The Law Of Unintended Consequences, China Edition

Mark Steyn at National Review Online brings up an interesting, if disturbing phenomenon taking place in China – namely, what the one-child policy the Chicoms have put in place is doing to their society.

Steyn notes two effects. First, the one-child policy is making for a Chinese population which is rapidly aging; China will find itself faced with a labor shortage and a social-services problem perhaps even greater than European countries or the United States will have in coming years. Second, because Chinese culture, like all Asian cultures, values boys over girls, Chinese parents are aborting their girl babies. As a result, the Chinese are producing a sizable number of young males with little outlet for companionship. He quotes from a report by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences:

According to the report, 24 million men reaching marriageable age by 2020 will never marry because of the sex imbalance. Think of it in these terms: what if the entire population of New York City or of Australia was never able to marry. Imagine the social implications in a city or nation that large where no one can marry. Imagine if that city or country is comprised solely of 24 million men; men with no homes to return to at night; men without the responsibilities of a family to keep them engaged in productive pursuits.

What’s going to happen as a result of this is likely that the best of that burgeoning Lonely Hearts Club will emigrate from China seeking a wife and a fortune. Others will turn to behavior out of the mainstream as a result of their predicaments; one manifestation of this being a flowering of the international sex-slave trade:

While the number of baby girls being born has declined, the number of kidnappings and trafficking of young girls has risen. According to the National Population and Family Planning Commission — that’s right, the very organization responsible for the one-child family policy — abductions and trafficking of women and girls has become “rampant.”

Young girls are being kidnapped within China and also from neighboring countries (Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Thailand) by organized gangs who sell them to families with boys of a similar age. The girls will be raised by the families and given as brides to their sons as soon as they reach marriageable age. Others are shipped to brothels within China for a life as sex slaves.

One wouldn’t assume the Chicoms were looking to promote the treatment of females as chattel or to export their productive male citizens when they put their one-child policy together; they were just trying to keep from having an overpopulation problem after decades of slaughtering their own in civil war, the Cultural Revolution and the Great Leap Forward and widespread abortions seemed like a more humane method of natural selection than self-practiced genocide. But strangely, mowing down political enemies of the state is actually easier for society to recover from demographically than are the unintended consequences of social engineering.

The lesson here? Things work far better when individuals are made free to control their own fates. If China had allowed its population to proceed normally, rising incomes and affluence would naturally bring birth rates down just as they have everywhere else in the world. The natural order of things would then have allowed for normal distribution of the sexes and an opportunity for millions of Chinese males to live normal lives – instead of the rather bleak prospects they face as a result of a brutal, stupid policy which makes criminals out of human beings trying to live their lives.

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