Odd Defenders of China’s One-Child Policy

“Before I had my first child, I was hoping for the relaxation of the one-child policy,” Chen Feng told the New York Times. But, she adds, “I changed my mind after I gave birth to my daughter.”

What changed her opinion of the Chinese government’s coercive family planning?

“It takes a lot of energy to take care of a child, and you want to make sure the child will have a good future,” she said. “So my husband and I have decided not to have a second child.”

Families are perfectly aware of the trade-offs involved when deciding to have additional children.

Does Feng believe, as the Times quotation seems to indicate, that the right “policy” for her family should be imposed on everybody else? If so, she fails to appreciate the beauty of freedom. If the government had no policy regarding family size, then couples who wanted multiple children could embark on that path, while those who only wanted one child could stop at one. Presumably, Feng and her husband are not the only parents to realize that the first kid can be exhausting.

Perhaps Feng can be forgiven for this blind spot. She has never known a system that respects individual choice or appreciates the practical benefits a community will enjoy from the diversity of choices its members freely pursue.

The average American can appreciate the horror of state-imposed family planning, but the “planning” mentality violates more than individual rights; it violates economic principles as well. But even professional economists can forget the importance of subjectivism when it comes to dry cost-benefit analyses. Just as the Communist Party officials measure their policies from a collectivist perspective, so, too, do many Western intellectuals.

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