Runs In Transit

Month: October, 2015

One-Child? No Problem

This week, China announced it is ending the controversial One-Child policy and replacing it with a Two-Child policy. Almost four decades since its inception in 1979, it’s been long overdue. Apart from being a social travesty, China’s fertility rate is now 1.66 which is lower than even that of the US’s. A growing population is necessary to sustain economic growth, and this change is likely too late to save a slowing Chinese economy. What’s more interesting are the social effects of this policy change.

I am a product of China’s One-Child Policy. When my parents had me in 1993, they were ecstatic I was a boy, their one chance at passing down the family name and their ticket to a prosperous retirement. It’s crazy to think they had only one shot to do it right. Their future was immaculately placed in the life of one baby along with all their hopes and ambitions. And this was probably how they planned it to be-have one child and invest everything into raising it.

The consequences of this situation are not trivial. Having less children increases the resources that child gets. In the US, we’re used to viewing children as a consumption good that brings us happiness. Naturally, we want their lives to be of high quality and having children for the sake of quantity is an afterthought. In China, the culture has always been to have a lot of children who would one day support you. This has changed markedly in the last few decades due to rapid economic development, but also partly because of this policy.

The One-Child policy made China society more educated. My parents invested a lot of money into making sure I got a great education, along with experiences, material goods, and emotional support. It costs 414,000 RMB ($67,410) to raise a child to 18 years old in China, which is 43% of the average household income in China. It’s not certain they could have raised two children at the same time without sacrificing the quality of one or both children’s lives.

In some ways, I have the One-Child policy to thank for the life I lived. On the other hand, I could have had a sibling who would have added great value to my life. Seven years later, my family moved to the US and had my sister. They certainly wanted more than one child and were ecstatic at having a boy and a girl. What would have our family been like without the policy? I can ponder, but the fact is that 400 million children were not born as a result of this policy, and it’s very possible one of them could have been my brother or sister.

It’s not worth delving into the what-ifs of life, but it is interesting to look at the now. What shape will Chinese society take following this change? How long will it be before China starts encouraging having more children? Will Chinese culture shift westward? Time will tell, but one things for sure, whatever social changes take hold in China will have a drastic impact on the world, and we should watch closely.

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Rock on kid. The future is still bright.

Bedbugs Exist in Hell

For the past week I’ve been waging war against the bedbugs in my room. I’ve lost many battles, gained many scars, but am determined to win the war.

This is the first time I’ve experienced bedbugs. Before I’ve heard the nightmare stories, especially of travelling abroad, but it always seemed like it would never happen to me. Now, I’m dealing with them nightly, and the toll is as great as the stories.

My body is covered with bites. They’re identical to mosquito bites, and I look like a leper. The ones on my neck are the worst, as they turn brown after a few days and are always visible.

The mental cost of bedbugs is much greater than their actual effects. Very little blood is drawn and the bites won’t kill you, but the impact psychologically can seriously reduce a person’s quality of life.

Trying to fall asleep with the image of tiny bugs crawling on your body eating you alive is a really tough mental block to get through. Your sleep is shortened and you find yourself waking up at night. The anxiety is terrible. Bedbugs are time-intensive to get rid of and add a lot of stress to your life. Your self esteem also takes a hit because of your appearance. If you’re spraying your room, the poison makes it noxious to breath.

One thing’s for sure, if hell exists, you will find bedbugs there.

Interesting side note: bedbugs were almost non-existent in the 1940’s because of DDT use but have skyrocketed after they were banned in the 70’s. I guess this is a small human cost to pay to save the environment. I’ll keep sleeping with my clothes on.

Ten Things I Miss about State College

Distance makes the heart grow fonder, and I’ve never felt like that’s been more true. The past few years I’ve wanted to get out of my hometown, State College, PA more than anything else. I felt trapped, chained, and restricted from the world. Now that I’m gone, I see things from a different lens, and most notable are the things I took for granted. I don’t think location is particularly important in life, but rather the opportunities that are afforded to you at the location. The opportunities we normally think about are career and school related, but many times we have opportunities right before our eyes. The opportunity to have dinner with your family or catch up with your friends are intangible. Here are the things I miss most about State College.

  1. Family. Home is where your family is, and for the time being that is in a two-story house on Quail Run Rd.
  2. Friends. Many friends have left, but many more have stayed. The rare opportunity of being able to reconnect with one in the environment you had many memories together is something special.
  3. The food. Mom’s cooking is the best food in the world. Apart from that, Waffle Shop, Wing’s Over, even Chick-Fil-Lil, are treasures compared to uninteresting chains, not to mention Irving’s, the Creamery, and the Corner Room.
  4. The streets. Driving down Blue Course Drive or University Ave towards Mt. Nittany with the sun setting and a cool breeze is a beautiful thing.
  5. Fall. Foliage may be the most under-appreciated thing about living in rural Northeast. Being in a city means the greenery and rainbow of assorted colors are never available. In SC, you get the whole spectrum.
  6. The prices. Alcohol is annoying to buy, but cheap compared to many places. The college bar specials are also great, not to mention the affordable groceries.
  7. The space. Want to throw a football around? What about a hike? There is always a park or field for that in the low density sleepy town.
  8. My bed. The natural indent my body has etched into my mattress is the best place to sleep in the world.
  9. Football. Game-day at Beaver Stadium is something else. The masses and the atmosphere are really special in a feel good and positively overwhelming way.
  10. The feeling. It’s hard to describe given the ennui of the town, but they call it Happy Valley for a reason. Everybody is doing something but in a relaxed way. There’s no stress, almost if the happiness of life is always at your fingertips. Perhaps it’s the safety or the weather or the people, but it’s lovely to be surrounded by a sense of peace. It’s a great place to raise a family, retire, or go to school.

See you soon SC.State-College-Air-1