More accurately, it’s extreme poverty. That is the best way to describe living on one dollar a day in a pre-industrialized (farming) community. Now imagine this family, earning one dollar a day, has six children to support.
Forget about television (much less cable) and internet. Forget about cell phones (or any phone, for that matter). Forget about clean clothing and a good education. This story puts everything into perspective. While we’re all concerned with our own well-being and wealth, it’s difficult to contemplate what life is like on the other side of the world — or even elsewhere in this country — for those existing in poverty.
So why would this family, or any other extremely low income household, have so many children if there’s not enough to support them? Having more children means there are more hands to help in the field, and somehow the numbers show that an additional child helping when he or she is old enough will pay for that child’s expenses.
Perhaps the world’s biggest mistake was agriculture. When humans began adopting farming and leaving hunting-gathering behind, this is how they were rewarded:
* The average height of both men and women lessened by five or six inches.
* Life expectancy dropped.
* Increased cases of infectuous diseases and iron-deficiency anemia.
These are all signs of malnourishment in the skeletons of those early farmers. While many of these and other similar issues have been overcome by the modernized world (except for disease), not all humans have “progressed” that far yet.
If farming was so much better than hunting-gathering as progressives claim, why were people getting sick more often? Settling down and adopting agriculture allowed the already increasing population to continue increasing, but the quality nutrition provided by hunting and gathering gave way to higher quantity of less nutritious foods.
This point of view is quite anti-progressive and obviously more than a little controversial, but interesting.
Updated February 6, 2012 and originally published July 8, 2005.