Hey everybody, welcome to the All In Podcast.
This is our fifth episode.
As you know, we regularly publish this podcast,
well, every two to four weeks, something like that.
And just to give you a little idea
of how well this is going,
the podcast peaked at number 10 in tech podcasts,
even though we never publish it,
and we’re only four episodes in.
So tell your friends about the podcast
so we can be number one
and just dunk on traditional media,
which is full of people who have us as the guests.
Jason, number 10 on what, Apple?
Apple Technology Podcasts.
We literally raced.
I mean, it went from like,
we debuted in the 20s, then the teens,
and then boom, we hit number 10.
And I was talking to somebody in media
who has us on as guests,
and I was like, listen, I formed a super team
and we’re now getting more traffic.
I’m sorry, who are you talking to?
Just like a mirror where you were just looking at yourself?
I mean, you are so fucking arrogant
after that shitty video.
What video are you referring to?
What video are you referring to?
Oh my God, oh look, you want me to say it
to all the listeners?
You want me to say it?
All right, hold on a second.
Let me just kind of skim through the housekeeping.
Somebody made a cut of the billion times
Jason mentioned he was an early investor in Uber.
All right, take it easy,
Virgin Galactic slash Slack investor.
I don’t say anything.
I mean, I have a lot of companies I could mention.
Yeah, they just put it on the Chiron,
the lower third, every time you’re on CNBC, everybody.
My problem is I have too many unicorns
to mention just one.
I wouldn’t know which one to mention.
They just go with PayPal and Knows Peter Thiel.
David, David, I have a question.
Why is there a picture of two pregnant men
behind you on Zoom?
We now have the technology for men to be impregnated.
This is a recent picture of Jason and I on the golf course.
I’m not sure who’s more out of shape.
Are you on the first hole?
You look like you’re about to collapse.
In fairness, in fairness, it’s 106 degrees.
Two minutes later, the guy behind him
has put his hands under his shoulders and holds him up.
It’s 106 degrees at 80% humidity.
And I kid you not, this was the second
and third time I played golf.
This was the third time.
And I’m gonna just ask, David Freeburg is here, of course.
He’s our science friend, buddy.
And Chamath Palihapitiya is here.
How many holes?
I want one of you to set the over under.
Set the over on how many holes we completed each day.
The maximum number of holes we completed.
Chamath set the line at four,
and you’re taking the over.
It was, Sax?
And actually, there’s a red door every five holes.
So that may have had something to do with it.
I took nine because I figured Jason
was on his rush to the hot dog stand.
Well, that’s where, the red door
is where the hot dogs are.
No, you know what?
I said these two dorks with ADHD
can barely make it an hour doing anything.
And so if you think an average round takes four hours,
then basically, you know, you get through four holes
in about an hour, and then you want to give up.
We got to the fifth hole.
I am addicted to golf now.
I don’t know if you guys know this.
You can gamble on golf.
I’ve heard that.
The biggest match I ever played
was a $500,000 million NASA.
I don’t know what a NASA is.
I lost one and a half bets.
I lost 750K.
What is a NASA type bet?
NASA’s just basically a gambling bet on a per hole basis.
We had just a ton of fun, and it was great
because this was the first time I’ve ever-
It’s the single best aspect of golf, in my opinion.
If you gamble, it makes that game
one of the most incredible games
because people with mental fortitude
who cannot play at all can show up
and literally make hundreds of thousands
or millions of dollars.
Yeah, we were playing for hundreds of dollars per hole,
so let’s just leave it at that.
In fact, we were playing $100 a hole,
so it was just for fun.
But man, I don’t know about you guys.
If we know somebody who’s got a membership
in one of these places, I’d love to go back out again,
but it was great fun, and it was a fun show.
Come to Shadow Creek in Vegas.
We can play.
It’s probably the best gambling golf course
in the world, in my opinion.
Okay, I’m in.
So let’s get to business.
For those of you who are tuning in for the first time,
Chamath Palihapitiya is my co-host here on the podcast.
We’ve been friends since we both did
a very brief tour at AOL.
He then went to work for Mayfield,
which is a venture firm you might not have heard of.
He stayed there for about 27 weeks
before going to work for Mark Zuckerberg.
He secured the bag, then started his own venture firm.
It grew way too big, and he kind of got bored
having to manage 100 people.
So now he’s running his home office venture firm
and doing two deals a year.
The one you’ve certainly heard of is Virgin Galactic,
where he’s taking people to space,
and he did a SPAC for that.
IPOB and IPOC are lined up from what I understand,
he’ll correct me if I am wrong,
and he’ll be SPACing two more companies once a year,
I guess will be the pace.
Is that correct, Chamath?
Among other things, but yeah.
Yeah, and then David Sachs has now become,
and David Freeberg have become regulars.
We’ve decided we’re gonna stick with this foursome
as it goes, because we’re getting a really nice
passing of the ball around topics.
And David Sachs went to Stanford with folks
you know like Keith Raboi, Peter Thiel,
during an era where they were a bunch of huge nerds
who created a way to transfer money
on PalmPilots called PayPal.
It didn’t work until they decided to move it to email.
I’m not sure whose idea,
who gets credit for moving it to email, Sachs?
Who decided like, hey, I don’t know, maybe-
Sachs’ silence is his way of saying me.
Because it was an abject failure
when you tried to send money between PalmPilots,
Peter Thiel’s original idea,
but then somebody woke up and said,
well, why don’t we just do this over email?
What he hasn’t said, let me tell you the names
at PayPal he has not said yet.
Musk, Thiel, Hoffman, Levchin,
silence, radio silence so far, David Sachs.
Jeremy Stoppelman, Chad Hurley from YouTube,
Jerry Stoppman from Yelp.
Anyway, he was part of that cohort.
Then he made a movie called Thank You for Smoking,
which was Jason Reitman’s first film.
Jason Reitman then went on to great success.
That film actually made money.
Sachs was so absolutely depressed
by how long it took to make one film
and how painful it was.
He then decided to go create a billion dollar company
in under three years called Yammer,
which Chamath made a ton of money on
and he cackles about regularly.
And then David Freeberg is with us.
He is just the smartest kid at the table,
but somehow figures out how to lose tons of money
to us in poker.
He created climate.com and sold it to Monsanto.
He created Metro Mile and he created Eatsa,
which failed horribly, but that just goes to show you
nobody even remembers what Eatsa is,
but they do remember his giant multi-billion dollar
companies and he now is running his own startup studio,
which is making incredibly interesting companies.
Can I talk about the one that’s related
to beverages or not?
Okay, anyway, there’s a company related to beverages
that is so game changing.
He just said no.
You can’t say it.
He showed it to us under Frendier.
I just said, can I talk about the beverage company,
yes or no?
I’m trying to give the guy a goddamn plug here.
But anyway, he said no, so you can’t do a plug.
I’m not doing a plug, but I’m teasing it
and I think he’s literally sitting on
what could wind up being the greatest,
most successful company of the entire group, period.
Okay, let’s jump in.
I wanna talk about, David, you sold Climate to Monsanto
for a billion dollars back in the day
when it was shocking to people, that amount of money.
Still is, but you were one of the first
sort of quote unquote unicorns.
And then you were right in the front seat of Monsanto,
probably could have been CEO if you wanted.
I want you to talk to me about what is going on
with Bayer, Monsanto, Roundup, and I wanna use that
as a jumping off point to talk about
the World Health Organization.
So Roundup is a molecule known as glyphosate
and it’s been used as a herbicide for decades.
And for decades, it was very well studied.
The US EPA and the FDA and USDA
and global health organizations have studied it carefully
because of its incredible use.
It biodegrades, the core molecule glyphosate biodegrades
in a couple of days and it is a very effective herbicide.
So when farmers grow stuff,
they don’t want weeds growing in the field
and Roundup was a pretty effective way
at getting rid of weeds so you could get more crop per acre,
more yield per acre.
A long time, people thought that Roundup,
like many of the traditional persistent chemical herbicides
was carcinogenic and people were concerned about that.
And as a result, there was a lot of studying done.
In fact, before I sold my company to Monsanto,
I spent a lot of time researching Roundup and glyphosate
to make sure that it was safe,
that I wasn’t selling my company
to what everyone was saying was the devil at the time.
And from a scientific basis,
I felt pretty comfortable about the data,
the studies, the research that had been done.
When I was at Monsanto,
there was a bit of a political event that took place
at the World Health Organization.
The World Health Organization runs a group called IARC.
It’s a cancer research institute that’s part of the WHO.
And there was a gentleman who was politically trying
to get himself on that council
to make the case that glyphosate was carcinogenic.
And years later, a Reuters reporter identified
how he was able to get this council
to disregard a number of scientific findings and studies,
including the US EPA and other very wide,
broad ranging studies by international organizations
showing that Roundup or glyphosate was non-carcinogenic.
But the political process by which he was able
to get on the council, get that data excluded from a study
and then get IARC to declare Roundup or glyphosate
a possible carcinogen or probable carcinogen,
then triggered a bunch of tort lawyers in the United States
to start suing Monsanto and now Bayer,
because Bayer bought Monsanto a number of years ago,
for causing cancer.
And the data is absent,
but the way the US court system works
is if you have some probable definition
and you can get a jury to say yes,
and the probable cause was there’s a probable carcinogen
label applied to it by IARC.
And this Reuters reporter years ago did a great job
highlighting how this whole thing
was kind of politically motivated
and the data and the science
from a broad range of scientists,
including the AAAS,
a lot of scientific membership organizations
very definitively and clearly show
that glyphosate is non-carcinogenic.
But it was super troubling and frustrating.
Now, look, this doesn’t bother me personally anymore.
I have no interest whatsoever,
but it turns out that these lawsuits
are now gonna cost Monsanto and now Bayer,
which bought Monsanto,
somewhere between 10 and $15 billion to settle this.
And this is all a function of some political hacking
that took place at the WHO.
So for a long time,
I’ve had a bit of a concern about how the WHO operates
and the process by which they do scientific assessment
And a lot of this has obviously become much more apparent
with the coronavirus crisis
and the response with respect to masks
and treatment and so on.
So that’s a little bit of the background
I think you’re referring to, Chamath.
And so, go ahead, Chamath, if you want to.
No, I mean, to me,
I think that this is such an interesting thing.
I wanted to use it as this on-ramp to the WHO
largely because it’s like the ineptitude
keeps compounding in that organization.
I just read that we still don’t have
a definitive posture on masks from the WHO
and that they are finally ceding ground
to the idea that the coronavirus
could partially be spread in air.
I mean, this is so bizarre because-
It’s the middle of July.
There are 3 million cases
and half a million people who have died
and we are still there.
And so, when I saw that Trump pulled out of the WHO,
in this weird way,
the way he did it was kind of cartoonish and stupid
and kind of an insolent child.
But the reason he did it was actually pretty reasonable
because this organization
is not a scientific or health body,
it’s an academic body.
And you can see this in universities
where all of a sudden things tilt away from facts
and it tilts towards all kinds of very, very, very small
points of sort of like political capital
that people fight over.
And so, these politicized organizations are incredible.
And to the point at which we saw this past week,
the report that well over 250 of their own scientists
who they rely on said,
hey, it’s very clear that this is an airborne phenomenon.
Aerosol, tiny microparticles of aerosol,
when people talk, when they sing,
when they cough, when they sneeze,
all this obvious stuff floats in the air.
And if you have a closed air conditioned location,
like say a church in the South or a hotel or a casino,
it’s not a good idea to be in there.
And it’s especially a bad idea to take your mask off.
So now the WHO is 0 for 2.
And Trump, as you said in his just horrifically comical way,
can’t explain as we’re very clearly explaining
that this is a political organization
that is funded by a duopoly of superpowers
that have many issues which we’re gonna get into today.
And we don’t have to say who the duopoly is.
Sax, when you look at this,
being our token conservative here,
and you see the Trump win,
how frustrating is it for you that Trump’s delivery
and his persona, when he is right,
and a person can’t be wrong all the time,
I’m proof positive of that,
you have to deal with the fact that he does it
in such a stupid, inane way
that you don’t actually get credit for the win.
Well, Trump is often the bull in the China shop
and kind of disrupts the status quo
by throwing a grenade into it.
But frequently there are good reasons
why the status quo needs to be disrupted.
And the New York Times laid out the case in a news story
on who the one that reported the scientist complaining
that you were talking about.
It was just a straight news story,
but it almost came across as an expose
because who’s incompetence was laid out so starkly.
The fact that they were slow on mass and opposed them
and I think kind of lied about them.
And then to be downplaying the airborne nature of the virus
in favor of maintaining this narrative
that it’s spread through touching surfaces or fomites,
which I think people are realizing now
is much, much less likely.
And so, yeah, you do kind of have to wonder
whose side is who on.
And the New York Times article kind of suggests
why they do this, which is when they issue a declaration,
they have to think about the ramifications
in all of their member countries.
And so what ends up happening is they sort of start
with the policy implication or political result
that they are thinking about
and then they kind of reverse engineer the science.
And the article talks about how if who were to come out
and sort of be very clear about airborne transmission
that could affect spending or political budgets
in all of these different countries.
And so they’ve been reluctant to do that.
So yeah, it’s a organization that’s sort of political first
and then reverse engineers the science to fit that.
You know what this reminds me of?
It’s like when you have giant investors
on the board of a company,
the management team comes out
and now they’ve got to present like a pivot
or an acquisition or whatever it is.
And they’re thinking, well, okay,
we’ve got this funding source.
These people own 26% of who, this person owns 22%.
We’ve now got to present it to them.
And what are the downstream ramifications?
Luckily, there’s an alignment in a single company.
The alignment is we all want the company share price
to go up.
But here in the world, it is not equally aligned.
What is in China’s best interest,
what’s in the EU’s best interest
and what’s in America’s best interest
might be radically different.
And they are literally funding them, correct, Srimath?
Well, there’s a thing called Sayer’s Law, right?
Which many of us kind of have seen play out,
which is that academic,
the saying is something like academic politics
are so vicious because the stakes are so small.
And in this interesting way,
the WHO has lost the script
because they fight over politics.
Who gets to say what, who’s being positioned
and they lose sight of the real downstream,
in my opinion,
the downstream implications of the things that they have.
Because if they actually just thought from first principles
and tried to be a truly independent body
that said we are gonna take the capital we’re given
from the countries that are supporting us
and actually do the best
and actually publish like what is the best thing to do.
For example, in the case of coronavirus
and be definitive and iterate,
we’d be in a much better place.
But a lot of what has allowed the posture around coronavirus
to transition from a health issue to a political issue
in many ways has been because organizations like the WHO
and the CDC are political bodies and they’re academic bodies.
And so the incentives of the players
within these organizations are not to necessarily
project the right public health positioning.
They are at some level to think
about their own career trajectory
and the political machinations that happen
within the organization that are blind
to normal citizens like us that just consume the output.
And then so when you see something
like an inability to give a definitive ruling
on things like masks or other things,
you just kind of scratch your head and wonder,
is it that they’re dumb?
And the answer is no, it’s not that they’re dumb.
They’re just motivated by very different things
than public health all the time.
Which might be including keeping their jobs.
And the fact that we had David Friedberg on this podcast
and then Sachs chiming in after it, shortly after,
just definitively saying first principles,
why wouldn’t you wear a mask?
What is the possible downside?
And Friedberg saying,
hey, I’m getting some testing equipment.
We should just be doing mass testing.
Friedberg, when you look at this
and how when we started the podcast,
I think in March or April, we were very clear
as people not in the, with the exception of yourself,
not in the healthcare space in any way,
what would be a better structure for the who?
Or is there a better structure
than just a bunch of randos like us on a podcast,
very easily seeing through first principles
that a 79 cent mask is a no brainer,
that getting testing, mass testing
and recording it every day and doing sampling,
what is the better solution here for governance
or for dealing with these type of really large problems
and ones that kind of have a clock.
That’s the other thing about this problem is
this problem came with a countdown clock.
You had to make a really fast decision
in order to protect yourself.
And we made a really drawn out decision.
Now we’re paying the price.
I mean, I think under the circumstances you outlined,
you need leadership, right?
So you need probably a country
or some entity to step forward
and lead with respect to being proactive
and aggressive with action
because any multinational oversight body
or political body is gonna be kind of molasses out.
It’s gonna be stalled out with the processes
and the competing interests as you guys have highlighted.
So the libertarian argument would be
let the free market drive outcomes.
And some folks will succeed and some folks will fail.
If we want all of humanity to succeed,
then the likely scenario is what we’ve seen
with world wars and such, which is you need leadership.
You need one organization or one entity
or one national body to step forward
and say, this is what we’re doing.
And we’re gonna lead.
And the world was absent leadership
over the last six months.
Historically, the US has filled that void,
but that certainly wasn’t the case this year.
And so it seems to me like you’re not gonna find
a political governing system,
multinational governing system
that’s gonna be successful in solving
these kind of existential global problems overnight.
You really need someone to step forward.
And the US is kind of leaving a bit of a gap.
This might be a good segue because the question next
is who’s gonna fill that gap going forward.
Yeah, so let’s make that segue.
When you look at the duopoly that currently is,
I would say on par now,
I don’t think we can say we’re the superpower anymore
and that China’s an up and coming superpower.
It’s pretty clear they are an equal superpower.
I don’t know if anybody here disagrees with that right now,
but if we have an edge,
it’s a very minor one at this point.
How do we look at health problems
with an authoritarian country
where individuals do not vote?
And there is a God King who has recently said,
I will be the God King for the rest of my life for sure.
How do we manage this relationship with China?
And then we can pass it over to Sachs.
From a healthcare perspective?
Let’s start there for sure.
And then whatever other major issue
you would like to then segue into,
climate change comes to mind, trade comes to mind,
human rights comes to mind.
I would imagine the biggest,
the argument that your geopolitical commentators would make
who are probably more experienced and experts in this
than any of us would probably relate
to the degree of influence.
The question of who has the most influence globally
may be kind of the way that you define
who has the most power globally.
And so, in the current circumstance,
you can look at trade balance
between China and other nations.
You can look at trade balance
between the US and other nations,
and you can look at the balance sheet,
the assets and the debt owed.
And you’re right.
I mean, a lot of people are making the case
that we’re kind of reaching a point of parity
through some metric or some set of equations here.
And at this point, there’s gonna be a jockeying
for leadership globally in terms of influence.
And so, that will have ramifications
with respect to things that are global in nature,
like global pandemics.
And I think this is a really kind of key flash moment,
a flashpoint moment for us,
because we are facing that,
we did face that circumstance this year,
and obviously we took the raw end of the deal.
We failed most.
I mean, we all concur on that.
We did worst.
China is just like an extremely good example
of focusing on strategy
while the rest of us focused on tactics.
The last 20 years have been punctuated
by the United States spending literally
trillions of dollars on endless wars
and unnecessary military infrastructure
and all kinds of wasted pork barrel spending
and programs that just have resulted in zero ROI
for the United States and its taxpayers and citizens.
And instead, what did China do?
They basically went around the world
and they used the equivalent amount of dollars.
And they said, every war that the United States fights
is a war that we can essentially be silent on.
Let them do that dirty work.
And what we will do instead is we will go
and basically buy and own large swaths of Southeast Asia,
large swaths of Africa,
which is the emerging labor pools
that will drive GDP forward for us.
And what they’ve essentially created
is not necessarily a voting block,
but a productivity block.
And that’s what’s so interesting
and also really important to understand,
which is that China is fighting not an ideological war.
They’re fighting an economic war.
And it is one where they are buying
member states to join them with their capital.
And so we’ve kind of like not seen it
and it’s unfortunately happened right under our nose.
So now what we need to do is we need to sort of wake up
to this reality and have a very aggressive point of view
around what matters.
So by the way, this is also why,
and I’ll hand the mic to David after this,
but this is also why I think like
we have completely wasted so much time
focusing on all these other countries
that just don’t matter anymore.
And I don’t say that emotionally.
I just say it practically,
like every single minute we spend on Russia
is just a wasted time.
This is a country that just won’t fundamentally matter
in the world over the next 15 to 20 years.
Large swaths of Europe, they’re ideologically aligned,
but they just don’t matter.
The United States has to develop
a really specific strategic viewpoint
on the fact that it is us versus China,
whether we like it or not.
And it starts in things like public policy,
but it stretches to everything,
including capitalism, technology,
intellectual property, healthcare.
And this war will not be fought on the ground with guns.
It’ll be fought with computers
and it’ll be fought with money.
And I think we need to realize that.
Loans and joint ventures.
Sax, what are your thoughts here on this coming Cold War?
We beat the Russians in the last Cold War.
And to Chamath’s point,
the only thing they have really going for them
is their incredibly sinister KGB style information warfare
and the decreasing value of their oil and irrelevance,
which is why they have to do things
like mess with us on social media.
I mean, literally I feel like
it’s like the last couple of dying techniques
they’ve got in their playbook from the 80s as the KGB.
And they got a KGB agent running the country.
When we look at China,
how do you frame our relationship with them
and what would be the best practice
for the next 10 years?
Midterm, in other words.
I think what you’ve seen just really
in the last couple of weeks
is a critical mass of scholarship and punditry
declaring that we are in a new Cold War with China.
And I think of all the momentous news events
that have happened this year,
from COVID to the riots and protests,
I think that the most newsworthy
and historically important event
will be the beginning of this
and the recognition that we are now in Cold War II.
TikTok is part of it.
I mean, COVID.
It’s paradoxical that a dance app
is literally the tip of the spear.
I mean, I think TikTok is sort of at the fringes.
I think the Cold War II, to David’s point,
started when the United States basically embargoed Huawei
from getting access to 5G technology.
And I know that sounds like a very sort of like
thin thread that most people don’t understand
and we can unpack it in a second.
But in my opinion, that sort of,
at the beginning of this year
was when I started to pay attention
and try to understand this issue more
because it seemed like, wow,
that’s a shot across the bow
and declaring China as the clear,
sort of the clear and present danger
for American sovereignty.
And the NBA and TikTok
being cultural ramifications of that,
which are different.
Is it irrelevant, Sax?
Well, what TikTok and Huawei have in common
is that the sort of proxy battles of Cold War II
will be fought between these sort of client corporations.
Whereas, you know, Cold War I,
you had sort of these proxy,
these sort of client states fighting these proxy wars.
Cold War II,
you have more of these like client corporations
fighting these proxy wars.
So, you know, it’s,
that’s the sense in which I think they’re related.
The, what TikTok shows is a company
that’s desperately trying to maneuver
so they don’t become one of the first economic casualties
of Cold War II.
They appointed a American as CEO.
They’ve pulled out of Hong Kong
so they’re not subject to those regulations.
And they’re desperately maneuvering
so they don’t get banned in the United States.
They want to preserve their market access.
But I think there’s a very good chance
that they will get shut down in the US.
They’ve been shut down in India.
And today is July the 10th.
And right before we went on,
the breaking news was that Amazon basically asked
all their employees to delete TikTok
because of a security threat.
So it’s happening.
I think that TikTok,
unless they basically have ByteDance
sell under 20 or 30% of the company
and get it into the hands of Americans,
it will get banned.
And I think that there will be a massive destruction
in enterprise value.
But can I tell you why TikTok doesn’t matter
or doesn’t matter as much?
I think, David, you’re right,
that it’s sort of like collateral damage.
It almost is like, you know, it’ll exist, but whatever.
The Huawei thing, in my opinion, is so important
because it shines a light on two things.
The first is that, you know,
what happened essentially is the United States told TSMC,
you know, you cannot basically give Huawei access
to the 5G chipsets and the 5G technology
that they would use to essentially kind of like,
you know, implement their spyware
and then sell it into Western nations, effectively.
And so then what it does is it puts China
in the posture of having to figure out
how do they get access to this stuff?
And, you know, the most obvious answer is to invade Taiwan
and take over TSMC.
And, you know, why would they do that?
Well, obviously that has huge geopolitical ramifications,
but they could only do that, again,
going back to the first comment,
is because they’ve already bought so many nation states
into their productivity block
that it’s still on a balance, a worthwhile trade.
And it allows them to solve their version
of Taiwanese sovereignty completely and definitively
and basically say, look, we’ve now solved Hong Kong.
You know, Macau was already solved
and now we’re gonna solve Taiwan
and put the whole thing to bed
and now we have access to this critical technology
that we need.
So that’s why I think sort of like what happens with Huawei,
sort of what happens with TSMC,
what happens on 5G is so important
because if you’re going to force China, you know,
to basically have to buy Western technology
in order to get access to a critical piece of,
you know, internet infrastructure,
they’re gonna be put to a very, very difficult test
about what they have to do.
And then they will have to be much more transparent
on the global stage about what their ambitions really are
and how far they’re willing to go.
And I think that’s, you know,
that’s a lot more important than, you know,
a bunch of kids dancing to short videos.
Well, and just to add to that point, you know,
so I think Jamal is right that these sort of chips,
the 5G chips and these other chips,
they’re the new oil, you know,
in terms of their geopolitical significance.
You know, obviously all of our technology,
our iPhones, our advanced weaponry,
it’s all based on these chips
and 70% of them are fabricated in Taiwan.
And I think, you know,
one of the huge blind spots of American trade policy
over the last 30 years is kind of not to notice
that this key technology,
that’s really the substrate for all of our technology,
for our economy, has now been,
it’s now been moved and it’s manufactured, you know,
in Taiwan whose sovereignty China does not recognize
and is constantly, you know,
threatening with the risk of being annexed.
So, you know, we have a tremendous vulnerability there.
And, you know, at the same, you know,
we finally, after about 40 or 50 years of declaring
that we’d be energy independent, we’ve achieved that,
but now we have this new dependency on these chips that-
And pharma and manufacturing.
I mean, and we, it seems like now manufacturing,
we’re starting to realize, hey, Elon was right.
We need to be able to build our own factories.
And guess what?
American spirit, American ingenuity,
American focus, American capitalism, we can do it.
We have the wherewithal to do it.
There’s no reason we cannot make these chips here.
Sorry, I don’t buy it
that we’re going to be this dependent forever.
We just need to have the will and the leadership to say,
we’re going to do this,
whether it costs us an extra 50 cents per chip.
Well, the fabrication of these chips
is incredibly complicated.
I mean, they’re basically-
So let’s buy the companies.
And it takes years, like several years,
to set up the facility to do this kind of fabrication.
Why don’t we buy those companies now?
Why don’t we just take, to Chamath’s point,
which was very clear, which is, hey, this is an economic,
this is a ledger,
this is a check writing exercise to win this war.
Why don’t we take out our checkbook
and buy 50% of these companies now
and put them on the NASDAQ if they’re not already there?
It requires real leadership.
At the end of the day,
it needs to be led by the United States government.
The reality is that lithography has gotten so advanced.
I mean, like, look, I have companies
that are taping out chips at like seven nanometer,
and I don’t have supplier diversity.
I don’t know.
I can’t basically choose nine folks to bid it out against,
of which five are domestically in the United States.
There are two, right?
And so you kind of just deal with the complexity
or the lack of diversity that we have.
And Jason, your point is exactly right,
which is the first and most important decision here
is one that’s philosophical,
which is again saying that era of efficiency
at the sake of all else is over.
And we are now moving to an era of resilience,
which inherently is more inefficient.
But in that inefficiency,
we will rebuild American prosperity
because it rebuilds American industry
and it rebuilds American jobs.
There’s another example
that I want to build on David’s point,
which is let’s all believe and attest
that we all care about climate change for a second,
and we all want the world to be electrified, okay?
Well, electricity and electrification
requires two very, very basic inputs, okay?
One is a battery,
and the second is an electric motor, right?
Make sense so far?
Well, inside an electric motor,
there is one critical thing that you need to make it work,
which is a permanent magnet.
The permanent magnet spins around
and that’s how an electric motor works.
Okay, why is that important?
As it turns out that permanent magnets
need special characteristics
that are only provided by a handful
of very, very specific rare earth materials
that we need to mine out of the ground and refine.
Those materials actually exist in many places,
including the United States.
Yeah, we stopped mining for them.
But right now,
China controls 80% of the supply of rare earths.
They can choose how they price it.
They can differentially price to their own companies,
which means that the battery
and engine manufacturers inside of China
can now lead on electrification,
which means China can actually lead on climate change
before the United States can,
unless we have leadership that says,
at a governmental level on down,
we are gonna make this a priority.
We’re gonna fund it.
We’re gonna make sure that there are onshore mines.
We’re gonna make sure that those mines are clean.
We’re gonna build a supply chain domestically
and we’re gonna subsidize.
This is what governments do best.
It’s not act, it’s just incentivize on things like climate.
So I don’t know,
Friedberg has spent a lot of time on climate change.
So he has probably a lot of ideas on this,
but whenever you look at any of these things,
health, climate, food,
it all comes down to the United States versus China,
strategy versus tactics.
I’m not sure.
I’m not sure.
I think that the Chinese action
is as deterministic as we think it is,
or as we kind of frame it,
where it’s China’s got this grand plan.
They’re gonna beat the US
and they’re gonna control things
and make decisions that hurt us.
I think a lot of this is,
China, if you think about it,
less about black and white,
there’s a continuum.
And the continuum is one of influence
and one of creating an environment
whereby these things can happen.
So China, for example,
made capital readily available
for the agriculture industry
to be able to buy assets.
And so the companies inside of China,
which aren’t controlled,
the Chinese government isn’t telling them what to do.
The Chinese government has set a policy
that enables them to increase their prosperity
and as a result,
increase the prosperity of the Chinese people.
When I was at Monsanto,
we bid for the largest ag chemicals company
in the world based out of Switzerland.
It’s called Syngenta.
And we bid like $44 billion to buy this company.
And the largest chemical company in China
called ChemChina bid $47 billion
and acquired the business.
And they now own the largest
ag chemicals company in the world.
China also bought Smithfields
and they put a bunch of people in Canada.
how much of that money do you think came from the CCP?
And what involvement do you think the CCP had
in putting their thumb on the scale
of making sure that transaction went that direction?
Look, I mean, ultimately,
wherever the capital comes from,
it’s no less equivalent
than what you would see in the United States
where treasuries fund the central bank,
which funds banks,
which fund lending to corporations,
which ultimately make purchases.
But do you think the leadership said,
hey, we’re winning this at all costs?
So here’s what happened.
In 2007, there was a CCP internal doctrine
that was published and it’s now reasonably well-known.
And there was a speech that was given
that started this aggressive action in agriculture.
And as a result,
Chinese citizens started moving to Canada
and buying farmland in Canada.
They started moving to Australia,
buying farmland in China.
They started building these facilities
in Argentina and Brazil and Africa.
And the Chinese government set out a strategic objective
and provided the capital
and enabled industry and people
to go after pursuing these interests.
But the CCP didn’t say, here’s the roadmap.
It’s not like, here’s the specific plan
for what we need to do.
They had a general high level kind of point of view
that I think drove all that action
and all of that behavior.
And so, I would say it’s not as perhaps coercive
as we might think it is
in terms of the CCP wanting to target and attack US.
They’re trying to increase their influence
around the world.
They’re trying to increase their own security
and increase their own prosperity.
And at some point,
there’s only so many resources globally.
There’s only so much land, so much magnets
And they’re winning in the markets.
And we’re kind of crossing that threshold now
where they’re actually like a competitor.
The only difference between this is,
and I couldn’t disagree with-
Sorry, my point is,
I just don’t wanna frame it as like,
I just think it’s a misstatement to frame it
as China has this grand plan to come after the US
and they’re evil and that’s what they’re doing.
I mean, they-
Yeah, see, this is where I think
you’re completely wrong, David, respectfully.
I believe this is an ideological war.
And you can’t diminish what’s happening in Hollywood,
TikTok and the NBA and other sports
where China is explicitly saying,
if you put a villain in a movie,
if you talk about Tibet in a movie,
we are going to not play that movie.
And we’re gonna start funding your movies.
And so they are absolutely using the vector of culture.
And Chamath, I think you’re also wrong here
where you’re saying, oh, TikTok’s not important.
TikTok is something that a generation of kids
absolutely are in love with.
And those kids are like, hey, boomers,
stay out of our platform.
And so, and the ideological issue here, Freebird,
which I think that you’re underplaying is,
they want to win and they want to spread their ideology,
which is the ideology of authoritarianism.
They are not going to win Africa
and then suddenly say, you know what,
would be great for Africa
if we made the entire continent democracies.
Tell me that’s not in their best interest.
How is it different than Trump tweeting?
Well, Freebird, I just think that it’s inconceivable to me
that the Chinese, when they do this grandiose planning
and they do the political theater
of having the thousands of people in the Chinese
assembly hall once a year in Xi Jinping talks,
that they haven’t developed a multifaceted,
multi-layered plan that they’re executing.
In part, I think this is why Xi Jinping
essentially wants to be this ruler for life inside of China
because he, I think they have a 20 or 30 year plan.
And I do think it is to disrupt the United States.
And I don’t think that they believe though,
which is the smart thing, that there’s one silver bullet.
I just think that they’re going to take a thousand shots
on goal, whether it’s, you know,
monopolizing the rare earths or, you know,
figuring out how to basically put spying software
in the hands of millions of Americans.
That’s where I think TikTok is actually really important.
It’s essentially a vehicle to spy
and backdoor into Americans.
Or whether it’s, you know, introducing a digital Yuan
so that we can try to disrupt the, you know,
the use of the U.S. dollar
as a reserve currency of the world.
They probably have a list of a thousand tactics
and they’re going to go and execute them.
And I don’t begrudge them that.
I just think it’s well-organized machine.
I just think we now need to counterpunch.
Yeah, I mean, so China is on a mission
of national greatness.
I think the immediate goal is to assert its hegemony
over Asia and to kick the U.S. out of that region.
But I think ultimately now they see in their sights
potentially being the number one country
in the entire world because of the chaos
that COVID has wrought over here.
And in fairness, David,
the incompetence of Trump thus far.
I mean, like, you know, it’s not fair to think
that the Chinese Politburo versus Trump
and his cabinet are an equal match.
Forget their political persuasion.
Yeah, I mean, they clearly seem emboldened.
And, you know, just in the last few weeks and months,
we’ve seen the ending of the two systems in Hong Kong,
which was a 50-year commitment they made in,
I think, 1984.
So they abrogated on that commitment.
Well, and Sachs, they happened to do that
three or four months before Trump is looking like
he’s not gonna be in office.
So talking about shots on goal,
this may be their only shot to do this.
And does that mean they go after Taiwan?
Yeah, and do they go after Taiwan in the next 100 days
where they have a window?
I think we have to be extremely clear
that Taiwan is a red line for us
and that we’re committed to the security of Taiwan.
Because if we show any hesitation or weakness there,
they will seize on that.
Would Trump do that?
Would Trump put his foot down?
Because he did nothing when it came to supporting-
I think we need to abstract away
from any given president of the United States
because they change every four or eight years.
And I think we need to have a bigger discussion,
which is, like I said, over the next 40 to 50 years,
are we comfortable with duopoly power structure in the world,
which is the United States and China,
because that’s effectively what we are today,
or are we the shining city on a hill once again?
And if so, what are we willing to do
to make sure that that’s the case?
And I think that’s independent of your political persuasion
and your party.
Well, the good news here is that both Trump and Biden
are basically racing to sort of position themselves
as the more hawkish candidate on China,
which is to say that this recognition of Cold War II
is now, I think, bipartisan,
which if you want to sustain a policy in this country
over, say, 40 years, like we did
in containing the Soviet Union,
you have to have bipartisan support for that.
And so it does seem like, finally, as a country,
I think we are kind of getting our act together on China.
I mean, obviously, there will be disagreements
within that larger context,
but it seems like now people are waking up to the threat
that China represents to, you know,
to America being the number one country in the world.
And I think-
Yeah, by the way, I agree with Sax.
I mean, I think that’s exactly what’s happening
and what will happen here.
And it’ll certainly, it’ll be a big hill to climb.
I’ll just highlight, and I’ll ask the question of Chamath,
you know, per his point earlier.
Let me ask you guys,
how many factories do you think exist in China?
Take a guess.
Now, how many do you think exist in the United States?
Close, about 250,000.
And China has about 83 million factory workers,
and we have about 12.
So, you know, Chamath, if we do end up in Cold War II,
where, you know, we escalate the tension
and escalate the divide,
how do we end up, you know,
having, avoiding $2,000 or $3,000 iPhones?
How do we get all the televisions we want for 500 bucks?
How do we do that,
given that, you know,
to catch up with this production capacity
will end up costing many tens of trillions of dollars
of invested capital
which China has invested over decades?
Well, this is such a brilliant,
this is a fabulous question.
And I think I don’t have the answer,
but here’s the way that I think about the solution.
You know, the thing that we had before
was in my way, in many ways,
like this kind of like perverted sense of globalism.
And I think that we, you know,
we thought that globalism equals utopia.
And that’s not true.
It’s actually more like a chessboard,
which means you have, you know,
two different sets of colored pieces
competing against each other.
And each piece on the board in many ways is a country.
So, you know, we can look at that as a geographic skew
and say like, we need to really consolidate,
you know, North, Central and South America
as a block, as a productivity block.
And so, David, that’s where we need to have
more trade within those areas
so that we can actually build up production capacity
in places that can absorb and produce low cost labor
or low cost items to compete with the China block.
That may be a solution.
That is an incredible point, Chamath,
which is why the rhetoric with Mexico,
which would love to have a deep relationship with us,
is so dumb.
We’re talking about factories.
They would love for us to put more factories on there.
And whatever countries,
let’s work our way down the peninsula.
Yeah, go down the peninsula.
Go to Honduras, go to El Salvador, go to Guatemala,
where the people are screaming for work,
which is why they’re trying to enter the United States.
The best way is to not build a wall,
take all that money and fuel it into production
and manufacturing and warehouse capacity
in those places in which they are leaving
in the first place.
And if we thought like China, we would…
Go ahead, go ahead, Freeberg, sorry.
No, you can’t successfully sustain a Cold War with China
without global partnership.
And I think, you know, this notion of nationalism
and isolationism in the United States
will not work in a world
where we are also trying to compete globally with China
and are raising the stakes in a global Cold War.
You can’t have it both ways.
So, you know, either the current administration policy
needs to change.
I’d love to hear Sax’s point of view on this.
Or, you know, or we need to have a change in administration
and actually, you know, re-engage on a global basis
with partner states.
So I think the point about,
about, well, I think what some people on the right would say
is that being able to buy cheap goods at target
is not worth the hollowing out
of the American industrial base
that happened over the past 30 years
and that was a catastrophic mistake.
And, you know, this is what got Trump reelected
was shattering that blue wall in those Rust Belt states.
So I think we can kind of look back on that
and wonder whether that trade-off was really worth it.
But moving forward, I think the balance is gonna be
to realize that trade does create wealth.
You know, all wealth, in fact, comes from trade,
whether at the level of individuals or nations.
If it weren’t for trade, all of us would be
subsistence farmers or something like that.
But we also have to realize
that trade creates interdependence
because I stopped making certain things
in order to buy them from you.
And so in order to engage in trade,
we have to trust each other.
I have to trust that you one day won’t decide
that your ability to manufacture antibiotics is strategic
and you might deprive me of them
in order to facilitate some geopolitical interest.
And so I think what we’re waking up to
with production of pharmaceuticals or N95 masks,
you know, PPE, and now chips is that
we’ve had this real blind spot with respect to trade.
We’ve basically offshored so many of the elements
that are necessary for our national survival.
And I think those elements have to be brought back
so that America is safe and independent.
But with respect to, you know, so many other things,
I think it’s fine for us to get them through trade,
whether, you know, it could be apparel or toys
or so many other goods that, you know,
we do want cheap goods that are not formally strategic.
I wanna do a mental exercise.
We all, for our living, try to come up with 100x,
1,000x solutions, whether we’re creating the companies
or betting on the companies.
I want everybody to just think for a second
of the United States as a startup company
and a 10x, 100x idea for how we can
not only maintain our position,
but maybe become the shining hill
where we actually lead the world
towards democracy, towards human rights.
I’m gonna start with one that I just happened to,
it hit me while you all were talking,
which is why I love doing this podcast
because I get such inspiration listening to you guys,
you know, pass the ball around.
We haven’t added a state to the United States
in a pretty damn long time.
What if we said to Puerto Rico,
what if we said to the Dominican Republic,
what if we said to Honduras,
I mean, and I don’t wanna make this
into a exercise in colonialism,
but if we said, you know what, Puerto Rico,
how do you feel about being the 51st state?
Because we’re already 80% of the way there.
And what if we said the United States is going to,
and this is just a crazy 100x idea,
we’re gonna start taking countries
that maybe love democracy,
that would love to be part of the United States
and having a bridge towards becoming part of this block,
whether it’s how Puerto Rico is.
Jason, the United States can barely function as it is.
That’s why I’m giving you the freedom to say
this is a 100x exercise as a startup,
because if we put out crazy ideas like this,
maybe we can pull people towards thinking
like the chessboard of how to play 3D chess
or how to win the chessboard,
not just move the pawns back and forth.
Well, I think the first thing America has to do
is decide whether it wants to,
whether it still thinks that national greatness is important
and whether it wants to compete
to be the leading power in the world.
Because right now it seems like we’re hopelessly divided
and our guns are literally drawn on each other.
And you’ve got this all out assault going on on capitalism,
you have sort of cancel culture
and America just seems hopelessly divided.
And I don’t know if Americans still think it’s important
to be the number one power in the world.
All right, so what’s your thought experiment
on how to make Americans realize this is important?
Or if anybody else wants to jump in here
with a 10x idea for America, go ahead, John.
I have an overlaying theory
that this is sort of kind of me spitballing,
so bear with me, but-
Let’s do it.
There’s this concept called the Overton window, right?
Which is sort of like the minimally viable,
acceptable surface area of dialogue,
at which case it starts to sort of get extreme.
I would theorize, I would tell you
that the Overton window is the smallest it’s ever been.
And there’s basically nothing that you can talk about
that is relatively benign without it being politicized.
There’s no gradation anymore.
It’s a very binary thing.
You’re either in the Overton window,
which, for example, would be like vegetables matter
or looking both ways across the street matters.
And outside the Overton window,
honestly, is Black Lives Matter, as an example.
And it gets politicized on both sides.
Masks, if a balaclava when you’re skiing
because your face is cold is inside the Overton window.
That same balaclava when you go to the drug store
so that you can actually either prevent disease
one way or the other is outside the Overton window.
Making sure that police are there to protect you
in a time of need is now outside the Overton window
because it’s framed in the lens of police brutality.
So the Overton window has shrunk.
So we have very little surface area
where we can actually all agree
without getting into a fight, ideologically.
We’re trying to cancel each other.
I totally agree with that.
I mean, we have this sort of epidemic
of cancel culture going on.
And I guess, Jason, you recently experienced this.
Oh my Lord.
I mean, for the love of God, what happened, Jason?
Tell us what happened.
Listen, I look at Twitter as a place
to have vibrant discussions.
And 10 years ago, it was kind of where
the Overton window was most open.
You could have a discussion about anything.
And we had a discussion about my feeling
that as a former journalist,
and we’re doing random acts of journalism here,
that I just thought the New York Times
was just way too biased,
and that they picked a side
in order for their business to survive.
And I actually believe that.
I believe they picked the side of Trump.
I’m sorry, the side of anti-Trump
in order to get subscriptions
because their advertising business
has been demolished by the duopoly of Facebook and Google.
This led to the circling of the wagons
of the journalists, which I was part of.
But listen, it’s pretty easy to hate me.
I understand that.
I’m a loud mouth.
And so now I’m getting piled on by the journalists.
And you were an early investor in Uber.
Don’t forget that.
Don’t leave that out.
The third or fourth, they tell me the third or fourth.
Anyway, so there’s a journalist at said publication,
I’m not gonna say her name
because I don’t want any harassment of anybody.
Who said people are stupid for going back to work
and they’re idiots.
And I said, this is a very convenient thing
for a journalist who works behind a keyboard
who makes $100,000 a year to say
because those people are literally not gonna be able
to feed their kids if they don’t go back to work.
And this led to her saying I was harassing and stalking her.
Then I was in Clubhouse, the new social network
where you talk and the same journalist was in the audience.
And I said to the people who were talking,
just be aware there is a journalist in the audience
because even though this is a private beta,
this could wind up being in the New York Times,
which it did.
Not that discussion,
but another one that was covertly taped.
And I don’t know if it was covertly taped
by journalists or not,
but it did wind up in the press.
Anyway, this whole thing turns into a giant fight.
Clubhouse sounds like some dark S&M sex club in Berlin.
No, no, that’s a-
Here’s what I think is most entertaining about this.
That’s Clubhouse, H-O-A-U-S, house, Clubhouse.
Yeah, what I think is most entertaining about this
is that the New York Times journalist
was in this vicious battle with Bology,
who’s a Silicon Valley founder and personality.
And they were arguing.
And then Jason somehow comes running over
and starts involving himself in this feud.
And it’s like Bology gets fouled,
but Jason takes the flop, you know?
And all of a sudden, Jason’s talking about
how he’s getting doxed.
Bology’s the guy who was called out in the New York Times,
but somehow Jason takes the flop.
But anyway, so here’s what’s happened.
I’m only telling the story.
I’m not trying to get victim points,
give a fuck about that.
It’s July 4th.
I put the kids down for the nap.
Steaks are going on the grill.
It’s a fucking great day.
And then I’m on the Peloton
trying to be just a little less fat
so I can be less fat than Sax
so that the photo that Sax is using,
I just come out 5% less fat than Sax.
And I look, and I had posted a picture of the tree line
outside my house of the beautiful blue sky on July 4th.
And I said, listen, everybody,
take a break from Twitter, go spend time with your family,
which is what I was about to do.
A 37-year-old private equity douche from Boston
does a reverse image search on the tree line,
finds a bigger picture of the trees,
finds a picture of my pool based on that bigger picture
in Google reverse image search and all these other tools,
and then doxes me,
which basically means releasing your address.
He releases my address in my thread,
okay, because, so I DM him,
and he’s using his real name,
and he’s got a LinkedIn profile.
And I said, do you realize how dangerous this is?
He goes, well, you’re stalking said journalist.
I said, I am not stalking the journalist.
Well, she said you’re stalking her.
So if you apologize to her
and you take down the mean stuff you said about her,
I’ll take down your home address.
And I said, hey, dipshit, this is illegal, number one.
And number two, you’re gonna lose your Twitter account.
And then I said, number three,
we’re connected, your boss,
because you’re using your public name,
your boss is connected to 14 people,
of which like half are very close friends of mine.
And I’m calling your boss,
and I have all these screenshots of you doxing me.
What do you think is gonna happen on Monday?
And I just gave him my phone number.
And hold on, hold on, go ahead.
You wanna finish the story?
Okay, sorry, go ahead.
Let me just finish the story.
I tell the guy, here’s my phone number, he calls me.
I said, hey, I know that you’re a kid.
I know that you did something rash,
but this is actually kind of a dangerous thing
because there’s serious mental illness in whatever,
0.1% of the population.
There’s millions of people
now involved in this discussion.
It could be a security concern for me.
I’m not gonna post your address.
Please don’t post mine.
Delete the tweet.
He goes, I refuse to delete the tweet until you whatever.
And I said, okay, well, I’m gonna call your boss on Monday.
We know these people in common.
She’s going to fire you and you’re gonna lose your job.
Now, I know you’re only 23 or 24,
and this doesn’t matter to you.
And he goes, I said, how old are you?
He said, 37.
I said, you’re 37 years old?
He said, are you married?
He said, yeah, I’m married.
I got a six-year-old.
I said, now you want me to make you lose your job
because you’re so mad at me over nothing?
I said, I don’t wanna call your boss on Monday
and tell them what you did
because it will certainly result in you being fired.
And he goes, oh, I said,
you might wanna go talk to your spouse about what you did
and maybe get her perspective.
He writes me an apology letter.
We deleted it.
It’s all water under the bridge.
But I’ve been trying to tell people,
you have to be very careful when this gets too personal
because you are dog whistling to crazy people
who then might do something crazy.
Anyway, end of story.
I backed off the whole discussion
because I wanna finish my second book
and I wanna do podcasts with guys like you
and have a great time with my life
and not be involved with a bunch of idiots.
End of story.
So I wanna go back to this
Overton window concept for a second.
So again, just my idea.
So you take the word matters.
The word matters is in the Overton window.
Nobody can argue that the word matters is offensive.
If you prepend that word with vegetables,
it stays in the Overton window.
If you put looking both ways before you cross the street,
Okay, we’re still there.
We’re in the Overton window.
If you say black lives as a term,
just without the word matters,
that’s probably in the Overton window.
If black lives matters, it’s out the Overton window.
And both sides politicize.
I think the left politicizes with this cancel culture
and basically like an extreme form of political correctness.
And then the right politicizes by,
in their way, a vein of hypersensitivity
and then a doubling down on this notion
of an attacking of individual freedoms and free speech.
And in all of that,
both of these two groups miss the fact
that they’re both sort of the same
and they’re wronged in the same way,
but they’re both not listening in the same way.
So if I had to put something in the Overton window
that would address the US-China Cold War thing,
here’s what I would say.
We all need energy.
We all need food and we all need technology, right?
We need to sort of warm our houses.
We need to feed our bellies
and we need to be able to be productive in some way
so that we can make money.
And I think that everybody in the United States
can agree that on these three dimensions,
there are some really simple things that we could do
that basically double down on US sovereignty
and allow us to basically be more on the offensive.
So I’ll give you a couple of ideas.
On the energy side is we need to continue
to support energy independence
and that will require subsidies.
And the reason why that’s important in my opinion
is that then what happens is
it hastens and accelerates Russia and the Middle East
not becoming relevant anymore
because they are forced to monetize their oil sooner.
The Middle East probably disintegrates into 30 countries.
The Middle East was just a kind of a random exercise
of basically Americans and Europeans
after the war divvying up a bunch of things.
It has no sensitivity to culture or language or anything.
So that probably goes to in a very different direction.
And Russia becomes less important
because they just have to monetize
otherwise they will lose their only source of revenue.
So that’s one thing on energy that I think we could do
that I think is relatively politically acceptable
and inside the Overton window.
Second is on food, which is that we have to double down
on creating a completely independent food supply
inside the United States.
And there are ways again
where if we don’t need to be building tanks
and having $90 trillion programs
for aircraft carriers anymore,
we could pour that money into US farms
and give people like Friedberg a lot more money
to go and actually make sure
the United States has food security.
That in any situation and scenario
we can feed the 330 odd million people
inside of our borders.
And then the third thing is on technology
which is there are a critical bunch of inputs
whether it’s 5G chips, rare earth materials or minerals,
things like cobalt and lithium
which we need for batteries for climate change
that we can go and basically co-opt
because those things are concentrated in countries
like Chile, in places like Africa
where we can actually do a better job
of instilling governance and security.
So that’s my Jason back to your thing.
These aren’t sexy ideas, but they would work.
And I think they would work by both Republicans
and Democrats and it’s non-controversial.
I’ll even punch up the food part.
There’s no reason why,
the same way we made water and public schools
kind of a given in the United States,
nobody really has to worry about getting water.
Nobody has to worry about getting
a basic education learning to read.
Let’s say it’s not perfect obviously.
Why not make healthy produce
and some amount of healthy food
so affordable in the United States
that it’s essentially free, right?
And then you think about food security,
like how are we still discussing food security
with the amount of money and prosperity
we have in this country?
Make it free.
We’ve almost made energy free.
We have energy independence.
I’ll say a Manhattan project to make energy
and food as free or de minimis as water
would be just an amazing thing for us to rally around
because then people can work on the next thing
in their life, their careers, their family, their pursuits.
Friedberg, what do you think of the Overton window
and would you add something to it
that we can all agree on that we could work on together
and maybe unify the country
as opposed to pulling guns on each other
in the parking lots because of the color of our skin?
I’m reminded of a great moment in history
when Will Smith and his friends blew up the UFO
that came to attack Earth.
Nothing brings us together like a common enemy.
So it could be that the unification is gonna be in part
driven by this Cold War II
and creating a common enemy in China
is gonna work for both the right and the left
and create a lot of opportunity of Chamath Highlights
in manufacturing and food production.
There’s a lot of tools available to us.
I think we could all sit here and speculate
and I could pitch and plug all the companies
I’m involved in that I think are gonna play a role.
But I do think it’s that moment where
we are gonna coalesce around a common enemy and-
Well, it’d be good if you actually shared
one or two of those projects you’re working on if you can.
I actually would like to hear what you’re working on.
I’ve shared this before, but I do think biomanufacturing,
which is the technology whereby we engineer
the DNA of microbes and those microbes
then make molecules for us in a big fermentation tank
in the same way that we make beer or wine.
Biomanufacturing can be used to make flavors and fragrances.
And now we’re making materials like silks and plastics,
plastic equivalents, and more interestingly,
proteins for human consumption to replace animal proteins.
And the cost of production and the cost of energy
associated with making these materials, these molecules,
these proteins through biomanufacturing
is literally several orders of magnitude less
than the traditional technique, which is just insane
if you think about it on a first principles basis,
of growing fucking corn, feeding it to a cow,
letting the cow grow up,
feeding it hundreds of gallons of water,
killing it, chopping it up, transporting it to a restaurant.
I mean, the amount of energy that goes into
making a pound of ground beef is insane.
And the greenhouse gas emissions and so on.
So I do believe that there is a big wave of biomanufacturing
as an industry that is coming on the US this century.
And it will hopefully by the end of the century
be the primary way that we’re kind of producing
a lot of the molecules that we consume
and that we use for clothing and materials.
So then that does what to factories?
Because, you know, you did explain earlier
the number of factories.
If we can bioproduce not only our steaks,
not only our corn, does that also mean
we could biomanufacture steel, plastics, cars?
Not so much steel, but alternatives to leather,
alternatives to cloth, alternatives to-
To clothes, food.
So imagine instead of a traditional factory,
think about a factory historically being purpose-built.
So you build all these components to make one thing.
So you spent all this money making a giant machine
that you put stuff in on one end
and the same thing comes out over and over the other end.
And that’s classic industrial revolution 1.0
and 20th century industrial revolution output.
In this century, we are gonna build these giant printers.
They’re not gonna be single form machines
that make one thing over and over.
They’re gonna be systems that are giant fermentation tanks.
And in those fermentation tanks,
it’s like you program them with software.
And the software in this case is genetic software.
You edit the genome of these organisms.
They take stuff on the input
and they make on the output a bunch of different stuff.
A replicator like in Star Trek,
and if there was seasonality
and people needed something over the summer for July 4th
versus what they need in Christmas
or in the winter and ski season,
the same factory makes that thing.
We’re 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 years
from this having an impact on the economy?
Yes, and we’re seeing it now.
I mean, look, the number of artificial animal protein
companies and the funding that they’re getting
is I think highlighting investor interest and appetite
and backing the CapEx needed
to get this to become a reality right now.
Perfect Day just raised $300 million this week.
Impossible Foods raised $400 million
from the Qatari Investment Authority.
You know, obviously Beyond Meat is where they’re at.
I mean, these companies are using these techniques
of genetic engineering to make microbes
that make the proteins and the flavorings
that can replace this stuff.
We put $500 million into the PPP program.
If we put $500 billion into this,
how much would it accelerate it?
Pretty substantially, and I think it goes
from food to pharma to materials,
and that’s probably where you would see the impact.
But again, one system can make different materials,
can make different proteins.
So we could be independent of other countries
for food, to Chamath’s point, and also pharma,
which we are way too dependent, correct, on China?
Yeah, we’re definitely a net exporter.
By the way, you know, our largest export partner is China.
So most of our soybeans in the United States
that we produce, and soybeans are grown
on 160 million acres in the US,
and it rotates half and half each year with corn,
but about two-thirds of our soybeans
historically get exported to China.
So we are already food secure
from a net resource perspective.
It’s just the rest of the infrastructure
in terms of turning that stuff into meat
and other stuff is where we’re, you know,
we probably have to build up a little bit
of infrastructure and security.
Max, let’s swing the ball over to you
when you hear the Overton Window ideas,
when you hear about this biochemistry,
slurry tank revolution that Friedberg’s working on.
How does that change or evolve your view
of our relationship with China
and the political mess we’re in right now in 2020?
Yeah, well, I think Cold War II does provide a lens
to rethink and reevaluate a lot
of these domestic political fights.
And so, for example, are the big technology companies,
you know, Google, Facebook, and so on,
are they these, you know, evil monopolies
that need to be broken up,
or are they the crown jewels of the American economy
that needs to be protected from Chinese espionage?
You know, is the free enterprise system
this, you know, horribly, you know,
oppressive, racist thing,
or is it actually the engine of prosperity
that’s built this country?
You know, is freedom of speech an outdated principle,
or is it something we wanna, you know,
that that should be canceled,
or is it something we wanna fight for?
And I think that, you know,
when you start thinking about these issues,
you know, in the, you know,
through the lens of Cold War II,
it provides an option to kind of reevaluate them
and think about what’s really important.
And hopefully it can provide a little bit
of a unifying force in America,
not because we want China to be an enemy,
but just because we want to maintain
a sense of national greatness.
And I, you know,
it’s not something we just wanna give up on.
I have a question for Friedberg.
Are schools gonna be back in the fall?
Because I cannot deal with my kids being at home.
Yeah, I think it’s gonna be a mixed bag.
It seems like, I mean, if you follow this,
this is a political decision, right?
It’s not a scientific decision.
And so there are different politics around nationally
that are affecting this.
And there are some schools
that seem like they’ve got processes
and methods of being comfortable.
Some of them who are just throwing everything out the window
and say, I don’t give a shit,
the kid’s gotta go back to school.
And some of them who are being very conservative
and saying, you know, we’re not ready for that.
We can’t take the risk.
So you’ll definitely see a mixed bag.
I don’t know where you’re living, Chamath.
I don’t know what’s gonna happen per se,
but it’s definitely a local policy question.
Is it safe, Friedberg?
Is it safe to send our kids back to a 10-person pod
in a school in California?
I mean, that’s like asking
if it’s safe to cross a train track.
You know, you can look left, you can look right,
but yeah, you’re crossing, you know,
a busy train intersection during rush hour, right?
You know, it’s hard to say what level of safe is safe.
We know that kids are less susceptible
to any sort of health risk themselves from the virus.
And it looks like there’s a lot of studies
showing that the virus is less transmissible through kids,
especially kids under the age of 14.
And so it seems like there’s some theories
that say that, look, it’s these ACE2 receptors
whereby the virus enters the cells
really start to present when you turn 10 years old
at a greater rate and, you know, it scales up to 14
and above 14, you’re kind of an adult
from an ACE2 receptor point of view.
And then there’s the severity of the infection,
as we all know, is really more of a significant issue
for much elderly people.
So when you take those factors into account,
the virus is likely less transmissible amongst children.
Therefore, a bunch of kids get together,
they’re not gonna transmit it to each other.
And it’s likely gonna be less severe
even if there is an infection for kids.
The risk is just about, are the teachers comfortable
and what happens when they go home?
And there’ve been a number of letters
that you guys have probably seen,
op-eds and whatnot written in papers
by teachers saying, I’m nervous to go back to school.
I don’t wanna teach this fall.
I don’t wanna take the risk for my health.
I take care of my mom or my dad or what have you.
And so there’s a lot of competing interests here
besides just the science.
Let’s go around the horn
of who’s sending their kids back to school.
I’ll start, I posted on calacanis.com yesterday
that we’ve decided as a family
that we’re starting a micro school.
We put out a call for a teacher
and just looking at teacher salaries,
they don’t get paid particularly well in our society.
As we all know, they’re underpaid.
So we think we can come over the top
and provide a better financial arrangement
for a teacher and then have one to five students.
And we’re gonna just create a micro school.
That’s our current plan.
Our kids did go to camp this summer
in a small 10 person or less pod.
And we felt that was safe.
Everybody was tested and it was outdoors.
But for me being indoors at a school with 300 pods of 10,
and I think the best teachers are not gonna show up
and my kids don’t learn over Zoom.
I don’t know about your kids, but it’s not working.
So we’re gonna roll our own school
and hopefully find one or two families
who wanna chop up the cost with us
or we’ll just pick up the tab
and invite one or two families
if they don’t have the means to do it.
But we’re gonna go solo for 2021.
Freeberg, Sharmath, what are you thinking right now?
Because we’re only seven, eight weeks out from this, right?
We’re less than two months.
I really think like, look, not everybody, Jason,
is gonna be in a position to hire teachers.
In fact, most everybody won’t be.
I think it’s, I wanna send my children back to school.
I refuse to create some alternative reality for them.
I think it’s really important
that they are with their friends.
I think that we’re not really thinking strongly enough
about the social implications for children.
Let’s just say like, you take an eight year old
or a nine year old or a 10 year old
and you deprive them of their friends for a year.
I mean, that’s an enormous part of their life.
It’s like a prison sentence, yeah.
They’ve been socially isolated.
I just think it’s a really bad outcome.
So I think that obviously from a public health perspective,
we wanna keep our teachers safe.
I just think that it’s so important that we realize
that we are going to impact an entire generation of kids.
I think that if you’re 18 or 19
and have had 18 or 19 years of normal teenage-dom
and growing up that it’s okay if you miss a year
or you have to do your first year of college remotely.
Like it sucks, but you can deal.
But I really worry about these kids
in primary school and middle school.
It’s really unfair.
Yeah, I mean, our plan was to try to get
to four or five students, a small bubble
and then have outdoor.
The problem is then the Northeast-
Having gone to school, it’s you’re inside
with a heating system, with a closed ventilation system
that was built in 1920.
And I think it avoids the real key thing,
which is like, I don’t think you go to school to learn
as much as you go to school to-
I mean, you learn as a by-product
because everybody socializes, not everybody learns.
And so it’s an enormously important formative experience
for a child to be around 15 or 20 of their other kids
and to be in the playground, to deal with all the adversity
that comes with normal life of a kid.
That’s the biggest thing that I think
we’re depriving them of.
And I understand that, you know,
there’s an important reason to hold these kids back.
But I just want to appreciate that behaviorally
and psychologically, this is not going to be for free.
Free, Sax, what’s your latest thinking?
I guess I agree with both Chamath and Freeberg on this,
that there are huge benefits to going back
and the risks to kids are low in terms of getting it.
And also they’re less viral if they do.
But Israel is sort of a strong recent counterexample
where they recently opened schools
and now all of a sudden they’ve got a spike.
So, you know, we’re going to send our kids back,
but I expect it to be a little bit of a shit show.
I think that the schools will reopen
and they’ll do all this planning.
There’ll be all these like pods and half days
and smaller groups and that kind of thing.
And then somebody’s going to, there’ll be like one case,
either a kid or, you know, one family.
And then all of a sudden they’re going to shut down again.
And I guess, you know,
they’re spending all this time planning,
but I wonder if they’re really going to have
contingency plans for what happens when there’s a case.
That’s exactly what I think is happening.
Yeah, I think they’ll just shut down.
It’s too scary for a child to die or a teacher to die
and people, the overreaction to it
will be to shut everything down, right?
And then we’re going to be back to our kids.
When we sent our kids to camp
for the three weeks they went,
man, it was just, they were different kids, right?
And to Chamath’s point, they’re little social animals.
They need to roll around like little baby tigers and play.
And if they don’t have that,
it dramatically affects behavior.
And we saw it in only three months.
I mean, 12 months, these kids are going to go mental.
Yeah, I think that basically where the country is at
is that we’re an undeclared Sweden.
You know, we’ve basically, the virus has become endemic.
You know, we’ve basically given up
on trying to contain or stop it.
And so now we’re just on this path to herd immunity.
And, you know, it’s basically what Sweden did,
except we haven’t declared that’s what our plan is.
And so it’s haphazard and,
but it seems like kind of we’re, by default,
just headed for herd immunity.
Freeberg, as we wrap up here,
and I got one final question I want to do after this,
and then we’ll wrap.
Freeberg, what’s your thoughts?
Kids in schools, I know you have kids.
I’m not sure the ages, if they’re like,
would be going back to a,
I think they’re a little bit on the younger side.
So if you did have eight, nine, 10, 12 year olds,
sending them back to school, starting your own,
what are your thoughts?
Yeah, I mean, I would probably be a little ridiculous
and send them and test them every other day at home.
And, you know, you can get this Vector Dickinson
testing system now for 250 bucks.
It’s a handheld device.
And these test strips cost 20 bucks.
Say the name of it again.
The Vector Dickinson.
It’s the company that makes it.
Vector with a V.
B, B, B.
Wait, how do I, are they available?
Yeah, you can buy them through medical retailers.
And yeah, the handheld device that they use
in hospitals and stuff today, it’s 250 bucks.
And there’s a little test kit that you buy.
It’ll probably cost 20 to 30 bucks.
It’ll be available next month per test or 15 to 20 bucks.
And it takes five minutes to get a result.
You literally could do it in the schoolyard
before they go into the building.
Yeah, so you could test.
I would test my kids every day.
If I had, you know, my kids are,
my one kid’s in preschool.
The other one’s two years old.
But you gotta do a little pin prick on their finger, right?
No, no, you could just do a little swab in the nose.
Yeah, and you can test them every-
Deep nose swab or, you know, halfway?
There’s data that shows now
that you could actually do a throat swab
and, you know, get a pretty good reading on it.
So, you know, whatever the protocol is,
it’d probably be pretty non-invasive
and you could get a result.
Now, that’s expensive for most people.
You know, that’s-
Not expensive for a school.
Not expensive for a school, that’s right.
And so I think that company will do well
with that testing system they’ve launched
because it actually tests, not for the RNA,
but for the protein.
Is this a public company?
Yeah, and the stock’s done well.
And this test does really well
because it tests for the protein, not the RNA.
So it’s actually a much, you know,
much easier test scientifically to do.
You’re not trying to pick up specific nucleotides
or nucleic acids.
You’re trying to pick up a protein.
And so it’s, yeah, it’s pretty effective.
If the election was held today,
we always like to talk about this a bit.
The audience loves when we talk about it.
We talked about Oprah last time.
That was our sleeper candidate.
I’m changing, I’m changing.
Tammy Duckworth, Tammy Duckworth
is now my sleeper vice presidential.
I’m with it, I’m with the Chamath on that.
Now, who’s gonna win if the election was held today?
Sax, I’ll let you go first
since it’s the most heartbreaking for you.
Biden’s strategy is working.
His strategy is basically to say nothing,
to be, you know, to hide in his basement.
And, but it’s working because even though he’s a cypher,
I think people, he’s basically a protest vote against Trump
and Trump, you know, is, you know,
seen as very divisive and inflammatory.
And I think the American people at this point
just wanna push a button and make it stop.
And right now Biden seems like the make it stop button.
And should Biden, I’ll add to the question,
there’ll be two, we’ll end on this double question.
Who wins today and should Biden debate Trump
or is it better for him to just opt out of the debates
and not risk it?
Biden’s strategy- What would you advise?
Well, I think Biden’s strategy right now is working.
I don’t know why he would change it.
I mean, his goal- So he should not,
there’s three debates on the books he agreed to.
Should he do the three debates, yes or no?
If you were advising him.
So I think he probably will not be able
to duck these debates forever.
I think, I mean, it seems unlikely that, you know-
If you were advising him,
would you tell him to do it or not?
I would tell him his strategy is working,
which is to say nothing and-
So don’t go to the debates.
If you can get away with it.
I’m not sure he’ll be able to get away with it.
So I think eventually people,
eventually the American public will turn its attention
to the election.
But part of the reason why his strategy is working
is because Trump is running such a bad campaign.
In fact, it feels like Trump
hasn’t even really started to campaign.
There’s no logic to it for sure.
Well, it’s, you know, normally what the incumbent does,
especially when they’ve got a lot of money,
is they use the summer to define the opponent.
They start running a lot of ads
seeking to define their opponent.
And, you know, where are those ads?
Where is that attempt to define Biden?
I mean, I think it’s hard because,
you know, it’s hard to define Biden as a radical
who represents these woke mobs.
Biden doesn’t even know how to say the word woke correctly.
I think he’s called him woked.
So that’s actually helpful.
I was woke last night by my four-year-old
who needed her diaper changed.
But the fact that Biden is so clueless
and seems like so out of touch actually helps him
because, I mean, the way for Trump to win the election,
let’s put it that way,
is to make the alternative to Trump
the destruction of Mount Rushmore, right?
I mean, if Trump can somehow convince the American public
that the election of Joe Biden means
the ripping down of George Washington
and Abraham Lincoln and Mount Rushmore
and the destruction of capitalism,
that is the way for him to win.
But he has to actually-
He has to actually be able to tag Biden with that-
Why did Peter Thiel drop Trump?
You’ve got a 30-year relationship with Peter Thiel.
You talk to him on the regular.
Why did Thiel drop him?
I don’t know that he has.
I think you have to get him on the show to talk.
All right, there you go, good deflection.
Best he see, who wins?
And should he do those three debates, Biden?
Yeah, yeah, I think you can’t get away from them.
I wouldn’t make it a big issue
because the debates are gonna be
kind of this random, crappy kind of experience.
I don’t even know whether they’ll be in the same place.
I think they should try to make sure
that they’re not in the same place
so that it’s done almost over Zoom.
Like, you can cripple the usefulness of these debates.
In many ways, there really isn’t much
that can happen in the debates.
The reality is that people aren’t voting for Biden.
They are voting against Donald Trump.
Any chance Trump wins?
And they are voting against the sheer incompetence
of him and his family.
And, you know, it’s going to be very difficult
for him to overturn it.
There is one thin path for him to win,
which is to absolutely shower America with money
close to the election day.
So if there is a multi, multi-trillion dollar
stimulus bill that passes,
and it literally puts money into the hands
of working Americans, especially in the swing states,
it could work.
Now, the one thing I’ll tell you is
if you looked at the exit polls in Georgia,
it’s scary because there were 230,000, I think,
more Democrats out of the exit polls in the Georgia primary
than there were Republican.
Now, just hold the phone here for a second
because under no calculus on electoral college
did we ever have to think that there was probabilistically
any chance that a Democrat wins Georgia.
And I think what this speaks to is a changing demographic
longitudinally, and this is not a racial thing,
meaning this is an age thing,
where these young people are very different politically.
And so if you think that there is an even remote chance
that Donald Trump loses Georgia,
don’t even worry about Minnesota and Pennsylvania
and Florida because he would have already lost those
in order to lose Georgia.
Also, this pandemic and work from home
is gonna result in people,
if it is a sustained work from home.
We have scarred the American economy, guys,
and we don’t know the extent of the injury
because you know the extent of the injury
when you step out of the chair,
that first moment the casket’s taken off
and you put a little pressure on the leg
to see how bad it is.
And we don’t know how bad it is,
except we know that it’s pretty bad.
So, you know, I think that all roads
kind of look like Biden.
I think the very narrow path that Donald Trump has
is, you know, a multi, multi trillion dollar stimulus bill
directly into the hands of Americans.
Friedberg, is he gonna win yes or no?
Should he do the debates?
Yes or no?
Yeah, if the vote were to happen today,
he would win, Joe Biden would win.
I think he’s actually more likely to win
based on news that just hit the wire,
which we haven’t talked about today,
which is it looks like Facebook
is gonna ban all political ads this year.
And so if they do that,
Facebook in a fight for survival right now,
that ad camp.
Amazing how a bunch of advertisers
taking a one month pause
all of a sudden brings Zuckerberg to the table.
Amazing how my well-timed short thesis tweet
playing out right now.
Oh, yum, yum.
So I think that obviously works to Biden’s favor.
If that’s the case.
And then my point on the debates,
if I were Biden, what I would do right now
is I would go on Twitter
and I would say, release your tax returns
and I’ll debate you.
And I would repeat that tweet twice a day.
Love it, love it.
And basically turn the thing around.
Friedberg gets the dunk.
360 dunk, he jumps in.
That’s a dunk.
Well done, Friedbergers.
It’s over, Friedberg wins the debate.
This show is sponsored by nobody.
However, I’m going to ask my bestie, C,
if somebody were to make a $25,000 donation to charity,
would you allow me to read an ad
for 30 seconds during the pot at some point?
No, but I’ll match it to wherever you want to go.
No fucking ads ever.
Oh, God damn it.
I love you guys.
I miss you.
Love you, bestie C.
I love you.
Love you, Fried.
Love you, Sax.
It was great playing golf.
Let’s fucking golf, man.
I’m losing my mind.
We’ll see you later.
Let’s do a little small little NASA, boys.
A little 10,000, you know.
Ooh, ooh, ooh, let’s go, let’s gamble.
See you next time on the All In podcast.
Tell your friends to tune in
if they want to listen to something intelligent.