Ultimate Fighting, Round 4

Welcome to the future!  Spring is early this year, here in Washington DC, and the cherry blossoms are beautiful.  And the ocean is only on the middle steps of the Capitol today.  Should we panic?  Or is climate change small change?

It’s up to you.  As crises go, climate change is pretty serious.  Cities will have to move, disasters will increase, and many people will panic.  I like to choose my panics, and of all the things to panic about, climate change is fairly minor.  Why?

Climate change represents accepting the idea that mankind has behaved in such a way to make the Earth warmer.  We have pushed Mother Nature (Mom to those of us who love her and know her well), and she is pushing back.

However, upsetting her with respect to climate is only one of many things people do to push Mom.  We pollute our air, land, water, and eventually our own bodies.  We destroy species and upset ecosystems.  We devour land for mining, farming, and living.  These are just the easy ones off the top of my head.  I’m sure there’s many more.

But there is one huge aspect in which we are pushing Mom that the newspapers never mention.  You might see it in an occasional biology article, but the potential impact is underestimated.  In biology, this force of Mom is called “selection.”

For the past few billions of years, Mom has selected animals for certain abilities; the greatest one of which is to reproduce.  Make babies, and helping them live long enough to have babies of their own.

For the past few centuries, humans have learned to work together as a group, so that large families are no longer critical to survival.  We have medicine and hospitals for maternity.  We have schools and other support systems for toddlers.  We have social security for seniors, even seniors who are so strongly against welfare.  And we have oodles of technology available to replace a great deal of labor that was once relegated to child labor; things like washing dishes, cutting grass, and delivering newspapers.

Most recently, we now have an understanding of inheritance.  We have diagnostic tests to determine embryonic health and fitness.  We also have the ability to perform surgery on an embryo.  We can even terminate an embryo for various reasons, with much less effort than ever before.  But what does all this have to do with Mom?

We have upset the process of natural selection.  Mom is no longer “in control.”  We are.  Or at least, we think we are.  And that’s the real problem.  For whenever mankind has the arrogance to think he has outsmarted Mom, she teaches him an extremely expensive lesson.  The builders of the Titanic ocean liner thought they’d conquered Mom, and she proved them wrong.  That was only a little boat.  Now we’re betting our entire species against her.

Who would YOU bet on?


Buying Babies

No black market discussion about desperate couples buying Chinese or Russian babies here.  Nor about desperate mothers having their child under conditions too horrible to consider, such that their only recourse is to give up that newborn.  No, we’re going to consider a behavioral future in which our government pays us to have kids.

We know this; as women become more educated and empowered, they choose to have fewer children later in life.  This is a behavioral trend that has been repeated in every nation, every culture, and in every possible combination of factors we can measure.  In retrospect this makes sense; why would a perfectly normal person want to have a parasite growing within them, by choice?  We know this parasite will endanger the mother’s health, shorten her life, and make her life miserable in many other ways.

The good news for our species is that these parasites can also give us great joy.  They also represent the future of our species, and can support us in our old age.  And because they are closely related to us, raised by us, educated by us, we know that they will be our close ally in times of danger.

It’s for these reasons and more that governments also like to have ‘future taxpayers’ filling the pipeline.  However, governments also know that their well educated and empowered baby-makers are having fewer babies.  What to do?

As a behavioral scientist, we can make this prediction.  The government will start to pay us for babies.  As much as they can afford.  They need these babies because they will rely on them for future work, and future taxes.

“What?” you say, Gentle Reader?  “No way!” you say?  Ah ha!  I have you now!

Our government, and many others, already do this.  In the US we get a dependency credit on our taxes.  It’s not much, but it’s still a payment.  In France you get extra bonuses and vacation time if you have 3 kids or more.  And if you look closely, every Western country has some kind of ‘incentive’ program in place.  And as fecundity rates continue to drop (look at Italy!) the payments will only increase.

So, thinking of having a baby?  How much should I make the check out for?


Tim Armstrong, pick on someone your own size!

Armstrong tried to wrest a few more dollars out of his workforce the other day by making some excuses.

The big excuse (and his big mistake) was picking on a few babies.  One of the babies was born premature, weighing about 1 pound and delivered after only 5 months of pregnancy.  The bill that AOL got was about 1 million dollars.

I don’t blame Tim for yelling about the bill.  That’s outrageous.  But what’s even more outrageous to me is that he BLAMED THE BABIES!

They didn’t have anything to do with it Tim!  Why don’t you pick on the insurance company, or the hospital, or whoever else is actually billing you that outrageous amount???

What is it with today’s egoistic megalomaniac leaders?  They find it easier to pick on those without voices, and leave the true culprits alone.

Help me with this one.  I’m ready to retire… to the moon.