Book 5: Our Visit to Singaling.
This is an island nation near Singapore. This country first used Singapore's one child model but then it licensed parents. Their license requirements are not the same as Kino's. The Singaling society has developed a number of innovations to protect themselves from such things as illegal immigration and gender inequalities.
As we toured the streets of the capitol city I was reminded of the country I had just left. The magnificent buildings were monuments to the most creative thoughts of modern architecture. The pastel hued apartments were a colorful backdrop for the glass, wood, brick, and steel buildings which were the hub of the world's most prosperous nation.
But what impressed me most was the cleanliness of the place. I swear by the gods of Tide and Tidy Bowl that I never saw a single piece of litter on the ground. There were no graffiti on the walls, no gum on the sidewalks. Of course gum chewing carries a thousand dollar fine in this country so the habit has become less and less fashionable. I do wonder, though, what do teen-age girls do with their mouths between sentences. In my dear home town of Los Angeles the "valley girls" would definitely suffer withdrawal pains should their beloved chewy companion be suddenly jerked from their lips.
Singaling enjoyed a long economic head start over Kino and is still leading the Asian derby in finance and trade. Again, the Asian intelligence and work ethic have pushed it far past its rivals in the West. Population control was probably a major factor in its rise, but was not as essential to its economic miracle as it had been for China..
Even back in the early 1980's Singaling had begun a program for population control. It began with allowing every couple two children. If they chose to have other children the parents, not the state, were responsible for paying the education bills for the additional children. The state laid down an additional detriment to additional children. If the parents had a third child, the state would not lend them money for a home. These rules kept most families to two or fewer heirs.
Singapore, Singaling’s country cousin, or cousin country, had cut births to such a degree that it began importing labor from countries like Bangladesh to do the lowest level work. Major corporations set up shop and dropped wages to maximize profits. Low paid Singaporeans took the same wage drop as immigrants. This prompted the government to think about reducing the rich-poor gap. But such communistic ideas have as yet had little effect on this free enterpriset power. In contrast, Singaling has emphasized the importance of producing only at the top tier of the economic echelons.
Sociologists tell us that it takes 2.2 children per family to keep the population stable. By limiting families to only two children a society might insure itself of a declining population. In Singaling the population has dropped as its economy has increased. This is not surprising because we have found for a number of years that the educated classes of most societies have fewer children. It seems that for a many people the joys and challenges of business, politics, and the professions are often greater than the joys and challenges of parenthood.
The liberation of women around the world has allowed them to run from their homes and compete with men in every field. And while traditions die hard, and the happy expectation of parenthood hides within most of our breasts, the economic advantages of having children have disappeared and the realities of the true costs of a child play on the minds of all intelligent parents. Before I became a solar-naut the cost of having a child for a middle class couple in my country was more than $100,000 to get the child to college age. When considering the costs of food and lodging, clothing, medical bills, a larger house, and the salary which the caretaking parent had to give up to stay home--it is easy to understand how expensive a child is. Now, with the inflation rate approaching 25% in the U.S., it costs millions to raise a child through high school. And to send that child to college doubles that.