She’s so nice, they named her twice.
I met JuanJuan on vacation last week. She was incredibly sweet and her smile was kind and genuine.
I love people who have interesting stories. Maybe it’s because my mother still lives in the same house she and dad owned for almost five years before I was born. I think that stability makes people whose lives have more twists and turns more interesting to me.
Knowing that most Mandarin names have important meanings, I asked JuanJuan how she got her name. I was glad that I did.
He name means to give something, but it isn’t a gift. It is more like a contribution or payment. There is a good reason she received that name.
All parents sacrifice for their children. Usually that sacrifice is a lot more indirect. In JuanJuan’s case, the sacrifice was a direct contribution of more than $3,000 United States dollars to the provincial government.
Her parents already had a son. Because of the one-child policy in China, families who stuck to the rule received monetary payments each year. If women didn’t report pregnancies, a great penalty could be required. That could be a fine, imprisonment and often a forced abortion to keep the country’s policy intended to control its skyrocketing population that was threatening to destroy the country’s economy and environment.
For those with the means to do so, a request could be made to pay a “baby tax” and carry the child to term.
JuanJuan’s parents paid the price. Her name is a constant reminder of what she meant to her parents. That is a great story.
A couple of years ago, China expanded the one-child policy to allow an additional child for each family.
The policy wasn’t changed because the country was no longer at risk to problems caused by overpopulation. In fact, the communist Chinese government learned that adjusting the policy after the population had already exploded was anything but effective.
With almost one billion people in the country, China took action. However, decades later the government saw the results of the experiment and realized they needed to change course and quickly.
The problem was as simple as 4-2-1.
Because people are living longer than ever before, having only one grandchild working in an economy to support two aging parents and four retired grandparents just isn’t cost-effective. There was also the unintended consequence of Chinese parents placing a higher value on male children, thus making the world’s most-populated country also its most gender imbalanced.
When governments make drastic policy changes based on one factor, they often find themselves on the wrong side of the law of unintended consequences. If fixing overpopulation was as simple as forcing families to have no more than one child, the Chinese would have been right on target. Unfortunately, there is more than one factor at play and more than one issue that needs to be addressed. To avoid falling prey to unintended consequences, you have to understand the entire issue, be cautious in implementation of any changes and pay close attention to detail on how the changes are implemented.
That is why it is frightening to watch the current administration in the United States play with our economy like a boring video game. The Trump administration isn’t thoughtful, cautious or careful.
Tariffs on steel, aluminum and newsprint are allegedly designed to protect American companies against foreign imports. The problem with protectionist tariffs is that the tariffs necessarily become inflationary by forcing increases in prices for raw materials. Increasing costs for materials increases costs for those who use them and those who become retail customers later in the supply chain.
Newsprint tariffs have already caused a 20 percent increase in the cost of the materials on which daily and weekly newspapers are printed. Increases like that will cause job losses at newspapers across the country. It will also force publishers to consider how frequently they publish print products and cause existential decisions for some smaller weekly publishers.
The negative effects of the inflationary nature of the tariffs are huge compared to small benefits for the few American newsprint producers. The same story will play out for aluminum and steel tariffs.
China’s one-child policy was a great demonstration of how addressing only one side of an issue causes more problems than it solves. Now China is establishing retaliatory tariffs against United States exporters that has already had an effect on stock prices on Wall Street and will soon hit companies across the country.
It is time for Republicans who control both houses of Congress to stand up for the true values of conservative capitalism and fight to end these short-sighted tariffs that will only damage our economy, force layoffs and fuel higher inflation.
Hopefully, the United States can avert an economic disaster and not end up in an economic catastrophe of our own making.
— Kent Bush is publisher of Shawnee (Oklahoma) News-Star and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.