Joseph Cotto, 9/23/2014 [Archive]

China's One-Child Policy is Destroying America

By Joseph Cotto

Last year, I caught a most interesting episode of Mary Tyler Moore.

In it, Mary Richards delivers an on-air editorial about population control for WJM-TV. She details the harsh realities of population instability and warns that Earth could one day be home to over seven billion people.

Fast forward over forty years, and that day has long since passed.

Back in the early 1970s, when that prophetic MTM moment first aired, America was the world's indisputable economic powerhouse. This nation had a national security apparatus bar none and a macro-level culture into which diverse groups assimilated. There were problems, to be sure. Violent crime as well as drug use were skyrocketing, and the U.S. was still coming to terms with the Civil Rights Era.

Nonetheless, you didn't need a Bachelor's degree to have a reasonable chance for middle-class life. Americans also seemed to have a greater degree of trust in one another, along with optimism for the future.

Today, the U.S. is kicking back as China, India, and other developing countries vie for world leader status. This is a bit of an understatement. America is actually reclining into a deep, dark valley of socioeconomic malaise.

Even if one has a PhD, competing with far less educated workers for sub-professional-level employment is anything but surprising these days. That's not even considering the sort of job supply-worker demand imbalance that would come about if illegal aliens were granted amnesty.

Pushing social issues and financial arguments aside, the crux of America's dilemma is that there are too many people competing for too few resources. Some might say that this is nonsense as countries with larger populations are bound to be successful because more people means more innovation.

Obviously, a nation does not need heavy population growth to thrive. Millions upon millions of unskilled workers will never outperform a handful of well-trained, practically-educated, and stridently motivated professionals.

China seems to have understood this decades ago; before Mary Tyler Moore was cancelled, in fact. Its one-child policy is often derided on emotional grounds in the U.S. Nonetheless, it created a society in which children are afforded the time and care they deserve, families enjoy a beneficial standard of living, and economic productivity is incentivized.

Compare this to what is found stateside. America rewards public assistance recipients with increased benefits for every new child, has relaxed welfare-to-work standards, and established prolonged unemployment programs which are rife with abuse. All of this is paid for on the backs of the productive, with the very wealthy often excluded due to tax loopholes.

America's state of affairs has grown so unfortunate that population stabilization appears to be the only way forward. Needless to say, a one-child policy is not feasible here. However, there are strong alternatives.

Michael E. Arth, a prominent urban planner and arguably one of Florida's most acute thinkers, has proposed something called a birth credit. It is surprisingly simple, and works like this: Should one wish to have a number of children that exceeds the amount necessary for zero-population growth, it becomes imperative to purchase a license for each new birth. The price of said license would be a matter of market value.

While a program along this line is controversial, it seems likely to not only be a sure revenue generator, but a way of breaking the cycle of poverty.

Of course, reason dictates that public assistance measures would have to be retooled so they no longer champion a polar opposite reproductive strategy. Also, immigration reform is an absolute necessity. Not the kind which offers blanket amnesty, but the sort that admits immigrants on a skill-oriented basis in accordance with the nation's needs.

For no small number of Americans, population stabilization might be a difficult reality to face. Nonetheless, it is long since time to embrace the concept.

America cannot afford anything less. China certainly can, though.


Copyright 2014 Joseph Cotto, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

Joseph Cotto is a historical and social journalist, and writes about politics, economics and social issues. Email him at

This column has been edited by the author. Representations of fact and opinions are solely those of the author.

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