Optimal Living

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Optimal Living is the art of complying with innate human needs: Not too much and not too little. Too little money makes life inefficient and dangerous, too much money makes us anxious about losing it. Too little food can kill us, too much food can kill us, too. This Chapter provides hints on how to live well - by optimizing life.

 

Excerpt from Book: "How Life Really Works"

Book IV: Exploring Happiness

Chapter 17.00 Optimal Living

 

Due to space limitations, sections in Red are accessible only in the Book or CD "How Life Really Works".

 

Optimal Living

Chapter 17.01 PRINCIPLES OF OPTIMIZATION

    1. Evolution of Human Needs

    2. The Principle of Diminishing Returns

Chapter 17.02 SPECIFICS OF OPTIMIZATION

    1. Housing and Shelter

    2. Transportation

    3. Sex

    4. Children

    5. Food

    6. Clothing

    7. Travel

    8. Money

    9. Health and Healthcare

    10. Entertainment

    11. The Arts and Education

    12. Hobbies

 

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The difference between a little money and no money at all is enormous - and can shatter the world. The difference between a little money and an enormous amount of money is very light.

                                        Thornton Wilder, The Matchmaker

 

Nothing in excess

                    Solon, as quoted by Diogenes Laertus, 3rd century BC

 

They are as sick that surfeit with too much as they that starve with nothing

                                        Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

 

 

Chapter 17.01 PRINCIPLES OF OPTIMIZATION

        The Evolution of Human Needs

        The Principle of Diminishing Returns

 

The Evolution of Human Needs

An exploration of the Optimums for Human Living provides for a fascinating and rewarding pastime. This is a game of weighing the benefits gained and prices paid for specific living arrangements.

Our reflexes, instincts, emotions and rational thought processes, in ascending order of complexity, govern human conduct. Evolutionary processes ensure the survival of the organism by generating impulses that we interpret as unpleasant or painful, whenever we perceive a threat to our well-being or survival. When we are without the influx of sensations that we interpret as painful, when the functions of our body and mind are at equilibrium and in a state of tranquility, then we have entered a state of emotional well being, referred to as happiness. Human beings are able to enhance their happiness by superimposing the faculties of their rational mind on their emotions.

The factors responsible for our state of happiness originate with the interaction of our innate faculties with our environment. During the process of evolution, humans have developed many traits and characteristics that were decisive in their quest for survival or for the improvement of their living conditions. Some of these innate traits, which developed over millions of years of evolution, have remained of crucial importance for the perpetuation or the enhancement of human existence. Other traits have lost their significance due to changes in manís environment. We no longer need to be concerned about having to confront the wrath of a saber-toothed tiger. Therefore, we no longer have much need for some survival factors that were previously of vital importance, such as the Fight or Flight syndrome. However, this obsolete emotional response to real or imagined threats still triggers the production of adrenaline and unnecessarily destroys our tranquility.

With the passage of many generations, man has developed rational thought processes that reduce or eliminate pain and enhance our feeling of well-being, our happiness.

Human needs may vary from person to person in minor respects. However, a wide range of emotions and thought processes are germane to all human beings. Just as all human beings have developed essentially identical physiological organs and appendages, they have developed almost identical emotional responses and rationality. Intelligence and rationality are subject to individual variations within a narrow band. Since all humans have the same primary objectives in life, such as survival and procreation, they have developed very similar emotional needs and rational strategies for dealing with obstacles to these objectives. Our need to project our well-being from the present moment into the future reflects our instinctive need for the emotion we call security.

 

The Principle of Diminishing Return

Our emotions have prodded our rational mind into developing an abundance of artifacts in order to facilitate our life and improve our living conditions: From the construction of houses to the means for the cultivation and preservation of food. Money is a uniform store of value to facilitate the exchange of a large variety of different transactions. We only intend to hold money temporarily in order to facilitate the future exchange of commodities or goods produced by us. Money is of great importance to the fulfillment of our needs. Therefore, we need to deal with some decisive questions: How much money is sufficient to satisfy our innate needs or, how much money is not enough or, can we ever have too much money?

Does an abundance of money make all the billionaires in this world happy? Such an assumption appears to be very doubtful. The super-rich need to surround themselves with bodyguards in order to protect themselves from kidnappers or deranged predators. They must worry about the vast amounts of money they can lose to taxation, the fickleness of fate or the inevitability of inflation. If rich people did not feel inherently insecure, why would they feel the need to accumulate such immense sums of money?

Rich people have the same inter-relational problems as poor people. A rich man can be just as concerned about the fidelity of his wife, as a poor man, and vice versa. Rich people have identical problems with their children as poor people do. Merely because a person can strut around in a Rolls Royce or owns a huge yacht, has never made anyone happy. Happiness is an emotion. It can only grow from within us, not from the outside.

A case in point is the difference in attitudes between Europeans and Americans. In order to accumulate ever-larger houses and automobiles, Americans have to work more hours than Europeans do. Instead of two weeks vacation, practically all Europeans earn four or six weeks vacations each year. Americans traded appearances and the need to impress strangers, for the ability to rest longer and work less intensively. The perceived standard of living and the standard of happiness are obviously on the side of the Europeans. The life expectancy of Europeans, as an indicator of the standard of living and health care, is identical to the life expectancy found in Americans. Happiness does not rest in the quantity of money that we control; it rests in our quality of life.

If we have more money than we need for preserving the necessities of life, we will worry about losing it. The Ancient Greek philosopher Diogenes lived a very simple life and considered himself a much more fortunate and happy man than the most powerful man of his time, Alexander the Great. The story goes that, when the almighty Alexander asked Diogenes if he could do anything to alleviate his apparent poverty, Diogenes merely asked Alexander to step aside because he was blocking the sun.

Wealthy people can only sleep in one bed at a time, put their pants on one leg at a time and they gets warts and hemorrhoids just like poor people, and the people in between these two extremes. Is a house with 10 bedrooms and 8 bathrooms really more conducive to a man's happiness than a home with three bedrooms and two baths? Opulent houses, wholly beyond the basic needs and necessities of human existence, are becoming more common but one must wonder if such monster-houses enhance the happiness of their owners.

It becomes readily apparent that these mini-palaces have become an impediment to the happiness of their owners because these persons actually substitute a large house for a completely different need. They try to enhance their self-esteem by impressing other people with their prowess in acquiring unneeded wealth.

Standards of adequacy, inadequacy and optimization apply to money, houses, cars, food, clothing, recreation, procreation and every other human possession, activity and endeavor. Whenever we encounter a distortion of physical health, such as obesity, or a distortion of mental health, such as luxurious mansions, we are encountering the inappropriate substitution of food or houses for mental pain and psychological maladjustment.

At the bottom of all conditions of obesity is the inappropriate alleviation of mental pain that is unrelated to hunger, by the substitution of good-tasting carbohydrates and fatty substances: Instant satisfaction and happiness. At the bottom of all conditions of opulence is the inappropriate alleviation of mental pain by the substitution of unneeded or inappropriate palliatives.

Would we really be happier if only we had the monetary resources that are at the disposal of wealthy persons? The answer must be an unequivocal NO. We can be perfectly happy right here and now with very limited resources: All we really require is an optimal supply of monetary or tangible resources. What represents an optimum of resources for human beings?

Some persons might suggest that this optimum varies from person to person because different people supposedly have different needs. In actuality, the basic needs of all human beings are innately very similar, if not identical, because human needs have developed simultaneously around the globe during the process of human evolution.

Our innate needs certainly do not require such an abundance of money that we develop anxiety about losing it. Neither do we address our needs properly if we lack resources to the extent that our life becomes inefficient by forcing us to engage in cumbersome and inefficient activities, like chopping wood or hauling water in buckets. The key to financial success, if such success relates to our pursuit of happiness, does not rest in our attempt to minimize or maximize our financial resources, but to optimize them so that they are in alignment with universal, innate human emotional needs. Socrates originally introduced us to the concept of moderation. Some of his observations still apply because they give cognizance to manís innate needs, as established by millennia of evolutionary development.

Another seminal Greek philosopher, Aristotle, further elaborated on the principle of moderation by postulating the principle of diminishing returns, as applied to the monetary sphere. Being an astute observer of human traits, he stipulated that an upper limit is imposed on the utilitarian use to which money can be applied. Since money is a human invention, human nature determines the measure of such optimums

If we have no shoes at all, we suffer from pain and discomfort. We will be inefficient in the pursuit of our objectives, such as hunting for game. Such complete lack of shoes represents life below the threshold of minimum necessities and puts our life at risk.

If we own one pair of shoes, we can function rather effectively, but we cannot compete for food or other essentials if our shoes are wet or if they need repairs.

If we have two pairs of shoes, we can be certain of having proper footgear at all times, a condition representing the optimum combination of needs and resources.

If we acquire more than the optimum of two pairs, we conflict with the law of diminishing returns. Three pairs of shoes will provide only a slight advantage because it may provide the opportunity to rotate shoes to avoid blisters. We need to weigh this slight advantage against the cost of acquiring, maintaining and safeguarding the extra pair of shoes.

The principle of diminishing returns will become even more obvious when we insist on acquiring the fourth, fifth and sixth pair of shoes. Since we can only wear one pair of shoes at a time, these additional shoes will not increase the quality of our life but will, instead, make us more concerned about their potential theft.

If the possession of shoes is a matter of survival, and if many needy people have no shoes at all, they will incur considerable risk to separate us from our unneeded shoes. Ultimately, to possess 300 pairs of shoes in the spirit of Ismelda Marcos, will lead to ridicule or even disaster, as she discovered to her chagrin.

This illustration illuminates the Aristotelian principle of diminishing returns as it pertains to man, his money and his possessions: Total lack of money, signifying the lack of physical resources that money represents, can mean deprivation or even death. A minimum of resources will keep us alive but will provide little in the way of lifeís joys. An optimum match of human resources and human needs will provide us with all necessities for survival and will provide us with the opportunity to enhance our happiness by reducing or eliminating most adversity and pain from our existence.

Beyond this optimal point, we burden ourselves with anxiety about the potential loss of our resources, with the additional cost of acquiring them, with disproportionate benefits and with the additional burden of protecting our possessions from predators or from the hazards of time and decay.

The principle of optimization is apparent in all arenas of human endeavor. All human artifacts are designed for and must comply with the physical limitations of the human body. Automobiles reached optimal conditions and proportions in the middle of the 20th century. Subsequent modifications of automobiles were not substantive improvements. Human reflexes cannot safely cope with automobiles that travel at speeds higher than 100 miles per hour, although the technology exists to propel them at 500 miles per hour.

Therefore, it would be redundant to put 1000 horsepower engines into cars that are limited to 100 mph: The automobile had reached optimization in the middle of the twentieth century by complying with innate human needs and limitations. There is no essential difference between cars built in 1950 versus cars built in the year 2000. The sole differences are apparent in styling and a few unessential items such as satellite navigation systems.

The human brain is a bio-computer. The speed of interactions between neurons and synapses determines optimum human thought processes. Some persons can think faster than others can. There are persons who can think in high gear and then there are slow plodders. What matters is not the speed but the quality of thought, the logic, common sense and rationality of the thought. Charles Darwin considered himself too slow-witted to engage in argument. "I suppose I am a slow thinker", he said the year he published the Origin of the Species. Albert Einstein, too, modestly described himself as a slow thinker.

Therefore, human thought processes reach an optimum when the speed of thought begins to compromise the quality of thought. Politicians may benefit from thinking on their feet, but the output of their mind relates more closely to their feet than to their mind.

Scientists benefit from a slower, well-integrated thought process. The connectivity of neurons rests in our genes. It is probably more conducive to mental health and happiness to think at a moderate speed but at high quality. In general, fast drivers are more dangerous than slow drivers are.

Our mind, just like our feet, operates best at an innate human speed. We enhance the speed of our feet by using cars and planes; we enhance the speed of the human mind by using calculators or computers. Even with all of these enhancements, our innate human traits limit us because we can absorb the knowledge spewed out by our computers only at the speed of our neural intake and neural connectors.

We cannot drive cars at one thousand miles per hour because our reflexes are too slow and would kill us. An optimum speed must be commensurate with human neural responses, approximately fifty to eighty miles per hour. If we drive slower than our optimal human speed on a freeway, one of the cars behind us will rear-end us; if we go faster, our chances of surviving a crash are greatly diminished. Thus, we can deduce an optimum speed for walking, two to five miles per hours, and an optimum speed for driving on a freeway of fifty to eighty miles per hour.

The principle of diminishing returns also applies to the optimization of the monetary resources necessary to acquire food. The human body can consume only a limited number of calories each day. If we dump more calories into our system than are optimally needed to sustain the body, the body becomes bloated, inefficient and deteriorates. Therefore, it is counter-productive to strive for monetary resources that allow us to eat around the clock.

If we eat too much food, we merely become obese. We are consuming food, not because our body needs the food, but because we utilize the food to suppress mental pain. On the other hand, if we lack sufficient monetary resources to provide our body with adequate food, less than the minimum, our body will deteriorate and eventually we will perish. Innate human needs determine the optimal level of our food intake. With the optimum input of food, our body has a superb tendency of remaining healthy and free from disease.

Many technologies have reached optimal development. It would be senseless to provide more speed for the family automobile. Aircraft, too, have reached an optimal speed: Supersonic aircraft have become obsolete. Flying on the Concorde was never a matter of gaining a few minutes; it was a matter of prestige and a gaudy display of wealth.

The family computers has become so fast that the human mind cannot gain from further increases in speed. Furthermore, we cannot further reduce the computer keyboard due to the size of human hands: The keyboard has been optimized.

Huge mansions are difficult to live in and to maintain. They far exceed human needs and thus become encumbrances. They are not relevant to human needs and happiness; they are merely status symbols to feed the deficient ego of the owner.

Unarguably, our evolutionary, physiological heritage determines the optimum amount of our food intake. No matter how much money we have, our ability to consume food is limited. The same principle of optimization in meeting human needs applies to all aspects of human existence: From housing, to leisure, to food, to transportation.

We will only bemoan the loss of money, if we become emotionally attached to money.

How much money do we really need to meet our needs for survival and happiness as defined by our evolutionary, human heritage? It is not possible to stipulate a certain sum of money as the optimum.

Money is merely the means to an end. Money is the medium of meeting our needs in an appropriate or inappropriate manner. Just as some people are more intelligent than others are, some people are more efficient in the optimal allocation of their monetary resources to the fulfillment of their needs. We will examine innate, human, optimum, needs with regard to specific arenas of human endeavor, such as housing, transportation, food, clothing, healthcare, recreation, procreation.

Money does not make happy, but a modicum of money makes life more efficient. If we have a moderate amount of money we do not have to split wood every morning, we can just turn on the heat. Once we exceed a minimum of monetary resources, the relationship between money and happiness is essentially unrelated to the amount of money we own.

The amount of money needed to lead a happy life seems to level off rapidly above the median income of all persons within a country. This level of income is not arrived at arbitrarily but reflects the inherent value of money in a free market system in a specific country. It may not hurt to have more money but more money than the median income does not contribute to happiness, either.

 

Chapter 17.02 SPECIFICS OF OPTIMIZATION

    1 Housing and Shelter

    2. Transportation

    3. Sex

    4. Children

    5. Food

    6. Clothing

    7. Travel

    8. Money

    9. Health and Healthcare

    10. Entertainment

    11. The Arts and Education

    12. Hobbies

 

1. Housing/Shelter

In contemplating our need for shelter, we first need to determine the area where we should live. Some persons live in extremely hot or cold climatic condition, such as the desert or the arctic. It is questionable if this is the climate that the inhabitants of those regions really prefer, or if extraneous circumstances prevent them from moving to a more equable climate.

Evolution has adapted the human body to cope with temperatures in the 50 to 100 degree (F) range (10 to 40 degrees C)) without protection. Within this band, no external means for heating or cooling are required. Optimally, we would try to locate in a climate that is as close to this temperature range as possible. Housing prices in such desirable areas reflect the innate human preference for moderate climate zones.

With regard to the number of houses we should own, we could apply the same principle to housing that we previously applied to shoes. How many homes can we use at one time to meet our primary need for having a house: Security and shelter? Clearly, the answer is One House. Would we be better off with two houses, five houses? It is obvious, that we can sleep in and utilize only one house at a time.

Some people consider it a matter of prestige to own a vacation house, in addition to their primary residence. However, if we have more than one house, we face the dispersion of our resources caused by the expensive upkeep and the safeguarding of such additional properties, although we can only live in one house at a time.

We may be able to afford a second home but the maintenance will still absorb some of our precious time. Instead of playing golf, we will be putting up a second set of storm windows.

If we have children who depend on a good education, we will be better served and live longer if we look for the least expensive house in a superior school district. If we are looking for a new place to live, our first and foremost criterion must be where the best schools are.

This knowledge is publicly available. There is no excuse for living in an under-performing school district. Not only does a superior school district imply superior education, it also reflects on the intelligence and thus, on the affluence, of the people living in the school district. Both of these factors are clear determinants of the quality of life in the area we are considering for our housing.

In order to comply with our innate survival instinct, we would want to live in a secure environment, free from major crime. Except in the unlikely event that we are independently wealthy or that we are retired, we also need to have access to opportunities for earning a living in order to pay for basic needs such as food and clothing.

The only other important factor in choosing a location involves the requirement for a quiet, tranquil environment: Human babies smile or laugh when we surround them with a quiet, peaceful setting. Babies express their anguish by crying when they are subjected to loud noises and surrounded by commotion.

Tranquility is of extreme importance because loud noises are innately adverse to human happiness. A quiet environment implies safety and security; a noisy environment reminds our reptile brain of approaching predators. Sirens, large trucks, busses, all are vexations to the spirit as Max Ehrman put it so nicely in his inspiring poem The Desiderata of Happiness.

All other considerations regarding the location of our home represent unnecessary or undesirable icing on our cake. We will also find it more productive to find tranquility in a rural or suburban setting, than in the heart of a large city. Close contact with nature, properly tamed and sterilized, is innately very beneficial to human beings.

How large or how small a house would constitute the optimum size of a house? One person would be very comfortable in a two-bedroom house with one or two bathrooms, with an area between 1200 and 1800 sqft (110 to 170 m^2). Two persons would require some separation for privacy and would be more content in a 3-bedroom, 2 bath home, with an area of 1500 to 2500 sqft (140 to 230 m^2). A family with two or more children would be very comfortable in a four-bedroom house with approx. 2000 to 2500 sqft (185 to 230 m^2).

Living accommodations that are smaller than outlined above may not provide an optimum of privacy. Homes that are more spacious will not enhance our pleasure of living but will increase our maintenance efforts and the need to work harder and longer to pay for it.

The lot, the area surrounding our living quarters, needs to be sufficiently large to bar noise from neighbors and afford privacy within the confines of our home. Depending on the specific layout, a lot of one-third to one-half acre (1,500 to 2000 m^2) would offer all those objectives without posing excessive maintenance problems. A natural setting with green vegetation, low maintenance shrubs, maybe even a few trees and a moderate view would create the atmosphere of the proverbial house at Waldenís Pond.

We can provide shelter by either owning a home or by renting a home. A detached home is always preferable to an apartment or a condominium because noise levels are lower, privacy is superior and the cost is rather similar.

 

2. Transportation

Most people, unless they live in a center-city environment, consider an automobile not only convenient but also essential. Some persons actually like to live in a city environment, surrounded by noise and concrete. A couple may be satisfied with only one car. On the other hand, considering the low maintenance efforts required by modern cars, a second car might be a luxurious convenience. The most important question revolves around the kind of car to buy.

Cars depreciate rapidly during the first few years of their life. Low-mileage cars are available for a fraction of the cost of a new car if we do not insist on driving a new car. A five-year-old, low-mileage car probably represents a good compromise between cost and maintenance. The main purpose of a car is to help us get from point A to point B in safety, with modest comfort and with superb reliability.

With regard to these qualities, there is no difference between a five-year-old Volvo or Chevrolet or Ford and a prestigious Mercedes Benz. However, the difference in cost between these cars is truly enormous. The Mercedes is not only a means of transportation but also a means to boost an insecure ego. For this type of mirage, we have to pay extra or we may have to defer our retirement by several years.

 

3. Sex

A loving union with another person of the opposite sex involves the best way and the cheapest way to enjoy sex. It is not necessary to be formally married; just living together with a compatible person enhances our happiness and our life expectancy. A spouse or a friend will preferably own sufficient resources and will not depend on us for support.

Support often equates with dependency and dependency equates with inequality. Someone put is very succinctly: A spouse combines the maximum of temptation with a maximum of opportunity for mutually enjoyable sex. Besides, we need not court a spouse with expensive gifts or dinners. A compatible spouse, or a euphemistically described significant other, is the cheapest and best source of sex, love and mutual happiness.

How much sex can anyone ask for? Certainly, there is a limit to a manís enjoyment of sex due to inherent limitations. It is physiologically impossible to participate in sex day and night, week after week. Even a woman can only have a limited number of orgasms a day before orgasms become a painful nuisance. Therefore, even the most amorous couple needs to establish a balance between sexual activities and other enjoyable activities. Where does this balance lie? We can only go by normal human traits, by what the preponderant majority of humans do, when we ask what is normal. Since no one can endure ongoing, constant sex, the optimum frequency of sex for humans is probably every once in a while, without posing any discrete upper and lower limits. According to several surveys, most healthy, young couples make love once a week, and this sounds like a reasonable optimum. However, individual variations, averaged over a period of one year probably range from once a day to once a month.

 

4. Children

It is profitable to explore the issue of planned children, not the 50% of children that are the accidents inserted into our lives merely as a by-product of sex. How many children represent an optimum number of children? Before we can proceed, we need to define some aspects of this question: We are talking, not about population groups or nations; we are talking about couples that comprise the nuclear family. We must further define a couple as a man and a woman of childbearing age.

In order to find a meaningful answer, it is helpful to look at the extremes of the situation. If we have no children at all, the human race would eliminate itself within one generation. However, since human beings always act only in what they consider their own best self-interest, we are not concerned with the problem of human replication on a global scale. We need to concern ourselves only with individuals, specifically us.

We are only concerned with the question: How many children, if any, will provide the best trade-of between the innate joys of having children as opposed to the sacrifices we have to make in order to have these children. There are limited resources on this earth and our individual ability to procure resources such as money, or food, or energy is limited.

Although our genes program us to perceive children as a source of joy and happiness, a couple can only bring up only a limited number of children in a civilized manner. Children require constant attention because they are not fully functional human beings. The answer depends on the environmental setting of the couple.

A woman can conceivably bear a maximum of twenty children in her lifetime. Therefore, evolution has placed a natural limitation on the maximum number of children a couple can generate. In a monogamous relationship, a woman has approximately thirty fertile years. Allowing for a pregnancy of nine months, and a lactation period of one year during which conception is usually not possible, this places a limit of fifteen children on a couple.

With such a large number of children, parents might not even be able to remember their names. Parents would certainly not derive any pleasure from so many children, although they would have to continue to pour resources into the upbringing of the children.

When we discuss the optimum number of children a couple ought to have, we encounter the law of diminishing returns. The minimum number of children is clearly no child at all. The maximum of children is approximately fifteen. The optimum number of children lies somewhere between zero and fifteen. If parents know that they will have to depend on their children in their old age, or that they need their children as slave labor in order to help provide for the family, a large number of children might be appropriate.

On the other hand, some people override their innate urge to have children and come to the perfectly rational conclusion not to produce any children at all. They prefer to utilize their limited resources of money and time for travel, entertainment, and other activities, which they consider more pleasurable than to rear children for twenty or thirty years of their brief life.

In civilized countries, the optimum number of children can readily be kept to zero, or maybe one child, because social safety nets and laws against child labor eliminated the need for a large number of children. There can be no rational objections to the desire not to have any children at all. The fewer children, the higher is the standard of living of the couple.

In order to determine the optimum number of children for a particular couple, they need to consider how many children will constitute an optimum based on the combination of a maximum of pleasure with a minimum of sacrifice. This equation depends on the prevailing standard of living, the intelligence and the income of the parents, and, last but not least, the degree of genetic compulsion to have children.

The primary driving force for the creation of children is always the female. The genes imbedded in the female of the species constantly prod her to find a responsible male and then to have as many children as circumstances and resources allow. Males do not have this innate compulsion to have children. Their primary drive is simply to have sex, as often as possible. The inevitable result of this combination of genetic forces is the creation of children, unless both the male and the female consciously and rationally control their deeply imbedded urges to have children.

Another factor in deciding the optimum number of children is the quality of children produced. Significant numbers of children are born with birth defects. This problem is particularly acute in parents who have hereditary defects, or in women who are approaching menopause. The world of medicine is unanimous in recognizing that practically all diseases, except accidents and infectious diseases, are genetically imposed on people. Some of these defects are detectable in the pre-natal stage and the fetus can be aborted. Only a very irresponsible and mentally ill mother would knowingly bring a defective fetus to term.

Many other major defects, such as autism, are not detectable until after birth. The agony of having a mentally or physically defective child is overwhelming and permanent. In effect, a child afflicted by a birth defect may destroy all prospect of a normal life for the parents. Three percent of all children born in the United States suffer from a major defect at the time of their birth. Six percent of all children show developmental problems at age one, and approximately 13% of children display defects by school age, such as dyslexia.

At the beginning of the third millennium, providing a couple lives in a developed country, a couple may be wise to forgo children altogether, or to limit themselves to one or two children. The decision to have a child or children involves extraordinary expenditures of money over a period of twenty years, or more. Society has eliminated the need to have more than one or two children.

Intelligent people are beginning to appreciate the fact that the creation of children lowers the living standard of a family drastically. The result of this insight is becoming visible in advanced countries, such as in Europe, where populations of many countries are actually shrinking.

 

Due to space limitations, sections in Red are accessible only in the Book or CD "How Life Really Works".

 

05. Food

06. Clothing

07. Travel

08. Money

09. Health and Healthcare

10. Entertainment

11. The Arts and Entertainment

12. Hobbies

 

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