What is it with "value chains" that so fascinates our policymakers? They've convinced themselves that if you carefully study how a product is made and marketed and consumed, you can repeat one success over and over. They take human error or genius or free will out of their equations because the "value chain" is Truth.

Except it isn't. We should mine our astronomic mineral wealth for all it's worth. Dig it up and ship it out. That's our part in the global "value chain". Instead we say, No, wait, why ship this out when it'll just come back here as a Japanese screwdriver? Why don't we make the screwdriver instead?

The "beneficiation" case sounds reasonable, but it's stupid. The Japanese screwdriver guy already has customers all over the world. When we go into his business ourselves we create a competitor where once we had a customer

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