Updated: November 11, 2009
A rather strange title for an article, would you not say? But it is not. Let me elaborate. Most people like to procreate. For some strange, bestial reason, humans have this dire need to continue their lineage. When you think about it more deeply, it's nothing remarkable. Pigeons and squirrels can do it, even people with an extra chromosome are capable of producing offspring. At the end of the day, the inexplicable desire to have your clones, more or less successful than you would have hoped for, march into the future is just a survival trait that has nothing to do with humanity.
Still, regardless, many people are fascinated by the notion of having kids, women mostly. Men simply tag along, which only shows that they have a weak character and are easily persuaded. For a species blessed with rational thinking, at least some of us, the physical need to outlast the short span of one's life is rather superfluous. If you carefully think about, there's no point in anything we do, save the immediate satisfaction stemming from small things, like a nice meal, a vacation here and there, some affection from family and peers.
Achieving the meaning of life is terribly difficult. Which is why most people escape the reality of reason and thinking by venturing into the realm of simplistic survival of the race - having children. Being a parent pretty much turns your life upside down and force you to enslave your needs and priorities to more or less one thing in life.
Translating the lifelong effort of parenthood into a palpable sum is not easy. Most people will tell you that you cannot possibly measure the happiness and joy and whatnot of this selfish act of achieving immortality by transferring over bits of your own flesh and blood into another entity. But this is incorrect. Which why I took upon myself to write this article and show you, in practical terms, the worth (or lack thereof) of trying to duplicate your genepool.
I thought what the best unit of measurement would be and came up with a wicked notion: laptops. Instead of counting wads of paper printed in the local currency, we have an international standard here! Laptops are big, shiny things, with a tangible weight. Nothing like a handful of these to make a point.
Let's examine what the average pair of people will do in the course of their lives. The average pair will have two kids, space over a period of two-three years. Like all parents, the average pair will be deluded that their children are somehow special and better than the rest in everything they do, even though the laws of statistics necessitate that 68% of all people are and will always be average. To avoid the difficult truth of rather remarkable mediocrity, the pair will try to compensate on their being just another speck in the Gaussian distribution of society by sending their kids to private kindergartens and schools.
How much money is all this worth? Well, a decent private educational institution costs approx 1,000 dollars a month. For two kids, this is roughly 2,000 dollars a month. Add diapers, food, toys, babysitter, the cost rises up to some 3,000-3,500 dollars, at the very least. Annually, this is 30,000-40,000 dollars, to err on the cautious side.
The two average children will milk their parents for at least 18 years, until the time comes for college or university, although most people will opt for the easy stroll through Grade J community college instead of trying their worth in a real institution of higher education like Standford or Oxford. In some countries, there's also mandatory conscription, which will put an even greater strain on the parenthood yoke.
Give or take three to four years of studies, plus the age difference, the children will remain dependent on their parent until their mid-20s. On average, a human child will suckle on the financial teat of his/her progenitors for a solid quarter of a century, averaging 30,000 dollars each year.
In laptops ...
In laptops, this translates into 750,000 dollars worth of hardware. A very decent laptop, like the one I bought myself approx. two months ago, costs about 1,000 dollars. This means that a married pair who opts not to have children can afford to buy 30 shiny new laptops every year, without being at a social status disadvantage compared to their child-bearing neighbors. And over the span of 25 years, it's 750 laptops!
750 laptops, that's 1,500 CPU cores, 3,000 GB of RAM, 240 TB of storage, and 2.5 tons of metal and plastic. It's a very decent datacenter for a middle-sized IT company, by all means and standards. Think how much fun you might be missing by raising a pair of mediocre kids rather than buying top-of-the-line hardware.
I hope this article has unequivocally convinced you that you should not be having any kids. The planet is overpopulated anyhow, and in the long run, whatever you decide really makes no difference. It's just the illusion of self-importance, which is necessary for human survival. Other than that, having kids means you're missing the chance of having your own computer farm. I hope you enjoyed this. If you're too depressed after reading this, it's not my fault.