The Terrible VM2C (VM2F)
Joao Carlos Holland de Barcellos, jan/2009
translated by Debora Policastro

Abstract: VM2C is a virus-meme [1] that induces the infected individual, regardless of his/her financial conditions, and under 'no circumstances', not to have more than two children. Its consequences can be very harmful to human happiness.

Keywords: social contamination, fashion, capitalism, birth control, virus-meme, happiness, family planning.
Identifying the virus-meme

VM2C is the acronym for "Virus-Meme-of-2-Children." A meme [2] is basically an idea or information that can be transmitted from brain to brain. A virus-meme is therefore a small meme of easy comprehension and highly contagious. Thus, the VM2C is the idea that no one sufficiently educated, psychologically normal, and 'properly' inserted in society should have more than two children. And that, regardless of social class or family income: the more the family considers itself cult and educated, the more they feel compelled to maintain this pattern. This idea is therefore a kind of "social taboo", which spread mainly in Western capitalist societies.

Nobody knows for sure how or where this virus-meme came from. If you ask any family about the reason why they adopted the Western world pattern of having two children, the answers are almost always the same:

"Two are enough! Why more?!?", "-In today's world?, two are enough!", "Children are expensive!", "-The world already has a lot of people ", "Two are trouble enough".

But why not have only one child? Or maybe three? Why two exactly?

The fact is that the pattern is followed by all couples as if it was a rigid social law. If the number of children depended on the economic income, we could expect the number of children to be proportional to the income. But this is not what happens. In most cases it is the opposite: Families who could easily take care of many children have few, while those who cannot, have more. Thus, as this pattern inverts what would be "Darwinianly" expected, we can conclude that it is a powerful meme-viral agent.

The probable causes

The probable cause that led to massive infection of the population by this meme-viral agent is, as a last resort, capitalism [3]. And its efficacy was only possible thanks to the invention of modern contraceptives. Basically, the capitalist system, from now on only 'system', requires each time more brains and less muscle. As quality education is very expensive, it is necessary that families have fewer children so that they can be educated with quality education and then, later on, be offered on the altar for the "market-god". Moreover, the products are incorporating each time more technological innovations, and that brings an extra cost to them. In order to be purchased or consumed, those products require consumers who have a high income, that is, with few children. The fewer children a family has, the higher the 'per-capita' income, and the greater the consumption power.

Thus, it appears that the VM2C came as a solution to the system, the problem of demand for skilled labor and increase in family income without the need for a wage increase. Small families can afford expensive schools in order to deliver their children well "greased" to the hunger of the "market-god" and at the same time keep their income high enough to purchase more expensive and sophisticated products produced by the market.


In order to study or discuss a complex problem we must agree with the premises before we start to scrutinize it. The main premise I propose, which must be respected, is the maximization of the overall happiness, basic postulate of the scientific meta-ethics [7].

Happiness can be defined by the “Jocaxian Formula of Happiness"[4]. Roughly speaking, we can understand happiness as the sum of all the pleasure (and pain) multiplied by its duration in time. The suffering would enter as a negative sign in this sum. Thus, a pleasure (or pain) that lasts 2 minutes contributes two times more to happiness than the same pleasure (or pain) that lasts one minute. Moreover, the total happiness should be composed of the sum of individual happiness and be calculated (or estimated) according to the maximum period of time possible.

Overpopulation and the Environment

Many readers will quite reasonably think that VM2C is very useful to prevent overpopulation and reduce environmental damage. And indeed it is! But only in the places or countries where that is necessary. The problem of overpopulation, together with lack of food, is the environmental degradation and the eventual decline of happiness in the degraded place.

Therefore, the problem of overpopulation and birth control cannot eternally depend on individual, family or private decisions, and sooner or later, (and unfortunately), pass to the control of society, that is, the government [5]. Such control should always aim at maximizing the overall happiness.

Ideal Size of Population

I always say that the ideal population size (IPS) of a country is when one more person than the IPS would make the average happiness of that population decrease, as well as one less person. We can understand this as follows:
Consider a hypothetically livable country with zero residents and many natural resources. Human happiness is initially zero, because there are no people yet. If we add a family, happiness will increase. Initially, as we spread families in this country, happiness will increase proportionally to the number of families, until a certain limit is reached.

Now let's consider the opposite approach:  this overpopulated country lacks resources and its people are starving. In this case, as the number of people decreases, the total happiness increases. This case is opposite to the previous example.

Thus, we can see that in an underpopulated country sparsely the average happiness increases if there is an increase in population, while in an overpopulated country the average happiness increases as the population decreases. So we can conclude that there must be a point of optimum population size (IPS) in which an increase or decrease in population would diminish the happiness.  That is: we would have reached the point of maximum happiness for that country.

Governments should be guided by this goal in case they planned planning birth control policies and family planning.

The VM2C in underpopulated countries

Brazil, with its approximately 190 million inhabitants and a demographic density of 22 inhabitants/Km2 as well as other countries worldwide, has a population that is clearly below the ideal population size (IPS). For example: if the Brazilian population density was equal to that of Japan (340 h/Km2), the country could have about three billion people, 15 times the current population.

If the density was equal to that of England, which has a density of 246 h/Km2, Brazil could have two billion people, 11 times the current population; or Germany (230 h/Km2), the country could have almost two billion inhabitants. Nevertheless, the VM2C is 'killing' many possibilities of happy lives and making the country, not only be stagnate, but making its population decline! [8] [9]. And that is not happening only in Brazil, Japan [10] and Europe [11] have already started to have problems with falling birth rate.

Moreover, our country is full of natural resources and has the largest watershed on the planet. All of that indicates that our country, like many others, can - and should - grow a lot. But obviously it is not interesting to any country that Brazil takes possession of its wealth and resources which we are entitled, as this would increase the critical mass of intelligent people who would make possible for Brazil to strongly compete in the international market, like China with its billion residents, does today.

We can conclude that in underpopulated countries, the VM2C is clearly harmful, because it prevents the growth of the population towards its optimal value (IPS), and consequently prevents happiness from reaching its maximum value.

 The VM2C in the Family

In order to understand the harmfulness of VM2C in our lives we have to address some of the concepts of ‘Future Ethics’ [6]. The ‘future ethics' approaches ethics from the point of view of future happiness in relation to present (or past) acts, actions and omissions. It gives a new approach to responsibility and moral. Both the actions and omissions have the same value when we are aware of what these actions or omissions can result in the future.
Let us consider the following fictitious stories, so we can have a better understanding:

1a- A family of many possessions has three small children. One of the children gets a rare and deadly disease, very difficult to be cured. His parents are desperate. The treatment is very expensive, but his parents will sell almost all their possessions to see their son healthy again. Many common families would also do that.

1b-A family of many possessions has two children. One day the youngest daughter says she would like to have a baby sister, but her desire will not be fulfilled: her parents tell her that "two children are enough" and more than that would give them a lot of worries.

Now, what if I say that these two families are the same? I mean, the examples 1a and 1b are two possibilities for the same family in relation to the option of having another child or not. The contradiction that the reader should notice is: after the family had her third child they loved him/her as much as the other ones, and also the despair of not losing their son (in the first example) is not compatible with the desire of not having it (in example 1b). That is, in the example 1b the family is 'killing' their third child without even knowing (or knowing?) what he/she would represent for them in case he/she existed!

Did the reader notice the contradiction? It would be almost the same as not accepting a chest full of gold because the wardrobe of the house is already full of clothes, and there would be no place to store the chest!

The contradiction is that, for almost nothing (1b), the family 'killed' a child (prevented him/her of being born and happy) and that, in fact, they would give almost anything not to lose him/her! (1a).

Within the paradigm of the maximization of happiness, we must make it clear that families who lack the economic conditions to have many children should not have more than they can afford, because neither the child nor the family would like to see their children and siblings starve. However, this is not the case of many families who could have more happy children, increasing their happiness and also of the universe.

Optimistic Forecasts

Despite this massive infection, we predict that the virus-meme is, fortunately, with its days numbered. There are two ongoing processes against VM2C: natural selection process and Genism.

The natural selection process will cause the survivors of the virus-memes to have each time more resistance to it: people who succumb to the viral fashion will have fewer offspring and their genes will appear in lower frequencies in the genetic-pool. On the other hand, people that are less susceptible to this infection will have more descendants, what would also be a great contribution in the gene pool of the population.

In addition, there is already a vaccine in expansion for the memetic VM2C: Genism. Genism is a meme that makes its wearer value his/her genes much more than any material possession or social status. Therefore, genists are ideologically VM2C vaccinated. This means that in the long term, we expect to eradicate VM2C either by increasing the genetically resistant population, or by spreading Genism itself.


[1] Virus-meme: Virus-meme is also a meme [2], usually small, but highly contagious. It usually infects the minds of entire populations in a short period of time.

[2] Meme: Any information, idea, habit or custom which can be transmitted from one person to another. (It is stored in the brain).

 [3] The Guardians of the Pyramid

[4] The Formula of Happiness

[5] Birth Control

[6] Future Ethics

[7] Scientific Meta-Ethics

[8] Brazilian population shrinks as of 2039

[9] Population will start declining in 2040, says IBGE

[10] Japan does not regain births

[11] European aging brings problems to government and economy

[12] Children: better not to have them?


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