The stork and the money:
In many cultures the stork is the bringer of babies, the symbol for fertility.  If one nests on your chimney it is supposed to be good luck.  I suppose that means they nest in the winter.  I was chatting not so long with a Roma woman who read fortunes and so forth, although that was not why we were chatting.  I mentioned the stork and it appears not to be a Romanian tradition.  No chimneys on Gypsy caravans perhaps.

The symbol for money in this country is the dollar sign.  $  Properly it is an S with two vertical lines.  They say it is derived from the Spanish piece of eight beloved of Long John Silver, the anti-hero of Treasure Island.  He never says the words during the story, but his parrot says nothing else.  Evidently the man talked in his sleep.  The piece of eight was a silver piece marked with an eight and two columns representing the Pillars of Hercules, the Atlas Mountains and the Rock of Gibraltar that flank the Straights of Gibraltar.  Whether that means it was cut into wedges as a way of making change and whether that is why the term “two bits” means a quarter dollar I know not. 

The stork brings babies.  Does that mean it brings money?  I have always taken it as axiomatic that it does.  This may seem counter intuitive since it seems obvious that the countries with the highest birth rate and the people with the highest birth rate seem always to be the poorest.  I take that to mean that money emphatically does not bring babies.  It provides the opportunity to marry outside one’s circle of kin, and this ultimately prevents babies. 

So I say babies bring money, but it takes a little time. 

And now I have some numbers.  The western powers have been in decline, particularly relative to Asia, for about thirty years.  (Tiger Traps The World in 2012 published by the ECONOMIST page 61)  That is also the length of time that the birth rate in those countries has been below a sustainable level. 

At the other end of the economic scale are notably Afghanistan and Niger.  My source is “,” which I heartily recommend.  But Gapminder presently only comes up to 2005.  When I looked up the birth rate in Afghanistan, I found it is falling rapidly since that time.  Niger, however, continues its high fertility even though that, too, is falling.  Niger is hardly an economic power house.  But for sub-Saharan Africa as a whole, there is good news.

One gets used to hearing bad news from that part of the world: droughts, disease, piracy, political instability, famine because rich countries are turning food into fuel and so forth.  But now (Africa Rising, Economist vol. 401 no. 8762 page 15 and The Sun Shines Bright, page 82 of the same issue) much of Africa appears to be enjoying economic growth quite nicely, thank you. 

They say six of the ten fastest growing economies in the world are African and for the past eight years the continent has had faster growth than Asia. 

Of course this growth is from a low base.  People never seem to tire of saying that it’s easier to have rapid growth if you are poor, but I suspect that is a way of ignoring the lack of babies the way rich folks lack them.  But growth is growth, and although there is a level above which further wealth brings no further happiness, I suspect a lot of Africa has so far been spared that curse. 

So the news is good and the babies are doing what they are supposed to do, which is to grow up into adults capable of anything, making money included. 

Of course there is not a perfect correlation.  China has had economic growth without good fertility.  But at least on the broadest scale things make sense. 

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