says, “Look, the crowd is usually typically smarter than the experts.” And I think that what we have got to be careful of is allowing ourselves to be tricked in this idea of political correctness, fake news, and then knowing that we have adversaries that are going to take advantage of that. People just have to be reminded about that every day.
One point on all this, I think that as we go forward, I think if we begin to see from our elected leaders, from the White House, from the governor’s offices, because each governor is doing their own daily conversation with their states at their local news stations, they have to start talking less about the COVID problems that we have, and how many cases we’ve got, how many people are doing this or that, and they have to start talking about the future. What are we doing? What steps are we taking? How are the economic engines of our state, of our cities, and our country are going to start getting turned on? And I would actually like to see some of these experts that are up there that are part of these task forces to come in and say, “Okay. Here are the things we’re going to do for the airline industry. Here’s the things that we’re going to do for the seafood industry. Here’s the things that we’re going to do for the trucking industry.”
And start telling America that, because we are starting to feel like we have to turn back on. And as you know with some of the states at different levels of turning their lights back on, you’re going to see a lot of good news stories coming out of some of those states, Texas, Florida, maybe. And you’re going to see some bad news and people are going to go, “What’s going on? Why does this state have something, and we don’t, and our numbers just don’t support the have nots anymore?” So, I think that we have to be very careful of that kind of information and that uncertainty, and fight through that to try to get to the truth.
Ryan Morfin: Yeah. I mean, the fundamentals were strong prior to this demand shock, and it’s not unrealistic for us to find some good news in certain industries. The fact that most the economy has been able to pivot to a remote posture is actually a good data point for resiliency. Not to get off China, though for a second. I mean, do you find it laughable that the Chinese government is now trying to push propaganda in Europe, and to some of our allies that the virus started here, and we should prove our innocence, that we didn’t create the virus, when it’s clear that they had the first major outbreak? What are your thoughts about that propaganda?
General Mike Fl…: I mean, China is a communist country, period. I mean, they are, and we can look at them as a… Some can say, “Well, we’re friendly.” And I know the President talks about his personal friendship with Xi, but this is a communist country, they have… And you and I have to about this in the past. China since 1949, under from Mao, to Deng Xiaoping, to Xi Jinping, they have had a 100-year plan to basically dominate, to be the sole superpower on the planet. And that is in terms of currency and language, and in the economy, the strength of their economy. And they’re moving in that direction still.
So, China’s not going to be out there begging for forgiveness. They’re not going to be out there, saying that, “Well, we did this or we did that.” They’re not. They’re not going to take any blame for this. They’re going to continue to push a narrative that supports China. And they are a very, very selfish, self-interested nation, a large nation, a large economy. And one of the things as we have seen, and back to the last question, but it ties into this one, that the manufacturing prowess of the United States of America, we lost that over the last 30 years, maybe in the last 50 years. And that manufacturing prowess has to come back to this country.
The fact that we are now putting demands on the entire energy sector, and we can decide how much a barrel of oil is going to cost, not some nation over in the Middle East, not a group like OPEC. That’s a huge, huge shift in what has just happened in the last probably, just the last couple of years with some of the deregulation of our energy sector, and the ability for us to become energy independent. That part, because we can go to all kinds of other energy commodities, but the rest of the world cannot, so the rest of the world is going to be dependent. Now, everybody in their own way is still out there trying to find energy through oil primarily, and that’s fine. But we basically dominate that. So, that’s number one.
The other thing is back to the manufacturing prowess, we have to recognize if this hasn’t opened up our eyes to what we have given up to China, then nothing will, and we will go the way of the wolves. We have to recognize that we must become the number one manufacturing giant in the world. So, that means that we’re going to have to start to look at, how do we make commodities right here at home, and sell them internal and external at prices that are affordable? I mean, let’s talk about just the basic price of a TV, the basic price of a car. I mean, all these kinds of things that people want to have, that are middle income, lower middle income, and people who are in the world of poverty.
We have to be able to create things in this country that are, one, made in America or certainly made in the North American area of Canada, and the US Mexican trade agreement was really a great thing. So, we have to become a manufacturing giant again. And that’s not going to happen overnight, but we’re recognizing how much we lost to China, and we can’t give that back. We’ve got to take that back from them.
Ryan Morfin: No doubt this is a period of economic warfare between the West and China, winner take all type of economics here. One question for you is, as it relates to the trade war that went down, and forget about all the talking points from all politicians and all the media. We went to battle with them on an economic issue, tariffs. We reset those, and that may have slowed down their hundred-year plan. But it just seems ironic timing at the year of an election, that this would all come out of a city where the Chinese military, and Chinese CDC has a major bio level safety four infrastructure.
General Mike Fl…: Yeah. There’s a lot things that are suspect about this whole thing. And again, that goes back to something I just said a little while ago about the things that are going to occur. And I think that we probably know a lot already about the City of Wuhan in terms of what happened here. How we put that together, and then what we do about it. I mean, one of the things that people that are paying attention that learn that China is considered a developing nation under the World Health Organization. Give me a break, a developing nation? They have probably the largest economy in the world prior to this, and to a degree, they’re still on par with us. So, they may not have as much in the bank so to speak, but they certainly have a strong economy.
So, we’re going to find out more about this, nothing is coincidental, Ryan, nothing is coincidental. And I would say that, given what we have seen, and what China’s responses to it have been, I would say that we’re going to learn a lot more in the coming year, and some things may never come out to the public, which I think is a shame. I think that our government should be very transparent on everything because these are the kinds of things that do lead countries to clash. And when you look at what drives countries, nation states to war with each other, it’s these big mistakes that sometimes are made and they appear as something that’s maybe just diplomatic or political or maybe even economic, and they actually turn out to be something vastly different.
And then what we want to say is, we want to say cool heads will prevail in this case, because nobody wants to think about going to war. But as a military guy, I just think that, again, the level of preparedness has to be very high right now, and we cannot take things for granted, and we can’t look at something as, well, that’s just coincidental that all these things exist in this City of Wuhan.
Ryan Morfin: My friends in DC have been talking about a new version of the Magnitsky Act once this investigation is over, something that potentially will target the individuals of the CCP that helped cover up the actual severity of this pandemic, so that it really let the rest of the world sit and relax posture when we should have been preparing, and hopefully collecting PPE for our first responders. It’s going to be interesting. How would the Chinese government react to that? I know there’s different Chinas in China. There’s the military, there’s the political party, there’s economic billionaires.
General Mike Fl…: But it’s all under the same rubric. So, don’t think that there’s decisions being made without the without Xi’s head nod. I think that what we have to make sure of is that there’s not a mistake made at a lower level in the Chinese system, and particularly in the military side. That some commander out there at a fairly senior level, decides that he’s going to do something foolish, or decides he’s going to do something because he thinks it’s the right thing for him to do, and it tumbles into something else. I just believe as we go forward, our relationship with China because of the dramatic experience that the United States of America is still going through, this is unforgettable. So, this is unforgettable for a long, long period of time. As much as we do tend to forget things over time, this is one that’s going to stick with us for a while. And China is really the one to put the blame on, if you want to blame somebody.
I would say that we’ve always talked about pandemics in this country. I call it the world is a petri dish, because of the various diseases that do float around the world, and everybody’s gotten to know you know more about them, of course during this period. And so, we always have to have that, but nobody wants to invest in those things during a period when everything seems okay. We want to invest in other things. So, I do think that our healthcare system is going to have to invest in certain things that are non-perishable, okay? Non-perishable items. And then, those things that are perishable, that typically you need, and you need during these times, those are going to have to be placed in a warm status because the demand for them won’t be that high. So therefore, why should I have, all kinds of inventory, I just need to have a warm capability to be able to reproduce those quickly, if necessary, in a time of serious pandemic or in time of war.
And that’s where our federal government comes in, and our military comes in. Because our military typically does keep certain capabilities in a warm status, and then we’re able to ramp up quickly, and thank God we have the military as an institution that is so innovative and so capable. And frankly, The National Guard fabric of our military around the country has people that can step into a uniform out of a… With their stethoscope, they can take and put on a set of BDUs, battle dress uniform, and put their stethoscope on, and jump right into the fray. And do it in a way that federalizes, or certainly the state’s governors are able to do that.
So, there’s a lot of little things that we’re going to have to do. What I’m concerned about is that we end up having some big commission out of this, and our government grows. I don’t want to see our government grow any more than we already have. Our government is so big right now, and it really needs to be reduced, actually. Maybe that’s one of the things that we do as we push more capability and capacity to the states, so they can deal with these kinds of issues given what we have already learned.
Ryan Morfin: And that’s a great point. So, it seems that China is going to be a major issue for 2020. And it seems that both candidates have a very stark difference of historical talking points on that issue. What do you think maybe one of the other one or two issues are going to be for the election coming up? I mean, obviously, the economy, and maybe pandemic. But how do you think the conversation or the narrative is going to go from here to November?
General Mike Fl…: Well, I think that the issue of divisiveness in the country will come up. Now, is divisiveness a result of this last election, or is it a result of decades of a shift in the country moving toward socialism? And I think the ladder is really, where at least am at. I don’t think it’s caused by two or three years of one president, I think it’s related to decades of a shift towards something that we underlying have, what not a lot of people… At least a lot in the country I don’t think have been able to realize that we are moving in that direction without feeling it. I mean, at the local level, at the state level, to a degree some states not all, people don’t feel that. They’re like, “Oh no, that could never be.” Actually, it could be.
There’s another great book, Why Nations Fail. I always, and you’ve heard me say this maybe at times, I always ask people have you ever met somebody from Byzantine, or have you ever met a Mesopotamian, or have you ever met anybody from Athens, and the answer is no. I mean, those empires are gone, they’re gone. So, we can’t take for granted what we have. And I think that comment, we cannot take for granted what we have as Americans, our individual liberties, which is what the Constitution is based on. It’s not based on collective liberties, it’s based on individual liberty. That’s the Bill of Rights, that’s our Constitution, individual liberty.
And that’s why we’re so innovative. That’s why the country, America is still the most innovative country on the planet. So, we’re going to innovate our way through this, and we’re going to get better, and we’re going to get smarter, and we’re going to have new things come out of this whole thing. I mean, we already see some of it. So, I think that that bigger discussion about the direction that the country should take will be part of the discourse in the upcoming election. It has to be, and I think people are going to demand it.
Ryan Morfin: Yeah. It’s going to be a fascinating one, especially the mechanics of actually voting is going to be a debated opportunity for both sides. That’s going to be fascinating to watch. We’re living in historical times. And so, speaking of living in historical times, what have you been up to? What are you reading? What’s interesting today? What are some macro trends that you think are maybe over the horizon that we’re all focused on, health outcomes, and we’re all focused on flattening the curve. What do you see over the horizon? What’s going to be the next two to three years? What happens after we get to a new normal here?
General Mike Fl…: Yeah, good question. First of all, I did read a great book back in February, that was recommended to me, and I actually spoke to the guy that wrote it, Mike Osterholm, it’s called Deadliest Enemy. And it’s actually about diseases and stuff. So, that’s just one book that I’ve read. I would say, beyond two to three years, I think over the next decade, as a public we’re going to have to reevaluate who we are, and what we want to be as a nation. And I think that it’s not just four more years of, let’s say, the current administration. It’s post that, it’s what is America want to be? We’re still early in this century, and we’ve already talked a lot about China. And I mentioned earlier the Chinese plan, 100-year plan, which is a real plan. It’s a real and existing plan. It’s been adjusted over primarily three leaders of China, but really about probably five or six. It is a real plan.
So, will we be the dominant nation state on the planet for the next 100 years? Is this another American century, similar to what the last century was? The last century ended with America as the dominant nation state on the planet. And so, will we be in that same position at the end of this century? So, if we just look at the next 10 years, and we’ve talked touched on a few of these things, we must reevaluate and reassess what kinds of things we need to take on. Do we become the number one manufacturing leader in the world for everything? I mean, we do we just get the engines of America going to the point where if you want the best whatever, the best widget in the world at the best price, and we’re making it right here.
I mean, why did we sell our soul to China? We sold our soul to China because I could buy 10 baseball hats for a buck, instead of 10 baseball hats for $10 a piece. Right? I mean, it’s that simple. So, we have to come up with some very innovative ways. And it’s not just technology, it’s not just going to be in the software as a service industry, or the artificial intelligence world of information, and how that helps us. Those are clearly enablers to us becoming a manufacturing power, and the number one manufacturing power.
We also have to take into consideration as we go forward, what are the commodities that come out of various continents on the earth? Africa, for example, the Middle East, South America, and the whole Asian Pacific theater. What are the kinds of things that we can do as a great nation to benefit others? What are the kinds of things that we need to be able to provide to them, and what sorts of things can we allow them to share back?
So, that’s number one. And I really believe that we’re going to have that conversation here going forward, definitely in the next two to three years, and certainly over the next decade. So by 2030, we’re not looking at going back to China and begging for some money from mom and pop there, because that’s their… Their goal really was to outdo our economy by 2030, and then start to make some serious adjustments from 2030 to 2050. So, that was part of their plan. I think that the other part of this Ryan, is that we’re going to have to relook who we are as Americans, and how overstretched we have allowed ourselves to be. And it is militarily to a degree somewhat diplomatically, but certainly militarily.
Some of those empires that I mentioned they didn’t fail or collapse because they had problems at home. They failed because they got themselves overextended, overextended economically, overextended geographically. And so, we have to really reevaluate our overextension of our country, and the kinds of things that we decided to do or invest in, particularly with our military forces. I am a huge, huge proponent of continuing to invest in smart military capabilities and applications, but we also have to make sure that we’re not investing to win the last war. Okay? Now, we have to start thinking about how do we win the next war. And the next war, not from a military perspective, but from a combination of military, information, political, the politics of it, and certainly the economic component which is paramount. Those are the four pieces that as we project ourselves forward over the next two to three years, that conversation has got to happen.
And then, how do we see ourselves ending up at least by 2030? And I’ll shut up at this point. With certain people thinking about where does America want to be at the end of this century? We have to have strategic visionaries thinking about that, because if we don’t, we’re going to turn out to be the British Empire of the 19th century, which by the 19, whatever, 1908, 1910, the British Empire started to collapse. And we don’t want to be that. So, we should have learned from that history that we don’t want to get to a place where we start to collapse. Because there’s adversaries that want us to collapse, and there’s internal powers that want us to collapse.
Ryan Morfin: I’ll leave you with one last question, General. So, you’ve been through austere environments, and stressful situations in your career. For executives, a lot of our viewers who run their own businesses, what would be one or two pieces of advice from a leadership under fire, or leadership in stressful times?
General Mike Fl…: Yeah. Well, I’ll tell you, one of the things is to understand what you can control. And I think that there’s a chart that I gave you, and I drew that out over three decades of thinking about that question, my model. And you can post it, maybe later. There’s things that you control, there’s things that you don’t control, and then there’s ways that, how I’d address it is, how you take control of your environment. And I think one of the things is to know who you are as an individual, know what your values are, and what your beliefs are. And if you feel strongly about them, don’t sway from them, and don’t be fearful that you have certain values, or certain beliefs. Don’t live in fear of that. I mean, actually, be proud of that.
I think that how you create output, how does an organization create output? How does an individual create output? And I think some of that has to do with setting priorities, and like I talked about innovating and implementing. How do you do that as an individual? How does your organization do that?
And then, a third area is what I call your work environment. And that really has to do with what you create. And that’s structuring organizations. I think one of the things that we typically… I’m a management scientist, so one of my passions is management science, which was really a prior century way of operating in the business world.
But I think management science really has to do with organizational design, and how you think about change. And I think that if you’re not thinking about change, if there’s one thing that’s constant, it’s change. It’s going to happen all the time. So, if you don’t adjust to it, if you don’t adjust to the environment that’s in front of you, the things that you don’t control, then you lose control. And I think that that work environment and what you create is really important.
Your last point is your ability to see yourself, and your ability to see your environment, and your ability to make a difference, I think at the end of the day are what really matters. And with that, I appreciate the time today, and hope I share a few thoughts that that matter with you and your audience. Ryan-
Ryan Morfin: Absolutely.
General Mike Fl…: [crosstalk 00:45:15] talking to you.
Ryan Morfin: General, thank you so much for coming on the show. We appreciate your insights, and we hope to hear from you again soon. Thank you.
General Mike Fl…: Absolutely. All right. We’ll be in touch. Peace.
Ryan Morfin: Bye, bye. Thanks for listening to NON-BETA ALPHA, and before we go please remember to subscribe, and leave us a review on Apple Podcasts, or our YouTube channel. This is NON-BETA ALPHA. Now you know.
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Ryan Morfin: Welcome to Non-Beta Alpha. I'm Ryan Morfin. On today's episode, we have Pini Althaus, CEO of USA Rare Earth, talking to us about the supply chain glut in rare earth minerals. This is Non-Beta Alpha.
Ryan Morfin: Pini, Welcome to the show. Thank you for coming on today.
Pini Althaus: Thank you for having me, Ryan. Good to be here.
Ryan Morfin: So you're an investor and a miner in rare earth minerals. Can you share with our listener base, what are rare earth minerals? Why are they important and why is there a geopolitical race going on globally?
Pini Althaus: Yeah, I mean, rare earths are an extremely ubiquitous part of all advanced manufacturing or technology manufacturing today's day and age. Several years ago, I had not heard too much about rare earths myself. I was not that familiar with it and being involved in this sector, in this company, for the past few years has given me an education of course. And I mean, I was sad to hear that 50% of all imports into the United States contain are earth elements and it runs the gamut from consumer electronic devices that we use every day. Our cell phones, our laptops, most communication devices, medical equipment. So there's a tie with COVID, which we can touch on at your discretion. Electric vehicles, defense equipment. So pretty much anything or everything high tech today has a rare earth element or critical minerals contained within them.
Ryan Morfin: And what are some of the names of some of the more important rare earth? I know there's lithium for batteries, but what else is considered in this category, critical?
Pini Althaus: Yeah, so lithium is a separate category to battery material. The rare earths are 17 rare earths. The four, let's call it, key rare earths that we're focused on at our company, the four rare earths that go into the permanent magnets. And these are the magnets that are found, there are a number of them in your back of your cell phone or an iPad. But if you look at an F35 striker jet, you've got about a ton of rare earth magnets in those. And we've got two heavy rare earths and two light rare earths is part of the permanent magnets. You've got dysprosium, ytterbium are the heavies, and then you've got neodymium, praseodymium as the two light rare earths. So those would be key rare earths that are the focus.
Ryan Morfin: And you use these in, I guess, in military applications as well, but historically, where has the United States sourced the rare earth for supply chain?
Pini Althaus: Yeah. And that's the shocking part. We've been securing those materials from China. So China controls the rare earth sector and has done so for the past 30 years or so. And it was a significant misstep on the part of the United States, allowing China to have this control. And actually this wasn't a question of China coming in and doing anything nefarious as far as stealing IP or anything. The US government made a conscious decision about 30 years ago to allow China to come to the United States and acquire the processing capabilities for rare earths. So just as part of some background, you've got the rare earth materials containing various mining projects, but once you extract them, you have to then process them and they go through certain phases before they get to the magnet phase. And China, the thought process was let China do the mining, let China do the processing.
Pini Althaus: We don't need to do that here. And we'll buy the materials from China cheaply and the premier of China at the time, Deng Xiaoping made the comment, he said, "The Middle East has oil. China has rare earths." And unfortunately we weren't smart enough to understand what he was saying. And the Chinese understood that the future of manufacturing is going to revolve around control of the rare earth and critical mineral supply chain. So if you think about it today, Ryan, we cannot build... Forget about consumer electronics and medical equipment. We cannot build the equipment that the US Pentagon or the US armed forces require, whether it's F35 fighter jet, Tomahawk cruise missile, communications equipment, without going to China and obtaining those materials. And it's obvious to all that this should be extremely alarming. We've seen China use this as a weapon, if you will, as far as how it interacts with other countries back in 2010, when there was a dispute between China and Japan on the East China Sea.
Pini Althaus: So China cut off rare earth exports from Japan for 40 days. Japan obviously being a significant user of rare earth elements for their high-tech manufacturing sector, that was stopped after 40 days. But in fact, it was President Obama that first made the United States aware of this, formed a division within the Department of Defense to handle this issue, but not much has happened. And we continue to be relying on China for these materials. And what has been made about trade war with China and whether the trade war is really the impetus for China withholding rare earth exports. And that is a huge misnomer. Whilst China had been talking or implying that they would cut off rare earth exports, the truth of the matter is that China, under it's made in China, 2025 mandate, its belt and road initiatives and others. And you seem to control the critical minerals and rare earth supply chain so that it can continue its dominance as a manufacturer or a global supplier of these materials and finished products.
Pini Althaus: It's the backbone of its economy. And in fact, China has become a net importer of rare earths from different countries like Miramar and others. So with that, they are decreasing the exports to countries like the United States, Japan and others.
Ryan Morfin: And was it ever a risk that the Chinese were going to turn off the exports of rare earth to the US during the trade war? How close were we to that? And was that ever some saber rattling that went down during trade negotiations?
Pini Althaus: Yeah, I think it was saber rattling. I think it would be paramount to an act of war. I can't say with any authority that that would not happen, but it would be probably, aside from war itself, it would be one of the most significant acts of war cutting the United States off from the ability to procure rare earths. But that being said, I mean, if you look at, as an analogy, the oil and gas sector and the reliance of the United States had for many, many years on OPEC countries to supply us with the oil. And we had embargoes and we had price manipulation by OPEC. This is far more significant given the ubiquity of where these rare earths go. And yes, we're always under the threat that China can cut off exports under the guise of a trade war or for any other nefarious reasons.
Pini Althaus: But I think even more importantly, to just as the natural run of the course of things with regards to their business and their desire to maintain themselves as the global leader in manufacturing and exporting of goods, China is in a position now where it actually requires these materials for their own domestic consumption and can legitimately cut off rare earth exports by stating that they need it for manufacturing and that would actually be somewhat correct. So we're in an extremely dangerous position here with this reliance on China. And it wouldn't just be China. If it was another country, it would be similar issues, not to the same extent, but reliance on one country for these materials is dangerous.
Ryan Morfin: And it's been mentioned in the past that in 2010, China flooded the market to really kill all the competitors in the rare earth mining industry. Where was the World Trade Organization during this period? And how did that play out and how does that set the chess board for China to run the tables?
Yeah. So the WTO stepped in when China cut off rare earth exports from Japan, I think it lasted for about 40 days because the US and Japan protested the WTO, and they stepped in and China resumed exports. While I'm not an expert on these trade matters, one thing that I am aware of is that one of the reasons why China had to resume the export of rare earths was it did not legitimately need all the rare earths for domestic consumption. So therefore it was a nefarious act, if you will, to cut off rare earth exports. Now that has changed, which means China have to cut off rare earth exports today, they have a legitimate case to say that they require these materials. There's a shortage of these materials and they require them for their own domestic purposes. It is the backbone of their economy and there's very little we could do about this today, which is why it's becoming an even more urgent issue.
And the US government started stockpiling some of these after that incident. Can you talk a little bit about what DOD and DOE has done to start making sure that there's not a critical supply shortage going forward, and is it enough?
Yeah, again, there is a national defense stock pile, and there are materials still that the United States needs to procure in order to shore up its stockpile. There are magnets, the finished magnet products as well, the United States government needs to stockpile. Again, there's a limited amount that the United States government has. It requires approval from Congress, whether it's in the NDAA or other approvals from Congress, to allocate monies for the national defense stock pile of these materials. That being said, there's no endless supply of these materials. And unfortunately, the apparatus, the way it's set up right now with the US government, it's going to continue to require having a secure supply chain of those materials for many, many years to come. So it's not a question of stockpiling for 10 or 20 years, and then this complacency and saying, we'll kick the can down the road. But keep in mind as well, Ryan, that US government accounts for low single digits of overall rare earth imports into the United States.
We're talking about defense contractors, we're talking about the manufacturing sector. The direct impact this has on the economy, jobs, the automotive sector, and others is significant. So it's not just limited to the United States government. If you look at over the past couple of weeks, the sanctions that China have put on Raytheon, Boeing, Lockheed, et cetera. I mean, the question is where are they going to get those materials? And if we go beyond that, you need rare earths for the 5G network. Now that Huawei has been banned from installing the network, not only in the US but other countries, we have to have the ability to get a secure supply of these materials as well. Which currently, again, trying to control the hundred percent. So it runs across the board, both for government, defense and manufacturing in this country.
Well, and so help me paint a picture for our audience. Does China have all the mines for rare earth, or they're the only ones who started mining it? Or are their mines globally dispersed and nobody's been doing the actual infrastructure to do the mining?
Yeah. So finding rare earth projects or rare earth elements is not the difficult part. It's finding them in significant quantities that makes a project economically viable. And part of that consideration are the environmental rigors that companies in the West have to adhere to. And China, even by their own admission, have had a complete disregard for mining these materials and even for processing these materials. And in fact, just the last week or so, the BBC did an expose on this, 60 Minutes has done an expose on this. But the Chinese have not denied this and have talked about cleaning up their act, but it has an effect on the bottom line for what the costs of mining and processing are if you have no environmental standards to adhere to. So China have exploited those rare earth projects they have, primarily in inner Mongolia, and have brought a number of projects online and quite quickly, and in a significant way, with a complete disregard for the environment.
So it was seen as an environmental no-no in the West for many years. Now, what's happened over the past few years is you're starting to see rare earth projects in different parts of the world sprout up. You've got the Mountain World project in Australia owned by Linus, which is a producer of Nd and Pr, neodymium and praseodymium. So two of the light rare earths. They may have some heavy rare earths coming online at some point in time. And you've got Arafura, which is another company in Australia that we're working with to assist them with their processing so they don't have to send the materials to China for processing. But really these are a drop in the bucket for what the requirements are for the United States. And certainly what the requirements are for allied countries, the EU, et cetera. So there is a race, if you will, worldwide to start bringing projects online. The Chinese are very active in trying to secure assets outside of China.
So in Africa. They have ownership of a project in Greenland. So there is somewhat of a race. The Australian government has stepped in and has started limiting the ability for China to own, or have ownership in, or off takes for the Australian rare earth projects. And that's part of the strategic Alliance between Australia and the US. Canada, similar thing as well. There are a number of projects that are looking to come alive, but these projects are, for the most part, will take many, many years to come online. We have to expedite the process. We have to assist with a [inaudible 00:14:41] supply chain and the domestic rare earth sector, because previously investors have been scared off by things like China flooding the market, which is not a possibility at this point in time, given that China can't actually afford to flood the market. They are already very heavily subsidizing their mine to magnet supply chain there.
This is more now a case of being able to get production from non-Chinese sources so that the United States and allies have a viable, secure supply chain of these materials. And it's a concern worldwide. We speak to governments all over the world, and we're all facing the same issue. Some more than others, especially countries like Japan, that don't have their own rare earth projects there and are reliant on Australia where they've made some investments there. And in the United States, they've made an investment recently in Africa. So there is this race, if you will. And I think we've got a five-year window here to at least stand up a few projects worldwide. Otherwise we've lost this race and we will be dependent on China for many, many years to come. And Ryan, it's a bit of a hypocrisy. If you look at it where you've got materials going through clean, green energy applications, like electric vehicles, wind turbines, et cetera.
That we're sourcing these materials from China, where they've, again by their own admission, has been complete environmental devastation to water bodies around these mines and processing facilities, to the communities. People have been getting sick around these projects yet we're putting these materials into our electric vehicles or wind turbines. It makes no sense at all. And people are starting to wake up to this. And that's why the sector is starting to see a lot of support come out of Congress and bi-partisan support. And in fact, it's one of the only bi-partisan issues right now in Washington. And it's good to see that some things decided to move in the right direction.
And is there a special process? You talk about the expense, is it really difficult to mine these? You have to go through a special chemical process to extract and clean and purify. Is it a lot harder than, say, gold or silver or some of the other, we'll call, more traditional elements?
Yeah. It's all about the processing to some extent. So if you look at MP Materials in California, which used to be Molycorp before they went through their bankruptcy. They are a miner of Cerium and Lanthanum, which are two of the light rare earths, the lower valued light rare earths. Given that they do not currently have processing technology, they are sending those materials to China for processing where China is tariffing those heavily. Linus is also, they're doing their processing work in Malaysia and elsewhere. So it's really about the processing at this stage. One of the things that we've done, after we put out our PDA last year with our upgraded resource, which now includes a significant amount of lithium. We make a decision that, based on the test work that we had done around our processing methodology, that we were not going to send our materials to China. That it's paramount for us to do this work in the United States and in a collaborative effort as well.
We've been asked by some of our investors, "Well, why would you be looking to help other projects with their processing?" And the answer is simple. There's no one project or one company that's going to put China out of business or make a dent, or somehow be able to take care of the overall demand worldwide for rare earths and critical minerals. And it's very important for us to have processing capability in the West. So that was the impetus for us opening up our own rare earth and critical minerals processing facility earlier this year, which we did in Wheatridge, Colorado. And in fact, we've made some significant progress on the method that we're using for this. And we're starting to collaborate with Australian companies, Canadian companies. We're currently talking to a group over in Europe as well, because this has to be a collaborative effort.
How does Europe solve for these problems? Do they have this better under control than the US?
No, they're in a far worse position than we are. The EU commission recently put out a report, I think, a couple of months ago that the requirement for rare earths is going to increase tenfold within a short period of time. Lithium 18 times. They don't really have rare earth projects. Again, there are the Greenland projects, which people have heard in the news recently. Those need to further development work so they don't have rare earth projects ready to come online there. There are a couple of lithium projects that are spread around Europe, but for the most part, Europe is in an even more precarious position. If you look at Germany with the auto manufacturers, you look at the big companies like ThyssenKrupp and others, all these countries and companies are looking for alternatives to China, because we've already seen in the news about China withholding or reducing exports of some of these rare earths that are required for these industries.
And you mentioned earlier the regulatory posture of the US makes it difficult to mine. Is it becoming a more bi-partisan issue that we need to maybe relax some regulation around the mining exercise, to incentivize private sector to come in and start producing this? Or is the Republican party versus the Democratic party on two separate pages of music?
Yeah. Good question, Ryan. I mean traditionally the Republican party is obviously being more pro-mining and in favor of less regulation when it comes to these things. With regards to our project, we're on Texas state land. So we don't trigger federal environmental permitting at this point in time. And obviously Texas being Texas, a mining state and oil and gas state, things are a lot easier in Texas than they are on projects on federal land where the Bureau of Land Management controls the environmental process around that. But the thing is here, and I don't want to step into what other companies are doing, et cetera, but we do need to be reasonable about allowing projects to come online if they're adhering to environmental standards that are acceptable worldwide. And what we do know, is that China is destroying the environment and cities and water bodies around their mines and processing facilities.
We have standards here in the United States, and I think what we need to do is make it easier for companies to mine, while at the same time protecting the environment. And there are ways to do that. And we're definitely seeing buy-in from Congress, from both sides, with regards to looking how we can stand up a secure supply chain. And, obviously under the Obama administration, they had very strict regulations when it comes to mining. And that's changed under the Trump administration. Hopefully what we start to see is some normal middle ground that'll allow other projects to come online.
And typically in these rare earth mines, is it amalgamation of different minerals that are all consolidated together and you have to separate them out? Or do you ever find pure play, Europium, I can't even pronounce some of these. Gadolinium, Cerium. I mean, are they all mixed together and you've got to filter and sift them through, or are they pure play mines?
No, they're generally they have a mix. So they're polymetallic projects. They have a number of different materials. Some projects, you more to what we call the light rare earths like MP in California or Linus in Australia. Our project is actually on the opposite end of the spectrum. We have a very high concentration of heavy rare earths. That being said, we do have to go through a process of separating these materials. But the case of our project where we've got 30 materials. We're not going to produce 30 materials. We're not going to market 30 materials. So what we're doing is we're focusing on the key materials that are marketable, that we need for permanent magnets, lithium as well, and working on the separation and the optimization of those materials in particular. But we're all faced with the same processing challenges and that is something that can't be set.
There's no easy way to do this. There are different technologies that have been used in different parts of the world. So predominantly there's a process called solvent extraction, but it's big, it's bulky, it's not benign. It's a bespoke solution for one particular project. So it doesn't work for feedstock from other projects. What we've done is we're using a processing technology that's actually been around since the 1940s. It was part of the Manhattan Project. It's called continuous ion exchange. In fact, the Chinese use it to increase the purities from 99.99 to four nines, five nines, and even six nines. So for some applications you require higher purity levels. It's a far easier processing method to scale up and to take feedstock from other projects. In fact, we've demonstrated for the Department of Energy that we can take coal waste from Pennsylvania and do high purity separation of rare earths using our processing methods. So it's not a step that can be skipped unless one needs to send it to China for processing, which is not going to help us with our objectives here.
How many other, we'll call it, going concerns on any other businesses that are doing this, that are trying to, I guess, start the development of these mines. Are you guys one of a few or are you one of many? And is it an international or just a US game? Who's leading the charge at going after this?
Yeah, well, I'd say the Australians are leading it outside of China right now. You've got some really good projects in Australia. Again, more skewed toward the light rare earths. There's one more heavy rare earth project in Australia, which is not yet producing. The United States, you've got MP Materials, you've got Ucore in Alaska, you've got the Bear Lodge project in Wyoming, which is also another light rare earth project. So as far as a heavy rare earth project that looks like it will come online in the near term, that would be our project. In Canada there are a couple of projects there as well, and again, more skewed toward the light rare earths. But we really need to get as many of these projects online as possible. Because again, I don't see it as competition. We all have a problem doing supply agreements or offtake agreements for our materials.
In fact, one of the things that we're going to have to consider is looking at potentially scaling up our production, based on the demand that we're already starting to see. And I think other companies would find that as well. So it's all about the economics of the project. You have projects that were economically viable back in 2012 or rare earth prices with 35% or so higher than they are today, and are not necessarily viable today. So that's the challenge as well, economically viable projects. And we've got to get as many of them online as possible. It takes many, many years. I mean, our project has had over $70 million put into it to get to where we are today, and we're close to getting to the production scenario. It all revolves around processing at this point in time.
We'd be very happy to see another couple of projects come online, because this is extremely important for national security and for the economy as well. I mean, if you think about it, Ryan, if you've got a billion dollars of rare earth materials, that translates into a trillion dollars or I should say trillions of dollars of finished product. So you've got a magnet in your phone there that's worth a couple of dollars and the cell phone's a thousand dollars. And electric vehicles and defense applications even more.
Yeah, everyone has one of these iPhones now, and there's tremendous amounts of rare earth on the circuit boards here. And I think people take it for granted that that supply chain is not secure right now. So one question for you, there's talk of this maybe medium term to longterm, but there's talk about mining in space. Do you think that's a feasible option in the longterm, medium term? What are your thoughts on that?
No, that's just ridiculous. I mean, we're trying to find ways to make mining on earth economically viable. I think the cost of going up to space would be more than what our capex will be bringing our entire project into production. I mean, we've got about a 350 to $400 million capex to bring 130 year mine life into production. I'm not an aerospace expert, but I think sending a rocket, building a rocket ship and sending it up, I think maybe on the fuel alone, you could bring a couple of projects into production. So unless we have a fortunate situation or an asteroid lands on earth, and fortunate if it lands somewhere where we don't care, I don't see how that happens. And if it's big enough, it's a problem as well. It's nonsense. And even, options aside of the deep sea mining for rare earths, I mean, you've got all sorts of environmental issues around that as well. I think we need to look at projects that we can bring online, that can be done so in an economic way, that can be done so in an environmentally responsible way.
I mean, one of the things that we've done at our project is we've got in excess of 60% of the materials that have come out around top, will have a clean green energy applicability to them. So we're using the benign processing method. We're going to be using renewable energy on site. In fact, we will likely be putting a solar farm on site as well. We've talked to a couple of companies that have approached us about that, and we'll be a net producer of power for the surrounding area. So there are ways to do it which don't affect the environment. Obviously if there's a project that's situated on a sensitive area, that's a unique situation for that specific project. We've seen it with the Pebble project, which is not a rare earth project. The Pebble project in Alaska where their environmental concerns is we've been recognized by both Republicans and Democrats, but we have to be reasonable about the projects that don't have environmental concerns.
So Pini, in season two, we ask all of our guests a series of six questions. They're usually, yes, no questions, but trying to take a survey of our conversations. And if you want to add a little context to the yes or no, feel free, but here goes the first question. If there was a COVID vaccine available today, would you take it?
Who do you think is going to win the election?
The US election.
Well, I think it looks like Joe Biden's going to win it, but I think what happens, if we go past January six from my understanding is that the house will vote on it and it's one vote per state. But I don't know if I see it getting there at this point in time. I really don't have a crystal ball.
Third question. What type of economic recovery are we in? What type of shape is it taking? A V-shape, W, U, L?
Yeah, I think 2021 is going to be challenging. I think we've been, and rightly so. I mean, we've had no choice as of almost every other country. We've been printing money for the past year because of COVID. And I think we've got to brace ourselves that, at some point in time, the chickens come home to roost. It was a necessary step. People needed it on an individual level. Businesses needed it as well, but I think we've got to do whatever we can to stimulate the economy, give people confidence to go out and work again, employ people. So I think we've got to watch ourselves, especially in 2021. And I have some concerns, but long-term, I think the approach in the United States is a healthy one.
During lockdown this summer and quarantine, was there anything in particular that you accomplished that you're particularly proud of?
Yeah. A great amount of family time, which, if you would've asked me a few years ago if I could sit at home and be at home for six months, I would have told you absolutely not. I wouldn't be able to do it for six days, but it has... I'm sure it's done this with a lot of families as well. It's brought families together. We had a baby actually last year on Thanksgiving. So I was doing a lot of travel at the time and thought I wouldn't get to see my daughter in her first year or couple of years too often. And being home with her every day is actually been just the most amazing experience. So thankful at least for some silver lining in COVID.
Are there any silver linings that you see in the economy going into 2021?
Yeah, I think we've gone through an absolute beating and it looks like we've got the ability to come out of it. And I think that's a testament to how strong the economy was built up in the years preceding COVID. So overall I remain an optimist. I mean, we are a country built on opportunity and going out and making it happen. And we're not a socialist country sitting and waiting for people to send us paychecks or wealth distribution or anything like that. I think the American dream still lives on. I think if you go out and you're willing to work and put your head to it and heart in it, I think we do have the ability to climb out of it. So if we look at what the economy is doing over the past few weeks, it looks like it's starting to rebound. And to me, that's assuring because it could go completely one way as well.
And the last question is, is there anything that you're watching, or listening to, or reading today that has been impactful on your thinking that you'd like to share with our audience?
Yeah, that's a good question. I think it's been more personal stories. The news, I sort of take that in context or with more than a grain of salt. In some cases stay off the news channels for a number of days at a time, it became quite repetitive. But I think on the personal side, talking to friends, my family's all back home in Australia, they've just come out of 110 day lockdown, which we can't relate to that. It's been very trying on them and seeing the fortitude that they've had to come out of that and stay intact. I think the mental health issues that will come out of COVID are going to have a far longer effect than the economic issues. I think we're going to have to focus on mental health issues in this country for a long time to come.
The impact on kids has been significant with regards to lockdown or remote schooling, et cetera. But to see people come through it. I think it's a testament to people in general and to the country and other countries as well, to see got that fortitude and survival instinct to try to get through whatever adversity we can. So hearing the personal stories, the challenges that people have gone through, I think it's made me a lot more aware of things that I have to be thankful for and where we can help out other people as well. I think we have to be united going forward because there are things...
I think one of the things that COVID has shown us is we can get into this complacency and life goes on and we go one day to the next. And all of a sudden we get hit by something that affects everybody equally. I mean, COVID, whilst there were groups of people, whether it was the elderly or people with underlying health conditions, that got hit the worst. I mean, we all got hit in some form or another. So really, this should be something that unites us, not divides us.
Well, Pini, I appreciate you coming on today to talk to us a little bit about the supply chain crimp on rare earth and we'll definitely keep an eye on it and would love to have you back in the future.
Thank you, Ryan. Thanks for having me.
Absolutely. Thank you. Bye-bye. Thanks for watching Non-Beta Alpha. And before we go, please remember to like, and subscribe on Apple podcasts and our YouTube channel. This is Non-Beta Alpha, and now you know.
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