FUTURE.TXT - The Future and How: A Philosopher's Vision by Sanderson Beck

BECK index

                             THE FUTURE AND HOW
                           A Philosopher's Vision

                               Sanderson Beck

     This web page contains the first half of the book, THE FUTURE AND
     HOW: A Philosopher's Vision by Sanderson Beck, published as a
     6x9-inch quality paperback in March 1996 by Dorrance Publishing
     Co. The book includes an index of topics and topic headings on
     each page. The retail price is $7.00. Retail and wholesale orders
     (including consignment) may be made by calling Dorrance
     Publishing Co. at (800) 788-7654.
     To order this book on the Internet click here: To order The
     Future and How

 Purpose                 Campaign financing         Capital punishment
 Wisdom                  World legislature          Crime
 God                     World executive            Penal reform
 Prophecy                World judiciary            Gun control
 Free will               Federalism                 Meat eating
 War and peace           Human rights               Environment
 Nuclear deterrence      Disarmament                Population
 Nuclear disarmament     Nonviolence                Abortion
 World democracy         Individual responsibility  Sustainable living

QUESTIONER: What is the purpose of this book?

PHILOSOPHER: I intend to show people a vision of a better world and how we
can get there from where we are now in the late 1990s. I'll describe how
good life could be about a hundred years from now if we as humanity act in
intelligent ways. I don't intend to focus too much on the negative aspects
of the problems and possible disasters we face, because much has been
written about them already; but being aware of them I want to explore
practical solutions that will enable us to alleviate suffering and design
life-styles that are happy, loving, just, free-spirited, prosperous,
sustainable, and conducive to personal development.

Q: What qualifies you to propound this vision?

P: Nothing in particular. I don't claim to have any special religious,
moral or academic authority, but as a philosopher I love wisdom and have
been seeking it for many years, if not for many lifetimes. I love to learn
and am deeply concerned about the future of humanity and this planet. I
want to do everything I can to make this world a better place. I am not
asking people to adopt my ideas because of any authority. I do hope that
people will consider them, question them, test them, find what is useful,
and apply what they like in their own lives.

Q: What is your definition of wisdom?

P: A very good question! I define wisdom as not only knowing but also doing
what is for the highest good of all concerned. To know what is good without
doing it may be a kind of knowledge, but to my way of thinking the truly
wise will act on their knowledge, will "walk their talk" as they say. To do
what is good without knowing that it is good may be good fortune or even
divine guidance, but it is not complete wisdom.

Q: Do you believe in God?

P: Yes.

Q: Isn't that a rather short answer to a big question?

P: If you want a more complicated answer, then ask the question in such a
way as to elicit that.

Q: Why are you using this question-and-answer format anyway?

P: I think it may prove more interesting than continual expounding or a
long lecture. Philosophy always seeks more knowledge and wisdom through a
process of questioning and experimenting. A true philosopher will keep the
mind open and be willing to accept any challenge to one's ideas. Wisdom has
also been defined as the ability to defend ideas and principles by reasoned
arguments. In the dialectical method we are able to examine issues from
many points of view and assist those who are seeking greater wisdom perhaps
to find some. I don't claim to have the final answers, but I hope that by
making the effort we can make progress toward a better life.

Q: All right then, how would you describe God, the universe, this world,
human beings?

P: Wait, one question at a time. Perhaps it is appropriate to begin with
God, since "God" is the word or concept we use to describe the total
reality, the Creator, the beginning and the end, the eternal truth, power,
being, consciousness, and so on to infinity. Obviously people have many
different concepts of God. This is a fair question, since a philosopher
will not limit the discussion and must be prepared to explore any issue.
Therefore you have the right and are encouraged to ask difficult questions.

First of all, I suppose I need to acknowledge the limits on my awareness. I
realize that I am not conscious of everything all the time. Though the
contents of my consciousness are always changing, they are limited. I get
tired and need to sleep, for example. Yet humans have this peculiar ability
to think and consider ideas that are beyond our physical and instinctive
drives. I have found that the concept of infinity can take us into a
transcendent awareness as we consider that there is probably no limit to
time and space and all the potentials of energy, life, and consciousness.
That is not to say that this particular physical universe may not be
limited in any or all of these categories, but who is to say that this
physical universe, which may only be eight billion years old as has been
recently postulated, or fifteen to twenty billion years as previously
thought, is the only universe that exists or has ever existed or ever will

Q: But where did this universe, or others for that matter, come from?

P: It seems probable to me that this universe has a Creator who is greater
than all the power and consciousness in this universe. Being greater than
this entirety, I think it likely, based on my own mystical experiences and
those of countless others, that this great Spirit is also aware of all that
goes on in this universe. It is even possible that there could be and
probably are Spirits or a God or Gods or Goddesses greater than the Creator
Spirit of this universe and so on. Why not?

Q: But what does that matter? Aren't we getting awfully far afield here?

P: Yes, I suppose so, but as a philosopher I am free to speculate about
such things. I do feel it has some value, because it helps us to expand our
minds and beliefs as to what may be possible. Obviously there are great
differences in awareness among people on this Earth, and some have claimed
to have religious or revelatory experiences that can help to guide

Q: What about prophecy? Can the future be foretold?

P: Certainly history has provided many examples of prophecies which have
come true to some extent or other. I think it is possible, but at the same
time I am skeptical since most of them have either proven to be false or
are so general as to be of little value in guiding our lives. Current
periodicals are strewn with various prophecies of disasters such as
earthquakes, floods, wars, and famines or of revelatory openings which
enable people to grasp new awarenesses. Other than the Old and New
Testaments of the Judeo-Christian Bible which were written nineteen hundred
and more years ago, the most widely interpreted prophecies are those of
Nostradamus who wrote about four hundred years ago. Yet his prophecies only
go to the year 2000. Edgar Cayce also referred to a great period of
transition from 1958 to 1998. So soon we shall be entering a period which
may be able to give us something of a fresh start.

Q: Do you consider this book a prophecy?

P: Traditionally a prophet is someone who speaks for God. In that sense I
do not claim to speak for the Almighty nor do I pretend that my writings
are infallible. Modesty does not allow me to claim such things. However, I
do believe in the power of prayer and the guidance of the divine. I do pray
and seek such guidance. I am attempting to write about what will be best
for everyone, which could also be defined as the divine will; but whether
the conclusions I come to in this book turn out to be prophetic, I leave
for others to decide as time unfolds. I think it is important to examine
everything on an individual basis. So it is likely that, as with most
teachers and teachings, some may prove to be truer and more helpful than

Q: How are we to know what is going to be true and what isn't?

P: As a philosopher I ask the readers to think along with me, to question
what I write, to compare it to your own experience and imagination of what
is possible and probable, and to apply it in your own life as it may work
best for you. We each are centers of consciousness, and we all exist in
relation to the whole. Although we may have similar views from common
experiences, nonetheless each of us is unique, and we each decide how to
play our own role in the great cosmic drama. So ultimately each of us must
decide for ourselves what is right for us.

Q: Since my role is to ask questions, let me ask you, what is the future?
How does it relate to the present? Do you believe the future is
pre-determined, or do you believe in free will?

P: These are important questions which depend on our concepts of time and
causality. In the newest science of relativity, time has been found to be
integrally related to space in a continuum. In other words we experience
time and space together, and neither makes any sense without the other.
Even the three dimensions of space can be seen as conceptually created by
the movement of a point in time to make a line, the movement of a line in
time to make a plane, and the movement of a plane in time to make
three-dimensional space. We live in a three-dimensional space which seems
to move in time from the past into the future. If we could comprehend from
the beginning of time to some arbitrary end, then we would be perceiving
the fourth dimension, or to be more specific, a fourth-dimensional object
would be its entire history in space-time.

Q: But how can we comprehend the future which hasn't even happened yet?

P: If you look at any three-dimensional object, you will not immediately
see all sides of it but only the parts facing your line of sight. However,
in time you can move around and examine the back of that object in order to
comprehend it more completely. Thus as time unfolds, what was the future
before it happened becomes present and then after it happened the past.
What occurs in space-time are events, which then pass into the past as
facts which can no longer be altered. Of course knowledge, attitudes, and
opinions about past events can be altered but not the events themselves.
Thus consciousness of events tends to transcend them. As a philosopher I
find it useful to be aware of the distinction between facts and our beliefs
about them.

Q: Why do you find that distinction helpful?

P: Because individuals may confuse people by claiming that their beliefs
about some facts are facts themselves and therefore not subject to question
or disagreement. When we are making choices, which we must do constantly in
every action, we are inherently making value judgments as to what we
consider good or worth doing. Although we may consider facts in our
thinking process and there are various influences shaping our conscious and
subconscious process of deciding, nevertheless I believe that we can make
conscious choices and that we are not merely automatic machines completely
programmed by our past.

Q: Are you sure? Surely we are programmed by our genetic pattern and our
environmental upbringing to a great extent?

P: I don't deny those levels of programming, but I don't believe they are
totally determinative. My experience is that I can transcend those
influences by being somewhat aware of them and decide for myself my course
of action. Nevertheless once I act I also realize that I am responsible for
the consequences of my action. Even though past influences shape my
decisions, I am still the one who goes one way or another and must live
with the results. The past influences which impinge themselves on us can be
seen as the results of previous choices by ourselves and others. In other
words from a spiritual perspective, spiritual beings are freely acting in
the universe all the time and may together be perceived as making up all
the agents of causality. I believe, for example, that even our parents were
chosen by our souls with the advice of other heavenly spirits before we
were born. Thus if this is true, even our genetic pattern and childhood
environment were chosen by us.

Q: If events occur in the present and then become past facts, what are they
in the future before they have happened, if you believe that we can freely

P: Possibilities and probabilities. Although we all can choose freely, we
can also see that there are strong patterns of conditioning and habits,
which often can be predicted. Nevertheless they can only be predicted as
probabilities. As physicists have discovered, even the smallest and most
mechanical aspects of the universe cannot be definitely predicted with
certainty. In other words as far as the scientists can tell, what they call
chance and I call freedom does exist in the universe.

Q: How can random chance and freedom be the same thing?

P: If things cannot be predicted they appear random or due to chance. That
merely means that the scientists cannot pin down the exact sequence of
causes. If the causes are spiritual or the result of a freer process of
consciousness, they are more difficult to predict. As a philosopher I have
observed how this freedom seems to increase in beings with more awareness.
Only living creatures appear to be self-motivating, and animals seem to
have more choices than plants, and more intelligent animals even more
choices. As humans we have become the most creative, which also holds the
danger of being the most destructive as well.

Q: So are you saying that the human future is the least known, if we are
the most free creatures on this planet?

P: Let us just say that the fate of other species on this planet will be
more affected by what humans do than vice versa. Already mankind has
destroyed thousands of species. We can see patterns and thus estimate
probabilities of future behavior; but at the same time we have the ability
to change those patterns if we decide there is a better way of acting. This
quest for the good, which philosophically in enlightened beings evolves
into a quest for the highest good of all concerned instead of merely for
one's own selfish good, is the essence of our spiritual endeavor and the
educational process by which we learn how to become responsible creators
and one with the larger whole. This is my quest, and this book is an
expression of that effort.

Q: If I understand you correctly then, you are not trying to predict what
will actually happen, but rather you are making suggestions as to what
would be best for humanity to do in the next one hundred years. Is that

P: Yes. You understand very well. This is a vision based on my own
understanding at this time, which I hope will be able to guide us or at
least stimulate a healthy discussion as to how we can best live together on
this Earth. I hope that others with greater knowledge and wisdom than mine
in many of these areas (for who can know everything about everything?) will
participate in this discussion and offer their suggestions for improvements
on my initial ideas. Obviously this topic is as vast as life itself, and
there are many important issues to discuss.

Q: You began with God. Do you want to go into the future of religion? Where
do you want to start?

P: I think it is good that we began by acknowledging higher consciousness
and with a prayerful attitude. Yet I would rather discuss religion later.
It seems to me that humans often tend to get sidetracked or bogged down in
the discussion of religious and theological questions. So I would prefer to
start with more practical concerns that are currently pressing hard upon us
and present more immediate dangers, such as the issues of war and peace and
how we can learn to live together without destroying each other and the
other life forms on Earth.

Q: Why do you want to start with war and peace?

P: For about fifty years we have had nuclear weapons with the capacity to
destroy the human race and perhaps all the mammals on Earth, if not all of
life. I put a high priority on this problem, because until we find a way to
establish peace that does not have such a high risk of devastating war,
humanity will never be secure. Also once we are able to eliminate this
threat of total war, we will have many more resources available as well as
more trust to build on in creating a better life.

Q: Do you think it is possible to completely eliminate this threat? Once
the nuclear genie is out of the bottle, as they say, can it ever be put

P: You are right in the sense that once we have discovered the knowledge
and skill to make such weapons, it is always possible that they could be
made and used again. Even if the knowledge were lost, we know that a future
civilization could re-invent them. Nonetheless we don't have to live
constantly under this threat of thousands of nuclear weapons armed and
ready to be fired at a moment's notice. We can dismantle and destroy all of
the weapons, abolish them, and make sure they are not re-built. Yet the
problem of the nuclear material from the bombs as well as the waste from
nuclear power plants still would exist. Unfortunately our generation is
leaving a legacy to the world that must not be forgotten for thousands of
years, since the waste sites must be carefully monitored for public safety
and to prevent abuse.

Q: Is there no way to get rid of the nuclear material?

P: One idea is to put it on rockets and send it into outer space, but this
of course does not eliminate it but rather sends it out into the larger
universe. Given the amount of "empty" space out there, this may not be a
problem. However, it goes against the ecological concept that nothing can
actually be thrown away, because there is really no "away." A greater
concern is in the safety of the disposal, since a rocket explosion
involving high-level nuclear waste could cause a radioactive disaster of
unprecedented proportions. I'd like to come back to this issue of the waste
when we get into other environmental concerns.

Q: All right. I'm curious to know how you think we could go about
abolishing nuclear weapons. Doesn't the presence of nuclear arsenals deter
total war?

P: That is the rationale, but I believe it is faulty and an extremely
dangerous policy. This nuclear "brinkmanship," as it has been called, is
really a form of gambling. The idea is that a nation's government is
willing to go to nuclear war to prevent another nation's government from
attacking their security. Yet such attacks have been occurring frequently
in the nuclear age and so far have not drawn a nuclear response since the
world became aware of the existence of the atom bomb. People seem to forget
about moral self-restraint, which I believe is the main reason why nuclear
weapons have not been used since Nagasaki.

Q: How does this moral self-restraint affect the gambling of deterrence?

P: From this point of view it actually messes up the deterrence, because
the nuclear powers morally restrain themselves from using nuclear weapons
against an attack when they can use other military means or decide to
ignore it if it is not much of a threat to their security. This enables
countries, including nuclear powers, to gamble that a specific attack or
maneuver may not be met with a nuclear response. The danger of these
smaller wars escalating into a nuclear conflict is a mathematical
probability which may be much greater than people imagine. Thus in the
perverted logic of deterrence, moral restraint seems to work against the
interests or power of a country.

Q: What do you mean? Why is deterrence perverted?

P: In nuclear deterrence the leaders of the most powerful nations are
expected to be perfectly willing to murder millions of people in a few
minutes, while anyone who does not believe in such mass murder is
considered unqualified to be such a leader. In being willing to go to the
brink of war in this strange kind of bluffing poker game, a leader can gain
power for one's country. It is actually more like the game of chicken which
teenagers used to play by driving their cars toward each other at a high
speed to see which one had the most reckless "courage" and which one would
be the coward and "chicken out." In reality the winner is the one who is
more suicidal than the other; but if both are determined to win this
bizarre contest, then the result is likely to be mutual suicide. Was a more
stupid game ever invented, except perhaps Russian roulette?

Q: But the longer this deterrence gamble goes on, isn't it really like
Russian roulette?

P: Yes, because the mathematical probability, though small, continues year
after year. So let's say that the chance of a nuclear war breaking out
under this system is on the average about one or two percent per year, or
if we used dice let's say one in thirty-six. In other words every year we
roll the dice, but there would not be a nuclear war unless we rolled snake
eyes. As long as we continue to roll the dice every year, eventually snake
eyes is bound to come up. Each year we are betting that a nuclear war will
not occur, because everyone will be deterred. So we may appear to be
winning so far, but when the war finally does occur we will actually lose
far more than we won. In fact deterrence does not even work well when it
supposedly works, because the cost of the weapons and their nuclear
material are a constant drain and harm for our society.

Q: So how do you abolish nuclear weapons?

P: Very carefully. In order to convince people that nuclear weapons should
be abolished, we need to have a better system of security for resolving
international conflicts, one which people can trust. With the end of the
cold war between the two nuclear superpowers we now have a great
opportunity to progress toward peace. Although some reductions were agreed
upon after the insane arms race of the 1980s, there are still thousands of
nuclear weapons.

Q: Wait a minute. Why do you call the arms race insane?

P: Nuclear deterrence is known as Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD), and
many critics have agreed that this is not a sane policy which with a few
mistakes could destroy the human race. The mutual fear and paranoia between
Communists and capitalists was a symptom of a sick society. Now that Soviet
Communism has collapsed, and Russia and the other former Soviet states are
floundering around experimenting with market systems, a great cloud of fear
and mistrust has been lifted from the human race. Yet in spite of the
danger of an unstable Russia with many nuclear weapons, and instead of
using this opportunity to move toward real disarmament, the nuclear
nations' leaders seem to be resting from the cessation of the struggle
without going forward on the reforms we really need.

Q: Why not?

P: They have other concerns and so far no one has been able to show
leadership outstanding enough to convince people to take the path of
disarmament. Mikhail Gorbachev tried for a while, but he was not supported
enough by his own people, and leadership in the United States was very
resistant. Now the USA is in the position of being the dominant superpower,
and the easiest path seems to be to maintain its military might so that it
can exert great control over most international affairs. It will take the
greatness of a Gorbachev or a George Washington to renounce power after the
major battles are won.

Q: What did Washington do?

P: Twice he renounced power when he easily could have held on to it. After
the War for Independence was won under his command, he could have assumed
political leadership of the new nation as has been done so many times in
the past by Alexander, Caesar, numerous kings, Cromwell, Napoleon and
others. Instead he retired to his farm. Then after helping to facilitate
the acceptance of a constitutional form of representational government and
becoming the first elected President, he retired again after a second term
rather than dying in office so that a peaceful transition by election could

Q: Are you implying that the United States should renounce its superpower

P: Yes, but not before we make sure that there are effective democratic and
judicial procedures for assuring the safety of the disarmament process and
for settling international disputes. If we believe in democracy and
constitutional government by laws rather than by the whims of leaders, then
we ought to be able to support replacing a system of "might makes right"
with nonviolent, judicial means of determining what is right.

Q: What about the United Nations?

P: Unfortunately the United Nations, like the League of Nations before it,
has not been given enough power to make it effective in settling disputes.
The United Nations was formed by and named after the allied winners of
World War II, and the nation states have given over to it precious little
of their own powers. The UN delegates represent their national governments
more than the people, and the General Assembly has practically no power at
all except as a debating society. The Security Council, which has some
power for peacekeeping, is dominated by the five major nuclear nations
which won the last world war (Russia, China, France, Britain, and the USA),
and any one of them can veto Security Council resolutions. The
International Court of Justice is only voluntary and is usually ignored by
offending nations nor does it enforce its decisions. Essentially
international anarchy has always existed in our human history which has
been one war after another.

Q: Can this pattern of human nature be changed?

P: We can, and we must change this bad social habit, if we are to survive
on this planet; for there is nowhere else for us to go, and our technology
has become too destructive.

Q: What do you recommend instead?

P: To establish a secure and healthy peace between the nations of the world
we need to construct a system of justice that will protect human rights and
prevent wars. There are many aspects to this problem and its solution. I
would like to begin by discussing democratic, federal world government.

Q: Don't you think that a world government could be dangerous and
oppressive also?

P: Certainly it could, if it was not well designed or got out of control.
Yet the horrible wars of this century have shown that the nation-state
system is disastrous. Nevertheless at the same time we have seen how
constitutional democracies such as the United States (with the exception of
the Civil War over slavery) have been able to settle disputes effectively
between their own states by forming a larger unity. Governments can be
designed with power distributed by checks and balances so that no one
person or small group of people, if corrupted, can abuse the whole system.
Many nations have succumbed to dictators or oligarchies when these
principles have been ignored or violated. Now unfortunately there is no
safe check against the abuse of power by the leaders of the nuclear nations
nor a very well organized check against the leaders of other militarized

Q: What are these principles of checks and balances?

P: The five main ones that I want to discuss are constitutional law,
democratic elections, independent branches of government, federalism, and
protection of human rights. This may seem a bit like high school civics;
yet these principles are very important, and they can work.

Q: How does constitutional law work?

P: In past history, human societies would either trust leaders such as
kings and emperors, or they would suffer under warlords and dictators or
some combination of these. Even ancient democracies and republics in Greece
and Rome could be abused by oligarchies and dictators if there was no
constitution or the people allowed the violations. The idea of "government
by law instead of men" (for it was usually men who dominated then)
developed as a way of holding the leaders to account to some principles of
justice and good government instead of blindly trusting them. The main
concept (which is stated as the third Nuremberg Principle) is that even a
head of state or responsible government official is obligated to obey the
law and is considered a criminal for violating law.

Q: How does a constitution come into it?

P: A constitution is a contract which a society draws up in order to agree
on how the government should operate, what powers each part of it shall
have, how laws are to be made, enforced and judged, what rights are to be
protected and how, and what remedies are available to solve problems.
Basically it is the document which authorizes the government to exist and
use its powers.

Q: How does a constitution prevent abuse?

P: Being written down it is an objective standard which can be consulted
whenever there are disagreements. A good constitution establishes
nonviolent procedures by which humans can learn how to live together and
settle their conflicts in intelligent and peaceful ways. Many nations,
states and other organizations now have constitutions which usually work
fairly well, although the degree to which they work depends on how well
they are designed, how much respect the people have for them, and of course
whether the people allow them to be violated.

Q: What about the United Nations Charter? Is that a constitution?

P: Not a very effective one, as I said before. It may have some good
principles and noble sentiments in it, such as Article 2, Sections 3 and 4
which read,

     3. All Members shall settle their international disputes by
     peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and
     security, and justice, are not endangered.
     4. All Members shall refrain in their international relations
     from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity
     or political independence of any state.

But there are no effective procedures to make these principles real, and
consequently they are ignored by the nations whose massive military
arsenals and frequent wars make a mockery of them.
Q: So how could an effective constitution for a world government be

P: I believe that eventually humanity will see the need for either a major
revision of the UN Charter or for the writing of a new constitution for a
democratic, federal world government. Just as the thirteen states of the
newly independent United States of America sent delegates to a
constitutional convention in 1787, so too all of the nations of the world
today could send delegates to a constitutional convention that could go
through the difficult political process of designing a government that
would be good for everyone.

Q: What do you think that constitution should contain?

P: To answer that I need to discuss the other four political principles:
democratic elections, independent branches of government, federalism, and
human rights. For elections to be truly democratic there must be universal
suffrage for all adult humans. This is the ideal, but whether the world
authority would be able to enforce it immediately in every country is
questionable. For example, in some Muslim countries women are not allowed
to vote, and even in the United States convicted felons cannot vote. How
these questions are decided often depend on compromises and gradual social

Q: Would people vote on every issue, or would they elect representatives to
vote and act on their behalf?

P: Although universal, participatory democracy is theoretically possible, I
doubt that most people would want to be bothered with voting on every
issue, law, and action of government. Thus republican forms of government
have become popular whereby people periodically elect representatives to
vote for them and administer the government. Nevertheless the recent
prevalence of opinion polls is, I believe, a good thing, because if they
are scientifically and fairly conducted they enable our society to let the
politicians know what the people are feeling and wanting.

Q: So, do you recommend a republican system?

P: Yes, I think it is more practical, because the implementing of good
government takes a lot of work which must be done by actual persons.
However, I do believe that the elections need to be rather frequent with
many safeguards to prevent the establishment of an elite class of career
politicians who maintain their privileged positions by serving special
interests, usually by financial means. In other words, elections need to be
purified from the corrupt plutocratic process whereby the money contributed
to campaigns buys influence with the government. I believe in government
of, by and for the people, not by and for just the rich and the corporate

Q: Then how would you finance the campaigns?

P: Candidates who obtained a certain number of signatures in their
districts would be given equal opportunity to print and mail campaign
literature, to debate the other candidates in the media, and to speak in
public to the people who are interested. Without limiting what the issues
are, I believe that this nonetheless would allow candidates to focus more
on the real issues of government. Ultimately it is the intelligence and
education of the voters as well as the candidates which determines the
level of the campaign. To improve the overall situation then, we need to
improve education.

Q: Wouldn't it cost the people more in taxes to have publicly financed

P: The small cost of giving each candidate an equal chance and providing
for real debate would be paid for by government; yet in the long run many
billions of dollars would be saved, because the corruption of the financial
interests getting their way would be greatly reduced. Thus government would
operate much more efficiently and fairly.

Q: But would you ban political advertising by special interests? What about
freedom of expression?

P: No, I would not ban nor censor the freedom of expression, but this would
have little influence if voters had the opportunity to read the views and
witness fair debates by the candidates on the issues. In the future, as we
shall see later on, the whole commercial advertising system is going to be
reformed. People don't want to have their time and attention wasted seeing
and hearing advertisements on products or things they are not interested
in, and in the future they won't have to.

Q: Would people vote by nation or what?

P: Ultimately I believe that every individual is autonomous and to be
respected, though we cannot ignore the deep traditions of the national
entities either. For the world legislature I recommend that the lawmakers
represent equal numbers of people but from a specific country. In other
words, no district would contain people from more than one country, and
each legislator would be representing a country, but even more particularly
the people in the district if a country has more than one district.

Q: How many people would there be in each district?

P: This can be determined by deciding about how many people can work
together effectively in the legislative assembly or congress. I would
estimate that a number between 500 and 1,000 might be workable if there
were only one house for making laws. If the current population of the world
as of 1995 is about 5.7 billion (and likely to increase gradually to
perhaps ten billion before it levels off or decreases), then districts of
ten million people would elect about six hundred or so representatives.

Q: But there are many nations that have less than ten million people in
them. Would a nation with 9.9 million have the same representation as a
nation of 100,000?

P: Obviously that would not be very fair, nor would it be fair to give a
nation of 10.1 million double the representation of a nation having 9.9
million. Therefore I have thought of a way of equalizing those differences
for the most part. In each nation there would be one odd district that is
composed of less than ten million people. The legislators elected from
these districts would have the full rights of speaking and working on
committees, but their vote would be rounded off to the nearest one-tenth
according to the population in the district being rounded off to the
nearest million, with one-tenth of a vote being the lowest fraction even if
a nation has less than 500,000. It could also be decided that nations with
five or more districts would not need to have a fractional district.

Q: That would mean that countries like China and India would have about a
hundred representatives each, and with a few other Asian nations would have
a majority. Do you think the western powers would accept such a system?

P: I think it is acceptable if we truly believe in majority rule and
democracy. It seems to me that history shows that we don't have as much to
fear from India and China, as they have to fear from the western powers;
for they have suffered from western imperialism. In spite of their great
antiquity neither India nor China has tried to take over large areas of the
world. Japan did earlier this century, but they have a smaller population;
and that was after they became westernized. Perhaps one of the main reasons
why India and China have larger populations (other than the nutritional
wealth of rice) is because through their long histories they have not been
as aggressive and warlike as western civilization.

Q: But aren't India and China becoming westernized by technology and
capitalism, and aren't they therefore in danger of becoming imperialist

P: Yes, which is why we need to develop better ways of preventing
imperialist aggression in the entire world. If we are not able to solve the
human problems, which when unsolved lead to conflicts and wars, then the
world will have much to fear from large nations like China and India.
Either way we must face up to the realities of the great numbers of people
in that part of the world.

Q: Still wouldn't Asia be able to dominate with its majority in the

P: Not if there are other checks and balances to safeguard the process,
such as the independent branches of government. The executive branch could
also be given some influence over the legislative process, just as the
United States President can veto laws passed by a simple majority.

Q: You don't recommend a president of the world, do you?

P: No, I think it would be foolish and asking too much of anyone to
concentrate so much power in a single person. I suggest a council of nine
presidents that would be elected by North America, South America, Europe,
Africa, West Asia, North Asia, East Asia, India, and China. You see that in
this proposal the influence of China and India would be reduced from the
approximate 40% of the population to 22% of the vote on the presidential
council. Legislation might require a confirming vote of two-thirds of this
council in order to become law, so that even all of the Asian nations with
Russia of North Asia would still not have two thirds. It might also be
decided that this presidential veto could be overruled by a two-thirds vote
of the congress.

Q: What about Mexico and Central America? Would they have any chance of
electing a president of their own if they are combined with the United
States and Canada?

P: This is the type of thing that could be negotiated at the constitutional
convention. Perhaps a vote could be taken in Mexico and the Central
American countries to see if they preferred to vote for President with
North America or with Latin America. Similar compromises would have to be
made to determine which nations are in Europe, West Asia, North Asia, and
East Asia. The idea is to have approximately equal divisions with the
exception of China and India.

Q: What about the judicial branch? Would the judges be elected also?

P: I think history shows it might be better if the judges are not so caught
up in popular and political sentiments. A Supreme World Court of nine
judges could be appointed, one by each of the nine presidents, but they
would each have to be confirmed by a majority vote in the congress. These
judges might serve a single term of nine years, and each year a new judge
would be appointed so that the court would have continuity. Not having to
face re-election or even re-appointment, the judges could be independent of
political winds and power influences so that they could interpret the
constitution and the laws objectively and decide what they each thought was
truly best for the world. Also a limited term would prevent them from
staying on the court into dottering old age.

Q: What about the check of having a bicameral legislature as is common in
the United States?

P: I'm not sure that this is necessary for a number of reasons.
Historically, giving states an equal representation in the United States
Senate regardless of population was a compromise agreed to because the
smaller states were refusing to approve the Constitution otherwise. I
believe it is rather unfair and tends to give a large group of western
states with relatively few people a disproportionate influence, resulting
in less democratic policies and is unfairly advantageous to their special
interests. Also having two legislative houses is rather cumbersome,
resulting in much wrangling and political dealing, which is unnecessary if
one house is democratic and is checked by the other branches.

Q: What about having a senate or assembly where each nation had one vote as
in the UN General Assembly?

P: I don't think that is a good idea, not only because it is unfair in
regard to population, but because it would encourage the formation of more
small nations which could cause conflicts in the future. Already we are
seeing such divisions causing violent confrontations as in the former
Yugoslavia and Soviet republics.

Q: Isn't there a current proposal to revise the United Nations by requiring
a "binding triad" vote? What do you think of that?

P: As I understand it, in that system laws or resolutions would have to be
passed by three different majorities as determined by population, by nation
states, and by financial contribution to the UN. I believe this is doubly
bad, because it allows wealth a greater influence as well as the small
nations. My observation of history is that wealthy influences on government
tend more to corrupt than to help, but of course I can see why the
capitalist class which currently dominates world affairs would want to have
such a system.

Q: Would there be any other check on this single democratic congress?

P: Yes, perhaps the most important check is from the principle of
federalism which distributes power on different levels of government. In
the United States system, for example, there is a national government,
state governments, and then county and city governments on local levels.
The U. S. Constitution delegates specific powers to the federal (national)
government and declares that all other powers are reserved to the states or
the people. Historically the governments of the original thirteen states
were what the people knew, but to form a larger and more efficient unity
they gave some powers to the United States Government. Now we are in a
situation where the national governments have become very powerful, and
without an effective way to keep peace between them the entire world is
endangered by wars.

Q: What powers would the new world constitution give to the federal world

P: Primarily the world authority would be responsible for settling
international problems. It could oversee the process of disarmament, make
sure that international conflicts are peacefully decided by the judgments
of the world court of justice according to the world constitution and the
world laws passed by the world congress. People may decide that they want
the new world authorities to protect basic human rights in every country,
but for the most part I think that people would rather have domestic and
internal issues of economic and social systems decided by national,
provincial, and local autonomy. The more power that can be distributed and
localized, the less chance there is for serious abuse.

Q: What about international trade, standards and measures, environmental
concerns and other such issues?

P: As we become more of a global culture with a global economy these issues
are bound to come up and could cause problems if we do not have fair and
nonviolent ways of solving them. These are further arguments why we need a
world government and one that is democratic. I think eventually people will
agree that the most efficient way to regulate these for the greatest good
of all is through a democratic and global process. Thus the world
constitution could give the world congress power to pass laws regulating
various international activities, establishing universal standards and
measures, and protecting global resources such as the oceans, the ozone
layer, the climate, etc.

Q: Would the world government be capitalist or socialist?

P: Actually neither, because the world government would allow each national
government and localities to decide for themselves what kind of economic
and political systems they want to use for such issues as health care,
education, and other social services. However, I do believe that the world
government should make sure that no nation is fascistic, militaristic or
oppressive of people's basic rights. Other than the specifically delegated
powers, I believe that all other powers should be reserved to the people
who can authorize their national governments or other levels to deal with

Q: What human rights do you believe the world government should protect?

P: This is actually quite a difficult question, because different cultures
and even individuals often disagree on what are essential human rights; and
even when there is general agreement, it still must be decided which level
of government is responsible for enforcing them by bringing violators to
justice. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United
Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948 is a marvelous statement of
human rights, but it wasn't until the 1970s that they were codified into
two covenants of political and civil rights and economic and social rights.
Unfortunately these are still not really enforced and exist primarily as
moral guidelines.

I think the world government might begin carefully by intervening only in
those areas where international peace and security are threatened or where
individual's basic rights are clearly being violated and national and other
authorities are not doing anything about it, such as murder or torture or
clearly unjust imprisonments by authorities. Also world authorities would
be responsible for overseeing the world elections, and universal suffrage
could be insisted upon at least in these elections. Mostly the role of the
world government would be to keep the national governments from acting in
criminal ways.

Q: So do you see the role of the world government being to protect people
from abuses by other levels of government?

P: Yes, that is a good way of putting it. Criminal behavior by individuals
or groups who do not claim to have any political or social authority to
justify their actions can, I think, be handled by local or national law
enforcement authorities. The problems that are difficult to solve without a
higher world authority are when the governments themselves are the abusers
or are in conflict with each other. This is also why it is difficult to get
the politicians of the nations to accept an effective world government,
because they are the ones who would be held to account by it. "Sovereignty"
is usually the word that is used to justify the nations in doing whatever
they please. In the 1787 constitutional convention George Washington
expressed anger at hearing this word so often.

Q: Do you think the sovereignty of the nations should be taken away from

P: Governments are intended to operate with the consent of the governed,
and they have the authority to act according to their constitutions and
laws in their own territory, but unfortunately nations have often arrogated
to themselves the power to act beyond their own borders. In my opinion
governments have sovereignty within their borders as long as they do not
violate human rights, but they do not have any legitimate sovereignty
outside of those borders. Unless a world government is given this
authority, there is essentially anarchy in those international areas, and
the conflicts of competing "sovereignties" can be utterly devastating.

To have world peace, we must have world justice. To have world justice, we
must have world law. To have effective world law, we must have world
government. No nation has the right to impose its own concept of order on
others. If we want a new world order which is just, then we must have a new
world government.

Q: Isn't this all rather utopian? Do you think the great powers will go
along with this? What will make this world government any more effective
than the League of Nations or the United Nations?

P: To make this work the nations must give up their international
sovereignty to this new constitutional system, which has never really been
done before on a world scale. It has been done in federal nations, like the
United States, and it is starting to be done in Europe. I believe that
eventually mankind will realize that such a system is in the best interests
of humanity as a whole and so will adopt it. How long it will take for us
collectively to realize this depends upon how wise we are and how much
people must suffer from the warlike ways that do not work before we learn.

Q: Your proposal is rather specific as to the form of the world government.
Does it have to be this way, or are there other options?

P: I am presenting a specific design so that people can visualize better
how a world government might work effectively. However, I realize that the
form a new world government takes will depend upon many factors and intense
political negotiation. No, I am definitely not trying to say that my plan
is the only good one or that it is the only one that will work. I would be
glad to see any improvements or better ideas that others might have.

Q: But how would a limited world government ever have enough power to
control the great military forces in the world today which the nations
possess? Would this world government be even more powerful than the
superpowers, and wouldn't that be even a greater danger?

P: The answer to that is disarmament. In my opinion world government will
be able to bring about peace and justice only if the nations renounce the
military means for solving problems and agree to abide by nonviolent and
rational judicial procedures for settling disputes. This is really so much
more intelligent a way to solve problems that sometimes it amazes me that
we are still using the old barbaric methods of "might makes right" in our
international relations as well as in civil wars within some nations.

Also the military forces in the world today are costing us tremendous
amounts of human, financial, and technical resources even when violence
does not break out and destroy human lives, cities, and the natural habitat
of the Earth. Eventually people must realize the immense waste of this.
Perhaps even more importantly from a spiritual perspective, the
psychological and social attitudes that must be perpetrated to promote this
barbaric system are extremely unhealthy and destructive to people.

Q: If it is so obvious that we should do this, then why haven't we done it

P: This is a very complicated question which gets into many of the deep
problems of our society. At this point let me just summarize it by saying
that the politicians are corrupted by vested financial interests, the
mainstream media is controlled by similar interests, and because of the
power of these over education and communications, most people don't even
get the opportunity to hear, see or read about such alternative visions as
this one. Social traditions are very powerful and difficult to change, and
the human habit of war-making has been going on for so long and has been
supported by so many powerful institutions in government, religion,
education, and family that most people don't even question them. People
like me are attempting to bring these ideas out for debate and discussion.
I am an optimist and believe that once people get a chance to hear the
truth that it can eventually overcome the prejudices and conditioning, if
not among those old and set in their ways, at least among the young whose
minds are fresher and more open.

Q: All right, for now assume that people can be convinced of the need to
disarm; how would it work?

P: It is important to consider these questions, because one of the main
reasons why people dismiss such proposals out of hand is because they
assume that they will never work. Yet if we can show people intellectually
that there are procedures that can be safe and effective, then that
prepares them to accept them as policies.

Since there are so many military weapons and forces in the world, the
process of disarmament would naturally take a period of time and would be
done in stages. In fact we may even have turned the corner toward
disarmament in the late 1980s when the United States and Soviet Union
agreed to the first major reductions of nuclear weapons. Progress has also
been made on biological and chemical weapons. Previously disarmament had
not occurred, but arms limitations were the best that had been achieved.
Although this change of direction is very significant, nonetheless it was a
fairly small step, and we have very far to go.

Q: What would be the first major stage of disarmament?

P: In addition to the elimination of biological and chemical weapons we
need to completely abolish nuclear weapons. These weapons are so
destructive and devastating to the environment for such long periods of
time that no sane person would ever consider using them. Thus in my opinion
such a useless weapon has never been invented before, and certainly more
money has never been wasted.

Actually the nuclear powers are already legally obligated to disarm all
nuclear weapons by the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons
that was agreed to in 1968 and ratified by the United States Senate in
1970. In this treaty, which is known primarily by the agreement of
non-nuclear nations not to develop nuclear weapons, the nuclear nations are
obligated to work toward not only the abolition of all nuclear weapons but
complete disarmament as well! According to the U. S. Constitution ratified
treaties are the supreme law of the land. The exact words of Article VI of
this treaty are as follows:

     Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue
     negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to
     cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to
     nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete
     disarmament under strict and effective international control.

Q: But who will check and make sure that no one cheats and hides away some
nuclear weapons?

P: Certainly the procedures for inspecting the disarmament must be
carefully planned and thoroughly implemented. Probably this would be done
by a treaty leading up to a world constitutional convention, for it is
likely that the early stages of disarmament will precede the forming of a
new world government. Some progress on disarmament would help to build up
trust between the nations that nonviolent solutions are workable, once the
nations are willing to give up their military power and accept them.

The inspection teams would be made up of experts from various countries,
and they need to be allowed to inspect wherever they have the least
suspicion nuclear weapons might be held. All uranium would have to be
monitored from its mining to the operation of nuclear power plants still in
use to the final depositing of the nuclear waste. Eventually all the
delivery systems that were used for nuclear weapons would likewise have to
be dismantled, including missiles, submarines, and bombers.

Q: What about the sophisticated conventional weapons of today? Surely they
are capable of waging wars at least as deadly as the world wars, if not
more so.

P: I agree that conventional military weapons need to be disarmed as well,
and this stage would follow the complete disarmament of nuclear weapons.
Since these steps would take months at least and perhaps even a few years
to complete in a safe manner that people could trust, by this time a new
world government may be formed. Then the new world authority could take
over the supervision of the inspection and monitoring teams. As the
conventional weapons and numbers of troops are reduced, a few small weapons
could be given to the world authorities for limited use in case of an

Q: Wouldn't this still leave open the possibility of wars between the world
government and nations or other groups?

P: There is always going to be some level of conflict in human affairs on
this Earth. The idea is to reduce the virulence of such conflicts. The more
complete the disarmament can be, the less forces will be needed by the
world authority in case someone tries to cheat on disarmament or build back
their forces. If we can disarm all of the national armies, navies, air
forces, marines, special forces, and coast guards, leaving local
communities with their police intact for law enforcement within nations,
then the world authority would not need much of an army at all. A few small
weapons kept under guard could be maintained so that there would be enough
to quell any uprising against the world authority that might crop up.

Q: But isn't this still the "might makes right" idea with merely the might
changed to a new organization?

P: Not really, and I'll explain why. These weapons would rarely be used and
then only if some individual or group was violently resisting a nonviolent
arrest for charges of violating world law. In such a situation law
enforcement has the legal authority and is right in using whatever force
might be necessary to bring suspected criminals to justice for a fair

In this truly new world order nonviolence would be the great foundation
upon which it is built. People would be taught and trained in nonviolent
methods for resolving conflicts. Usually all arrests for charges of
breaking world laws would be made in a nonviolent manner without the use of
any weapons at all. Only if such an arrest process were violently resisted
such that world authorities may have been injured or killed would the world
authorities have to resort to the limited use of some weapons.

Q: Wouldn't these world authorities need a lot of courage to be willing to
arrest criminals without any weapons to protect themselves?

P: Yes, they would need great courage, and from this we can see that
nonviolence actually requires more true courage than killing in war. Those
who feel the need for deadly weapons are actually those who are afraid that
disputes cannot be settled without violence. This is the fundamental point
that people need to understand - that violence is barbaric and tends to
perpetrate more violence, while nonviolence encourages trust in human
processes and reduces the hostility, fear, and other negative feelings. By
strictly avoiding violence then others realize that they need not be afraid
and thus will not be so inclined to turn to violence to "protect

Q: But what if some dictator like Saddam Hussein refuses to give up his
armies and weapons? Would you go to war with his nation, or would you try
economic sanctions against them?

P: A key point here is to insist on individual responsibility and not
sloppily go about punishing whole groups of people rather than only those
who are responsible for the crimes. I'm afraid that economic sanctions are
not very effective against militaristic leaders who have plenty even while
their people suffer. Instead the sanctions punish the people of the country
who are not necessarily to blame for their leader's policies. At the same
time by punishing an entire nation in this way, the people tend to rally
around their leader even stronger as has occurred in Iraq and for so many
years in the face of the very unjust U. S. embargo against Cuba.

Q: But didn't sanctions work against South Africa?

P: In some cases I think that sanctions can be more fair and effective if
the overall society itself seems to be at fault rather than merely its
leaders. The apartheid system was supported by most of white South Africa,
and since the blacks and coloreds were already suffering so much from that,
it was not unreasonable to use boycotts to attempt to transform the whole
system. Similar cases might be found when the majority of the voters in a
state or nation decide to persecute some minority.

Q: Then if you don't use sanctions, would you go to war against resisting

P: Again I must insist on individual responsibility. We live in an age in
which communication is readily available in various forms so that the
people of the country could be informed of what the law is and what the
alleged violations are. Only those individuals who supported the violent
resistance would be targeted or held to account for their crimes. This
intelligent discernment or weeding process would give every individual the
choice of whom to support, either the leaders who are being charged with
crimes or the world authorities who would be moving in as nonviolently as

Q: Then there could be some killing if there were violent resistance to the
world authorities?

P: I'm not saying that it can't happen; but I think that once we get most
nations to agree to this process, the likelihood of smaller ones attempting
to hold out would be small because of the futility in trying to stand
against the whole world. As Baha'u'llah once suggested: if any country
tries to make war, then all the other nations of the world should join
together and put a stop to it. By having a definite legal process these
violators would be treated as the criminals which they are. Yet they would
be encouraged not to resist arrest, because those captured would be given
fair trials nor would there be a death penalty if they were convicted.

Q: Are you opposed to capital punishment even though the current popular
trend is strongly in favor of it?

P: Yes, I am. This is the same perverted philosophy of deterrence which is
the basis of nuclear weapons. I don't think potential murderers are
influenced very much by the fear of being executed when they commit their
crimes. Even if they are, it can be argued that they are also likely to
become more violent when in danger of being arrested if they know that they
may be executed if caught. In other words they may be more likely rather
than less likely to kill law enforcement officers.

Much more important than this is the moral repugnance and hypocrisy behind
the justification for killing people.

Q: I can understand the moral repugnance of killing, but how is capital
punishment hypocritical?

P: Is not capital punishment used primarily against people who have killed
someone? If killing human beings is wrong, then the state by executing is
violating the very principle it is condemning. Capital punishment
essentially says, "We kill people in order to convince people who kill
people that killing people is wrong." I would even go so far as to argue
that capital punishment is first-degree murder, because it is coldly
calculated and pre-meditated. Such retaliation turns the entire society
into murderers and is similar to the whole war philosophy. It seems to me
that two wrongs don't make a right, but rather they double the wrong
instead of remedying it.

Q: Getting back to the enforcement of world law and disarmament, how would
the world government decide whether to use force or not?

P: Nonviolent arrests would not need a special vote, because they would go
through a normal judicial process. If there were violent resistance, then
the use of force could be authorized by the council of presidents, probably
by a two-thirds vote.

Q: Isn't that rather like the UN Security Council now?

P: Yes, but there are significant improvements. Action could not be blocked
by a veto from a single power. The council of nine presidents would be a
more fair representation of the people of the world. The world authorities
enforcing the law would be clearly under and loyal to the world government
rather than any national governments, and the individuals in this force
would be drawn from as many countries as possible. Probably most important,
disarmament of the nations' forces will enable the world authority to be
able to control any uprisings that might occur by arresting the violators,
rather than merely being "peacekeepers" observing a war as has happened in
Bosnia and other places. Also warlords would not be encouraged by the kind
of diplomacy that ends up giving them sweet deals in order to bribe them
into stopping a war. I believe in being very tough on violent crime, not in
rewarding the worst criminals.

Q: What is your approach to crime?

P: I believe that the United States has been moving in the wrong direction
in its recent trend of incarcerating more and more people, while
practically giving up on efforts at rehabilitation. It is not only ironic
but perhaps telling that the two nuclear superpowers have a higher
percentage of their citizens in prisons and jails than any other country.
Nevertheless I don't think violent behavior should be tolerated, which is
why I want to begin by stopping the most violent behavior on the planet,
namely the war-making.

However, most of the people imprisoned have not committed violent acts.
With its war mentality the United States has been waging a "war on drugs."
A majority of the "crimes" in this country are related to the drugs which
have been declared illegal. Yet many times more people die and are injured
from their use of either nicotine or alcohol alone than from all the
prohibited drugs combined.

Q: How would you deal with the drug problem?

P: The use of drugs is a health problem which has been turned into a
criminal problem by their prohibition. As with the "great experiment" of
banning alcohol in the 1920s this has not stopped the use of the drugs, but
has made that business a criminal activity. People who use drugs do not
need punishment but treatment. We could begin by decriminalizing the use of
the less harmful drugs such as marijuana. This would also permit the vast
industrial uses of the marijuana or hemp plant, which is extremely valuable
as a source for paper, rope, building materials, food, etc. Gradually all
drugs could be decriminalized, although we may choose to make some of them
available only by a doctor's prescription.

Q: What about the kids? Should they be allowed to use these dangerous and
habit-forming drugs?

P: No, I do think it would be prudent to have laws against the use of drugs
by minors under the age of eighteen, and adults who give or sell drugs to
minors should be prosecuted. This is especially important in regard to
tobacco, for most smokers develop the habit while they are teenagers. We
need thorough drug education in the schools so that our future generations
can make intelligent choices about what they are going to put in their

Q: But would you legalize all drugs for adults eventually?

P: I very much believe in individual freedom and responsibility, and I
don't think that we should try to legislate morality in instances that do
not harm other people. It is true that people can harm themselves by using
drugs; but if they are adults, we need to respect their personal autonomy
and opportunity to learn from life in their own way. At least by legalizing
drugs they can be regulated so that they are safer and not part of a
criminal underworld. Instead of punishment I do believe it would be in
society's interest to provide treatment programs for people who do want to
break the habit of using drugs.

Q: What about other moral issues such as pornography and prostitution?

P: Likewise in regard to freedom of communication I don't like to see
government restrictions except for the protection of minors, nor do I think
that sexual acts between consenting adults should be prohibited by
government. This does not mean that we are encouraging such activities or
even approving of them, but we are allowing people individual choices and
responsibilities for their own behavior. Certainly prostitution can be seen
as exploitation, but so can many other economic relations. I don't think
that people's psychological problems about sex, whether personal or from
religious indoctrination, should impinge themselves against other people
who may not share those particular beliefs.

Q: What about rape?

P: Definitely any act which violates the personal autonomy of another human
being should be illegal and must not be tolerated. Forcible rape is a
serious crime, because it is violent, not because it is sexual. In regard
to statutory rape or sexual intercourse with a minor, again I think that
minors need to be protected, even though they may want to give consent,
until they are eighteen years old. As far as sex between minors goes, it is
apparent that many youths are going to do it before they are eighteen,
because they may be in love and feeling the urges for such intimacy.
Parental guidance may or may not help, but I think the state should stay
out of such affairs.

Q: But what happens to the young couple when one of them turns eighteen?
Does the older one suddenly become a criminal?

P: Some allowance could be made for such situations by deciding that
statutory rape does not occur with a seventeen-year-old if the partner is
eighteen or nineteen nor perhaps with a sixteen-year-old if the partner is
eighteen. Thus young romance would not be persecuted, yet youths would
still be protected from older adults.

Q: Would you allow other activities in which the only victim is usually the
person choosing the activity, such as gambling?

P: Yes, this again allows regulation and honest business rather than a
criminal element. Recently state and local governments have taken to using
lotteries to raise money for themselves. It seems rather hypocritical to me
that a state could prohibit gambling except for itself. That seems more
like a monopoly of a lucrative business. Again, allowing these activities
does not mean that we have to promote them. Thus I oppose state-operated
gambling, because then the state is promoting such activity. Although this
may be a kind of voluntary tax, which is a good idea in some ways,
nonetheless often the poorly educated underclass throws some of its needed
money away on these false hopes of gaining riches as though clinging to
straws. They are false hopes, because the odds are against their winning
(otherwise there is no profit in running a gambling business), and it turns
out to be a rather regressive tax against many who can least afford it. Yet
informal gambling with friends and associates that is done privately rather
than through a professional business is actually more fair, because no one
is skimming off a profit. Yet this is often the type of gambling that gets
criminalized unnecessarily.

Q: What other nonviolent crimes can be adjusted so that we won't have to
pay so much to keep people in prison?

P: For nonviolent crimes fines, community service, and probation can be
ways of holding people to account without putting them into institutions
that are often schools for crime. Eventually society will understand that
deterrence by imprisonment doesn't work well either. Punishment tends to
make people worse rather than better, because of the psychological damage
caused by inflicting hurt on people. Many violent criminals were formed in
childhood by harsh punishment. Punished criminals released into society
often commit more crimes to get back at the society which punished them,
and so the vicious cycle goes on.

Q: What about "three strikes and you're out" sentences for repeat

P: This is another shortsighted trend in our society that is likely to have
burdensome long-term consequences if it is not reformed. Statistics show
that most crimes are committed by people between the ages of 14 and 24; by
the time one is 30 or so, people often mature enough that they stop
committing crimes. If we take reckless youths, who may commit several
crimes because they lack economic opportunities, and put them in prison for
life or even long periods of time, they are going to be miserable, and it
will cost society a tremendous amount of money and effort. Such a policy is
cruel and foolish. With the reforms I foresee, our entire judicial system
is going to change tremendously in the next hundred years.

Q: How would you reform the penal system?

P: Even the term "penal" is a problem, for as Karl Menninger wrote in his
book, The Crime of Punishment, punishing people harms them psychologically.
The responses of society to such problems need to be appropriate and well
thought out for the long term; we should avoid retaliating out of
frustration. Many of the reforms I am discussing in this book will serve to
prevent much of the crime which we have today because of the current social
injustices and lack of opportunities for constructive living.

Nonetheless it is essential that we have ways of teaching people that
harming others is not to be tolerated. The crimes of the upper and middle
classes involving fraud and cheating should be at least as severely
prosecuted as the thefts and burglaries of the lower classes, for they
often involve much larger amounts of money. Crimes related to money and
property are usually more appropriately dealt with by fines and community
service rather than imprisonment. The point is partly to deter crime---

Q: Just a minute, are you now going to say that you do believe in

P: I don't deny the effect of deterrence in any kind of situation; but I
have questioned its use in threatening violence against those who commit
violent acts, because I believe it is hypocritical and counterproductive.
However, deterrence can be used very effectively for minor and nonviolent
offenses by making people pay fines or do community service. In these cases
it is not hypocritical, because these are not harmful punishments but
merely ways to make people actually pay for the consequences of their
actions by doing something good for society or even for the individuals
they may have treated unfairly. If there was a way that we could make a
murderer bring someone back to life, I would be all for it. Neither does
imprisoning people help society; rather it costs us a lot. Yet we can make
those who steal return the money and pay more beyond that as a legitimate
penalty to teach them the lesson not to steal and to deter people from
trying it. Similarly fines for traffic violations make people contribute to
society for their recklessness and discourage such behavior.

Q: But assuming you would still imprison violent offenders, how would you
reform the prison system?

P: Those who have shown themselves to be dangerous to others may need to be
separated from society for a time, but they need to be treated with
compassion and understanding not with meanness. According to my philosophy
everyone is doing the best they can with what they know; no one
intentionally acts against what they believe at the time is their best
interest. Certainly they may be ambivalent, and some desires may go against
other moral or intellectual concepts; but in some way people are trying to
gain something they want or value. In other words I don't think people are
just plain malicious. Crime then results from people who are in difficult
circumstances and whose values and moral attitudes have somehow been
perverted into a psychologically and socially unhealthy situation.

Consider the concept of the "not guilty by reason of insanity" defense in
murder trials. Somehow judges in the past have made a distinction between
murderous acts which are somehow rational and others which are a result of
passion or psychosis. Yet is anyone who kills another human except in
self-defense really sane? Is murder while committing robbery sane? I
suggest that anyone who commits a violent act against another human being
has a serious psychological problem, which severe punishment may worsen.

Q: So how would you treat these psychopaths and sociopaths? Don't they need
to learn to be responsible for their own actions?

P: Yes, absolutely; individual responsibility is fundamental, but so are
our social responsibilities to other people. Violent criminals are in need
of therapy and rehabilitative care. People complain that it costs more to
keep a person in prison today than it does to send someone to college, and
out of indignation there is a tendency to cut out all the "frills" of
prison life and simply warehouse people, rather than wasting money on the
"undeserving." Yet I argue that society has a responsibility to all of its
people. Certainly therapy is much more difficult and expensive than
education, because not only do you have to teach them, but you have to
correct what is wrong as well, which is much more difficult. The compassion
of a society can be judged not by how they treat the deserving but by how
they treat their undeserving. And who are these "undeserving" people? Where
do they come from, and how did they get that way? Prisons represent our
failures as a society. If we provided better education, better economic
opportunities, more healthy recreational options, and so on, then we would
not have as many people turning to crime out of frustration and inability
to succeed in law-abiding ways.

Q: Granted, most of our efforts need to be put into improving our social
system in order to prevent crime. But until that utopia is established, how
are you going to treat these failures?

P: Institutions of correction and rehabilitation should be what those names
imply. Sentencing and decisions regarding probation and parole should be
decided by trained psychologists, counselors, sociologists, and social
workers who from experience can tell how dangerous a person is to society
and what therapy and reconstructive activities may be needed to bring
individuals back into a healthy consciousness.

Q: Do you mean that judges and juries should not decide the sentences?

P: Judges are experts in law and make good referees during the trial, and
juries are the best way to achieve a fair judgment of guilt; but the
treatment needed by violent criminals is a very complicated problem. An
expert in criminology and its treatment could investigate each case
thoroughly, observe the trial if there is one, and then give their careful
evaluation. We have many intelligent people in our society who could be
helping to rehabilitate those who are mixed up and less fortunate.

Q: How would this work in prison?

P: Inmates in these institutions may be allowed to work and participate as
much as possible in their own lives and care, which will reduce the need
for outside workers. Intensive therapy and counseling sessions as well as
extensive education can be applied to those who are willing to work on
their own improvement. I even think that it would be more healthy to mix
men and women, instead of depriving them of normal social opportunities. Of
course convicted rapists might be denied such privileges until they were
deemed cured; then such limited privileges while still in the institution
could be a testing opportunity to see how they are doing before releasing
them into society.

Q: But aren't there many more men than women committing violent crimes?

P: Yes, there are, but at least there would be some opportunity for a more
normal life and another incentive for people to improve themselves so as to
win the esteem and affection of others. Also more liberal visitation rights
could be granted for spouses and friends whose risks would be voluntary,
which would also help the inmates in their transition back into society.

Q: But what happens when criminals who were deemed "cured" go out and
commit even worse crimes? Doesn't the public have a right to be outraged by
this, and aren't they justified in demanding protection from such people?

P: In this world mistakes are bound to occur, but these things can be
monitored and evaluated so that if it is found that too many criminals are
being released prematurely, then adjustments can be made. Yet it is not
fair either to demand perfection here, when other aspects of society may be
allowed a higher failure rate. Recently some politicians have publicized
certain sensational cases in order to advance their own political careers.

Transferring the use of drugs from a criminal concern to a health problem
will greatly reduce the prison population rather quickly. Of course drug
treatment programs will be increased, but they all don't have to be
residential facilities. Also as military disarmament becomes accepted in
the world, the military-type weapons in private hands can also be
eliminated, which will also reduce violent crime.

Q: What is your position on gun control?

P: I believe that the huge number of guns in our society is a symptom of a
sick society. Surely we can begin by banning the assault weapons whose
automatic firing is as deadly as the machine guns of World War I. Does a
sporting hunter need such a weapon? Does a woman home alone need such a
weapon for self-defense? I don't think so. Eventually I believe that there
will be no need for semi-automatic weapons either. Most people will realize
that guns are dangerous to have around the house and even more dangerous to
have in the streets.

Q: Would you take away the right of a person to have a gun for self

P: No, for those afraid of intruders into their homes I would not deny them
a small gun adequate to protect themselves from a forcible assault, but I
do think that laws could be made against the carrying of any loaded firearm
outside of one's home.

Q: What about hunting?

P: Eventually I think that people will want to ban the brutal killing of
animals for sport as a barbaric relic of the past. However, the real sport
of hunting could go on with the use of cameras. Such hunters could shoot
pictures and gain a trophy to show how close they got to a wild animal,
which would actually take greater courage than to kill.

Q: But how would people be protected from dangerous animals?

P: On the nature reserves where the remaining dangerous animals would live,
there would be licensed rangers who would be armed with rifles or pistols
in order to protect photographic hunters and other visitors, but these
weapons would only be used in an emergency when someone was in imminent
danger of attack.

Q: What about hunting for meat or to control populations that might become
too numerous if they were not hunted, such as deer?

P: People will decide how long these practices are to continue. When I see
these practices disappearing, it is farther off in the future. As the human
population increases, people are likely to become less comfortable with
guns being fired out in nature where others want to hike and camp.
Gradually areas where hunting is permitted will decrease until eventually
the sport will go out of fashion as people evolve in their consciousness
toward greater sensitivity and compassion for living creatures. Scientific
methods of birth control can be used for large animal populations in order
to maintain a balance appropriate to the environment. With deer, for
example, the joy people will get from being with them in the wild when they
are no longer terrified of being killed by humans will far outweigh the
loss of brutal hunting.

Q: How will you get the millions of people in the National Rifle
Association to agree to this?

P: Certainly the NRA and other organizations have had a tremendous
influence on politics in the United States recently, as noted in the 1994
Congressional elections which were won by so many Republicans. Yet as the
power of money and lobbying is purified out of politics, these special
interest groups will not be allowed to dominate, although every group and
interest will still be able to vote its proportion. The corruption of
allowing these groups to essentially buy the politicians' votes on their
issues has seriously distorted the so-called democratic process into a
plutocratic system of rule by money-giving interests. Nevertheless mostly
what will lead to these reforms regarding guns are the changes in
consciousness which will enable people to see things in a different light
as their hearts open more to other people and even other species.

Q: What about the eating of meat?

P: This is another big change I foresee occurring in the twenty-first
century. Modern science has discovered that animal products, especially the
red meat from mammals, while nutritional enough to provide nourishment and
keep people alive, is not very healthy over the long term. Cholesterol,
which is only found in animals, is not well digested by humans and can
cause various diseases related to the heart and circulation of the blood as
well as cancers. Studies have found that on average vegetarians live longer
and healthier than anyone else, and that often even the poor, in China for
example, have longer lives than wealthy Americans, Europeans and Japanese,
because they eat very little meat.

Perhaps even more significant in the long run is that we cannot afford to
waste so much useful land to graze cattle or to raise the extra grain
needed to feed stock animals.

Q: We seem to be doing it now. What is the problem?

P: A small percentage of wealthy people are using a large portion of the
agricultural resources to feed their meat-eating habits. In this process
many poor people are being pushed off their farm lands, and valuable rain
forests are being chopped and burned down to provide more grazing lands so
that meat can be exported for profit. Poor countries are being forced to do
this in order to pay the interest on the large debts that were given to the
capitalist class in their countries through the International Monetary Fund
(IMF) and the World Bank. Even in rich countries like the United States,
powerful western states have gotten large land and water subsidies from
government to maintain the meat and dairy industries by enabling them to
charge prices far below the actual cost of their products. In other words
the tax payers make up the difference. It has been estimated that without
these subsidies the cheapest hamburger meat would cost the consumer about
thirty-five dollars a pound.

Q: But how will people get the protein they need to eat?

P: Grains, vegetables, nuts and seeds have plenty of protein to meet our
nutritional needs quite easily. In fact people who eat meat tend to be less
healthy, because they get too much protein. The long digestive tract of
humans, unlike the short one of carnivorous cats and dogs, is not really
designed to handle large amounts of meat, although meat can be consumed for
survival in an emergency. Soybeans, for example, can be made into various
products which are quite similar to hamburgers, milk, cheese, and so on.
Once they are mass-produced, such products will be far cheaper, more
healthy and, by using various combinations of seeds, nuts, vegetables, and
spices, much more tasty as well. A century from now people will look back
on the eating of animal flesh as another barbarism from the past.

Q: I'm beginning to see a pattern in your ideas. You really seem to think
that we are barbarians today, don't you?

P: Only in comparison to how much better things will be in the future. When
we learn how to make this world into a paradise where every person and
living creature is loved and respected, past history will seem like some
kind of a nightmare from which we have awakened. Perhaps it's like the
story of the Garden of Eden; but in this case we are going back into the
garden, this time with the knowledge of how to maintain it as a paradise,
rather than stupidly destroying so much through selfish and short-sighted

Q: I can see that you're going to be getting to the environment too, but
first let us go back to meat and dairy products. What about calcium, for
example? Don't older women get osteoporosis if they don't have enough
calcium in their bodies, and therefore don't they need to take in dairy

P: Osteoporosis will occur if there is a lack of calcium, but studies have
found that the key to this problem is not so much in taking the calcium
into the body, but in retaining the calcium. By eating too much protein the
body is actually robbed of its calcium in the effort to digest excessive
protein. Even women who drank extra milk every day were found to have less
calcium at the end of the testing period, because the extra protein of the
milk actually caused a net loss of calcium. Various vegetables, grains,
seeds, and nuts have plenty of calcium which will be better retained in a
more healthy vegetarian diet.

Q: If people become vegetarians, what will happen to all the cattle and
pigs and other farm animals?

P: If you could see the misery of how many of these animals are forced to
live confined in small spaces and then die violent deaths while still in
their prime, you would understand why drastically reducing their
populations by controlling the birth rates would be better for everyone. As
with chickens, if they are allowed space to run around and have a normal
social life, it is not as bad as the small cages where they are treated as
egg machines and meat products. Thus some animals can be retained on
"old-fashioned" farms and ranches, which could be used for making movies
about historical periods and also be visited as museums of life in the

Q: What about the environment? How are we going to eliminate pollution and
have enough energy for the ten billion people you say there could be on
Earth in a hundred years?

P: These are vast and complicated problems that are going to take quite
some time to solve. However, unlike the threat of nuclear war which could
destroy us in a day right now, our exploitation of unrenewable resources,
pollution of natural resources, the dangers to our health from the build-up
of toxic substances and waste, and of course the increasing human
population needing to be sustained on an Earth whose size is staying the
same all present serious problems that are gradually and unrelentingly
becoming worse. Certainly we need to be working on all of these problems at
the same time, not only to prevent our quality of life from deteriorating,
but in order to find the solutions and change our living patterns toward a
life-style that will eventually be sustainable and balanced without robbing
resources and building up problems for future generations.

Q: Why don't we start with population? Do you really think we want to have
ten billion people here at a time?

P: What we want always needs to be evaluated in relation to the other
probable choices. A terrible war or horrible plagues and famines could
reduce population tremendously, but I don't think we want any of those.
Barring such catastrophes we will have to learn how to gradually reduce our
birthrates. There are already nearly six billion people on Earth, and the
population is increasing by about one billion every ten years. This
actually represents a slightly declining growth rate, because if the growth
rate was staying the same the growth every ten years would be increasing.
Fortunately the trend of an increasing growth rate has been turned around
in the last generation. Large countries like China, India, Indonesia,
Brazil, and Mexico, which did have fertility rates in 1960 of six or seven
children per woman, have reduced those to three or four, China to as low as

Q: But how are we going to get down to zero population growth?

P: We definitely need to encourage and support the efforts for family
planning and birth control that are spreading throughout the world. A high
birth rate can cause enormous misery in a poor country. For example, in
1994 Rwanda had the highest birth rate in the world and experienced a
bloody civil war in which nearly a million people were brutally murdered.
Experience has found that good education and health care both tend to
encourage family planning. In the past the poor often had numerous children
so that they could help with the work and provide some security for the
parents in their old age. The net result, however, was that more people
were poorer.

Q: But doesn't good health care keep more children alive?

P: Of course it does, and much human misery can be prevented by having
clean water and sanitary living conditions with proper pre-natal treatment
and available doctors and nurses throughout life. When these conditions are
present, people realize that they don't need to have more children to make
up for the ones that die. They can be more confident that the one or two
children they have will have good care and a high-quality life. If the
society has organized a collective insurance system to give security to its
old people, then they do not have to worry about having extra children to
take care of them.

Q: How does education come into it?

P: All these things need to be explained and understood. Successful and
healthy methods of birth control also need to be made available and used
correctly. Educated people tend to have more diversified interests in
addition to the basic family life, and they tend to realize that children
are a big responsibility deserving of special care and attention. Some say
that each child deserves the full attention of one adult and that even
though large families may seem fun, actually such children are often
neglected. Also education helps people to understand the large picture and
concerns of society as a whole. In this global crisis each of us has a
responsibility not to take more than our share of the limited resources.
Since most people do want to have children, it is only fair that everyone
be concerned about not having too many.

Q: Do you favor laws to keep people from having too many children or laws
to prevent people from eating meat, for example?

P: No, as with drugs, sex, and gambling, I do not favor trying to legislate
morality. Primarily only definite harms to others need to be prohibited by
law, in my opinion. Yet each society can decide how they wish to handle
these situations. In some countries, like China where the population
density is very high and the danger of starvation and other problems very
real, they have decided to experiment with laws that reward parents for
only having one child, take back the reward if they have two, and penalize
them for having more than two. Such incentives and deterrences may seem
harsh when you consider that the more children the less they have makes it
especially hard on those children, yet the alternative may be much more
misery if some such deterrent is not adopted.

Q: What about abortion? Do you want to respond to that controversy now?

P: Certainly; it needs to be discussed some time. First of all, abortion is
a very poor method of birth control. Only infanticide is worse, especially
the infanticide that discriminates by sex. In cultures where boys are
preferred and female infants are killed or aborted, this results in an
unequal ratio between the sexes, undue competition between males for wives,
and a generally unhealthy society. These practices must be stopped, and I
do believe that education and counseling will correct these barbaric

Q: Do you believe that abortion is murder?

P: No, I do not define it that way. An abortion is an admission of a
mistake and a way of correcting it. No one wants to have an abortion in the
sense that they go out and get pregnant so that they can have one. If we
want to reduce the number of abortions in our society, then we can promote
those things which will prevent them from occurring, such as sex education,
conscious communication between lovers regarding their parental
responsibilities, promotion of birth control devices, and facilitation of
adoption procedures.

Q: Why isn't abortion murder? Isn't it the killing of a fetus which is
growing as a human being?

P: Yes, it is that, but a fetus is not yet an independent human life until
it is born and begins to breathe its own air. A fetus in the womb is a part
of the mother's body. She is breathing and eating for it, and without her
it could not live. If it is developed enough to live on its own, then we
could say that it is potentially an independent organism. I would agree
that abortions should not be performed that late in the pregnancy unless it
is a question of choosing between the life of the mother and the life of
the child. This choice I would leave to the mother if she is conscious, and
to the father and the doctor if she is not.

Q: So would you allow the mother the right to choose an abortion in the
first and second trimesters of pregnancy?

P: Yes, I believe that a person has sovereignty over her own body. As long
as the fetus is in her body and completely dependent on her, she has the
right to make medical decisions about what is in her own body. I don't
think either the state or religious authorities should force their beliefs
onto women. This is a fundamental point of human rights, and it is no
wonder that it has become a central issue in the feminist movement, which I
support. For centuries men dominated society and especially women, treating
them as property and possessions, often neglecting to listen to their
concerns or recognize their rights as equally human beings. The liberation
of women and the protecting of their equal rights is one of the great
movements of our time, leading toward a more healthy, balanced, and
harmonious society.

Q: But you are so opposed to killing and violence of any kind. What about
that part of it?

P: I already have suggested how we can reduce the number of abortions.
Obviously the meaning and significance of an abortion is a controversial
issue, because people have differing beliefs about what it actually is.
Since there are reasonable doubts and differences of opinion as to whether
this is murder or not, I do not think the state should interfere with the
force of law on one side of this controversy by assuming it is murder. When
there is doubt or uncertainty, I am for allowing people to freely decide
for themselves.

Q: As a philosopher what is your opinion about when human life begins?

P: I think that understanding this from the perspective of the soul can be
helpful. As I understand it, the soul is a part of divine energy or God and
thus has no beginning as a creature and therefore no end, being an eternal
reality in its oneness with God. Somehow souls are formed out of the
essence of God and achieve some kind of individuality. Before a soul can
incarnate into a body, it must be decided which body it will enter. Thus
whenever there is a pregnancy, plans must be made in the spiritual realms
for a soul to inhabit that body.

Q: When does the soul actually enter the body?

P: Souls are free to do what they consider is best, and so it is possible
at one extreme for a soul to enter into a small fetus in the womb or on the
other to merely extend life energy into the baby without completely
entering even after it is born for several years. However, clairvoyance has
found that in most cases the soul enters the body at birth when the baby
begins to breathe. It is not necessary for a soul to be in the fetus while
in the womb, because the soul of the mother is providing the needed
functions, and there are no major decisions to be made or lessons to be
learned which would require the incarnation of the soul in the womb. It has
been observed that within a day of conception a lower self or basic-self
consciousness, or subconscious mind if you will, is in the fetus and
involved in the development of the body.

Q: So it is possible that an abortion could be a disruption of these

P: Yes, but keep in mind that the soul and the heavenly guides that plan
these things are quite aware of what is occurring in the consciousness of
the parents. If the parents do not want a child and intend to get an
abortion, they will be aware of that. Sometimes the parents may not think
they want a child but find when pregnancy occurs they change their minds,
because spiritually there is a soul who wants to be born to them then, and
they may realize that it would actually be good for them spiritually too.
Such parents may change their minds and not want to have an abortion.
Parenthood is a free choice and a very serious responsibility. It is
usually better for souls to have an opportunity to be born into families
that want them, rather than forcing women to bear children they do not want
to raise. In any case, no one can kill the soul.

Q: Yes, but isn't that also the case with murder?

P: Certainly the soul survives death whether it is a murder or not, but
murder of a functioning human being is a much more serious disruption of
human life. It could be argued on one extreme that to use any birth control
at all deprives souls of the opportunity to be born. Yet no one seems to
argue that killing sperm in the womb is murder. At the other extreme most
agree that killing an infant after birth is murder. In between is a gray
area, and somewhere the line must be drawn. Now there is a "morning after"
pill which causes a very early abortion of a tiny fertilized egg. Are
religious fanatics going to call this murder too, when there is really very
little disruption of the spiritual process involving that potential life?
Why are not these fanatics more concerned about the murder of fully
functional human beings in war? Why are they not concerned about the brutal
slaughter of fairly intelligent mammals?

Q: What does the killing of animals have to do with abortion?

P: This may seem farfetched to some, but I think there is an analogy
related to the evolutionary theory that ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny,
which is that in the development of the fetus the evolutionary pattern is
reproduced, going through a fish-like stage with a tail to an amphibian and
so on into human form. As a philosopher I notice that perhaps the soul
entering the human body at birth corresponds to the evolutionary stage when
souls began to fully incarnate in the advanced primates we call homo
erectus. In other words, killing a human fetus at an early stage may be
analogous to killing an animal of another species. This is only an analogy,
and please do not take it too seriously. However, it could perhaps give
some perspective on this issue and its relation to animal rights issues.

Q: Do you think that population will stay at ten billion people once the
growth rate levels out?

P: This will be decided by people at the time. If they find that the world
is too crowded, and they want to decrease the growth rate below zero in
order to improve the quality of life for future generations, then the
population can be gradually reduced as far as is considered desirable.
There will always be children to be cared for, and in the future I think
there will be more flexibility in regard to the parenting roles so that
people can have the experience of helping to raise children without
producing them themselves. Many people believe that there are already too
many people on Earth now for a sustainable and beneficial life for all
living creatures.

Q: Then how can ten billion people live on Earth in a sustainable and
prosperous way as you claim?

P: There are going to be major changes and improvements in the way we live
in the future. Our society today is rather wasteful and inefficient in its
use of energy and resources. We are just beginning to learn how to recycle
materials, for example, and only a very small percentage are used again. We
manufacture tremendous amounts of toxic substances in agriculture,
industry, and many other fields. We throw away large amounts of trash every
day; and since there is no "away" from a global perspective, this is piling
up and must be handled eventually, if that space is to be utilized. Our
reliance on fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas results in air
pollution and various by-products such as plastics which are not readily

Q: What do you mean by biodegradable?

P: Substances which will degenerate in a reasonable period of time into the
kinds of molecules that can be used by the various life forms in an
ecosystem are considered biodegradable. Complex polymers and large
molecules, such as plastics, which do not break down unless burned can be
harmful to wildlife in addition to being ugly trash in our environment. If
burned, they release toxic substances into the air, water, and land,
causing cancers and other diseases. When future generations look back at
the history of our time, they will probably see the fossil-fuel age as the
era of pollution as well as the climax of horrendous wars and militarism.

Q: How can we get through this era without making it much worse than it
already is?

P: As a society we need to be much more vigilant and conscientious by
drastically reducing the poisons we are producing. Governments can play a
role in severely limiting and monitoring toxic releases, not only by
prohibition of the worst but by tax incentives for environmentally friendly
procedures and tax deterrents for polluting practices.

Q: Isn't this punishment for polluting industries and business, and won't
it hurt the economy?

P: It is not punishment to hold people accountable and responsible for
their actions. By carefully evaluating the effects of pollution and waste
on the whole society, the proper costs can be ascertained. In laissez-faire
capitalism business and industry have been getting away with murder, if we
consider all of the deaths and diseases caused by their actions. If we
permit some individuals to reap unjustified financial rewards for harming
others, then such practices will continue because of those selfish
incentives. People through their governments have the right and the
responsibility to protect the health and well-being of their citizens from
such exploitation and to make individuals and businesses be responsible for
their actions.

The word "economics" derives from the Greek word for household management.
A good economy is what is beneficial to the people, not what is harmful. It
is our collective responsibility to manage economic relations so that harm
to people and life does not occur. Taxes can be an effective way to
regulate business so that harmful practices are deterred, and beneficial
procedures are encouraged.

Q: How would these taxes work?

P: In addition to the high taxes placed on direct pollution to cover all of
the health liabilities and cleanup costs with perhaps a small penalty added
on as a deterrent, taxes could also be placed on products and consumer
goods which are not biodegradable or benign for the environment. Packaging,
for example, has proliferated to the point where the product's package
often costs and weighs more than the product itself. Yet often the consumer
immediately disposes of the packaging soon after purchase. All of these
materials as well as the product itself can be evaluated and taxed
appropriately to discourage such waste.

Q: But won't these taxes just be passed along to consumers in higher

P: Yes, but consumers are also responsible for what they buy. By taxing
wasteful products people will have the incentive of lower prices to buy the
products that aren't wasteful, and the manufacturers will have the proper
incentives to produce healthy and efficient products that do not pollute
the environment. The taxes should be designed to reflect the true costs of
having to dispose of or recycle the materials that are not either useful or

Q: What about tobacco and alcohol? Do you think they should be taxed to pay
for the health problems they cause?

P: Yes, definitely; I have been saying so for years. A recent study has
determined that the health costs of smoking cigarettes amounts to about $2
per pack, which I believe should be the minimum tax on cigarettes. Why
should the rest of society have to pay for the health problems of those
foolish enough to smoke, while the tobacco industry makes large profits on
this misery? The air pollution from smoking tobacco is also a problem,
especially in enclosed spaces. Fortunately the public is finally awakening
to this issue, and regulations are being instituted.

Q: You mentioned that fossil fuels are running out. What are we going to
use for energy in the future?

P: Much of our air pollution comes from the burning of fossil fuels; so we
need to be sparing and efficient in our use of them anyway, even while they
last. Conservation with these will also give us more time to develop the
alternative energy sources which will replace them. Solar energy from
direct sunlight is perhaps the cleanest, most long-lasting and dependable
energy we have. Already the technologies for turning solar radiation into
heat and electricity are beginning to improve, but we have far to go in
developing and using this technology. Eventually solar energy should be
able to power most homes, offices, and stores by providing heat and

Q: What about people who live near the Earth's poles where the sunlight is
limited and less intense in the winter?

P: Certainly more people will continue to live in the regions near the
equator, and very few people will try to exist in the frozen regions. Yet
even fairly high latitudes can still get sufficient solar energy if it is
well designed, and of course there are other alternatives for supplementing
it, such as water power, wind power, geothermal energy, and fuels from
plants and trees that can be farmed. The supply of coal apparently is going
to last longer than the oil and natural gas; so it can also provide a
transitional energy.

Q: But what about our automobiles and transportation systems?

P: These are going to require some adjustments of our habits, particularly
in North America where we depend on personal cars so much. I foresee a
combination of electric cars and rail transportation systems. The cars
would be small and efficient, because they would not have to travel at high
speeds nor carry much weight nor make long trips. The long trips and
freight would be taken by the trains.

Q: How would these cars be powered?

P: Primarily they would use solar energy, although this could be
supplemented if necessary by recharging the batteries from another power
source. The cars would have solar panels on their roofs and hoods, and even
while parked solar panels could be slid from the inside of the roof to the
front and back windows, serving to protect the inside of the car from the
sunlight and getting more energy at the same time. The cars would virtually
never miss any sunshine, either while being used or when parked.

Q: Would people still own their own cars?

P: People could experiment with different systems. Now of course most
automobiles are owned privately or by businesses, and people can hire taxis
or rent cars. Some communities might want to experiment with public cars
that would be available to everyone much in the same way as shopping carts
are used in markets. One would simply get into an available car and leave
it at one's destination, all within a local area of course. Or taxi drivers
could be hired to help people with their local trips. Cities and towns
would be well connected by rail systems, some of which might be very high
speed for long trips.

Q: What about bicycles? Aren't they more energy efficient?

P: Of course bicycles would be encouraged. The smaller and less dangerous
electric cars will be more compatible with bicycle riders on the local
streets. I foresee also three- and four-wheeled cars that can be
human-powered like bicycles for people who want the exercise and perhaps
have more to carry with them. Also a second and perhaps a third person
could also help pedal. Combination cars could be designed so that those who
want exercise could pedal whatever amount they wished.

copyright 1996 by Sanderson Beck

     This web page contains the first half of the book, THE FUTURE AND
     HOW: A Philosopher's Vision by Sanderson Beck, published as a
     6x9-inch quality paperback in March 1996 by Dorrance Publishing
     Co. The book includes an index of topics and topic headings on
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     Future and How

WORLD PEACE MOVEMENT Principles, Purposes, and Methods

BECK index