Dustcover: SELF CONTROL Not Gun Control


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SELF CONTROL Not Gun Control.


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SELF CONTROL Not Gun Control

Table of Contents

Introduction: SELF CONTROL Not Gun Control


Poem: Scorched Earth Policy

Okay, Let's License Guns Just Like Cars
Why Do People Fear Guns?
In Defense of the NRA
NRA and the Libertarian Party
Can You Handle Victory?
Putting Republican Feet to the Fire
Political Apologies
Gun Club to Gun Rights Author: No Guns Allowed!
Q&A on Civilian Gun Carrying
Letter to President Reagan on Gun Amnesty
50,000 Watts on Guns
When the Truth is Not in Vogue
More Bogus Science About Guns
Resisting a Carjacker
California Carry
Gun Owner Resistance
The Fallacy of Disarmament
When Should Gun Owners Revolt?
The Second Amendment and Militias
A Clarion Call!
An Open Reply to Representative Charles Schumer


Poem: The Last Mile

Natural Rights and Social Utility
The Social Contract
The Libertarian Insight
Who Would Build the Roads in A Libertarian Society?
Positive Liberty
Compulsory National Service
Ignoring the Framers
Virtual States
American Culture
Censorship and Hate Speech
The Semantics of Hate Speech
Symbolic Speech Versus Speech-as-Action
Taxing Slashers Doesn't Go With Slashing Taxes
The Citizen's Line Item Veto Proposition
A More Bulletproof Bill of Rights
Forcing the Spring
Evolution Versus Revolution
The Tenth Amendment War
How About Some Domestic Tranquility?
A Reply to (Sir Henry?) Clinton
The Dignity of Power
Nixon's Advice to a 1996 Presidential Candidate
No Right to "Just Say No"
The Drug Prohibition Epidemic
During the L.A. Riots
Is This A Case For Perry Mason?
An Argument on the Death Penalty
The Aliens Are Among Us
Willie Brown, Terrorist
The General Welfare


Poem: 15 to Life

The Meaning of Life
Why I Am Not A Jew And What I Am Instead
Thoughts on Individualism
New Age Thinking
The Philosophy of Neilism


Poem: An Economics Lesson

The Convertible Corporation: A Proposal
Economic Scandals
Two Documentary Proposals on Work and Productivity:

That Good Ole American Know How
Time Off The Clock


Poem: Virtual Hope

The New Literacies
Paperless Books
Letter To President Reagan on Space Policy
Deprogram Space
The Coming Golden Age


Poem: Chopped Liver Prose

The Biter's Manifesto
Political Parables
A Reader's Rudeness
Novels Versus Movies
Serious Literature: A Letter to The New York Times
Writing Fiction
There Are Two Sides To Every Review


Poem: A Non-Christian's Prayer to Christ

Afterword: Gunzo Journalism by Brad Linaweaver

About J. Neil Schulman

Begin Reading Introduction: SELF CONTROL Not Gun Control.

You are reader number

since March 28, 1998.



SELF CONTROL Not Gun Control

"Who controls the maze, controls the rat."
-Æsop, Li Quai Quat, Pavlov,
or "the lady who designed the downtown L.A. freeway interchange"

This is not a diet book.

Full disclosure requires that since the title of this book mentions self-control, I'd better get that idea out of the way right up front, because if this were a diet book, I'd honestly have to advise you against buying it.

With diet and exercise, I have successfully lost large amounts of fat several times in my life and kept it off for years at a time. But slowly, like some relentless force of gravity, the fat has managed to migrate back onto my body, and I am currently fatter than I am happy being.

But I am not fatter than I choose to be.

The word "diet"--if you trace its origin back to the Greek word diaita--literally means "manner of living." The profession I have chosen involves writing, reading, watching movies and TV, listening to music and talk radio, sitting in chairs listening to people speak, lecturing, and debating ideas--all of which exercise my mind a lot more than they exercise my body. These are not high-fat-burning activities. Therefore, any time I devote to the physical exercise of my body has to be stolen from time I'd otherwise be spending on doing the brain-oriented things I regularly do--not only as my means of producing income, but as the source of my intellectual passions and pleasures.

There are two purely physical activities, however, that I like even more than the intellectual ones I listed above: eating and sex. But, all other things being equal, eating good-tasting food makes you fat, and the ability--and opportunities--for having great sex varies directly as the ratio between the human body's muscle and fat.

I have consulted with a mathematician friend, Dafydd ab Hugh, and this can be stated as an equation:

[SIGMA] = F +( [mu] / [phi])

where SIGMA is Sex, F( ) is an increasing function, mu is muscle, and phi is fat.

This is the equation that rules my desire for the physical pleasures of life. Medieval theologians would say I am torn between the competing sins of gluttony and lust. Every mouthful of delicious food I eat puts me farther away from the opportunity for great sex with some hard-bodied goddess. Past a certain point, I find solace in eating more delicious food than my body can burn, and I get fatter. When I get sexually anxious enough to overcome my desire for food, I start eating spinach and trudging up the Stairmaster. I've been eating a lot of spinach of late.

The Stairmaster is an exercise device, usually found in health clubs, that allows you to climb stairs without ever reaching the top. It was invented by a man named John Harrington. I bet John got the idea by reading the stories of how King Eurystheus had to come up with twelve impossible tasks for Hercules to perform. If King Eurystheus had had a Stairmaster to put Hercules on, he could have skipped having Hercules clean out the Augean Stables.

Another common exercise device found in health clubs is a treadmill. This is a sidewalk that goes nowhere, and takes you forever to get there.

Then there are weights, and health clubs have various contraptions for lifting them. One expends great effort lifting things that, at the end of the efforts, are in exactly the same place they were when you started.

Have you detected the insanity here yet? Throughout human history, hard labor was necessary for survival. Nobody liked it but there it was. Now, a lot of us make our money by using our brains rather than our backs, so we get soft and fat, which is bad for us. So we go to places where we pay good money we earned with our brains to do hard physical work which produces no goods whatsoever.

Why has no one picked up on this? Instead of paying slave wages to migrant workers for picking grapes, grape growers should hire Teri Hatcher--the gorgeous Lois Lane on Lois & Clark--away from being the spokesmodel for Bally's Health Clubs. Teri could seduce us brain-workers into paying the grape-growers for the privilege of picking their grapes. The grape-growers would hire hard labor at a negative cost and we'd get hard bodies in return.

So this isn't a diet book.

My previous book, Stopping Power, was subtitled "Why 70 Million Americans Own Guns." It examined the ability of privately-owned firearms to produce individual freedom and individual security. This current book is going to follow the format of Stopping Power in that it's also a book I grew from articles and essays rather than a book I outlined in advance; but this book will "spray and pray" ideas full-auto rather than my more directed-fire last book.

About a third of this book deals directly with firearms-related topics. But unlike Stopping Power, this current volume doesn't contain a comprehensive treatment of the firearms issue.

So if that's what you're looking for, I'll direct your attention to my last book.

Stopping Power set out to prove that guns are instruments of power, and the people with guns are the people with power. If that power is used more by criminals and tyrants than by decent ordinary people, then you get a crime-ridden and tyrannical society. If that power is, alternatively, treasured and exercised by decent individuals to defend themselves from gangsters and powermongers, then freedom from crime and tyranny is the social result.

In contrast, SELF CONTROL Not Gun Control explores assorted issues which revolve around the uses and abuses of power. Because firearms are implements of power, some of the materials in this book must again deal with firearms; but much of it will deal instead with how power is exercised--either by individuals who wish to rule their own lives, or by other individuals who wish to rule their lives for them.

For that, in fact, is the primary political question in any society: if you can not, may not, or do not exercise the power to control your own life, someone else must and will.

Not all the explorations in this book are political or even ideological. Some questions which would naturally arise in any discussion of power relate to economics; so I have some articles on that; there are some pieces on how technology can empower us with new tools and frontiers; I've included some discussions of literary technique and values, since that is a kind of power with which I have had direct experience; and if you think I went out on a limb by telling everyone in the entertainment and publishing industries that I approve of guns, I'm going even farther out this time: I'm going to explain as precisely as I can what I think about God, religion, and the place of human beings in the ultimate scheme of things.

My friends who participate in organized religions, and my friends who are atheists, will both find reasons to distance themselves from me, as I find myself in that twilight zone of philosophical theology which used to be called "free thought."

In other words, while I believe in God, I don't believe in religion.

So why should I alienate friends on both sides of me?

Call it a form of flashing, if you wish; but I couldn't see putting together a book about the power of the individual without treating ultimate issues. Power relates to what we do. We can't have a comprehensive discussion of that without also getting into who and what we are.

Returning for the moment to a less lofty discussion of power, it's notable that proponents of government control over private guns wish always to bring the subject around to children. Their rhetoric always focuses on the tragedies that result when the ignorant or undisciplined among us--and children certainly are numerous there--misuse firearms. For their political purposes, advocates of government control over private guns are exactly right to do so.

But the difference between a child and a grown-up--and I am speaking personally as the father of a four-year-old girl--lies not in the child being any less passionate than the grown-up in the pursuit of her goals, but merely less practiced in the selection and achievement of them. Kids are born with an adult-sized willfulness. The job of growing up involves learning to harness that will to the better judgments of the brain and heart.

Our society does not handle the transition from childhood to adulthood well. Biological puberty makes us physical adults usually between ten and fifteen years old; our brains need a few years practice after the onset of physical maturity to be able to control reproductive impulses with any rationality; our current society passes out condoms to thirteen-year-olds but discourages marriage until they're thirty.

But the point is, the psychological difference between the child and adult is the relative ability of adults to control their own lives and negotiate various problems and dangers.

Let's solve the problem of children and guns right here, since it can be solved easily. Firearms--like automobiles, like matches, like pharmaceuticals, like rat poison--are safe and useful when used properly and dangerous and destructive when used improperly.

Some children can handle responsibility; some adults can't. The successful ability to make rational decisions about potential dangers is a function of an individual's natural gifts, the parenting skills with which they were raised, and their individual life experiences.

It's also a function of that ability we have to reinvent ourselves, which we can conveniently label free will.

Beyond the age of reason when the brain has completed its growth--which is around the age of seven--the rates at which individuals master assorted tasks vary. In emergencies, three-year-old human beings have punched 9-1-1 and called for help. Five-year-old human beings have saved their parents using CPR which they saw performed on television. Ten-year-olds have soloed as airplane pilots cross-country.

At seven-years-old, Mozart was composing symphonies, Sarah Chang was performing violin concertos, and Bobby Fischer was winning chess tournaments. Admittedly these are prodigies…but why should laws be written which hold the gifted among us to the lowest-common-denominator?

Our society's current practice of imposing uniform age standards on the transition from childhood to adulthood--in driving prohibitions, alcohol and tobacco prohibitions--is collectivist bigotry.

There are some children whom I would trust with a match or a gun without hesitation; there are some adults whom I would keep away from anything as dangerous as a can of hair spray.

In my novel, The Rainbow Cadenza, I portray a space habitat with a social contract called, simply, the Lease. The Lease says nothing more than that signatories agree to answer for any liabilities for their debts or damages to others. Any adult may sign it. The test for adulthood is the ability to read and understand the Lease. No one is required to sign the Lease--this is a libertarian society I'm portraying--but anyone who doesn't sign the Lease must either find someone to act as a legal guardian…or go somewhere else. In my imagined society, responsible adulthood is a matter of reason and choice; childhood ends when you are capable of ending it.

My friend, Dafydd ab Hugh, puts it more succinctly: if you can't be trusted with a gun, you need a keeper.

I do not believe this is a utopian goal. As a matter of fact, I see our current society's problems as a function of not understanding the differences between childhood and adulthood in its political decisions.

Statism in all its pathological variants--communism, fascism, Nazism--treats the government as a wise parent and its citizens as irresponsible children. The current term for this is infantalization. Paternalistic thinking is at the base of even the more moderate politics of the United States, though I have often remarked that the United States has two political parties: the Mommy Party and the Daddy Party.

The traditional Democratic Party--the "mommy" party--has wanted the government to take care of all our physical needs from cradle to grave, with government child care and education, welfare, social security, government health care, and government jobs--and plenty of government oversight for any remaining nominally-private activities.

The traditional Republican Party--the "daddy" party--expects us to pay our own way, but is more concerned with our moral upbringing: we must pray, avoid sex out of marriage, work hard, stay out of trouble--and there's hard punishment for anyone who disobeys.

Of the two philosophies, the Daddy Party's is less destructive to society, but both approaches still miss the point. You don't turn children into adults by shielding them from either economic or moral failure: you turn children into adults by letting them learn from their mistakes so deep down they know the reason for not doing it again.

Politicians are the most arrogant, self-important busybodies in the country. They honestly believe that if they don't solve a problem, it won't be solved. If there's a scarcity of something the public wants or needs--child care, Shakespeare in the Park, literacy, a colony on Mars--the private entrepreneur sees this as an opportunity to enter the market and provide it. The political entrepreneur in a legislature or executive mansion sees it as an opportunity to create a program--and starts by making it impossible for the private entrepreneur to compete with the government.

Gun control is at its essence a product of socialist thinking. It has all the earmarks of virulent statism. Gun-controllers don't want us to have guns because we--poor children--are too emotionally unstable and careless to handle them without shooting ourselves and our friends. Gun-controllers don't want us to have guns because in their view we're not supposed to protect ourselves: that's what the police are there for. Finally, gun controllers don't want us to have guns because they have been working hard for the last century to create a cradle-to-grave socialist utopia--and now that they have vast bureaucratic mechanisms running our lives, they're terrified that we might come to our senses and shoot the bastards who have enslaved us.

They are right to be afraid. That's what the guns are for.

Not that arrogant tyrants don't deserve being shot for subverting the American Dream, but it's a damn sight less messy to overthrow statism in the voting booth than it is in urban guerrilla warfare. So Congressman Charles Schumer won't have the opportunity to accuse me of encouraging armed rebellion: I advocate working peacefully within the system so long as we have free speech, free elections, and occasional redress of grievances.

But I'm still going to hold onto my guns in case the statists get one percent more arrogant and decide to do away with free speech or free elections, too--for our own good, of course.

Under those circumstances, Congressman Schumer--the circumstances of King George III's America, Stalin's Russia, Hitler's Germany, Castro's Cuba--I would not hesitate to use my guns to overthrow the government by force.

We must make a fundamental choice about how we want to live in this country. We can have a country of self-reliant grown-ups who are free to succeed or fail--and to pick themselves up after failure to try again. In practice this means letting us decide for ourselves what drugs we want to take, what speed we want to drive and whether or not to strap in, how we want to educate our children, what weapons we carry for defense.

Or, we can live wearing political swaddling in a society that makes drugs forbidden fruit, diverts cops from catching carjackers so they can give out speeding tickets, convinces children that teachers are their jailers, and shows by our intolerably high violent crime rate that only suckers obey gun laws.

The difference between children and grown-ups is that children are not yet competent to run their own lives; grow-ups can and must be. We destroy the innocence and beauty of childhood if it has no end. We destroy the meaning and pleasures of adulthood if we do not have the independence to control ourselves.

Go to The Politics of Gun Control.

Return to Table of Contents.


The Politics of Gun Control

Scorched Earth Policy

It was an ad in the real-estate section.
For sale by owner.
Five bedroom, three bathroom house.
Family and dining rooms, all new appliances.
Three-car garage and large back yard.
Owners motivated to sell.
Fifty thousand pints of blood or best offer.

Well, why not?
Isn't that how we do it?
Dracula must cry
at all the blood ruined by dirt
and because of it.

I can see that some places
might be worth fighting over.
Niagara falls might be worth a few thousand pints.
I might donate a couple of pints myself
for the Grand Canyon.

But why is it
that some deserts
are worth baptizing?

I've seen sand.
When you've seen one dune
you've seen them all.
Cactus isn't that pretty a plant
and I wouldn't take a bus for a camel.

And why is it
that the real-estate they fight over
in Ulster
has the charm of the Bronx?

And Bosnia.
Jesus, Bosnia.
I've seen pictures.
What's left to fight over
isn't worth fighting over.

There is something insane about
variable interest rates
figured in hemoglobin.

So let's play Klaatu.
I'll be Gort.
Solomon would like this, too.
It's a rule from now on.
If you can't play with your toys nicely
You just can't have them.

You fight over land
You spill blood there
You say it's so holy you'll kill for it.

We say:
You have a week.
Get the family pictures
Fill up the pick-up.
Don't forget the dog.
Cause it won't be there after Sunday.

You fight over it,
we'll make it glow in the dark.
You'd better have snapshots
Cause it won't be there Monday.

These things are so simple
if we're serious about ending it.

But if it doesn't happen
Then maybe
just maybe
It isn't about land
But about what we do
for fun?

February 6, 1995


Presented to the 1995 Virtual Gun Rights Conference as a white paper.

Okay, Let's License Guns Just Like Cars

How many times have you heard gun-control advocates argue that it's ridiculous just anyone can buy a gun without a license in most states, considering you need to register your car and get a driver's license?

Further, the argument goes, guns should be registered and licensed the way cars are because while it's true that cars are involved in about 50,000 accidental deaths a year in the United States and firearms in only around 1,500 accidental deaths, guns are used in around 15,000 homicides a year and another 15,000 or so suicides.

Of course this comparison leaves out how many automobile fatalities are actually suicides. Police accident reports have no good way of knowing how many single-driver or opposing-traffic crash fatalities are suicides. An autopsy showing blood alcohol or drugs won't necessarily tell you it was an accident because wouldn't you get stoned if you planned to kill yourself in a car crash?

But the final argument to register guns and license gun owners is always the same. Unlike cars, we are repeatedly told, guns have only one purpose--to kill.

Forget for a moment that the best criminology shows guns being used two-to-three times more often in defense against a crime than guns being used to commit a crime; and forget that the overwhelming number of these gun defenses occur without the trigger ever having to be pulled. Let's also forget that 99.6% of the guns in this country will never shoot anyone.

For the moment, let's just pretend that there is some reason behind the argument that guns should be licensed and registered like cars.

If we're going to take that argument seriously, then let's enact the same standards for owning and operating a firearm in the United States as are actually in use for owning and operating a motor vehicle.

Comparing Manufacture, Ownership Registration, and Enforcement

To begin with, anyone in the United States may own a motor vehicle without a license. You can be living on death row in your state's maximum-security prison and still hold title to a motor vehicle.

But under federal law, no convicted felon, or dishonorably discharged veteran, or a person addicted to alcohol or a controlled substance, may own a firearm; and there are additional restrictions on possession of firearms by persons under a court restraining order.

If we're going to treat ownership of firearms the way we treat ownership of motor vehicles, we're going to have to repeal these firearms laws.

There are no restrictions whatsoever on what sort of motor vehicle anyone may own. Anyone of any age may buy or own an automobile, or an eighteen-wheeler, or a motorcycle, without restriction. You can own a car that looks like a hot dog, if you feel like it.

But there are both federal and state restrictions on the ownership of various types of firearms, or even parts for them. Restrictions include operational capacities, accessories, or mere appearance. Laws restrict the sale or ownership of fully-automatic firearms; similar restrictions affect some magazine-loading but non-automatic firearms. Other laws restrict rifles with pistol grips or bayonet mounts or flash suppressers. Federal restrictions forbid the sale of ammunition magazines that hold more than ten rounds. There are laws against rifles or shotguns with too short a barrel, and restrictions on owning firearms which are made to look like anything else, such as a wallet.

If we treated ownership of firearms the way we treat ownership of motor vehicles, we'd have to repeal these sorts of laws.

One need not register any motor vehicle unless one operates it on public roads. In some states, the registration of a motor vehicle need not be in the actual name of an owner but may be registered under a fictitious or business name. One may own and possess an automobile even if one lives in public housing. There are no laws requiring that automobiles be kept in locked garages or specifically penalizing parents if their children gain access to an unlocked garage and operate the vehicle, causing harm. There is no restriction on the ownership or possession of motor vehicles in Washington D.C., Chicago, Detroit, New York, or other major cities; nor any requirement that motor vehicles be kept disassembled and locked up or unfueled, unavailable for immediate use.

In cities such as Washington D.C. and New York, numerous prohibitions, restrictions, and requirements are made in the possession of firearms. In Washington D.C. and elsewhere, if you're allowed to own a firearm at all, you must keep it locked up, unloaded, and disassembled, even in your own house. In some public housing projects where the police are rare, poverty-stricken residents must surrender all rights to possess firearms for self-protection. In California and elsewhere, a parent who keeps a loaded or unlocked firearm for protection, even if well-hidden, risks special penalties if a child finds it and causes harm with it.

If we treat ownership of firearms the way we treat ownership of motor vehicles, we must repeal these firearms laws.

There is no waiting period or background check necessary for the purchase of any motor vehicle. There is no restriction on the size, power, or seating capacity of the motor vehicles one may legally purchase. No one passed laws making it illegal to lower the noise-making capacity of a motor vehicle; to the contrary, laws require that motor vehicles not violate noise-pollution statutes. There are few or no restrictions forbidding automobile ownership by ex-cons, or convicts on probation, or parolees, or individuals under court restraining orders, or even registered sex offenders--not to mention so-called deadbeat dads. Even persons convicted of vehicular homicide may usually still legally hold title to an automobile.

But there is a waiting period to purchase a firearm in many states, ranging from the five days mandated by the federal Brady Law, to some states or cities where the background check can take many months to process. Background checks often block the purchase of a firearm by someone whose only crime is that she has an unpaid traffic ticket or that he's behind on his child support, or someone is subject to a restraining order obtained as a legal maneuver in a divorce. Often the license allows just one firearm of a type selected by a police official, and also restricts the times, places, and purposes for which one may possess that single firearm. There are laws forbidding the installation of silencers on firearms which would allow them to be fired quietly during target practice, with the result that damage to hearing--even with ear protectors--is common.

If we treat ownership of firearms the way we treat ownership of motor vehicles, we must repeal these restrictive firearms laws.

There is no federal license needed to manufacture a motor vehicle; nor is the possession of parts with which one can manufacture a motor vehicle subject to federal, state, or local laws. The federal government does not raid the homes of its citizens looking for parts that could be used in the unlicensed manufacture of motor vehicles. Kids can make or modify motor vehicles in their back yards, driveways, or in school auto shops with help from their teachers.

In contrast, manufacture of any firearm requires a federal license requiring fingerprints, an FBI background check, oaths and warrants, and significant license fees. Both federal and state authorities have harassed both licensed dealers and noncommercial sellers suspected of paperwork or technical violations; and sting operations have entrapped individuals. Authorities induced backwoodsman Randy Weaver into sawing a shotgun barrel shorter than the legal limit, and attempted to make him miss a court appearance for this violation by changing his court date without notice; his failure to appear resulted in a violent confrontation between this previously law-abiding man and federal authorities. The confrontation resulted in the death of a federal officer and of Weaver's wife Vicki, who was shot--standing unarmed while holding an infant--by an FBI Hostage Rescue Team sharpshooter only 200 yards away.

At Waco, Texas, an armed assault by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms on the Christian Branch Davidians resulted in a firefight which led to the immediate deaths of seven civilians and four federal agents, and the later deaths of over 80 previously law-abiding men, women, and children; the warrant which authorized this raid was that the Davidians were suspected of possessing parts which would have enabled the conversion of a magazine-fed but non-automatic rifle into a full-auto rifle that--if the federal tax had been paid--would have been legal to own in the state of Texas, anyway.

In numerous cases, acting on nothing more than anonymous tips, federal officers have staged raids on gun-owners' homes, destroying their property, terrorizing their families, confiscating valuable gun collections later determined to be perfectly legal, and even killing their pets. No compensation has ever been made to victims of these gestapo-like raids.

If we treat ownership of firearms the way we treat ownership of motor vehicles, we must repeal these confusing laws and disband federal police agencies involved in these sorts of operations.

There is no requirement that a motor vehicle be purchased from a licensed dealership. There is no federal licensing of motor vehicle dealers, and no federal bureau with police powers allowing regular inspection of dealer's sales records without a warrant.

In some states, including California, all purchases of firearms must be made from federally-licensed dealers. All federally licensed firearms dealers must allow the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms a yearly inspection of their dealer-record-of-sales forms. ATF agents have been known to use these occasions for general searches or even theft of any other paperwork they find interesting, without obtaining a search warrant meeting constitutional requirements. The Bill of Rights forbids general searches and requires officers, if they wish a search warrant, to make sworn affidavits stating with specificity what they are looking for and what crime it is evidence of.

If we treat ownership of firearms the way we treat ownership of motor vehicles, we must repeal these firearms laws, and forbid such unconstitutional searches.

Anyone can purchase a motor vehicle by mail, or across state lines. There is no restriction onthe number of motor vehicles one may own, or any restrictions on the number of motor vehicles one may buy in a month.

It is illegal to purchase a firearm by mail or from a seller in another state unless one holds a federal dealer's license or such purchase meets legal purchase requirements in both states. Some states, such as Virginia, forbid the purchase of more than one firearm per month.

If we treat ownership of firearms the way we treat ownership of motor vehicles, we must repeal these laws.

Comparing Licensing

One does not need any license to be in possession of any motor vehicle anywhere in the United States of America. There are no requirements that a motor vehicle be kept locked up and in non-operational condition as a requirement of legally transporting one. There are no laws requiring cars to be stored in locked garages, or otherwise made inaccessible to their owners. Students who drive may drive their cars to school and park them on school property if such parking is available.

In many cities and states, it is illegal for a private individual--and often even a sworn police officer who is off-duty--to be in personal possession of a firearm in operational condition--that is, loaded and without a trigger guard--or in possession of even an unloaded firearm if it is concealed or not deliberately rendered inaccessible to its owner; or to keep even an unloaded firearm in the trunk of one's car or concealed on one's person.

If we treat ownership of firearms the way we treat ownership of motor vehicles, we must repeal these firearms laws.

There are no restrictions on the operation of motor vehicles on private property, with the owner's permission, anywhere in the United States. A child may legally operate a motor vehicle on private property with no license required. The only licensing requirements in any state are in the event that one is going to operate that motor vehicle on public streets or highways, in which case one must qualify for and carry an operator's license.

In many states or cities it is impossible for a private individual to legally possess a firearm on public streets at all; and the use of a firearm, even in cases of legal self-defense or protection of the lives of others, often results in prosecution on firearms charges. Bernhard Goetz, acquitted by a jury for shooting young punks on a subway whom he had good reason to believe were attempting to mug him, was convicted and served jail time for possessing the firearm he used to defend himself. There are additional restrictions on the possession of firearms by minors, even with their parents' permission, under conditions where such possession would be for a legally-permissible purpose. In addition to other criminal penalties, students possessing a firearm, or a toy gun, or even empty ammunition casings on school property are suspended or expelled.

If we treat ownership of firearms the way we treat ownership of motor vehicles, we must repeal these firearms laws against possession and legitimate use of firearms.

Training for operating a motor vehicle is part of the curriculum at public high schools. There are also private operator's schools in every neighborhood, without zoning restrictions. In many states one may get a learner's permit to operate a motor vehicle on public roads as young as age 14, and an operator's license as young as 16. At 18 one can get an unrestricted operator's license. Additional tests allow one to operate 2-wheeled vehicles and 18-wheel vehicles. The test for an operator's license measures one's knowledge and proficiency in the safe operation of a motor vehicle. You do not have to convince anyone that you have a need for the license. Once you've demonstrated competency at a level that almost anyone can satisfy, the state has no discretion in refusing you an operator's license. Except for convicted violators allowed restricted driving privileges, any state's license for operating a motor vehicle is good in all places throughout the state, at all times, and every state's license is recognized by every other state. The license is good for operating all motor vehicles of that class, not just motor vehicles which one owns.

In those states where it is possible to obtain a license to carry a gun at all, such licenses are often at police discretion, and handed out as payoffs to political cronies. The licensing procedure is often burdensome, invasive of privacy, time-consuming, and expensive. In some states the possession of a carry license is a matter of public record which can be reported in the news. Often licensing is blatantly discriminatory against women and minorities. Often the license has severe restrictions as to time and place that one may carry the firearm, and limits the carrying to only specified firearms. Usually the license is not recognized by other states and a person carrying a firearm under another state's license is prosecuted as if they were not licensed at all. In Los Angeles, actor Wesley Snipes was arrested for carrying a gun; Snipes was licensed to carry in Florida but was charged anyway. Even in states, such as Florida, which make issuance of licenses mandatory to qualified applicants, there are numerous restrictions on the places into which one is permitted to carry the firearm, resulting in accidental violations of law and suspensions of licenses. One must be twenty-one to obtain a license to carry a firearm in most states; and federal law severely restricts possession of firearms by individuals under eighteen, even with their parent's consent. Firearms training in schools is a rarity, with the result that those minors in possession of firearms--even if they have legitimate fear for their lives--are both penalized for carrying them and often left unqualified, by lack of available training, to possess or operate them in a safe or disciplined manner.

If we treat ownership of firearms the way we treat ownership of motor vehicles, we must rewrite these carry laws to remove these burdens and restrictions, and make training more available.

You may, with your motor vehicle operator's license, rent a motor vehicle when your motor vehicle is unavailable--such as upon arrival at an airport in a city one is visiting.

There is certainly no Hertz Rent-a-Gun at every airport.

Now, shall we place exactly the same restrictions on the manufacture, vending, purchase, ownership, and operation of firearms that we currently place on automobiles?

The laws regarding motor vehicles in our society, while not perfect, at least recognize these common devices as serving the legitimate purposes of large numbers of the population. Lawmakers have at least tried to see that the laws governing automobile ownership and operation do little more than serve basic public requirements, such as revenue and encouraging proper training and safety awareness. Ordinary motorists, while perhaps overburdened themselves, at least aren't penalized for thinking they have a need to keep a working car with them. Punishments in our society are reserved for those who misuse motor vehicles, not those who use them as they were intended.

Contrariwise, the laws regarding firearms in our society always seem to place the burden of proof on any private person to demonstrate to some public servant a need to own or possess a firearm. Restrictions disarm the public in places where there is increased danger of violence-precisely where one might need to defend oneself.

It is true that, for most of us, guns aren't as useful on a daily basis as cars. Looked at with a micro perspective, you could carry a gun for years before finding it needful; a gun kept for protective purposes is more like a fire extinguisher than a car. You might never need it; but when you do, having it can prevent tragedy.

Looked at with a macro view, existing research shows that one of your neighbors uses a firearm every thirteen seconds or so preventing just that sort of tragedy, and that using a gun for defense against an assault or robbery attempt is twice as likely to keep you unharmed than either not resisting at all or attempting any other form of resistance.

Yet, for a person not either engaged in a life of crime or professionally confronting criminals, it is the very unlikeliness of needing the gun that fosters our problems with them. If more ordinary people carried guns more regularly, more of us would be familiar with them, education in them would be as common as for cars, and we'd see more stories on the news about how one of our fellow citizens was Joanie-on-the-spot with her gun when some psychopath decided to turn her lunch break into a murder spree.

The protection of your life, property, family, and community…hunting game…shooting sports…and training of the young in arms…these are all well-established in our nation's customs, the Declaration of Independence, our Bill of Rights, federal legislation, and various state constitutions and laws. Unlike laws treating motor vehicles, our firearms laws are a patchwork quilt of taxes, burdens, regulations, conditions, invasions of privacy, and outright prohibitions, all expressing the mentality that only persons of political privilege may possess means to use deadly force if the need arises. Gun control advocates demand a "national gun policy," but their demands are only for increases in gun restrictions in places that don't currently have them; they are unwilling to unify laws in such a way that local violations of firearms rights are preempted by federal laws.

So, by all means, let's start immediately rewriting the laws in this country so that the ownership, possession, and use of guns are as fair and even-handed as laws governing cars. Maybe more people will then keep guns with them when they're needed, and criminals with guns will no longer operate with the guarantee of a disarmed public to prey upon.

Honest gun-control advocates should be delighted at this prospect. They just might get precisely what they've asked for.

Go to The Politics of Self Control.

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The Politics of Self Control

A More Bulletproof Bill of Rights

I've heard two good objections to tampering with the Bill of Rights, even to make it stronger.

The first is that we don't have the likes of James Madison and George Mason around any more, so any attempt to do any wholesale revisions on the Constitution of the United States will be done by people whose basic philosophy isn't thoroughly grounded in the principles of liberty.

The second good objection I've heard is that the Constitution of the United States is a minimalist document that states broad principles--and if you don't have good enough people to apply those principles in the first place, rewriting the constitutional protections to make them less abstract and more explicit won't do any good anyway.

So I'll agree that perhaps the following exercise in strengthening the Bill of Rights shouldn't be taken literally.

But I do think that using this as a commentary on the original purposes of the Bill of Rights, might be useful to bring to it a couple of centuries practical experience in how judges and politicians can twist things away from their original intent. --JNS

Proposed New Preamble

Derived from the Declaration of Independence and the Virginia Declaration of Rights.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Individuals are by nature free and independent, and have certain inalienable rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty; acquiring, possessing, and protecting property; and pursuing and obtaining safety, happiness, and privacy. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly, all experience has shown that humankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.

To avoid another bloody revolution or civil war, these revised amendments for the Constitution of the United States are proposed to strengthen the Bill of Rights adopted in 1792 so that the people will not have to once again take up arms to fight to regain liberties lost in the last two centuries.

Accordingly, upon adoption of these articles of amendment, all Individuals within the United States and its territories and possessions, and those of its citizens abroad, are hereby declared to hold the following Rights, and all laws within the jurisdiction of the United States or the several states which are repugnant to these Rights are immediately null and void.

Amendment 1

The amendment currently reads:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Article 1 of the Amendments to the Constitution of the United States would be replaced by the following article:

All Individuals have the right to be free from laws respecting an establishment of religion or taxing or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or taxing or abridging freedom of speech, or of the press, or of communication public or private; or peaceably to assemble in the commons, or to petition the Government for a redress of grievances; or to travel freely domestically or abroad; yet none of these freedoms shall be taken as an immunity to invade the private life, liberty, or property of any individual not holding government office. These being among the most fundamental human rights which enable the existence of a free and just society, any public official who violates these rights shall be guilty of a felony with a mandatory minimum sentence of one year and a day in prison with no possibility of probation or parole.

Amendment 2

The amendment currently reads:

A well-regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.

Article 2 of the Amendments to the Constitution of the United States would be replaced by the following article:

Section 1

The Right of all Individuals to keep, own, and carry, openly or concealed, any arms conceivably suitable for defense of themselves, their kin, their loved ones and friends, their neighbors, the public peace, or their state, shall not be called into question in any place in the United States, except for those persons being held to answer for an infamous crime or those who, having been convicted of an infamous crime have had restrictions placed on their liberty as a consequence of their representing a continued danger to the public, or in places where such persons may be imprisoned. Nor, other than requirements that may be enacted for training of the Militia, shall the government place any burdens on the acquisition, possession, or ownership of arms. Nor shall privately owned arms be enumerated or registered with any authority by force of law. Nor shall any taxes, tariffs, fees, or regulations be placed on the manufacture of or trade in personal or militia arms. Nor shall any Individual be held criminally or civilly liable for any reasonable act in defense of life, liberty, property, or the public peace. Nor shall any sworn police or peace officer have any greater Rights or powers than those enjoyed by any other law-abiding Individual. These being among the most fundamental human rights which enable the existence of a free and just society, any public official who violates these rights shall be guilty of a felony with a mandatory minimum sentence of one year and a day in prison with no possibility of probation or parole.

Section 2

A large standing Army being repugnant to the people's Liberty and creating a likelihood of foreign military adventures, and public liberty and security being predicated on the ability of Individuals to act on behalf of their liberties and personal safety, a popular Militia is the natural defense of a Free Society, and posse comitatus drawn from such Militia is the best protector of public order and safety; however, sense of duty naturally arising from an Individual's free exercise of his moral conscience, no Individual who conscientiously objects to service in the military or organized Militia shall be required to bear arms.

Amendment 3

Article 3 of the Amendments would remain unchanged and continue to read:

No soldier shall, in time of peace, be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner; nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Amendment 4

The amendment currently reads:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Article 4 of the Amendments to the Constitution of the United States would be replaced by the following article:

Section 1

The right of all Individuals to be secure in their persons, houses, documents, files, private communications, and effects shall not be violated, nor any warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, by a Grand Jury elected yearly by the People, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the Individuals or things to be seized, and if such Warrant shall have come about by perjury, malice, manufacture of false evidence, or malfeasance by any Individual, such Individual shall be held to answer, criminally and civilly, for such malfeasance, and Individuals not charged shall be compensated in full from public funds for any costs or damages resulting from such a search, seizure, charges, or trial resulting therefrom. These being among the most fundamental human rights which enable the existence of a free and just society, any public official who violates these rights shall be guilty of a felony with a mandatory minimum sentence of one year and a day in prison with no possibility of probation or parole.

Section 2

No Individual in the United States may be denied or have abridged by law, public, or official act, any Right, privilege, or immunity held by the people as a whole; and any official, elected, appointed, or otherwise receiving remuneration from public funds, who violates the least of these Rights, even to proposing or supporting a law that would violate the Rights set forth in this Constitution, shall be held personally liable, criminally or civilly, for any damage or dishonor against any or all citizens of the United States or of any state; and upon conviction of criminal violation of a citizen's rights may as part of punishment be further barred from holding any office or position of public trust within the United States thereafter.

Section 3

Any citizen of the United States or of any state may petition a Grand Jury to bring criminal charges against any public official he believes has violated his Rights; and if the person who might be charged sits upon that Grand Jury, that Grand Juror shall be recused and the charges considered by the remaining Grand Jurors.

Section 4

Charges against any government official which, if conducted by a foreign government at war with the United States, would be regarded as atrocities or war crimes shall be tried under the dictum of the Nuremberg War Crimes trials that following orders in the commission of such a crime is no defense.

Section 5

In any case where the life of any individual shall be lost as a direct consequence of an operation conducted by officials of the United States government, or of the several states or any subdivision thereof, a Grand Jury shall automatically convene a criminal investigation of the officials responsible, and no additional tax-derived funds may be used for the defense of any individual indicted as a result of such investigation than would be available to any private individual under criminal indictment.

Section 6

No law shall exist whose purpose is to prevent an adult Individual from causing harm solely to himself or his own property, nor conversely from seeking to enhance his own health or well-being by chemical, medical, herbal, physical, or other means; nor shall the possession of medicinal substances, herbs, or materials used in growing or preparation of them be prohibited or burdened; nor shall the practice of medicine, or of the law, or of any other Profession or livelihood be licensed or regulated by the United States or any state or subdivisions thereof; nor shall any private and discreet religious, economic, or sexual practice solely between or among consenting adults be a subject of law.

Section 7

No law shall exist in the United States that shall prohibit the termination of a pregnancy except that the fetus be healthy and viable apart from its mother's womb and there exists an Individual capable of and committed to the adoption of the fetus when born and to assume all costs of support for the mother through the birth of the child, any costs relating to the birth, any costs of care for the mother and any of her other dependent children resulting from the continuation of the pregnancy to term, and burdens of parenthood for the fetus when born, in which case an abortion of such a fetus shall be tried as homicide; but in the event that no qualified person has committed to all these costs and responsibilities, then no criminal or civil charges for the abortion of even a viable and healthy fetus shall be permitted.

Section 8

No tax shall be levied by the United States or by any governmental entity within them for the purpose of penalizing or limiting any legal act or the use of any legal product or for the purpose of haranguing the people with respect to their personal habits and private pursuits; nor shall taxation be used to finance any activity which is pursuable by private individuals or private institutions; nor shall any Individual be taxed to pay for his own future wants or those of his fellow citizens when private savings, pensions or insurance exist to serve those ends; nor shall any tax exist on wages, interest, incomes, profits, or capital gains; nor shall any tax be levied without the majority of the people voting in a direct referendum; and furthermore no tax may be levied except that it is to be used for a specific public purpose and no revenue raised for one purpose may be used for another without the majority of the people voting in a direct referendum; and no tax may be enacted such that it requires burdensome accounting or is ambiguous in its requirements or requires professional assistance to understand or comply with it; and if any Individual may show that they paid more than one-fifth of their yearly income in taxes they shall be forgiven all other tax demands in that year and any excess payments shall be returned; nor shall any Individual suffer any criminal penalty for failure to pay a tax or evasion thereof.

Section 9

In all tax cases or other civil cases in which the government shall be a plaintiff against a private individual or private property, all protections accorded to a defendant in a criminal proceeding shall be afforded to the defendant or property owner; neither shall there be any civil forfeiture of private property to the government except after judgment in a jury trial.

Section 10

The government may neither operate any enterprise in competition with a private enterprise; nor by grant of monopoly, subsidy, or other advantage to a private enterprise discourage free competition in any service or product offered to the public; nor prohibit or burden any private enterprise which would provide a service or product previously offered by a unit of government or enjoying an advantage due to government privilege.

Section 11

No law shall prohibit any Individual from using as a medium of exchange any legal commodity, nor require any Individual to accept any note as legal tender, nor shall the United States or any state issue any currency not backed by a commodity in its treasury, nor shall the United States, any state or any of its subdivisions contract a bond or debt mortgaged upon the government's ability to collect future revenues except in time of war or public disaster.

Amendment 5

The amendment currently reads:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous, crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service, in Time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence, to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case, to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Article 5 of the Amendments to the Constitution of the United States would be replaced by the following article:

Section 1

No Individual shall be held to answer for a capital or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury elected yearly by the People, except in cases arising in the military or the Militia when in actual service in time of war or public danger. Nor shall any act be a crime in which it can not be proved that one or more actual Individuals was caused harm or could likely have been caused harm. Nor shall any Individual be held to answer as an adult for a capital or otherwise infamous crime who has not enjoyed the full rights, privileges, and immunities of an adult. Nor shall any Individual be subject to charges arising from the same act or set of facts to be twice put in jeopardy of life, limb, or loss of property after an acquittal or failure of a Jury in a criminal trial to reach a conviction, and a different name to the charges, or a different court, shall not be used to circumvent this prohibition. Nor shall anyone be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself or supply evidence against himself to the prosecution, but this prohibition shall not apply, following criminal conviction, from a civil case arising from the same set of facts. Nor shall any Individual be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. Nor shall any witness compelled to testify in a criminal case be forced to suffer dangers, loss of privacy, or public indignities as a consequence of their compelled appearance in open court.

Section 2

No private property shall be taken for public use without full and just compensation, upon a vote of two-thirds of those voting in a popular referendum and for no other purpose than a clear and present danger to the people of the United States or equally grave public purpose. Neither the United States nor any state or its subdivisions may have title to real property, nor may the government demand public use of private property, with the exception of rights of way necessary to the public's right to travel and engage in free commerce and recreation, national cemeteries, embassies and consular offices. The devolution of public property into private ownership shall balance the public interest with the conservative advantages of private stewardship.

Amendment 6

The amendment currently reads:

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law; and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining Witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defence.

Article 6 of the Amendments to the Constitution of the United States would be replaced by the following article:

Section 1

In all criminal prosecutions the accused shall enjoy the Right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury of the district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law; and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of competent and energetic Counsel for his defense.

Section 2

The standard for conviction in all criminal trials shall be proof beyond a reasonable doubt. If a jury shall conclude after its deliberations that the prosecution has failed this burden, they may enter a verdict of "Not proven" and the Defendant shall go free. But if a jury is further convinced that the innocence of a Defendant has been proved, they may return a verdict of "Innocent." A Defendant judged innocent shall, in addition to freedom, be entitled to have the costs of his legal defense paid for by public funds; shall be entitled to damages due to loss of liberty and livelihood; damages from any person presenting or conspiring to present perjured testimony or maliciously presenting or conspiring to contrive false evidence; and a Defendant judged innocent may further seek damages for libel or slander against any public official, journalist, broadcaster, or media outlet who damaged or continues to damage his good name with unproved accusations, whether malice was present or not.

Section 3

In all criminal prosecutions and civil matters each jury shall be selected from a pool of rational citizens, excluding anyone who has been within the last seven years a public official or government employee or who has within seven years practiced law as a profession, who have demonstrated in their lives common sense, courage, a knowledge of the law in general and of the issues of the specific crimes being charged or issues being litigated, and shall be of a sufficient moral stature to overcome any preconceptions or prejudices that may have arisen in their minds from public discussion of the case prior to the commencement of trial. Each jury shall have the power to rule both upon the facts of the case and to nullify any charge or law for that case they consider to be unjust, and shall not be bound to the precedents established in any prior case. The judge for each trial shall be elected by the jury and no fact or issue of law shall be considered except in open court with the full jury present. No jury shall be sequestered except by a majority vote of its members. A jury shall adopt its own rules for deliberations and jurors may inquire directly of attorneys and witnesses, call their own witnesses, and consult scholars, in order to inform themselves of the true facts and apply the law equitably. Jurors shall be compensated from public funds in a sufficient amount to compensate them for the loss of time from their regular livelihoods. The judge in the trial may declare a mistrial upon discovery of misconduct by any juror, and any juror engaging in misconduct may be held both civilly and criminally liable.

Section 4

No magistrate may impose a punishment upon any Individual for Contempt of Court except by presentment or indictment by a Grand Jury and conviction on the charge in a criminal trial by Jury.

Amendment 7

The amendment currently reads:

In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common Law.

Article 7 of the Amendments to the Constitution of the United States would be replaced by the following article:

Section 1

In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed five troy ounces of .999 fine gold, the Right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury shall be otherwise reexamined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Section 2

A prevailing Plaintiff in any civil suit shall be entitled, in addition to any damages received, to require the Defendant to pay court costs, attorney's fees, and other costs associated with pursuing equity. A prevailing Defendant in any civil suit shall be entitled to require the Defendant to pay court costs, attorney's fees, and other costs associated with defending the suit, and if prosecution was malicious, equitable punitive damages.

Section 3

No person or company selling a consumer product shall be held criminally or civilly liable for damages caused by use of that product where either it was criminal misuse or an unwise or unintended use of the product which was responsible for the damages; and vicarious liability of a producer or seller of a consumer product shall be allowed only in those cases where a producer or seller was aware of a possible danger from the intended use of that product and failed to make a reasonable attempt to warn consumers of that danger.

Section 4

No law, treaty or contract shall exist in the United States unless written in plain language understandable to an Individual of average intelligence and literacy; and all laws and treaties under consideration in any deliberative governmental body shall be made available free for examination to all citizens of the United States; nor shall any law or treaty be enacted that is of such excessive length, or which has been so recently drafted, that the public has not had time to contemplate its effects.

Amendment 8

The amendment currently reads:

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Article 8 of the Amendments to the Constitution of the United States would be replaced by the following article:

Section 1

Excessive bail shall not be required, but if an individual charged with a crime shall be judged from evidence and testimony presented to obtain indictment to represent a pretrial threat to the safety of any other person such that complete liberty would be imprudently granted, then bail may be denied. If a non-convicted defendant shall be denied bail or is not able to raise bail, then only those specific restrictions on the comfort, privacy, and liberty of such a non-convicted defendant which are necessary to public safety shall be permitted. If any lesser form of restricted liberty other than pretrial jailing may bind a defendant for trial without endangering the safety of others, it shall be used instead.

Section 2

Neither excessive fines shall be imposed nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted, nor shall retaliation be the primary purpose of criminal law except that it seeks redress on behalf of victims for harms caused by a criminal act and acts to bar dangerous individuals from inflicting further harms on the innocent.

Section 3

Execution as a penalty shall be imposed in the United States only for the crime of Capital Murder with the circumstances of gratuitous cruelty or multiple victims, where an Individual so convicted was capable of and is proved to have had the specific and premeditated intent to cause the death of some innocent victim, and where in the jury's deliberations none of the jurors expressed any belief in the Defendant's actual innocence. Upon petition to the sentencing authority, a kin or designated heir of the victim may be granted the right to perform the execution in place of a public official; but in the absence of such a petition, a convicted murderer awaiting execution shall be afforded the right, upon a personal appearance before the sentencing authority to make such a request, to have the execution performed immediately or, alternatively, to be afforded the means to commit painless suicide. Any convicted murderer sentenced to life imprisonment with no possibility of parole shall likewise be afforded the right, upon a personal appearance before the sentencing authority to make such a request, to be executed in lieu of life imprisonment or, alternatively, to be afforded the means to commit painless suicide.

Section 4

All Capital Murder convictions resulting in a sentence of execution shall be automatically, immediately, and directly appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States, which must confirm the conviction, the sentence, and the date set for execution. Thereafter, the only basis for a stay of any death sentence, or a request for a new trial, shall be the revelation of a previously unavailable witness or exculpatory evidence or sworn testimony unavailable or concealed at the time of the trial, which speaks to the actual innocence of the Individual under sentence of death.

Amendment 9

The amendment currently reads:

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Article 9 of the Amendments to the Constitution of the United States would be replaced by the following article:

Section 1

The enumeration in this Constitution of certain Rights shall never be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the People; notwithstanding, nothing here shall be constructed to prevent additional limitations on public power to enhance the protection of the people from tyrannical abuse for private purposes under the cloak of public office.

Section 2

All rights, enumerated or not, held by free white male Protestant property owners in any of the 13 original states at the time of the adoption of the Ninth Article of Amendment to the Constitution of the United States are hereby recognized to be fundamental rights retained by all the people of the United States to this day, and all laws and regulations of the United States or of the several states which infringe the least of these rights are declared repugnant to the intent of the Ninth Amendment and hereafter void.

Section 3

All precedents established by a decision of the Supreme Court of the United States, or of any lesser federal court, or of any court in the several states, which either violate or fail to protect any of the rights in the original ten articles of amendment to the Constitution of the United States from violations by either the federal government or the several states, are hereby nullified to that extent.

Section 4

In all questions relating to the Construction of these Rights, decisions must be ruled according to the intent that Individual private powers be nurtured and the private Individual be protected from the natural tendency of those in government to expand the sphere of public power. The protection of these Rights shall be the first and last duty of all persons holding any office of public trust, and the interpretation of these Rights shall firstly and lastly be decided by the Sovereign Individuals of the United States and the several states, as expressed in their acts as members of juries and Grand Juries.

Amendment 10

Article 10 of the Amendments would remain unchanged, and continue to read:

The Powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Go to Rethinking Freethinking.

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Rethinking Freethinking

The Meaning of Life

Here it is. The Meaning Of Life. You've been asking all these centuries, and I'm answering it in 226 well-chosen words.

As Dorothy Parker might have said, this book is cheap at half the price. --JNS

"Meaning" is possible only to beings capable of reflection and understanding--call it sentience, sapience, or intellect. Thus, the "meaning of life" is that which a reflective being understands about life.

As for the "purpose" of life--that also requires an intelligent being, for a purpose implies a consciously chosen value. For example, one can say that DNA has a purpose of replicating and continuing certain forms of life--if one believes that DNA is, or has been programmed by, an intelligent entity. One could talk about the purposes of "evolution" only if one believed that evolution is a programmed function of some intelligent being. But even if one believes that there is a Grand Purpose to the Universe, or to All Living Things, or even to The Human Species--it does not necessarily follow that this is the only purpose of life--or that individual, intelligent beings might not have other, even contradictory, purposes.

To sum up: whatever the purposes DNA, Evolution, or God may have for life--if there are any such purposes at all--each of us has to choose our own purposes anyway. "Meaning" and "purpose" function only within the context of specific Beings capable of reflecting on and choosing goals, and figuring out ways to achieve them--and that's you and me as much as anyone else inside (or outside) the universe.

Go to Economic Freedom.

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Economic Freedom

Two Documentary Proposals on Work and Productivity

In late November, 1980, I was given an opportunity to research and propose ideas for a documentary to be developed by Public Communications, Inc., on the topic of work and productivity, being underwritten by Chase Manhattan Bank for public television. The president of Public Communications, Robert Chitester, had previously worked with Milton Friedman to produce the highly-acclaimed public TV series, Free to Choose.

It was an exciting opportunity for me, particularly since I was flown around on a six-city tour to meet with university presidents, business leaders, economics writers, and Nobel-prize laureate Norman Borlaug, father of the "green revolution."

At the end of the research, I wrote two documentary proposals…and never heard what happened to either of them after delivery. All I know is that they were never produced.

But that sort of thing isn't at all uncommon in the TV business--even public TV, I guess.

What are fifteen-year-old unproduced proposals for public TV documentaries worth? In the marketplace, zero.

But I find I regret they were never made. --JNS

Time Off the Clock

5 December 1980

The Premise

So you want to take a look at productivity in America, today, with an emphasis on what we're doing right and how we can make it still better?

We in America today--as I write this, in December, l980--are caught in a paradox. The past two centuries have lifted us out of the world's historical poverty and stagnation and even with our current problems we are still the most prosperous civilization this world has even seen. Yet, the causes of our prosperity are not generally understood, and because we have not been able to make these riches universal, there are those among us who damn them, and would rather that we all be made equal. Equally poor, that is.

A second paradox. We measure change in decades, now, rather than in millennia, yet we forget what the world was like a scant century ago.

Would a mother in 1880, who could expect to lose at least one of her children to disease, have believed a world in which kids are inoculated against polio, measles, rubella, and chicken pox before entering school--while diphtheria, rheumatic fever and smallpox are historical curiosities7

(On the other hand, how would a mother of 1880 have dealt with a world in which the greatest killers of teenagers are reckless driving, alcoholism, drug abuse, and suicide?)

One century? Try fifty years. Would a world half a century ago, in 1930, barely used to airplanes, radio, talking movies, and medical X-rays have believed in the possibility of robot spaceships sending back color TV pictures of Saturn, computers that play games with your kids, and laser surgery that can make the blind see again?

A third paradox. We live in an age of cynicism--of energy shortages, pollution, inflation--of "lowered expectations."

Yet, today, we have in our possession the technological and industrial capability (just add a teaspoonful of will) to give the whole world our current standard of living…and to give us a living standard greater than the richest among us today.

Energy shortages? Ten satellites orbiting the Earth in the year 2000 could beam down on laser beams enough solar energy to supply all America's energy needs. Cost per megawatts less than nuclear, coal, or hydroelectric power. Pollution: none. Risks: fewer deaths than the coal cycle; no potential disaster risk comparable to dam bursts (the highest cost in lives of any power source), much less nuclear meltdown. Investment needed to get them into the energy network: about the same as the Alaskan pipeline.

A greater standard of living than the richest among us today? Can David Rockefeller, for all his wealth, expect to spend his retirement in an environment where reduced gravity could be expected to give his heart twenty years past his present life expectancy? What are those twenty years worth? Not too long from now, if we get busy, we can extend that possibility to large segments of our population…if they'll move to habitats in space.

Habitats in space? Who'd want to move to outer space?

A lot of people, probably. Space is limitless--no possibility of overcrowding because you build as many habitats as you like, as large as you like. Mine the asteroids and the moon for materials and use the sun to smelt what you need. To move things around, you only use energy to accelerate and decelerate…not to keep going. That makes transportation dirt cheap…even from the asteroid belt.

Who'd want to live in space? Who'd want to live in an orbiting city of several million people--less crowded and more comfortable than Atlanta or Houston--designed to be pollution free, with factories, farms, and homes within minutes of each other, but totally separated? Swimming pools and ski slopes within a ten minute ride on an electric shuttle? Weather designed to taste? Who'd want zero-gravity honeymoon hotels, flying on wings strapped to your arms--just like birds--sunlight on tap 24 hours a day (You'd prefer 26? Okay.) but shut off by closing the blinds. No traffic jams, mosquitoes, locusts, roaches, rats, flu season, earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, blizzards, monsoons, tidal waves, mudslides, or smog?

Their jobs? Mining the moon? Manufacturing foamed metals in zero-gravity? Pharmaceutical production? Who knows? How do you say "I'm in software" to our friends from 1930?

But somebody's going to have to service those solar power satellites.

As for those who decide to live and work back on Earth, with most of the dirty jobs moved into space where they can't pollute anything, the Earth will become a cleaner, safer, less crowded, and more comfortable place to live, also.

You want to discuss work and productivity in 1980? How can we discuss problems today when we'll have completely different problems in a few years?

The worker of 2030 will have a job as incomprehensible to us in 1980 as the explanation "I'm in software" would be to someone from 1930.

If we wish to get some perspective on work and productivity today, we need a view based on change. We need to look back, to see where we came from, and we need to look forward, to see where we're going.

"Yesterday is gone," says science fiction author Robert Anton Wilson, "the Future is now, and the Present is becoming the Past even as you read this."

One thing's for sure. If Time is Money, then the future is worth quite a bit…because it's all we have left.

The Future. You'll be living there the rest of your life.

The Bit

As that great philosopher of metaphysical logic, Johnny Carson, says, "If you buy the premise, you buy the bit."

The premise is that we need to use change as the lens to focus on productivity and work. Looking at the present doesn't tell us anything meaningful. The bit is what we need to make the focus come alive…to make it television.

We need a gimmick.

And, we're in luck. We already have an entire field devoted to using change as a lens to examine ourselves and our problems. No, not futurism. These people are amateurs, much too wrapped up in the short-term problems of today to see tomorrow very well. They suffer from lack of imagination in their projections, so they're always wrong.

The field I'm talking about can claim the largest box office movie of all time, Star Wars, one of the most popular and enduring TV series of all time, Star Trek, and a formidable part of publishing industry profits.

Science fiction.

Science fiction isn't about cute robots and laser guns any more than Hamlet is a story about a ghost. The cute robots and laser guns are just to get the kids interested: they have the most flexible minds.

Science fiction is the literature of change--so defines the dean of science fiction authors, Robert A. Heinlein. Heinlein ought to know with 40 science fiction books to his credit, half-a-dozen million-sellers among them.

From Mark Twain to H.G. Wells to Heinlein, science fiction has just the gimmick we need to examine work and productivity, today, tomorrow, and yesterday. It's called time travel.

Twain used it in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court to compare medieval England with l9th century America. Wells used it in The Time Machine to project his views on class conflicts to a society where workers are debased troglodytes and the upper class are their cattle. Heinlein used it in his l950's book The Door into Summer to compare his future projection of 1970 with his future projection of 2000--to prove that progress does make things better.

You want a documentary on work and productivity in America today? How about making your interviewers three young actors (two guys and a girl?) portraying future college students, say, 100 years from now. We start in their class on 20th century history where they're discussing the economic crisis of America in the 1980's. To them it's a dusty dry subject--just something to learn, pass a test, and forget.

Until their professor (played by 1970 Nobel Peace Prizewinner Dr. Norman Borlaug) springs a surprise quiz on them for the next day. A quiz they're completely unprepared for.

"What was it," the Professor asks them, "that got the Americans through their crisis?"

As the students discuss their problem after class we get a glimpse of their society. It's solved many of the problems we face today. There's power to spare, no pollution, no unemployment or inflation, taxes are a thing of the past (everything is handled through direct-use fees, memberships, and insurance premiums), transportation is quick and efficient. Expensive to portray, you say? Not to the experts of videotape, with their Magicam miniatures, blue screen, and computer animation.

How far out do you want to get? How about putting their classroom in an orbiting space habitat between the Earth and the moon--at the gravitational balance point between them, nearer the moon?

But they're still stuck with this surprise quiz. That, at least, hasn't changed in 100 years. And being college kids, they decide to bend the rules a bit to do some unauthorized spot research.

They steal a time machine. A space ship, actually, that can also travel backwards in time.

And, of course, they blow it. They set the controls wrong and go a century too far back…they end up in the l880's. Which gives us a look at work and production in that era. When factories were just becoming popular, lifting civilization out of agricultural poverty. When pollution problems were first being dealt with by the courts, and creating--by their decisions--the pollution problems of the future…our present. When instead of auto exhaust the big problem in cities was horse droppings.

But, they get back into their time machine after a bit and finally make it to our present in the 1980's. They start traveling around today (once they manage to get some current clothing) to actual factories, businesses, shopping centers. They conduct real interviews with real assembly-line workers, proprietors, and employees.

It also seems logical that the students seek out various experts of our time who might be able to give them some answers. One of those people would be Dr. Norman Borlaug, who would also play his present-day self.

And, we can have some fun. At the end of an interview, say, with assembly-line workers in the General Motors factory in Detroit (unknown in advance to the workers, who think the interviews are for a normal documentary), the students are interrupted by the black-uniformed Time Police, whose job it is to make sure the students don't accidentally change the past (our present) thus ruining their present (our future).

I can see into the future a bit myself. I see a two-page photo-story in TV Guide asking what sort of public TV documentary has Nobel-Prizewinner Dr. Norman Borlaug standing in a futuristic classroom wearing Buck Rogers tights, and who are these black-uniformed guys with the funny ray guns chasing three young interviewers through the General Motors factory?

Tights and plastic ray-guns don't run up the budget very much.

At the end of their travels through present-day America, our students are captured by the Time Police and returned to their classroom where they wrap up a discussion of what they have learned with their professor (Dr. Borlaug).

One thing's for sure. This wouldn't be just another boring documentary.


The Third Industrial Revolution by G. Harry Stine

A Step Farther Out by Jerry Pournelle, Ph.D.

The High Frontier by Gerard K. O'Neill, Ph.D.

Expanded Universe by Robert A. Heinlein

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Power Tools

The Coming Golden Age:
A Proposal for a Nonfiction Book

Early in 1983, I submitted a proposal for a nonfiction book to Larry Freundlich, the editor who had bought The Rainbow Cadenza while he was with Simon & Schuster; he now had his own publishing company, Freundlich Books.

Either Larry was a lot thriftier with his own money than with Simon & Schuster's, or I should have taken a more traditional approach to outlining a book proposal: he turned me down.

Now, a dozen years later, you get to second-guess Larry's editorial judgment and decide whether this is a book I should have written. --JNS

The following is a transcript, obtained by Tachyon Receiver, of an interview with J. Neil Schulman, author of The Coming Golden Age, with David Hartletter on NBS television's Good Night, Good Morning, October 16, 1984.

HARTLETTER:…fun we always have on this program. (Audience laughter.) And we'll have that live report later in the show. Coming up next is J. Neil Schulman, author of the new book, The Coming Golden Age. We'll be right back after these short messages.

(Back from commercial.)

HARTLETTER: (After throwing paper airplane at Fred, his producer, off camera.) And, we're back. With us now is author J. Neil Schulman. We first had Neil on this show a year-and-a-half ago when his novel, The Rainbow Credenza…what, Fred? Oh, The Rainbow Cadenza…(Slaps his own face.)…first came out. Now, we've been hearing a lot this year about Big Brother, and everybody's been talking about how everything is just going to continue getting worse and worse…worldwide famines, depressions, nuclear holocaust…you name it, we're supposed to get it. Well, Neil doesn't think this is true at all. In fact, he thinks just the opposite, that we're on the verge of a Coming Golden Age, which--coincidentally enough--is the title of his new book being published this month. Will you welcome, then, J. Neil Schulman.

(Schulman walks out as audience applauds, shakes David's hand, sits down, waits for applause to die down.)

SCHULMAN: I can't wait for that live report.

(Audience laughter.)

HARTLETTER: Yes, what wonderful things they can do with chickens nowadays. Neil, your first two books were both fiction--novels set in the future. Your first novel, Alongside Night, showed us a U.S. economy collapsing from mismanagement, and your second novel, The Rainbow Cadenza, projected a future with seven men for every woman on Earth, and with women either being drafted into public sexual service or being hunted for rape at night. Now you come along and tell us in your new book that you actually think that things are going to be pretty rosy. Well, have you been lying to us in your first two books? I mean, what's going on here?

SCHULMAN: Well, David, of course I've been lying. One definition of fiction has always been a lie convincingly told. And, of course, both my novels were what's called "cautionary tales"--stories meant to prevent what they're portraying. But, you see, that's part of my point right off. Neither of my novels was meant to predict gloom-and-doom. I end Alongside Night, practically, with my hero and heroine walking hand-in-hand off into the sunrise. The ogre which has been beating up the economy is dead, and it looks as if things will be getting better for a change. And, in Rainbow Cadenza, while things on Earth are still pretty screwed up, there are as many people living off the planet in space colonies throughout our solar system as are living on Earth, and the space colonies are doing pretty well. But even on Earth, in Rainbow Cadenza, though there's a great deal of political oppression, they've still managed to get rid of war, famine, and depression, and people are living twice as long as now without getting senile, cancer, tooth decay, common colds, or herpes anymore.

HARTLETTER: And, you think, that these problems are as good as solved, just given enough time.

SCHULMAN: That's right. The research is being done right now, and I talk about that in detail in my new book. Now, let me get one thing straight, though. I'm not predicting a utopia, not predicting a "perfect" society. I don't believe that human beings will ever get all our problems solved. I'm reminded of something Robert Heinlein once told me: that the human race gets along by the skin of its teeth, and every time we get a problem shored up over here, something breaks through somewhere else. But the point I am trying to make with the book--have you held it up yet?…

(Audience laughs; Hartletter holds up book to camera.)

…the point I'm trying to make is that there are all sorts of really terrible things that we've had to put up with for all recorded history, and right when we're on the verge of getting rid of them, now everybody starts talking about how rotten things are. Look, I'm no fan of the status quo, but there are tendencies already present in our society that if they simply continue without being interrupted--if our institutions simply stay out of the way--the natural course of events will see them solved.

HARTLETTER: Okay, well, lets start pinpointing just what those problems are that you think we'll be getting rid of. And we'll do that right after these messages.

(Back from commercial.)

HARTLETTER: Neil was telling me during the break that they're just about to start casting the Rainbow Cadenza movie…they're trying to get Jane Seymour to play both Eleanor Darris and Vera Delaney?

SCHULMAN: Right. Vera is Eleanor's twin-daughter. By the way, it shouldn't be too long before you'll be able to do that sort of thing.

HARTLETTER: One of me is more than enough. (Audience applauds wildly.) Thank you. You really know how to hurt a guy. Okay. Now you were just about to start telling us about the problems you see being solved, and how that's going to happen.

SCHULMAN: Okay. I've divided up the advances we're talking about into three areas--corresponding to the three sections of the book. And the three sections are "Technological Advances," "Biological Advances," and "Social Advances." And, of course, it's impossible to make a breakthrough in any one of these areas without there being consequences in the other two--it's an interrelated, holistic system. Just one historical example--who would have thought that the invention of the automobile would lead within a half-century to a complete revolution--a relaxation--in sexual mores?

HARTLETTER: You mean all those back seats and drive-ins.

SCHULMAN: Exactly. That's one of the reasons making predictions about the future is always so tricky--there will probably be something you're not even considering that will affect everything. Now, the first area of advance I want to talk about I'm going to mention from the angle of "Social" advance even though it originates in "Biological." And that's because everybody is already familiar with it from the book by Durk Pearson and Sandy Shaw.

HARTLETTER: You mean Life Extension.

SCHULMAN: That's right. Durk and Sandy do a terrific job of talking about the advances that will help us live longer and stay young longer, but it wasn't their intent to go into great detail about how living longer will change the way we live…and we're probably talking about the most significant change in human society we can imagine today. Suppose you knew, David, that you had another century coming to you--wouldn't that change the way you made plans?

HARTLETTER: I intend to be doing this one hundred years from now. (Audience laughs.)

SCHULMAN: Fine. I'll be here for the anniversary show. But suppose you weren't doing anything as interesting as this. You could work for the first thirty or forty years after you graduate school building up enough savings to support yourself through whatever you really want to do for the next eighty. Let's say you want to be a concert pianist. Well, you'd now have eighty free years to spend developing your musical abilities.

HARTLETTER: Well, that's just fine, but wouldn't there also be problems? How about people living on Social Security for eighty years? Wouldn't that bankrupt the government?

SCHULMAN: Right. And what you're doing is called in logic reductio ad absurdum--trying to show the absurdity of a premise. But things never reduce all the way to absurdity in the real world; something always comes along from another direction to counter it. If people start living that much longer extra, then there will have to be a corresponding change in people's attitudes and expectations about the later part of life. I don't think you're going to see a permanent class warfare between the young and the old, with twenty-year-olds being expected to pay taxes to support their grandparents who are still having children of their own.

HARTLETTER: And speaking of being reduced to absurdity, we'll be back right after these short messages.

(Back from commercial.)

HARTLETTER: And we're back. We only have a few more minutes here, Neil, so why don't you run quickly through a few more of these advances.

SCHULMAN: Okay, very quickly, then. In "Biological," you can kiss off cancer, the common cold, tooth decay, most birth defects, and so forth. Current research is progressing rapidly to find ways to reprogram our genetic code in our cells not only to cure these problems but also give us natural immunities to them--and we'll pass along these immunities to the next generation. I'm not saying these things will be cured overnight, but I don't think we'll be seeing much of them twenty to thirty years from now.

HARTLETTER: Doesn't the potential exist to use this same ability to manipulate genes to create Frankenstein monsters?

SCHULMAN: Sure. There's nothing that one human being discovers or invents that another one can't pervert into something really horrible. But there are just too many dangers in the idea of really changing genetic codes to think that a lot of this will be done on human beings. Here's where social factors start coming into play as a counter force. But there's another element--from "Technological" that starts coming into play here, and that's Space Industrialization. If you're doing experimentation in something like genetic reprogramming, you don't want accidentally to unleash some dread new disease on the general population. So the ideal place for biological experiments will be laboratories in space. Space can isolate experiments of any sort better than anything we can do on Earth. And I think that all sorts of advances will come out of the industrialization of space that nobody today can fully imagine. If there's an industry that stinks up the air, move it into space where there isn't any air to stink up.

HARTLETTER: But who'll want to live in outer space?

SCHULMAN: I think the generation of kids who are being raised on Star Wars, E.T., video games, and home computers--not to mention the Space Shuttle--will take it for granted that when they grow up, they'll be able to live in a space environment, if they want to. And it will be very attractive because there are all sorts of recreations that you'll be able to do in zero-gravity that you can't do here on Earth.

HARTLETTER: I can think of one or two right now.

(Audience laughs.)

SCHULMAN: That's exactly right. Why don't you ask your audience?

HARTLETTER: Okay. Any of you who would like to try "doing it" in zero-gravity?

(Thunderous applause and war-whoops.)

HARTLETTER: What a filthy-minded bunch! I want all the women's names at the end of the show. What, Fred? Another minute? Okay. Now, Neil, you've mentioned mostly "Technological" and "Biological" advances. What about "Social"?

SCHULMAN: Okay. I'm predicting a vast lessening of war and political tyranny on Earth during the next century. My reasons are as follows. First, I don't think there's all that much danger of a nuclear holocaust, except by accident--and spy satellites reduce the danger of that all the time. For any nation other than the Big Three--any country that threatened to use nuclear weapons would get immediate threats from Washington, Moscow, and Beijing telling them not to or else. And for the U.S.S.R., China, and us, if any of us tried to start anything with one of the other two, we know that the third will still be around to pick up all the chips. If Russia tried to attack us, several million Chinese would move in from the south. And, very frankly, I'm not too worried about Washington starting a nuclear war--there just aren't any political or economic advantages to be gained by it. I think there's going to be a lessening of world tensions as it becomes clear that nuclear war just isn't practical. But the main reason I don't think the Cold War is indefinite is that the technological advances resulting from the industrialization of space--particularly cheap energy from solar power collectors in orbit, beaming power down to Earth--will create a worldwide economic boom. With cheap energy, you wipe out at a stroke famine, depression, overpopulation, and the political pressures toward war that these cause. I show the sequence in some detail in the book. The more affluent the Third World becomes, the less reason there will be there for war--and there goes half the world's trouble spots. And affluence leads to a consumerist mentality.

HARTLETTER: Doesn't that lead to overcommercialism?

SCHULMAN: I think "overcommercialism" is partly the way you look at things, but even if it does, I think that would be a small price to pay for a world without starvation, constant wars, and tyranny. The richer people get, the harder they are to push around.

HARTLETTER: And, we're going to have to get in some overcommercialism of our own. A fascinating book. That's The Coming Golden Age (Holds up book again.) by J. Neil Schulman. Thank you, Neil. And we'll be right back with the chickens right after these important messages …

(Fade to commercial.)

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Power Writing

There Are Two Sides to Every Review

1. "The writing is heavy-handed."

The author says things explicitly.

2. "The story is melodramatic."

The book is strongly plotted.

3. "The plot is contrived."

The plot is original and intricately logical.

4. "The novel is polemical."

The novel has a discernible theme.

5. "The novel is preachy."

The theme phrases a moral proposition.

6. "The book's intent is didactic."

The plot demonstrates practical consequences of the theme.

7. "The author manipulates characters."

The characters do things that fit into the plot.

8. "The characters are two-dimensional."

The characters are only shown doing things that fit into the plot.

9. "The book is Pollyannish."

The author finds things in life that make it worth living.

10. "The story depends upon coincidence."

Events in the story logically coincide.

11. "The book is a roman à clef."

The characters are so realistically drawn, they can be confused with real people.

12. "The characters are unrealistic."

The characters are shown being heroic, moral and intelligent, while the critic views his own character as cowardly, amoral and stupid.

13. "The author has no feeling for his subject."

The author portrays things differently from what the critic thinks they are.

14. "The characters give speeches."

The characters are capable of expressing a coherent viewpoint.

15. "This character is the author's mouthpiece."

This character makes more sense than the others.

16. "The book is utopian."

The author thinks things can get better.

17. "The book is an exercise in paranoia."

The author thinks things can get worse.

End of Sampler!

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