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Global Monitor


Pro-Life Portuguese Fight Abortion Legalization

In Portugal, the pro-abortion forces managed to prompt a new referendum on abortion. Portuguese pro-lifers are under the most massive attack ever with a coalition of-political parties fighting against them. The anti-lifers have gone so far as to hire a communications expert who works in the print and TV media. The parties involved represent more than 80% of the Parliament.

Pro-lifers are busy coordinating efforts against the referendum. In hopes of persuading possible YES voters to abstain from voting, Portuguese pro-lifers have started a program named “Say no to discrimination” with the underlying pro-life idea presented as a mathematical syllogism:

“1. Human beings should have their lives protected by law;

“2. Preborn babies are human beings; therefore

“3. Preborn babies should have their lives protected by law.

“Failing to protect preborn babies is to introduce discrimination in the law. There is a long history of discrimination by sex, race, birth, money, culture, etc., and now some people want to push legal discrimination by age.

“Please say no to discrimination.”

The idea behind the campaign is to make the possible YES voters feel uncomfortable siding with the discriminators of the past and hence, even if they think abortion should he legal to avoid unsafe illegal abortion, they might abstain from voting.

This campaign was due to launch on TV on January 6 in an intercultural event with many important people from many different races and religions passing the message to their specific audiences.

We hope and pray that it will be a success.

Source: João Araújo, PRI Colleague in Portugal

China Paying the Price for the One-Child Family

The Chinese government has come to acknowledge the coming challenges her rapidly-growing elderly population will soon present in a Cabinet-level white paper on the problem — the first such in China on the prospect of rising social security and healthcare costs, a shrinking labor market and other potential impediments to her continued rapid economic growth.

China opened her economic doors to the outside world in 1979 in hopes of capturing part of the cheap labor-intensive foreign manufacturing business. The economic boon to China has been obvious, but her intensive baby-killing agenda, also implemented in 1979, may well put the brakes on the economic hopes of that country. China’s one-child family policy has greatly contributed to an increased percentage of elderly that may well diminish China’s attractiveness as a low-cost, labor-intensive manufacturing hub in the future.

Since 1979, live births in China have dropped dramatically while the number of elderly has grown due to longer life expectancy. This combination has pushed the percentage of people over age 65 from 4.9% of the total population to 7.7% during the nearly three decades since the one-child policy was introduced. There is no reason to think the future trend will vary and with fewer children to replenish the workforce, the working-age population is expected to shrink from 68.4% to 60.7% by the middle of this decade with the elderly accounting for a far greater share of China’s population than the elderly in other emerging economies, such as Brazil, India, Indonesia and Mexico.

This demographic trend does not bode well for China’s economy. just as developed countries are discovering, China is finding that a rapidly aging population and a shrinking workforce decreases tax revenue while increasing expenditures such as pensions and health care. The decreased number of working-age people then will tighten the labor supply, increasing wages and eroding the country’s economic competitiveness. Parts of China with dense manufacturing activity are already finding labor shortages and increased labor costs, causing some foreign manufacturers to move production from China to cheaper destinations such as Vietnam, where the average monthly wage for a factory worker is $60, about one-half the Chinese wage.

The results can already be seen in foreign direct investment (FDI), which grew by 40% in 2005 in Vietnam primarily from investors in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. Meanwhile, China’s FDI fell 1.2% in the first seven months of 2006 after a slight decline in 2005. The combined investment from Japan, South Korea and Taiwan fell 31% in the first half of 2006, compared to a 6.5% decline in 2005. Businessmen are afraid these figures may be the early warning signs of an emerging trend.

As labor shortages become acute, China may need to terminate some low-end, labor-intensive manufacturing activities translating into decreased exports and lower economic growth.

Of course, China has some options to change her economic future, such as increasing manufacturing and services proficiency, but that would require increased funding for research and development and massive improvements to the Chinese education system. No one has yet suggested the option of ending China’s one-child family planning policy.

Considering her weaknesses and options, it will be interesting to watch China in the future to see how she will overcome the labor deficit. The Chinese have always had great respect for their elders. One can but wonder if the typically spoiled, one-child progeny will continue to hold their elders in such great respect as their economic needs increase.

See the Source: Friedrich Wu, “China wakes up to find an aging population,” Taipei Times, 22 December 2006, http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/editorials/archives/2006/12/22/2003341497

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