Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Children or Cash Cows?

I was just reading a newspaper article about outsourcing in India. Seems that it's spreading from the cities into the outlying and rural areas. The article begins with the story of a 20yr old guy performing data entry tasks for an outsourcing firm in a converted school building. Here's the relevant text-

Initially his mother was worried for her only child, fearful the 20-yr-old would meet the "bad" women who populate the wanton call centers of Indian TV and movies. That changed, however, with his first paycheck, more than his parents ever made, and a new sari for his mother's birthday.

"Now she wants to know how much longer I'll be at it," he said. "She's counting saris in her head."

Now, I realize that this has always been the way of the world, and probably still is in most places, including the good ol' emancipated USofA. Children have always been objects of utility within the family structure, as well as to society at large. Still, the idea sickens me. It smacks of slavery, where the chains are replaced by law, and guilt, and duty.

On another note, and speaking of slavery, I read something the other day about the idea of bringing back the military draft. Funny, the idea of a draft was so ubiquitously accepted in my country until a few decades ago. I thought for sure I'd eventually be going to 'Nam, though I missed that war by a few months. But think about it. The government has the power to physically snatch your 18yr old child right out of your home, and forcefully send him overseas to kill people, and run the risk of being killed or maimed himself. Is this not completely outrageous in a 'free' society?

Let's put it in another context. What if the government had the power to grab your kid and force him to work in the post office, to live there, to eat officially sanctioned post office chow, and only granted a leave now and then to visit home? No one would stand for it, yet until recently it was ok to send your child off to be killed. Amazing when you think about it!

Of course, I suppose it's a different story when it comes to defending one's country. I guess I should translate the phrase 'defending one's country'. What that REALLY means is kidnapping young people and building a security fence out of their flesh to protect the old. Think about it this way- I'm being chased down the street by a man with a gun. I duck into your house, grab your son by the scruff of his neck, and proceed to use him as a human shield. The kicker is that I FEEL MORALLY JUSTIFIED FOR DOING SO!!!

The draft is just another one of those crazy things that's obviously wrong by most peoples' normal moral reckoning, and yet is still practiced in many parts of the world, including some of the 'enlightened' nations, simply because moral decency is overridden by the 'need' of those in power to survive. Naturally, this atrocity is buttered up with jingoism for easier digestion, such that a significant percentage of parents have always been willing to sell their own children down the river in the name of 'patriotism'.

Disgusting, isn't it?

Then again, when you consider that a large segment of society still kisses the ass of a God who would gladly send their own children to live in an everlasting torture chamber, you begin to realize that personal survival- as transient as that actually is- trumps moral sensibility pretty much every fucking time.

Life fucking sucks.


Oskari666 said...

Your blog is one of the few things I check out daily. Always nice to know there's actually someone out there who knows, like I do, that life sucks a big one.

So, thanks for the blog.

jem said...

I've watched blowhard Dr. Phil scold overbearing parents because "children shouldn't be born into this world with a job they never asked for" -that is, to make their demanding parents happy. But the scandal is that even healthy, planned parenting requires exploitation of an innocent child's life, all for the benefit and satisfaction of the loving parents.

OT: Dr. Jack Kevokian tells CNN, "The single worst moment of my life... was the moment I was born."

metamorphhh said...

Oskari: Thanks, and glad to have you.

Jem: We were just talking about that last week. Pretty incredible, huh?

Shadow said...

Probably, one of the top 5 best entries of this blog.

metamorphhh said...

Shadow: I've had this draft thing on my mind for a long time, and always meant to write it down. As a kid, I remember when the system changed to a lottery system- ping pong balls and all- and somebody was interviewing a couple of young guys whose birth dates pretty much guaranteed that they were gonna be drafted. I remember thinking "Wow, those guys have just been chosen to die."

When I was 12, we moved to a brand new housing tract. In fact, most of the land hadn't even been leveled yet, and our little street of homes was all there was. My brothers and I were going through one of the big dumpsters, and we found a cassette tape. We took it home and played it. It was from a young man stationed in Vietnam, describing the conditions, and the fear. He'd mailed it to his wife or girlfriend- can't remember which now- and it wound up in the dumpster. Maybe he did, too. I've always wondered.

TGGP said...

"Now, I realize that this has always been the way of the world"
No it hasn't. The flow has normally been from the old to the young. This has been measured in calories (though I can't remember the link off-hand). The young are the only hope for the old to spread their genes.

metamorphhh said...


You've mentioned this before, and I still contend that your 'calorie comparison' is a flat-out non-sequitur when it comes the utilization of children by parents for selfish reasons. Caloric expenditure means squat regarding this question. When I swing a sledgehammer, all of the energy flows from me to the tool. Does that mean the sledgehammer is utilizing ME? In terms of utility, the initial flow from parent to child can be likened to investment aimed toward future gains. Furthermore, those gains aren't necessarily quantifiable in terms of calories. We're talking about an economy not only of material barter, but of currency based in the abstract; emotions and the like.

The fact is, people who have children get an immediate return on their investment through feelings of fulfillment, status, and vicarious immortality, and later down the road in terms of material payback. That's ALWAYS been the general plan from an historical perspective. It still is, to a large extent. You'd be surprised how many people react to the idea of antinatalism with "But...but...but who's going to take care of us when we get old? Who'll pay for the medicine? Who'll wheel us around." The fact that investments have been made along the road to keep the wheels of this superstructure moving is only to show that people have a vested interest in maintaining the superstructure.

filrabat said...

Though I disagree with most of this blog entry, I say A+ to the survival trumps morality part. There are a few cases where people do willingly die for their own beliefs, but for the most part survival does come first.

Chip said...


Is this net caloric expenditure over time? I think the dynamic assumed by Jim would more narrowly predict a big uptick in child-to-parent resource/energy investment toward the end of the parent's life. I'd also be willing to wager that the burden is not shared equally among siblings, but is disproportionately borne by later-borns (in keeping with the historical case studies in Adam Bellow's book "In Praise of Nepotism").

CM said...

Also, this. Why wait till your children are 20-something when you can start cashing in on them when they are 4? Or, better yet, still in the womb?

TGGP said...

I agree with the "satisfaction" part. Knowing that your children will live to have children of their own is the ultimate evolutionary currency. I disagree on the "material" part. It is an extreme rarity for the old to leech off the young. In the past nobody wheeled you around or paid for your medicine because by that point you were already dead.

Chip, at every stage of life the net caloric flow is from the old to the young. As you become elderly you are less able to provide calories. But at the same time you consume less. Starting as a helpless infant, your ability to provide calories increases up to the peak referenced above. But at no point do you send the surplus to your parents, instead you start investing it in your own offspring.

Chip said...


Oldsters may consume less, but they're also more likely to be sickly and in need of care -- care which, unless everything I know is wrong, has until recently been provided by kin. Stories of children forgoing hopes and dreams to tend after ailing parents are too common to be noise. It may be a problem of choosing the right yardstick, or how you frame the question.

Can you look up the article and provide a link?