Monday, September 5, 2011

Control those Urges

Click the pix for larger picture.

Besides having the government dictating the number of kids a family can have, there are other institutional and cultural forces that combine to keep unbridled breeding from taking place. For example, the schools implement many policies, whether intentional or not that place many impediments in the way of youthful libidos.
The following article about school uniforms is an interesting case in point:

Controversial Uniform Change

Parental pressure has forced a technical school in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, to give up its plan of changing its uniforms, fashioned after South Korean uniforms where it's trouser suits for boys and skirt suits for girls. It would seem that parents object to the new uniforms for being too provocative.

On January 15, a parent surnamed Cheng contacted the Jinling Evening Paper to inform them of the school's plan. Ms Cheng explained that her daughter, who is enrolled at the school, was really excited about it. But Ms Cheng didn't share her daughter's enthusiasm. "I am afraid that my daughter will fall in love too early if the school adopts the Korean style school uniform.

"My daughter told me that her school was going to purchase new uniforms -- Korean style with suits for boys and skirts for girls. My daughter not only said that wearing a skirt to school was her dream, but also starting discussing with her classmates which boy would look the most handsome in the new suit."

Ms Cheng added, "My daughter would be staring at boys all day if the Korean style uniform is adopted. These are adolescents. Uniforms will only make the opposite sex even more attractive to them during this very sensitive time. The sports-styled uniforms are better -- healthy and active."

A Mr Lin, an official with the school administration, told the Jinling Evening Paper, " Our uniforms are basically sports attire consisting of a tracksuit. The same design for boys and girls except for color. Students don't like them at all, and some parents think it's a waste of money.

"That's why we considered changing the uniforms last November. We polled the students for their opinions and found out that most of them liked the uniforms typically worn by children in South Korea and Japan. In China, too, some middle schools in Shanghai and Guangzhou have changed their uniforms."

in response to concerns that students would "fall in love too early", Lin agreed that the new uniforms are a lot more appealing than the sports attire.

However, the plan was canceled because too many parents were against it. According to Lin, some parents accused the school of trying to raise more money through the new uniforms, while others raised concerns such as girls catching colds in skirts, and the new uniforms posing a distraction from studies because they're too provocative.

The middle school I taught in has some interesting uniforms. Depending on which class you are in, you have several options. First is the royal blue polyester track suit. This had the advantage of being both hot in the summer and cold in the winter.
There are also the girl's white warm weather tops that had giant collars and were copied from a 1969 McCall's maternity smock pattern. These can be worn with the sweat pants, or equally fashion challenged polyester pants.
The least odious is the white polo shirt worn by both genders for that androgynous look, topped with a royal blue polyester unlined sport coat.
Hair must be short, shorter on boys.
There are efforts at individuality, cool glasses, shoes, watches, and layered winter wear being the primary fashion efforts. The effect was subtle.
If the school's intentions were to create a student body that appeared to be a mass of brainy dorks, then they can be said to be a smashing success.
After doing all they can to eradicate any vestiges of coolness, they then provide an environment that virtually eliminates any free time by filling in most waking hours with classes and study halls. They then pile on enough homework to encroach on sleeping and eating times, and create enough academic pressure to cool even the most ardent passions.
Throw in a complete lack of dances or any other opportunities for young men and women to get intimate, and you have succeeded in putting a major dent in something that many western countries struggle with--teen pregnancy.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

One Family, One Child

Vice President Biden was recently in China making pals with his Chinese counterpart, watching some basketball, and doing what he does best-yacking. During one of his windy exhortations, he made a comment about China's one child policy. I don't remember what exactly he said, and don't feel like looking it up, but it brought much hand wringing, hollering, clarifying, and general hoopla regarding the fact that he did not condemn, in no uncertain terms, this policy.
Upon arriving in China, the foreigner has many thoughts. I am not a mind reader, but I can be absolutely certain that the first thought that comes into their head, upon arriving, is not, "Say, this place could use some more people!" China has over 1.3 billion people. That is one billion more people than the United States. It has also experienced famine and poverty on a massive scale. I have heard accounts of cannibalism and babies abandoned in the forests because there was no food.
The population of the world is growing dramatically, and resources are becoming scarce. There is, and there will be famine, wars, and pandemics as a result of this. China's leaders recognized that their country was not capable of supporting the kind of population growth that Chinese culture is capable of producing, and enacted laws to control the birth rate.
Most Chinese couples are allowed to have only one child. There are exceptions. Farming families can have more than one child. Twins are OK. If your child dies, you can have another. If a couple are both single children, they can have two kids.
If you have a second child, and work for the government, or a government connected business you will lose your job. Other businesses might well fire you too. If you are self employed, as many people are, you can just pay the fine for another kid. At present, it's 30,000 RMB, too much for most people, but not for upper middle class folks. There are countless ways for people to cheat the system, and it happens fairly often, but the overall result is that the birth rate has slowed, and is no longer out of control.
There are many downsides to this program. There are forced abortions, forced birth control, and child abductions. There is a gender disparity in that there are more male kids than female. This is due to the illegal practice of gender selective abortions. There is also a concern among Westerners that there will be a great burden on the younger generation because they will have to support more elderly people. I think this is a bit overblown, since Chinese are generally very frugal and have a lot of money saved. They can save even more for retirement, since they are raising fewer children.
If China's population had continued to grow at the rate it was going, there would be more poverty, more pollution, and a lot less prosperity to go around. You would not see the same successes that you have today.
It's easy for Americans, with their wide open spaces, clean air, and cushy lifestyles to criticize the one child policy. But the future of the planet will be greatly impacted by the out of control population growth that is happening in the Third World. It cannot be sustained. The measures that China has taken will seem very humane compared to the alternatives.