Microchips, Ukraine, Outer Space: RAND Weekly Recap


RAND Weekly Recap

October 7, 2022

This week, we discuss how safeguarding Taiwan is the answer to America's microchip problem; a moment of clarity in Ukraine; new rules in space; what the No Surprises Act might mean for health care markets; what gun policy experts say about how facts still matter; and helping students report threats to their schools.

Microchips on a production line, photo by venuestock/Getty Images

Photo by venuestock/Getty Images

Safeguarding Taiwan Is the Answer to America's Microchip Problem

Microchips are used in everything from cars to coffee makers to combine harvesters. Most are made in Taiwan. If China were to seize the island, then Taiwan's microchip factories might end up being controlled by Beijing, or they could be destroyed. Either way, a global catastrophe would ensue.

Writing in The Atlantic this week, RAND president and CEO Jason Matheny considers how to avoid such a disaster.

One popular idea is to build up microchip production elsewhere, including in the United States. But it would probably take decades for America to be able to manufacture the chips it requires. Another view is that Washington should leap to Taiwan's defense if China invades. However, a U.S. response may not come in time to save Taiwan's microchip factories.

Matheny recommends a third option: ensure that Taiwan has the weapon systems to defend itself against Chinese agression. After all, this strategy is already proving successful in Ukraine's defense against Russia. And unlike the other U.S. options for Taiwan, it could yield results within a couple of years, rather than decades.

Russian President Vladimir Putin declares the annexation of four Ukrainian provinces at the Great Kremlin Palace in Moscow, Russia, September 30, 2022, photo by Grigory Sysoyev/Pool via Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin declares the annexation of four Ukrainian provinces in Moscow, September 30, 2022

Photo by Grigory Sysoyev/Pool/Reuters

A Moment of Clarity in Ukraine

Russia's troop mobilization and annexation of four provinces in Eastern Ukraine raises several questions about the war. But one thing is clear, say RAND experts: There is no longer a viable path to a negotiated peace settlement. What's more, anything short of a Ukrainian victory will lead to a worse outcome for the international order. Without hope for a middle ground, a grand political bargain, or an easy out, two options remain. The West can ensure that Ukraine triumphs, or it can accept the consequences of defeat.

Super Typhoon Noru photographed by ISS astronaut Randy Bresnick above the Northwestern Pacific Ocean on August 1, 2017, photo courtesy of NASA

Super Typhoon Noru above the northwestern Pacific Ocean, August 1, 2017.

Photo by ISS astronaut Randy Bresnick/NASA

It's Time for New Rules in Space

It's World Space Week, a good time to revisit a recent RAND paper on how to improve governance in outer space. According to the authors, the “New Space Era” calls for regulations that address the mounting risk of extraterrestrial collisions and conflicts. After all, there are more than 60 spacefaring nations today, plus a burgeoning private space industry. The existing means of space governance, however, rely on treaties from the '60s and '70s—when space was dominated by just two superpowers.

A nurse assisting a patient at a hospital reception desk, photo by mixetto/Getty Images

Photo by mixetto/Getty Images

What Might the No Surprises Act Mean for Health Care Markets?

Millions of Americans have been hit with surprise bills after receiving medical care from providers outside their insurance networks. The No Surprises Act, which went into effect in January, was created to help put an end to this. How might the new law influence other aspects of the health care industry, such as insurance and hospital consolidation, costs, and access? The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services asked RAND to assess the potential effects.

Signs proclaiming a gun-free zone at an entrance point to Times Square, in New York City, September 1, 2022, photo by Richard B. Levine/Reuters

Signs proclaiming a gun-free zone at an entrance point to Times Square, in New York City, September 1, 2022

Photo by Richard B. Levine/Reuters

Facts Still Matter, Say Gun Policy Experts

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a long-standing New York law restricting concealed carry of firearms is unconstitutional. What does the evidence say about such laws? With its ruling, the court suggests that the only relevant question is whether a regulation has some kind of analog in history and tradition. But gun policy experts say that “consigning all modern gun regulation to a game of 'What would James Madison have thought of AR-15s'” is not the inevitable result of the ruling. Rather, there is still room for research to inform court decisions about firearm laws.

Multiracial group of teenagers sitting on school steps looking at the camera, photo by Daniel de la Hoz/Getty Images

Photo by Daniel de la Hoz/Getty Images

Helping Students Report Threats to Their Schools

Evidence suggests that about half of school shooters gave a warning before they acted, but most of those signs went unrecognized and unreported. Recent RAND research examines how schools can better support threat reporting. The findings provide some actionable tips for America's school leaders. For example, give students multiple ways to report threats, consider that students are often more comfortable submitting anonymous or confidential reports, and teach everyone what and how to report.

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