Saturday, November 30, 2013

"I have concerns"

I have concerns

       I've heard this phrase for decades now

To me this is often used as a code word phrase that means "I don't know", and is often used by those who simply have not done their homework in a timely manner, and now want to stop future action because of that simple ineptitude. The main subject is "effects" on our land.

Now in fairness, sometimes "we" don't know the practical effects of whatever we are talking about. But that is not what is usually said in this situation.  And sometimes the proposers are in too big a hurry to proceed with their own idea. And we all know that there are others who have abused our environment in the past.  All in all, I believe they collectively are a minority, especially in the last half century. If I'm wrong, please just show me, vice dancing around the issue. Most people are already good stewards of their land, both directly and indirectly, owned or used. For example, all of us need water to live; and many need electricity to help them get energy to stay warm during the cold seasons.

But for people, often in appointed positions of influence, to invoke this phrase of "I have concerns", often also means these people are allowing themselves to be lumped in with others who are just oppositionists to about any change, or even revert back to some older time. After all, most people want to improve things for the ever increasing human populations whose expectations as to quality of life are often also increasing. And sure, there is a limit to most everything, but that is seldom mentioned when opposition arises to some proposed action. Like the old TV series Dragnet saying went, "just the facts mam".

What prompted all this was reading an article about building  a dam on the Mekong River and "concerns" about adverse effects. Plus I listened to a member of the planning commission for the little town I live in. His main job is running a restaurant, and his wife was taking another local politician and friend to the doctor that morning as he is has a serious health problem.

The sheer audacity of using ignorance and all too often laziness to try stop some action is appalling to me. A good dose of honesty sure would help me and a lot of people like me, I think. Of course, I assume that most parties are interested in increasing the quality of life of the people affected. Maybe some aren't, and have been getting away with it for a while; but I also suspect this period is coming to an end.

I can remember when the famous ecologist Barry Commoner was on the cover of Time Magazine in the 1960's, and when the EPA was formed, and other such actions like the creation of OSHA occurred.

Somehow it seems the fine intent has been abused by those who wanted to accomplish obstructionist goals. What a shame in so many of the resulting practical effects. And some of these affects are not just against "the people", but also it often seems our governments have often tried to micromanage the whole setup with even newer laws and rules and practices (like trading and mitigation) to prevent just such abuses, to include corruption. If this is correct, then an immoral and monumental waste of our time and monies has occurred as some kind of human caused problem. Mother nature is all too often innocent in this regards.

The intent of this post is to propose a discussion of what old fashioned leadership can do to advance our future human existence on the earth.....if we want to. And the intent recognizes all the usual complications and vagaries of human interaction as part of whatever process should evolve, vice what has evolved. Now that is what leaders are for. And if it has taken us decades to get where we are, then it will probably take us decades to change the present course we seem to be on. But one has to start somewhere!

After all, I knew an Austrian fellow whose farm had been in their Family for 1,200 years, and the local town had recently celebrated its 1,400 year old anniversary. Or study the Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network (ACCCRN) in partnership with the Vietnam Women's Union.  So I know there are other ways to go forward to a sustainable and better quality of life future that has already proven itself for others in Austria and Vietnam today. And there is nothing wrong with borrowing smart and proven ideas for our own futures.

Let's talk, plan, and lead better than we have. Others already have.

Things We Take for Granted

Your heart to beat 100,000 times today!


by Paula Bolyard


Yesterday I missed being crunched in the middle of this sandwich of cars by ten seconds. I was at the front of the line waiting to turn left when the pile-up happened. I glanced into my rearview mirror before making my turn and couldn’t quite comprehend what I was seeing — a car perched almost vertically atop another. The airbag in the blue car did not engage and although he was able to climb out of it, the driver was extremely disoriented. He kept asking where he was and wondering where he had been heading. I convinced him to hand me his cell phone because his incoherent rambling was surely terrifying his wife on the other end. I explained to her what had happened as paramedics loaded him into the EMS unit. After examining him, the paramedic shouted to his partner that they needed to go — immediately.

Though I wasn’t involved in the accident myself, I realized after I got home that I was feeling a bit shaken by the ordeal. In moments like that, one gets a clear view of how fleeting life is and how quickly it can end. I don’t worry about that — as a Christian, I’m sure that the moment I die I will be “at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). But the accident reminded me how seldom I’m thankful for God’s mercies that are “new every morning” (Lamentations 3:22-23).

Obviously, I’m very thankful that I wasn’t hurt in the accident. And I’m thankful my son wasn’t injured when his car slid off the road in the snowstorm on Tuesday. And I’m thankful that a dear friend left work to help the coatless boys who had also managed to lock the keys in the car.

But beyond that, I take a lot for granted. Breathing, for example. When I stop to contemplate that my lungs inflate and deflate and do their oxygenating business without me ever having to consciously think about it, I am speechless. They just go in and out and in and out day after day after day, despite the fact that I barely ever think about my breathing. By decree of the God who knows the number of hairs on my head I will draw 17,280 breaths today, even though I rarely ever thank Him for his goodness.

And my hands. I’m staring at them now as I type and I consider my fine motor skills. I can feel my yellow lab’s smooth fur when he puts his head on my lap. They were stiff and freezing at the scene of the accident as the blood vessels constricted so that blood (and oxygen) could be diverted away from my extremities to my vital organs to keep my body alive in case I was stranded out in the frigid weather for an extended period of time. Awesome (awe·some – adjective: causing feelings of fear and wonder : causing feelings of awe).

I think about my sons, those two precious little boys that I rocked and changed and cuddled just a few minutes ago. At least it seems like it was a few minutes ago. Somehow, they’ve grown into these big, hairy men celebrating No Shave November. Somehow, they survived their childhood with imperfect parents and, by God’s grace, avoided most of the mistakes we made when we were their age. What a miracle to watch them growing in their faith, despite the frailties of their parents. 

The other night as we were driving home, I remarked to my husband how beautiful the stars were on the cold, clear Ohio night. I wish I had thought to praise the Creator who blessed us with the work of His fingers, the moon and the stars, which He has set in place (Psalm 8).

I’m overwhelmed sometimes when I think about our liberty. That I can walk down a street unmolested and speak my mind freely without worrying about government censorship (at least for the time being). And I’m thankful that our church is free to preach the gospel… boldly and without apology.

Sometimes I just marvel at the thought that I’m holding a 3 1/2″ screen in my hands and watching a video. How is this even possible? Our ancestors could have never imagined the technology we take for granted.

I could go on, but I’m sure you get the point.

Last night our church gathered for our annual Corn Service. Everyone receives a kernel of corn upon arrival and then, as we pass a basket into which we drop our kernels, everyone in attendance shares something they are thankful for. Some were big things and others were ordinary: family, friends, new babies, husbands and wives; God’s protection and provision, His word; church, family, and our country. One little boy simply said, “God.”

So many precious blessings. Yet it’s often easier to complain and recite our laundry list of requesdemands to God than to thank him for the miracle of our bodies, for our families, for the stars.

It’s Thanksgiving — a day when we remember God’s provision for the pilgrims who risked everything to establish a place where they could live in peace without fear of religious persecution.

But I think it’s also a good day to take time to contemplate the things we take for granted in our lives and to thank the God who will allow our hearts to beat 100,000 times today, even if we never — not even once — think about it.

O Lord, our Lord,

   how majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory above the heavens.

Out of the mouth of babies and infants,

   you have established strength because of your foes,

   to still the enemy and the avenger.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,

   the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,

   what is man that you are mindful of him,

   and the son of man that you care for him?

Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings

   and crowned him with glory and honor.

You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;

   you have put all things under his feet,

   all sheep and oxen,

   and also the beasts of the field,

   the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea,

   whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

O Lord, our Lord,

   how majestic is your name in all the earth! — Psalm 8


Recently "retired" from homeschooling, Paula is an unapologetic Christian and Constitutional conservative. Though she aligns politically with the Tea Party, she is a member of the Wayne County Republican Executive Committee. She is also a contributor at Ohio Conservative Review. Paula lives in N.E. Ohio with her husband, three dogs, and two parrots.


Piano Sonata in FTC Minor

Strassel: Piano Sonata in FTC Minor


Music teachers, beware. The feds are onto you. Better not try to raise the price of your lessons.


 By Kimberley A. Strassel  in the Wall Street Journal


Teddy Roosevelt busted Standard Oil. The Obama administration? It's making the world safe from rapacious piano teachers.

Every month, it seems, brings a new story of this presidency leveling the intimidating powers of the federal government against some law-abiding citizen. Now comes a terrifying tale of how the Federal Trade Commission, a governmental Goliath, crushes an average David—because it can.

In March of this year, a small nonprofit in Cincinnati—the Music Teachers National Association—received a letter from the FTC. The agency was investigating whether the association was engaged in, uh, anticompetitive practices.

This was bizarre, given that the MTNA has existed since 1876 solely to advance the cause of music study and support music teachers. The 501(c)(3) has about 22,000 members, nearly 90% of them piano teachers, including many women who earn a modest living giving lessons in their homes. The group promotes music study and competitions and helps train teachers. Not exactly U.S. Steel. X in Your Value Your Change Short position

The association's sin, according to the feds, rested in its code of ethics. The code lays out ideals for members to follow—a commitment to students, colleagues, society. Tucked into this worthy document was a provision calling on teachers to respect their colleagues' studios, and not actively recruit students from other teachers.

That's a common enough provision among professional organizations (doctors, lawyers), yet the FTC avers that the suggestion that Miss Sally not poach students from Miss Lucy was an attempt to raise prices for piano lessons. Given that the average lesson runs around $30 an hour, and that some devoted teachers still give lessons for $5 a pop, this is patently absurd.

MTNA Executive Director Gary Ingle, who has been at the organization 17 years—and who agreed to talk when I reached out about this case—said that he and the group's attorneys immediately flew to Washington to talk to federal investigators. They explained that this provision had been in the group's code for years, and that it was purely aspirational. The association has never enforced its code, and no member has been removed as a result of it.

The FTC didn't care. Nor did it blink when the MTNA pointed out that the agency has no real authority over nonprofits (it is largely limited to going after sham organizations) and that Congress has never acted on the FTA's requests for more control over 501(c)3 groups. Nor was the agency moved by the group's offer to immediately excise the provision. The investigation would continue.

With a dozen employees and a $2 million budget, the group doesn't have "the resources to fight the federal government," Mr. Ingle says. The board immediately removed the provision from its code, but the MTNA staff still had to devote months compiling thousands of documents demanded by the agency, some going back 20 years: reports, the organization's magazines, everything Mr. Ingle had ever written that touched on the code. Mr. Ingle estimates he has spent "hundreds upon hundreds" of hours since March complying with this federal colonoscopy.

This October, MTNA signed a consent decree—its contents as ludicrous as the investigation. The association did not have to admit or deny guilt. It must, however, read a statement out loud at every future national MTNA event warning members against talking about prices or recruitment. It must send this statement to all 22,000 members and post it on its website. It must contact all of its 500-plus affiliates and get them to sign a compliance statement.

The association must also develop a sweeping antitrust compliance program that will require annual training of its state presidents on the potential crimes of robber-baron piano teachers. It must submit regular reports to the FTC and appoint an antitrust compliance officer. (The FTC wanted the officer to be an attorney, but Mr. Ingle explained that this would "break the bank," so the agency—how gracious—is allowing him to fill the post.) And it must comply with most of this for the next 20 years.

The MTNA is not yet free of fear; the FTC has still to approve the consent decree. An FTC spokesman told me the agency does not confirm or deny the existence of investigations. The organization to this day has no idea how it became a target, nor will it ever because the FTC doesn't have to provide it.

While this abuse of power has received no national attention, it has riled the music community. Brian Majeski, the editor of the journal Music Trades, lambasted the FTC in a December editorial, noting that "a consumer watchdog that sees piano teachers as a threat either has too much time on its hands, or badly misplaced priorities."

That might be too kind. Whether it is the IRS targeting conservatives, the Justice Department hounding Gibson Guitar, or the EPA conducting an armed raid on an Alaskan mine—this administration has a tendency toward abuse of power. That's how antitrust laws created to tackle megamonopolies end up being used to hound and hammer a nonprofit devoted to piano teachers.

Mercy Ships

Mercy Ships

       A wiki link on this charity can be found at:

Energy in the United States

Energy in the United States

       A wiki link on the subject can be found at:

An outbreak of lawlessness

An outbreak of lawlessness

For all the gnashing of teeth over the lack of comity and civility in Washington, the real problem is not etiquette but the breakdown of political norms, legislative and constitutional.

Such as the one just spectacularly blown up in the Senate. To get three judges onto a coveted circuit court, frustrated Democrats abolished the filibuster for executive appointments and (non-Supreme Court) judicial nominations.

Click here to subscribe.

The problem is not the change itself. It’s fine that a president staffing his administration should need 51 votes rather than 60. Doing so for judicial appointments, which are for life, is a bit dicier. Nonetheless, for about 200 years the filibuster was nearly unknown in blocking judicial nominees. So we are really just returning to an earlier norm.

The violence to political norms here consisted in how that change was executed. By brute force — a near party-line vote of 52 to 48 . This was a disgraceful violation of more than two centuries of precedent. If a bare majority can change the fundamental rules that govern an institution, then there are no rules. Senate rules today are whatever the majority decides they are that morning.

What distinguishes an institution from a flash mob is that its rules endure. They can be changed, of course. But only by significant supermajorities. That’s why constitutional changes require two-thirds of both houses plus three-quarters of the states. If we could make constitutional changes by majority vote, there would be no Constitution.

As of today, the Senate effectively has no rules. Congratulations, Harry Reid. Finally, something you will be remembered for.

Barack Obama may be remembered for something similar. His violation of the proper limits of executive power has become breathtaking. It’s not just making recess appointments when the Senate is in session. It’s not just unilaterally imposing a law Congress had refused to pass — the Dream Act — by brazenly suspending large sections of the immigration laws.

We’ve now reached a point where a flailing president, desperate to deflect the opprobrium heaped upon him for the false promise that you could keep your health plan if you wanted to, calls a hasty news conference urging both insurers and the states to reinstate millions of such plans.

Except that he is asking them to break the law. His own law. Under Obamacare, no insurer may issue a policy after 2013 that does not meet the law’s minimum coverage requirements. These plans were canceled because they do not.

The law remains unchanged. The regulations governing that law remain unchanged. Nothing is changed except for a president proposing to unilaterally change his own law from the White House press room.

That’s banana republic stuff, except that there the dictator proclaims from the presidential balcony.

Remember how for months Democrats denounced Republicans for daring to vote to defund or postpone Obamacare? Saboteurs! Terrorists! How dare you alter “the law of the land.”

This was nonsense from the beginning. Every law is subject to revision and abolition if the people think it turned out to be a bad idea. Even constitutional amendments can be repealed — and have been (see Prohibition).

After indignant denunciation of Republicans for trying to amend “the law of the land” constitutionally (i.e. in Congress assembled), Democrats turn utterly silent when the president lawlessly tries to do so by executive fiat.

Nor is this the first time. The president wakes up one day and decides to unilaterally suspend the employer mandate, a naked invasion of Congress’s exclusive legislative prerogative, enshrined in Article I. Not a word from the Democrats. Nor now regarding the blatant usurpation of trying to restore canceled policies that violate explicit Obamacare coverage requirements.

And worse. When Congress tried to make Obama’s “fix” legal — i.e., through legislation — he opposed it. He even said he would veto it. Imagine: vetoing the very bill that would legally enact his own illegal fix.

At rallies, Obama routinely says he has important things to do and he’s not going to wait for Congress. Well, amending a statute after it’s been duly enacted is something a president may not do without Congress. It’s a gross violation of his Article II duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.

A Senate with no rules. A president without boundaries. One day, when a few bottled-up judicial nominees and a malfunctioning health-care Web site are barely a memory, we will still be dealing with the toxic residue of this outbreak of authoritative lawlessness.


Poster's comments:

I have some extra thoughts on this article:

1)  I think past Congresses gave past Executives the authority to do what the present Executive is craftily doing.

2)  Many of the members of both Houses of Congress who did so in the past no longer serve in the present Congress.

3)  So corrective action, if the voters choose to do so, needs to begin taking place in the voting booth where the vote can count. Not all the "guilty" parties will be voted on because they are already gone or leaving. So be it.

4)  Civics' education teaches that while one USA Congress and Executive may pass a law, subsequent Congresses and Executives are not obligated to fund it.  This is seldom discussed these days.

5)  I fault the Congress and the voters as well as the present Executive for the mess we are in.

6)  Certain members of the present Executive and the Congress seem worthy of traditional impeachment action, also.  They took an oath they seem to be routinely violating in so many ways. They are always accountable, one way or the other.

7)  The new world USA is oozing with superior citizen-politicians with "moral track records" who deserve to be voted in and promoted up to positions of increasing responsibility and accountability as they represent us. And it is to the voters advantage, the people if you will,  to do so.


Americans - one and all

Americans - one and all


A wiki link on James Montgomery Flagg who created this poster and many more can be found at:

At least the BBC carried this story

At least the BBC carried this story

      Malian fugitive 'Cheibani' recaptured by French troops

A Malian man who escaped from prison in Niger where he was serving a sentence for killing four Saudi tourists, and allegedly assassinated a US diplomat has been recaptured, officials say.

French soldiers arrested Alhassane Ould Mohamed, also known as "Cheibani", in northern Mali on Tuesday.

He was among 22 prisoners who escaped from jail in June during an attack by suspected Islamist militants.

Following the mass breakout, the US unsealed an indictment for his arrest.

It said he was wanted for the murder of US diplomat William Bultemeier who was shot in Niger's capital, Niamey, as he left a restaurant with colleagues in December 2000.

A reward of $20,000 (£12,235) was also announced in September for information leading to his capture.

French troops ousted Islamist militants from northern Mali earlier this year

He was serving a 20-year sentence in Niger for the murder of four Saudi citizens who were travelling with a Saudi prince on a hunting trip in 2009.

Mali's chief prosecutor Daniel Tessougue said that Cheibani, sometimes also called Cheibane Ould Hama, was arrested with three other people, the Associated Press news agency reports.

According to the Reuters news agency, Niger's Justice Minister Marou Mohamed said Cheibani was captured in a hideout between the towns of Gao and Kidal following a tip-off from Niger security officials.

French forces, along with troops from West Africa, helped oust al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb militants and their allies from northern Mali earlier this year.

They had occupied the vast desert area in the wake of the chaos that followed a coup in March 2012.

A Valor Award story

A Valor Award story

       We Americans have pretty good values, too

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Captain Lawrence Herbert Livingston (MCSN: 0-107447), United States Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism on 11 July 1972 while serving as Senior Advisor to the 1st Vietnamese Marine Corps Infantry Battalion during a heliborne assault into enemy-held territory northeast of Quang Tri City, Republic of Vietnam. When the battalion encountered unexpectedly heavy enemy fire while disembarking into the landing zone, and sustained numerous casualties, Captain Livingston moved throughout the hasty positions taken by the scattered and hesitant element and formed the Marines into an assault force. Despite the continuing heavy concentration of hostile fire, he began the assault on the initial objective - a treeline approximately 50 yards distant. Although blown from his feet by explosions and periodically delayed to reform and redirect his casualty-riddled force, he forged ahead, leading the Vietnamese Marines into the enemy-infested trench lines of the objective and a subsequent hand-to-hand battle. Upon seizure of the initial portion of the trench line, Captain Livingston shed his combat equipment, emerged from the trench line, and exposed himself to a hail of enemy fire to reach and carry his wounded naval gunfire spotter to a position of relative safety. Captain Livingston's repeated acts of heroism in the face of heavy enemy fire reflected great credit upon himself and the Marine Corps and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.


Federal Budget 101

Federal Budget 101

     Here's one link on the subject:

Friday, November 29, 2013

Johnson County War

Johnson County War

      A wiki link on the subject can be found at:


Quentin Roosevelt

Quentin Roosevelt

       A wiki link on this individual can be found at:

RMS Lusitania

RMS Lusitania

       A wiki link on the subject can be found at:
              A wiki link that focuses on the sinking can be found at:


China's Coming One-Child Crisis

China's Coming One-Child Crisis


A minor tweak in Beijing's population controls will not prevent a demographic crash.


By Nicholas Eberstadt

Vladimir Lenin, the founder of the Soviet state and godfather of modern totalitarian politics, once explained the totalitarian worldview this way: "We recognize nothing private." By that criterion, no totalitarian project in our era has been more ambitious than the Chinese government's policy of forcible population control. Since the institution of the so-called One Child Policy in 1980, China's Communist Party has demanded mastery over that final and most intimate of all private spheres, the family.

Forced sterilizations, involuntary abortions, female infanticide and untold other family tragedies have been ruthlessly routine aspects of the national plan to drive down childbearing to meet the state's birth targets. Despite recent news reports trumpeting an official easing of the policy, the changes were inconsequential—and China's demographic future remains dire, not just because of the One Child Policy's ill effects.

What Mao might have termed the "contradictions" of this population-control policy have markedly intensified over the past three decades as China's market-oriented reforms increased autonomy and personal control over other aspects of life. While China today is awash with a general social anger over government corruption and the lawlessness of the nation's rulers, no single state policy is so widely and deeply hated.

Meanwhile, Chinese scholars, demographers and economists have grown increasingly outspoken about what they describe as the irrational and counterproductive consequences of the population policy. Even the government's top think tank, the Development Research Center of the State Council, has publicly issued such criticisms.

The Communist Party's "open letter" that announced the One Child Policy in 1980 also proclaimed: "After 30 years, the currently very intense population growth problem will be eased, and different population policies can be adopted"—a seeming pledge that the program would only be temporary.

All this gave rise to hope that a major change in China's population-control project was imminent—and might be announced by President Xi Jinping at the Nov. 9-12 Third Plenum of the Communist Party's Central Committee. What the regime promulgated, however, was a relatively minor adjustment. Couples would be allowed to have two children if just one spouse is an only child, instead of both spouses as the policy was previously. No time frame was given for the rollout of this adjustment, which reportedly will be introduced in selective "phases" in different regions of the country.

Beijing's population planners expect the revision to have only a limited demographic impact. According to a widely quoted official estimate, about a million extra births a year are expected. In the context of the current 16 million or so annual births, that would amount to a paltry fertility increase of maybe around 6% for China. (No one knows the precise current birth figure, in part because so many parents still try to conceal out-of-quota babies.)

The day after the new birth directives were announced, the Chinese state news agency Xinhua ran the headline "Birth policy changes are no big deal." Beijing did not significantly "reform" population control. Rather, it just reaffirmed its coercive program with one minor and relatively insignificant change.

But why? China today faces staggering demographic problems, including a shrinking pool of working-age men and women and a rapidly aging population that will slow economic growth, perhaps severely. The traditional family structure will be tested by, among other things, a growing army of unmarriageable men, a consequence of rampant sex-selective abortion in the One Child era. To the extent that the policy has "succeeded," it has made each of these demographic problems more acute.

Yet even if Beijing repudiated all forms of population control tomorrow, these problems would persist for the generation to come. Practically everyone who will be in the Chinese workforce in 2030, or the Chinese marriage market in 2035, has already been born under the current restrictions. No variations in population policy today can change this part of the country's future.

The question that should be keeping Communist Party leaders awake at night is: Can Chinese fertility levels recover if and when the controls are abandoned? Alas, the answer to that existential question is not at all clear.

Demographers at the United Nations Population Division (UNPD) and the U.S. Census Bureau calculate that Chinese fertility levels today are far below the level necessary for population replacement. By their reckonings, current childbearing patterns, if continued, would mean each successive generation would shrink by 25% (UNPD) or 27% (Census Bureau). Official Chinese estimates, and the work of some independent Chinese demographers, suggest an even steeper drop.

These fertility estimates are nationwide averages. In China's cities, birthrates are far lower. In Beijing and Shanghai, for instance, official estimates suggest that women are having far fewer than one birth per lifetime (around 0.7 on average). In such settings, scrapping the One Child Policy will make no demographic difference whatsoever: People aren't even using their given birth-quota permits now.

Yet even in rural areas the desire for children may now be more attenuated than is commonly supposed. A major study conducted in 2007-10 by Chinese and American demographers found that the eastern province of Jiangsu only a third of rural families would favor having a second child.

Perhaps this shouldn't be so surprising. In Taiwan and Hong Kong—places that share the greater Chinese culture but have never implemented population-control policies—fertility rates have been fluctuating around one birth per woman for two decades. Levels are only slightly higher in South Korea and Japan.

These more developed East Asian economies have witnessed a "flight from marriage" by growing numbers of young women who choose to postpone or forgo their weddings. The trend now seems to be reaching mainland China, starting as it did elsewhere with the educated urban elite. It would be another factor lowering birthrates no matter what the Chinese government does.

So let us ask once again: Why, apart from its totalitarian impulse, does the Communist Party cling to its abhorrent and manifestly impractical One Child Policy? The most intriguing answer I've heard came from one of China's leading demographers a few years ago. When I asked him this question (couched a bit more politely), he said he could only guess that the leadership in Beijing actually believes that Chinese women will start having five children again if they end the policy.

His guess may or may not be correct. But if his reading of China's leaders is right, or even approximately correct, the Communist rulers in Beijing would be further out of touch with their subjects than almost anyone suspects.

Mr. Eberstadt is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a visiting researcher at the Asan Institute in Seoul.