WHEN THE RIGHT WANTS TO FOLLOW THE COMMUNISTS’ LEAD…. In National Review, J.D. Foster makes the case that China is setting a fine economic model to be emulated. (via Isaac Chotiner)

Oh, what a little freedom can do. Government figures released over the weekend confirm that China now has the second-largest economy in the world…[G]iven the direction the U.S. is heading, there’s a more immediate, more important issue: what China learned — and the U.S. apparently forgot — about the power of freedom.

While China has been economic freedom’s new, albeit imperfect laboratory, personal economic freedom in the United States is being slowly strangled by the state. More spending, more regulations, more rules, and, soon, the Obama tax hikes all contribute to a loss of individual freedoms and, collectively, to an economy bearing a much closer resemblance to floundering Japan than rising China.

Where economic freedom expands, growth follows. Where economic freedom is stifled, economies stagnate. Sadly, China’s former leaders understood this better than do its current leaders, or America’s.

This follows on the heels of disgraced former House Speaker Newt Gingrich telling the Young Americans for Freedom that the Democratic agenda is really just a secret “socialist” plot. He added, “You want to create jobs as rapidly as China? The Chinese pay zero capital-gains tax. If we had zero capital-gains tax in the United States … we’d be dramatically better off.”

As Jon Stewart explained, “So that’s the Republican plan — to fight socialism, we must become communists.”

Also note, as part of an ongoing look at the standards for international comparisons, maybe the right can put together a list for us of countries we’re allowed to reference. If the left suggests the U.S. pursue a public policy that’s worked in, say, Germany, conservatives respond, “They’re trying to turn us into Europe!”

But when Gingrich encourages us to follow China’s lead, no one argues, “They’re trying to turn us into a communist powerhouse!” Just as when Sharron Angle praises Pincohet’s privatization scheme and suggests we emulate it here, no one seems inclined to argue, “Republicans are trying to turn us into a South American military dictatorship!”

Update: An emailer reminds me that Newt also wants the U.S. to follow the Saudis’ lead on religious liberty. I guess that means, “Republicans are trying to turn us into a Middle Eastern theocracy!”

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.