Thursday, August 25, 2011

Biden and China's one-child policy (brief interruption in the break)

I just read this WaPo editorial about V.P. Biden in China. The Republicans apparently jumped all over Biden's remark that he "understood" China's one-child policy even though it was "unsustainable" from the standpoint of future worker-to-retiree ratios. Biden's office then issued a statement "clarifying" that the V.P. opposes not only the coercive aspects of the one-child policy but also the policy as a whole.

Although the coercive aspects of the policy are bad, if the policy were based on incentives alone would it warrant a denunciation? Probably not. The Chinese government did have rational reasons, when the policy was adopted, to want to moderate the pressures of population on resources, infrastructure etc., and those reasons probably remain somewhat valid. No one, of course, can approve of forced sterilizations or coerced abortions, but a non-coercive one-child policy would not be irrational, despite the concern about worker-to-retiree ratios. It's a bit annoying that Biden's office, in its clarification, apparently did not draw this distinction.

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