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I thought China was still managing the move to urbanization to some extent with the hukou system: residency permits that control access to jobs, housing, insurance, education. I know that it's enforced less than it used to be, but I thought it still had a pretty big impact.

Lance Mannion

Sherri, I don't know. Yang pretty much stuck to talking about infrastructure and didn't bring it up. I'm not very deep into Hessler's book so he might get to it. I'll let you know. But the way he describes things, it seems that a lot of the old rules and laws aren't being enforced or are being selectively enforced or can be gotten around easily enough if you know someone and can grease the right palms. It sounds as though younger people in China have gotten very good at gaming the system.

Rebecca Clayton

Here in Pocahontas County WV, there quite a few children being raised by grandparents or other relatives. Some of the kids are "left behind" by parents who can't find stable work, while others are sent "back home" because the urban workplace communities are unsavory. This is the case in the farming community where I grew up (southwestern Iowa) as well.

It's not as obvious as what Hessler describes, but it means that children are being raised on Social Security income, disability benefits, and pensions. They're growing up in an environment where they don't see many people working for a living, and the school system finds the grandparents under-engaged in the education process. In a way, it's a ghetto with fresh air and trees.

A hundred years ago, this was a boom town full of loggers. 60 years ago, people left for Detroit on the Hillbilly Highway hoping for good union jobs. These days, the destination is unclear.

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