4 January 2017   Leave a comment

Beijing has a difficult time controlling air pollution (it is not the worst major city with that problem–that title goes to New Delhi) for a variety of topographical reasons.  But air pollution has become significantly worse as the country has grown economically and as automobiles have become more pervasive in Chinese society.  A video of smog overtaking the city in a period of 20 minutes shows dramatically how bad the problem has become.

In market capitalism, income and wealth inequality is considered a positive condition:  the inequalities create incentives to work hard and therefore contribute to economic growth.  There is probably little question that a certain degree of inequality creates incentives, but there is also the possibility that, above a certain level, inequalities can create a drag on economic growth by limiting the possibilities for the levels of consumption necessary for production to be profitable.  We don’t know exactly what the line is between good and bad inequality, but Michael Schneider makes the case that we probably crossed that line in the late 20th century.

Sovereignty is usually considered inviolable.  But there are occasions when the cost of sovereignty is higher than the benefits of not claiming it.  A unique situation exists between France and Spain concerning the ownership of a small island in the Bidasoa River named Pheasant Island.  The Treaty of the Pyrenees signed in 1659 finally ended the Thirty Years War between the two states (the major fighting had actually ended in the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648).  In order to sign the Treaty Spain and France wanted to choose a neutral territory and they mutually decided to sign it on Pheasant Island.  Since that time, the two powers have sent diplomats to the island every six months to transfer sovereignty over the island to each other.  So for six months of the year, France has sovereignty over Pheasant Island and Spain controls it the other six months of the year.

Image result for Bidasoa River Pheasant Island

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Posted January 4, 2017 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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