Its a warm winter here, but its a cold winter there…

Large parts of China are getting pounded by major snow storms. From BBC…

Severe winter weather is causing travel chaos in China as tens of millions of people try to return home for the country’s main holiday, Lunar New Year.

At least 170,000 people are stuck at the railway station in Guangzhou, in the southern Guangdong province, where most trains have been canceled.

Many thousands are stranded because of blocked roads, with some areas running out of salt to spread on icy surfaces.

More than 20 people have been killed since the severe weather began.

Part of the problem is simply that China is not equipped to handle snow in any form. If you watch this clip you will see people spreading salt from the back of trucks by hand. But main reason this heavy snow fall is such a crises has to do with China’s economic polices. As the the Financial Times explains….

An acute coal shortage left China suffering its worst power crisis in years as unseasonably large snowfalls saw hundreds of thousands stranded when they tried to travel to their families for the lunar new year holiday.

About half of China’s 31 provinces and regions have been hit by “brownouts”, or voltage reductions, caused by Beijing’s attempt to reimpose and tighten price controls on commodities including coal and oil.

Beijing is using old-fashioned price controls in an effort to stop food inflation, which has pushed the consumer price index to an 11-year high, from spreading to the rest of the economy.

Power companies insist the brownouts are the result solely of coal shortages. But executives admit privately the industry may have exacerbated the situation to drive home to Beijing the unfairness of price controls. Global prices of coal, China’s staple fuel, have surged, causing pressure for the rises to be passed on. Power industry margins have also been cut by higher freight costs.

China has about a trillion dollars invested in US bonds that they are taking heavy losses on, and yet they don’t have an energy infrastructure that is equal to their needs. If they allowed their currency to float against the dollar, they would not be having such a problem with inflation and energy would be cheaper for them.

Their loss is America’s gain, but how long can they continue like this?

Poem of the Week: 1/27/08 -2/2/08

This week’s essay of the week brought to mind A Refusal to Mourn the Death, by Fire, of a Child in London by Dylan Thomas. Most people see this poem as a heroic defiance of the Nazi regime. But I see the refusal to “murder the mankind of her going with a grave truth” to be the essence of why Europe is sick and dying.

In other words, the logic that seems to govern Europe is the logic that says “After the first death, there is no other” and consequently cannot bring itself to care about anything except the certainty that can be made in this life.

Essay of the Week: 1/27/08 -2/2/08

Five NATO generals (A German, a American, A Englishman, a Frenchman, and a Dutchman) got together and wrote out “Towards a Grand Strategy for an Uncertain World.” It made headlines mostly because of its advocacy of the necessity of being willing to launch a nuclear first strike.

But to my mind, the most striking thing about the document it the mismatch between what they fear and their proposed solutions. For example, how is an improved NATO going to deal with the problems posed by European demographic problems?

It seems to me the basic problems they are laying out are twofold. Those trends that will lead to reduced western military power (such as Europe’s demographic issues) and there are those trends that will lead to a more unstable world (such as increased competition for natural resources do to the rise of China and India). Given the scale of both of those trends, their solutions seem inadequate.

Their logic demands an entirely new world order.