Of Dragons, Fire and Shaky Optimism

When you are a young kid sitting around a crowded, crackling campfire in a small, lonely American town, it is easy to feel that the hot coals flickering out from underneath a pile of six or seven chunks of firewood is enough to ward off the darkness surrounding you.

But a flickering campfire is not enough for the Chinese people when it comes to showing off their optimism for the new year.  From New York to Beijing some 1.3 billion Chinese citizens set off fireworks to usher in the Year of the Dragon, part of a celebration that will last fifteen days. For the past 5,000 years fireworks have been used to ward off evil spirits in China.
This is in fact the Year of the Water Dragon, a year that signals optimism and growth, but only swings around every 60 years on the Chinese lunar calendar. Optimism will be a tricky thing to share though. No matter the hopeful astrological signals and thundering growth, members of China’s Communist Party will have to find a way to make growth not the malaise, but instead make it the treatment for episodes of China’s swelling unrest, like this recent steelworker’s strike in Sichuan province.

Dear Brazil, Meet Haitian Diaspora


A tent camp in Port-au-Prince where Haitians prepare to leave for Brazil.

After passing through five countries using planes and buses, and sometimes bribes, Haitians arrived in droves at a small Amazonian town in Brazil near the Bolivian border. Prejudice toward Haitians is alive, but not universal in Brazil. But the obstacles of difference are no matter for some Haitians. New arrivals study Spanish and Portuguese in an attempt to acclimate. On one side of the dilemma Brazilian authorities are feeling overwhelmed by the struggle to absorb the diaspora that has landed on their doorstep. But on the other side of it they should feel a touch of pride. Haitians have chosen Brazil as their destination because they are looking for work, and that is what Brazil’s growing economy offers right now.

Could There Be a Market for Migration?

Even though government sees disorganization, having multiple citizenships is natural and part of the future, according to an article published in The Economist. What citizenship should be based on is your conscious decision to live in a country, and that having more than one is OK if that is what you will. So stake a claim for residency, pay your taxes, and get your rights and responsibilities as a citizen in return. Sounds good in theory, doesn’t it?

But where things get tricky is when it comes to the price of gaining admission. Gary Becker, a member of the Institute of Economic Affairs, has the right medicine. He thinks that building a market for migration could work. Trading cash for a visa without the obstacle of quota lines would be the singular way for foreigners to gain access to work opportunities. So that would mean price would be dependent on an individual’s desire to live in a country, no matter what skill set, age, or background he possesses. Whomever sees the greatest benefit from migrating would put the greatest value on the price of of another citizenship.

The mistake to watch out for concerns who should set up the admissions criteria. Sure the U.S. might think that scientists and engineers will help the economy, but how many the economy needs and how they are attracted is a matter for companies to figure out, not governments. Companies know what their needs are. Meeting them is a matter of efficiency. That is why Gary Becker wants a way for companies’ human resources departments, and not government quotas, to determine the demand for citizenship.

Caught in between the booms.

As its copper mining industry quickly swells in the middle of the Gobi dessert, the landscape of Mongolia is changing too. But so is its capital, Ulaanbaatar. Stuck in between two worlds is how everyone from rural herders to expatriate security guards feel inside the mining boom that is expected to significantly push up the country’s GDP of $2,000 per capita over the next decade.