The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

The World Held Hostage by Chip Makers

Jun 21, 2021

The shortage of microchips is hitting all kinds of industries, from car production to cell phones. Businesses need chips to make these products.

But instead of investing their own money to increase production as quickly as possible, the small number of companies that make chips world-wide are taking advantage of the shortage to squeeze every inch of advantage they can. After all, sharks will be sharks.

The U.S. Senate just approved $52 billion in subsidies to these highly profitable companies to induce them to expand production in the U.S. The European Union, China, Taiwan, and Singapore are also competing to see which can throw the most money at these companies, each looking to secure chips for their own businesses.

Of course, the chip makers do not need one cent of this money to afford to build new factories. Just one chip maker, Intel, spent 26 billion dollars on stock buybacks alone in 2018 and 2019—money they could have used to build new factories. But why would Intel invest in production, when they can make more profits by squeezing subsidies out of the world’s governments?

Even while it hurts the capitalist class, capitalism’s own logic created this chip shortage. Each individual company pushes its own interests as far as possible and makes all of its decisions on the basis of its own profitability—the rest of the world be damned.

From creating a shortage of microchips or vaccine doses worldwide to driving climate change, this capitalist system blocks humanity from using the resources and technology we have to meet our basic needs.