Saturday, August 30, 2008

Thoughts on China and reproduction issues seamlessly woven together

China has been much on many peoples’ minds recently, mine included. Though I don’t have any especially deep thoughts here I do have some shallow ones.

China’s growth over the last 30 years is like the greatest thing ever, or at least since the Collapse of (proper) communism. I instinctively disapprove of a (still) poor country spending so much money on showing off (they also do this with their space program), but I’ve gotta admit that it’s a pointless gripe in the case of the Olympics. China is poor, but it’s so big that it doesn’t matter much, and the average Chinese citizen really cared, so it was a bargain. The forced removals were a bigger problem, but there’s no reason to signal the Olympics out on this score.

All this said, I still think the government is a nasty piece of work and I see lots of blood in my crystal ball. I’ll be bold; I think China will keep growing like it has been for a few more years, until it hits the magic Weingast income per head and then unrest will break out. Thing may work out more or less, but it won’t be pretty.

Without going into their naughtiness too much, and keeping in mind that many (most?) westerners actually approve of the policy, I think the One Child Policy is a terrible, horrible policy. I think the idea is intrinsically wrong, but the kind of human rights violations which were inevitable from the moment it became law are appalling. There seems to be another way of ensuring low fertility rates; developing a liberal, rich society.

Speaking of reproductive rights, I’ve been listening to a few feminist podcasts from blogging heads. I didn’t know, or had forgotten, just how important abortion is to most feminists. I was shocked by the things that these intelligent people will say. Abortion should legal and state funded right up until delivery??! Abortion is okay because it’s an appropriate response to having your body invaded? What. The. Fuck? This has the effect of losing my sympathy and any interest in anything else they may have to say (though I do go for the invasion story in the case of rape and where the mother’s life is in danger and maybe a few other examples).

Unless we’re “pro-choice” on infanticide too, I cannot fathom thinking that aborting a fetus after 9 months is okay. As for the invasion thing, while I get that much sex is had without the intention of getting pregnant, it is one of the things that can result and people know this.

But insisting that other people pay for your abortion I think shows real contempt for people who disagree with you. I don’t really get the hardcore pro-life view that forbids even a morning after pill, but the fact of the gradual development of the fetus necessarily makes drawing a line about when abortion is and isn’t okay a fuzzy difficult and problem. We shouldn’t expect all decent people to agree. Forcing some people to pay for abortions that they believe fall on the wrong side of that line is really, really nasty stuff. It makes me a little queasy.

Another problem I had mirrors one related to animal rights. There’s nothing intrinsic about feminism or vegetarianism that makes them part of some overarching left wing worldview that encompasses global warming, massive welfare payments, the Iraq war and a mandatory vote for Obama. The more details like this you fold into your views the less compelling it becomes, necessarily.

I think Tracy’s right that we spend too much time pondering the morality of issues most people never encounter, and this does include abortion, but millions of abortions are carried out each year. The fact that decent people disagree and that it’s a horribly difficult question to resolve even minimally satisfactorily makes it a perfectly reasonable issue to get all excited over in an election campaign.


Trevor Black said...

It is always disappointing when someone seems to have an opinion that just seems completely illogical. It discounts almost any other opinion that they have.

Thing is, people don't pay the same amount of attention to all the aspects of the things they are interested in.

I think you have spoken before of how being incredible at one thing seems to give people credibility on subjects where they are in fact not experts.

So a musician comments on politics. A scientist comments on art. A minister comments on science.

Not that some might not have mastery of more than one field... those cases do exist.

But, similarly... I think most of us have some opinions we have thought through well and some that we have not thought through at all, and these opinions may be part of the same broader subject.

When actual date of birth is such a random thing, and many premature babies survive... I find the idea of abortion up to delivery one of the most repugnant things I have heard of.

If you are sexually active... there are signs of pregnancy, make up your mind early!

In fact, I think people should make up there mind about these things before the act so that the decision is not a long tough one.

As bizarre as believing HIV doesn't cause AIDS.


On the China front, I think we have a lot of learning to do.

I chatted to a Chineese colleague very briefly yesterday who says that there are many sides of the various stories we do not know.

Like the fact that the Dalai Lama was in Beijing at the time of the invasion of Tibet and that he left voluntarily (well, my colleagues opinion is that he was almost forced to leave by wealthy tibetans who wanted the credence of him being in exile). What he also said is that the Tibetan Monks were still practising slavery and the Dalai Lama had over 4000 slaves.

While I can't vouch for any facts... I do feel that we likely know far less about this subject than we should.

In terms of the economic growth... what it has convinced me of is that capitalism and economic growth is the greatest medicine for poverty relief that there could possibly be.

mutt said...

the whole, experts opining on something they don't know well, thing doesn't really work here. Because feminism is pretty much what they're experts on.

I don't know much about the Tibet saga(though I doubt China acted especially honourably), but I didn't have that in mind when I dumped on the Chinese government, there are many ways in which it is a nasty piece of work.