Editorial roundup

Oct. 31, The (Wilkes-Barre) Citizens’ Voice, Pennsylvania

Not tipping makes more sense

Tipping is something of an anachronism in America, where fair compensation for work is a perennial issue.

Letting diners determine much of their servers’ compensation rewards cheapskates, creates vast disparities in compensation within restaurants, encourages cheating on taxes and diminishes the value of work.

Now, influential New York restaurateur Danny Meyer might have signaled the beginning of the end of tipping. His 13-restaurant Union Square Hospitality Group will eliminate tipping by the end of 2016, which will result in generally higher direct pay for its 1,800 employees.

Prices will rise, but the end cost will be no more than the current price plus a standard tip.

The new regime, which is likely to spread in the industry, will take some getting used to, but it makes more sense for diners and workers.

Nov. 3, (Washington) Observer-Reporter, Pennsylvania

China damaged by one-child policy

Turn back the clock 100 or 150 years, and it wasn’t all too uncommon to find families where there were six, seven or eight children, or even more than that, in the United States and other parts of the Western world.

Birth control was not as common or reliable, hands were needed in fields, and a number of those children were claimed before they reached maturity by tuberculosis, influenza or any of the other maladies that shortened the lives of our predecessors. Many women produced children every year or two from their teens to their 40s.

Such fecundity is uncommon now. We are a more urban, mobile society, women are better educated, and family sizes tended to settle naturally around two children or so based on social and economic trends. The state has played no formal, proscribed role in nudging family sizes downward.

Not so in China. In the late 1970s, fearing overpopulation would burden the country’s push to become a modern, consumer-oriented society, Chinese officials decreed couples would only have one child. Couples who ended up having additional children, by design or accident, ended up not registering them or paying heavy fines. Other couples opted to have fetuses aborted in order to stay within Communist Party guidelines.

But, much like the dunderheaded policies hatched by Communist Party officials in China during the Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution that led to famine, vicious persecution and rampant underdevelopment, the official policy of limiting families to one child led the world’s most populous nation not to utopia but to something far less than that.

In fact, to use the technical term, it has put China in a pickle.

Given the cultural preferences for boys over girls, and the resulting abortion of more female than male fetuses, China is now left with millions of men of marriageable age who have no hope of landing a spouse, simply because there are not enough females to go around. The one-child-only policy also put China on track within a decade or two to become a land where the elderly predominate, which seems certain to significantly slow its escalating growth.

Seeing the damage its policy has wrought, Chinese officials last week lifted the one-child policy, and are now saying couples can have two children without fear of official retribution. While this is a step forward for human rights within China, it illustrates how much China remains a totalitarian society where its citizens are not seen as individuals with their own predilections and desires. The state should play no part in a decision that is so private and personal.

Isabel Hilton, a columnist for The Guardian, said the one-child edict — which brought “misery and cruelty” — weakened Chinese society. “China has gone from a nation in which survival and status was built on family and clan to one in which most children have no siblings, no cousins and no aunts or uncles.”

Hilton and other close observers of China believe the country crossed a Rubicon and will nevertheless be suffering long-term damage. Families will not automatically start producing more children, and the demographic seeds it planted will inevitably come to a troubling fruition.

For the last couple of decades, China has been the world’s powerful economic engine. With fewer and fewer young people to buy its products, drive on its highways and work in its factories, it may well be sputtering in the years ahead. And Chinese officials will have no one to blame but themselves.

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