[ExI] the formerly rich and their larvae, was: Impressive book: Farewell to Alms

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Mon Feb 4 05:11:16 UTC 2008

Spike writes

>> ...Rich people certainly don't have twice the number
>> of kids as poor people today.
> Keith, the act of having kids converts us from rich people into poor people.
> Well, actually that is a bit of a stretch.  I have found that having a kid
> is not all that expensive.  When compared, for instance, to the annual
> budgets of those countries with funny sounding names, such as
> "Camaroon" and "Baroondy" and "France."

Heh, heh.  I get the joke. Okay, so it's expensive, but that's only
because you are pursuing the "wrong" population strategy.

As you probably know, in biology we have the K strategy (remember
"K" as in "Caring") and the r strategy ("R" as in reproductive). Humans
are way over at the K end of the spectrum. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K-selection

        In stable or predictable environments K-selection predominates,
        as the ability to compete successfully for limited resources is
        crucial, and populations of K-selected organisms typically are
        very constant and close to the maximum that the environment can bear.

        In unstable or unpredictable environments r-selection predominates,
        as the ability to reproduce quickly is crucial, and there is little advantage
        in adaptations that permit successful competition with other organisms...

and so on. 

In the current circumstances, what is the most successful strategy? In other
words, what strategy will come to predominate? Two facts are crucial in
coming to a conclusion:

    (1) by definition, r-strategies produce more children than does a

    (2) no child born today in an industrialized country will be allowed
         to starve, nor to go without basic medical care, and will be
         provided for until he or she reaches reproductive age, and
         the cycle can begin again. (As a last resort, the government
         will feed and care for all children born.)

Hence it follows that the population will over time become composed
predominantly of those following the r-strategy. At the present time,
from a biological standpoint "the more children, the better". Hence
those families churning out fifteen or twenty children must come to be
the norm.


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