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Apparently Gaining World Control is a Lot Harder Than it Looks; History Once Again at the Crossroads

This week marks a seminal point in world history, not just about what will happen, but how what happens will be recorded. History as Written …

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A Self-Governing Chinese Catholic Church: Conflating Statecraft and Religious Authority

In late December, 2016, as the Chinese government was negotiating a deal to improve relations with the Vatican, Yu Zhengsheng, a senior Communist Party leader, “endorsed the notion of a self-governed Chinese Catholic church.”[1] The key point, I submit, hinges on governance. In what sense does governance apply rightfully (or fittingly) to a religious organization? This is a question to be put both to the Chinese government and the Vatican.

Yu Zhengsheng meeting Chinese Catholic religious authorities (Source: Yao Dawei/Xinhua)

The complete essay is at “A Self-Governing Chinese Catholic Church.”


1. Javier C. Hernandez, “Catholic Churches in China Should Be Independent of Vatican, Official Says,” The New York Times, December 30, 2016.

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Springtime for China’s Coal Industry: Is China Too Big to Swerve Enough to Avoid the Climatic Iceberg Ahead?

Even as Chinese government officials “called on the United States to recognize established science and to work with other countries to reduce dependence on dirty fuels like coal and oil,” China was “scrambling to mine and burn more coal.”[1]Notably, short-terms concerns were dominant. “A lack of stockpiles and worries about electricity blackouts” were “spurring Chinese officials to reverse curbs that [had] once helped reduce coal production.”[2]By December, 2016, coal mines were reopening, and with them coal miners were returning to work. The renewed activity would of course make it more difficult for China and the world to meet CO2 emissions targets, “as Chinese coal is the world’s largest single source of carbon emissions from human activities.”[3]In fact, China’s use of coal results in more emissions “than all the oil, coal, and gas consumed in the United States.”[4]The implications for being able to contain the global rise in temperature within 2 degrees C are not bright from this real-life scenario. It is important, therefore, to grasp the underlying dynamics behind China’s plight.
The full essay is at “Springtime for China’s Coal“.


1. Keith Bradsher, “Despite Climate Vow, China Scrambles for Coal,” The New York Times, November 30, 2016.
2. Ibid.
3. Ibid.
4. Ibid.

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The First 100 Days

If you know American history, you know that the first hundred days of a new president – especially one much different than his predecessor – have a legendary quality. That’s been true since 1933 when Franklin Roosevelt forced through all sorts of ’emergency’ measures (most of them unconstitutional) to supposedly relieve the depression. That they […]

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A Housing Bubble in China: A Rationale for Government Intervention

As of October, 2016, China was in the midst of a dizzying housing bubble. A month before, “economists at the Bank of China warned in a report that worsening asset price bubbles were adding to a frothy market that could result in trouble.”[1]  Shanghai’s average housing price was up nearly one-third from a year before; prices in major cities like Beijing and Guangzhou were not far behind.  The recognition of the bubble—which does not come easily—should have triggered counter-cyclical measures by the Chinese government.

The full essay is at “A Housing Bubble in China.”

1. Neil Gough and Carolyn Zhang, “In China, Property Frenzy, Fake Divorces and a Bloating Bubble,” The New York Times, October 16, 2016.

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King Coal and Freezing in the Dark

We talked about the South Australia blackout the other day, but I want to say a bit more. The Spectator AU tells us this: State governments are sheltered workshops for mediocre politicians rarely good enough to make it in the Canberra big league. They have just one basic task in the Australian federation: to maintain […]

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Smart Power or Disrespect.

When I first read about the arrival of Barack Obama at Beijing, sadly I chuckled, because it felt like something so many of us would like to do. Then I remembered when the President is piped on board a navy ship, he is announced as “The United States, arriving”. That is ceremonially, and in large part […]

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Debunking Leftist Mythology on Sweden and Denmark

I’m still in China, as part of a week-long teaching assignment about markets, entrepreneurship, economics, and fiscal policy at Northeastern University in Shenyang. One point that I’ve tried to get across to the students is that China should not copy the United States. Or France, Japan, or Sweden. To be more specific, I warn them […]

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The Chinese Miracle and the Economics of Growth

I’m in Shenyang, China, as part of the faculty for Northeastern University’s International Economics and Management program. My primary role is to talk about the economics of fiscal policy, explaining the impact of both taxes and spending. But regular readers already know my views on those issues, so let’s look instead at the vaunted Chinese […]

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A Return to Cam Ranh Bay?

Last week, Jane Perlez had an article in The New York Times speculating about the return of US Forces to Cam Ranh Bay, in Vietnam. It’s an interesting thought, and not nearly far-fetched as it sounds to ears that remember the sixties. Firstly, it’s important to remember that nations usually don’t have friends, they have interests. But in […]

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A Reaganesque Recipe to Reinvigorate China’s Economy?

The long-term trend in China is positive. Economic reforms beginning in the late 1970s have helped lift hundreds of millions of people out of abject poverty. And thanks to decades of strong growth, living standards for ordinary Chinese citizens are far higher than they used to be. There’s still quite a way to go before […]

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Conservative Comedy 11/20/15

It’s Conservative Comedy time at the Strident Conservative where I bring you some of the best conservative political and religious comedy, jokes, and satire on the internet, sure to provide a good laugh to begin your weekend. The Conservative Comic…

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Conservative Comedy 10/2/15

It’s Conservative Comedy time at the Strident Conservative where I bring you some of the best conservative political and religious comedy, jokes, and satire on the internet, sure to provide a good laugh to begin your weekend. Well that didn’t take long. Following a one-on-one meeting at the U.N. which gave Vladimir Putin the ability to measure the degree to which Barack Obama is a mewling pantywaist, the Russian dictator launched a surprise attack in Syria (after graciously ordering the United States to get the hell out of the way) on the anti-Assad rebels being funded and trained by the CIA. As a brilliant political analyst pointed out a long time ago (okay, it was Hope n’ Change), Putin has now made it official and uncontestable that the United States is no longer in the superpower business. We have lost our place in the world order thanks to the massive incompetence (not to mention intentional malfeasance) of the Obama administration – including former Secretary of Scapegoating Hillary “reset button” Clinton. Jodi Miller at Newsbusted takes us into the weekend with these headlines: Boehner’s resignation from Congress, Obama’s State Dinner with China’s Xi Jinping, and the Pope speaks to Congress. Additional […]

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Free-Market Reforms Are Needed to Boost Chinese Prosperity and Stabilize the Economy

At the risk of stereotyping, the Chinese people are remarkably productive when given the chance. Hong Kong and Singapore are dominated by ethnic Chinese, and those jurisdictions routinely rank among the world’s top economies. Taiwan is another high-performing economy with an ethnic Chinese population. Ironically, the only place where Chinese people don’t enjoy high average […]

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China Apparently Didn’t Learn any Lessons from the TARP Bailout or the Greek Bailout

Is the third time the charm, at least for bailouts? First, we had the TARP bailout in the United States, and that turned out to be a corrupt mess. Second, we had the Greek bailout, which has squandered hundreds of billions of euros to prop up a welfare state. Now we have a third big […]

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A Planned Chinese Supercity Hinging on Technology

A Kansas-sized supercity of 82,000 square miles and 130 million people, with Beijing at the center, is in the vanguard of economic reform, Liu Gang said from Nankai University in mid-2015.[1]Six times the size of New York City’s metropolitan area, the planned regional economy would require nothing short of a feat of urban planning. The economic synergy anticipated from the planned integration is the main benefit. The sheer scale alone presents its own challenges, however, and the complexity in coordinating the various shifts of people and services suggests that unintended excesses and shortages will demand immediate action. Even so, I contend that the application of technology will make or break the viability of the anticipated supercity.


The full essay is at “A Planned Chinese Supercity.”


[1] Ian Johnson, “Pain and Hope as China Molds Its Capital into New Supercity,” The New York Times, July 20, 2015.

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Lessons from China’s Stock Market Crash

When I first got to Washington in the mid-1980s, one of the big issues was the supposedly invincible Japanese economy. Folks on the left claimed that Japan was doing well because the government had considerable power to micro-manage the economy with industrial policy. With the benefit of hindsight, it’s now quite apparent that was the […]

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Obama cuts military while the world grows more dangerous

ISIS is marching nearly unopposed across the Middle East murdering men, women and children as they spread terror and fear on their way to establishing a caliphate; President Vladimir Putin of Russia is becoming more aggressive with each passing day—he put 40,000 Russian troops on full alert for military exercises in March—as he spreads a new brand of communism around the world; and China is building a massive military presence on man-made islands in the South China Sea. So what, if anything, is Obama doing with the U.S. military to prepare America to deal with this increasingly dangerous world? He’s planning to cut 40,000 troops from the Army over the next two years, and that doesn’t include possible sequestration cuts. If the automatic cuts under sequestration take effect as planned in October, the Army will have to slash another 30,000 soldiers, resulting in an Army unable to meet its current deployments nor respond to demands for troops in other regions. Back to Putin for a moment. Did you know: while you were busy cooking up those hamburgers and hot dogs during your July 4th celebrations that four Russian nuclear-capable long-range bomber aircraft—two near Alaska and two near California—flew close enough […]

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The Dalai Lama’s Reincarnation: By Government Fiat?

Reincarnation is a difficult gig for Buddhists. Being reborn for yet another life is not a good thing; bad karma (i.e., residue from bad choices in life) keeps a soul on the wheel of samsara. Because life-after-life involves suffering, a Buddhist strives for Nirvana, or enlightenment, which releases a soul from the cycle of being reborn yet again. Reincarnation is a difficult gig for Buddhists also because unlike Hinduism, Buddhism denies the very existence of a soul (atman) as an entity. How, then, can something that does not exist go on to be re-clothed in another body for another life? Yet another problem for the devout Buddhist concerns government officials who claim that they can decide whether a certain soul reincarnates, and if so, into which body. In 2014, for example, the Chinese government made it known that it would pick the next reincarnated Dalai Lama—the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists.


The full essay is at “Dalai Lama’s Reincarnation.”

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IMF Proposes to Sabotage China’s Economy

For the people of China, there’s good news and bad news. The good news, as illustrated by the chart, is that economic freedom has increased dramatically since 1980. This liberalization has lifted hundreds of millions from abject poverty. The bad news is that China still has a long way to go if it wants to […]

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