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Introduction: What is Necessary

for Human Survival?


Life is wonderful! Without it, we would be dead! This whole book is essentially about life, because if we were not alive, issues ranging from food to ethics to government to religion to happiness would not be issues at all. It is our nature to want to live as long and as abundantly as possible. Because life is important, all the issues mentioned above are important too.

Sustaining Life Requires the Use of the Earth's Resources

If you are alive on this planet, chances are good that you have a body. It has long been known that the elements that make up our bodies are also found in the earth. Early in the Bible, for instance, it is declared, "For dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return."1 If we wish to delay the day we return to the earth, we will want to drink water, consume food, and maintain our body temperatures within an acceptable range.

Of course, everyone knows about the big three: food, water and shelter. At least they know that we all need them for survival. In the 1770s, Thomas Paine observed: ". . . though the surface of the earth produce us the necessaries of life, yet 'tis from the mine we extract the conveniences thereof."2 Very little of what we consume comes directly from nature without being tended to and harvested, or modified and manufactured. In other words, our survival requires that we modify and consume material resources.

Nature requires that we produce before we can consume. Planning is required, which, of course, assumes a basic knowledge of how things work and the will to do what is necessary. People in an agrarian economy must save a portion of their crop for the next planting no matter how much they might want to have a "seed corn festival" or no matter how hungry they might become while waiting for spring. An industrial economy must save a portion of its profits for maintaining and replacing the tools of production. Failing to meet these requirements of life and nature, people in an agrarian economy starve, and people in an industrial economy regress from power tools to hand tools. Both groups find themselves obliged to accept a lower standard of living&emdash;the natural result of reduced production.

Sustaining Life Requires Resource Control

The fact that we are alive implies that we have, to some degree, successfully controlled resources. Furthermore, how well we have fared indicates how well we have controlled resources.

The purpose of dwelling on the connection between resource use and survival has been to prepare for the next topic: resource control, sometimes referred to as property ownership.

In some circles it is popular to say we cannot truly own property because we are mortal. We can only use it for a while, and then we must relinquish it when we die. On the face of it, this is absolutely true. Our mortality allows us, at best, to control certain resources only during our brief existence. Ownership in the absolute sense is a fallacy of thought, but ownership as the right to control resources is an idea worth exploring further.

Our Bodies are Our Most Essential Form of Property

Our body, and the life that body contains, is the most basic form of property we can claim.3 The word property has become a loaded word because it conjures up different images, depending on who hears the word. The very word itself implies ownership and control. In America, conservatives equate property with independence while liberals equate property with exploitation. (In the former Soviet Union, the meaning of the terms "conservative" and "liberal" are reversed.) On the surface, liberals and conservatives appear to be polar opposites. However, a closer look will reveal that they may be closer philosophically than we generally assume.

Conservatives typically rail against liberals who want government to regulate, if not own outright, the use of land and tools&emdash;also known as "material resources" and the "means of production." Those same conservatives, however, will gladly make laws against suicide, drug use, gambling, prostitution, etc. On the other hand, liberals are willing to allow people more choices over the use of their bodies, but insist on controlling the resources people use to sustain those bodies. In other words, both liberals and conservatives like to use government coercion to control other people.

As an example of the conservative approach to people control, a few years ago an expert on ethics wrote an article explaining why he believed suicide should not be legal.4 The main point he used to justify his position was because "we do not own ourselves." He then weakened his position by saying, "We belong to God, if there is a god." I couldn't resist sending in a letter to the editor where I summarized his argument: if we don't own ourselves, and we don't know who does, we only have one more clue about who it is that does own us&emdash;people like the author, who presume the right to use the force of law to tell us how to dispose of our bodies.

Regarding those with liberal inclinations, ". . . when personal liberty is discussed, the concern is with man's non-economic freedoms&emdash;freedom of speech, of religion, of the press, of personal behavior. Frequently, the most zealous guardians of these all important freedoms are outspoken advocates of eliminating freedom in the economic area. When it comes to commerce, to the making and marketing of goods, they are in favor of replacing freedom with rigid controls."5 Somehow, for instance, we are supposed to have freedom of speech even if we don't have the right to own a printing press.

Ultimately, both sides agree on some level that property is needed for survival. They just disagree about how people should be controlled. It is not the purpose of this introduction to decide whether one side or the other is right in their approach to resource control. Rather, this chapter is intended as a wake-up call. Sophisticated-appearing people have been reported to say: "What do we need those farmers for? There is plenty of food in the store!" Whether or not the above story is true, it gains an aura of plausibility when we survey policies being instituted by sophisticated people around the world.

Ownership Implies More Than Just a Piece of Paper

Property ownership is an inescapable fact of life. Unfortunately, it is a fact that has often been overlooked (or euphemized out of existence). The word, ownership, like so many other words, is used daily with little thought about its essential meaning.

Webster's Dictionary offers us some additional insight into the nature of ownership through a concept called beneficial ownership: ". . . in law, the right to use property for one's own advantage, the legal title to which may be held by another."6 In other words, if you hold the paper title or deed to some property, and I can tell you what to do with it, I am the beneficial owner. (Maybe I am the true owner, because if I control what you do with your property, I control you too, and thereby am the beneficial owner of both you and your property.)

When we add the concept of beneficial ownership to our understanding of what property rights consist of, we make a startling discovery. In any sovereign community, there are only a few true property owners. These few owners are those who are strong enough to call themselves a government and are able to collect duties from everyone else.

The United States is reputed to be a stronghold of property rights, but this has never been true in the strictest sense. "In Anglo-American society, property in land is not the land itself, but a collection of rights to the land. . . . It would surprise most American landowners today, as it often does those who cannot meet their property taxes, to learn that the state owns the land outright. Owners in fee simple have possession only of rights in real estate: this phenomena is part of what historians call the English heritage."7, 8 In America, the state took over where the King left off. (This explains why one person can build a house on a plot of land, and someone else can have the mineral rights on that same land. L.J. Peter summed it up: "The meek shall inherit the earth, but not the oil rights.")

In effect, basic reality was encoded into Common Law because anyone who has the power to levy taxes on property, and the power of forfeiture for non-payment of those taxes, is the true owner of that property. Everyone else is simply renting.

To further illustrate this thesis, let's consider what happened to a community in Colorado Springs, Colorado, when annual property taxes of $11,000 were levied on homes previously valued at around $100,000. Immediately, the value of their homes dropped to zero because no one would pay anything to acquire a $1,000 a month tax lien. In another case, a property tax levy was made for "$80,582.56 for 160 acres of Adams County farmland. . . County officials, who chuckled when they first saw the giant bill, later confirmed that it's for real. And there's not much [the owner] can do about it."9 No doubt, that tax bill did little to enhance the resale value of that farm, or of other farms like it. The moral of these stories is, the purchase price of property is the price we are willing to pay for the right of first-rentership from the government.

As true ownership ultimately accrues to the most powerful, the question is not so much who owns the property as it is how much discretion those in power give their subjects when it comes to property ownership/resource control. Stated differently, property rights are determined by how much control over property use citizens allow their governments to have. According to Thomas Paine, "the plain truth is that it is wholly owing to the constitution of the people, and not to the constitution of the government that the crown is not as oppressive in England as in Turkey."10 The amount of government control over resources can be as little as America had at its inception, or as much as during the Stalinist era of the Soviet Union, where many people considered themselves lucky to finish digesting the food they had just swallowed. Of course, there is a whole range of possibilities in between.

Life Improves When Resource Control is Spread Among Many

A survey of history will reveal that the masses have fared better when they enjoyed more freedom&emdash;meaning the right to control/own property and the freedom to be creative. Unfortunately, such freedom has been the experience of only a small portion of all the people who have ever lived on this planet.

There is much talk about human rights these days. Not only are the old ones being reconsidered, but new ones are being invented daily. This, of course, brings up a few questions. Where do those rights come from and what do they consist of? Are they justified by ethics? And if so, ethics based on what standard? Are they based on the efficient production of economic goods, and if so, for whose benefit? It is one thing to simply say that humans need access to resources to survive. It is yet another to develop a comprehensive philosophical framework that will empower people to take charge of their lives in a firm, effective, and yet non-destructive manner.

A Preview of the Future Chapters

The following chapters will explore a number of different subjects, or disciplines, that may at first seem unrelated to one another. They are arranged in the following order:

Chapter 1: The Role of the Mind As a Tool of Survival
Chapter 2: The Process of Wealth Creation
Chapter 3: An Overview of Ethics
Chapter 4: Economics 101 Reviewed
Chapter 5: The Role of Government in Society
Chapter 6: Legal and Constitutional Concepts
Chapter 7: Religion, Spirituality and World Peace
Chapter 8: Environmental Issues Explored
Chapter 9: Inner Peace Precedes World Peace
Chapter 10: Philosophical Antecedents to Peace and Prosperity
Chapter 11: A Relatively Uninformed View of the United Nations
Chapter 12: Some Thoughts on World Cooperation and World Governance

As humans we must effectively operate in two worlds&emdash;the inner world of personal experience and the outer world of physical experience. Both need to be dealt with because they impact directly on one another. These chapters are arranged so as to alternate between our inner and outer worlds in the hope of better relating each to the other. While some would argue that the inner world is primary and that the outer world is simply a reflection of the inner world, others insist that the outer world is all important and that the inner world can only be a response to the outer world. I find that there is a symbiotic relationship between the two.

The feelings and values we hold in our inner lives determine how we interpret and react to daily events in our lives. In turn, the environment created by our previous reactions creates a new range of options available to us in the future. As we become aware of the emergent probability that guides our lives, we discover that although we are not all-powerful, we are not helpless either.11

In order to provide a clearer picture of what future chapters will bring, the following paragraphs will give a cursory overview.

Chapter 1: The Role of the Mind as a Survival Tool. This chapter is presented early in the book because it is useful to understand how we know what we know. Being aware of how we learn can improve our effectiveness in mastering life's challenges. In retrospect, I would have liked to have started my study with this subject. Instead, logic and epistemology were among my most recent subjects of inquiry. I suspect that my growth might have happened faster were they my first subjects of inquiry. (But then again, we can only be where we are.)

Chapter 2: The Process of Wealth Creation. After exploring the inner world of knowledge acquisition, we will step back into the outer world, and what better place to start than with an exploration of wealth creation. This is a universal concern, especially when many "who, in the very instant they are proclaiming against the mammon of this world, are nevertheless hunting after it with a step as steady as Time, and an appetite as keen as Death."12 The purpose of this chapter is to inventory the essential components of the production process that must take place in any social system or political system. As the chapter progresses, it will become clear that, if we want to understand conflict, we will have to look deeper than simply the tools people use.

Chapter 3: An Overview of Ethics. Following the previous breath of robust outside air, we will explore ethics&emdash;a subject that is part internal and part external. A major challenge in ethics is balancing faithfulness to our beliefs with practical action. Many ethical systems tend to put ideals and practical action at odds with each other. Consequently, people frequently find themselves forced to choose between ethics and practical action.

Ethical systems are primarily formulas that prescribe how human beings ought to relate to one another in social relationships. Underlying each ethical system is a key assumption followed by a line of logic intended to justify its list of commandments. The assumptions of various ethical systems will be explored, and then a behavioral analysis approach will be proposed which considers relationship dynamics at all levels&emdash;personal, employment and political.

Chapter 4: Economics 101 Reviewed. This chapter takes over where Chapter 2 left off. Once production has been accomplished, we still have the problem of distribution. Also, how we have handled the distribution problem today will determine whether people will be motivated to produce again tomorrow. The last part of this chapter will suggest that competition is inescapable, and that in our desire to escape competition in the arena of production, we often end up competing in the arena of coercion instead. If we do not wish to compete in service, we must compete in brutality.

Chapter 5: The Role of Government in Society. This century has seen an intense debate about which type of government is best. Implied in the way the debate has been framed is the notion that the key to solving human problems consists simply of choosing the right form of government. In our blind worship of a particular form of government, we tend to overlook the essence of government in general. Because of this, great hopes are dashed time after time as the unintended consequences of our choices become apparent. Only by learning to see through the "pious phrases and the fervent propaganda [that] give to coercion a semblance of persuasion,"13 will we have a rational hope for peace and prosperity. When we use fire to heat our home, we must be careful because burning down the house while trying to stay warm is self-defeating in the long-run. The same principle applies to government.

Chapter 6: Legal and Constitutional Concepts. The existence of different types of government implies different attitudes toward legal and constitutional questions. First, the difference between laws and constitutions will be explored. Then the different approaches to law itself will be considered. Finally, a question will be asked&emdash;is it ethical or rational for law to help "one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime."14

Chapter 7: Religion, Spirituality and World Peace. Following the chapters on government and law, a chapter on religion is most appropriate. Separation of church and state is a recent innovation. Throughout history, religion has been at times an antidote to the coercive power of the state, and at other times it has been an accomplice. Religious faith has been a source of peace for some, but for others, it has been a justification for war. Consequently, we must conclude that while religion has given humanity some blessings, it has not been an unqualified blessing.

This chapter will explore two primary aspects of religion: cosmological speculation and ethics. An important question we must consider is whether different cosmological opinions justify breaches in ethical conduct. Also, some ideas will be offered about how we might enjoy the security offered by religious faith without making it into something to kill and die for.

Chapter 8: Environmental Issues Explored. Recent developments in environmental philosophy are, in large part, new developments in ethical theory. Some environmental ideals also have religious overtones. (According to some, they represent a resurgence of animistic cosmologies.) Consequently, ethical and religious issues were explored first in order to provide a framework for evaluating the intricate web of arguments offered by advocates for environmental preservation and animal rights.

Presently, there are two main philosophical approaches to protecting the environment. One camp suggests that more government control is necessary to force people to make the best decisions for future generations. The other camp points to the environmental degradation which has taken place in proportion to the amount of government control that has been exercised.

The first group has thus far claimed the moral and political high ground. They are certainly right in pointing out the futility of trying to fill the hole in the soul with material goodies and that over-consumption may represents a spiritual crisis. However, they might also consider the possibility that their insistence on using coercion to promote their ideal may also represent a spiritual crisis. Fortunately, more people are starting to consider less coercive ways to protect the environment.

Chapter 9: Inner Peace Precedes World Peace. In this chapter we will explore the roots of emotional pain and suffering. Mental "diseases" with unusual names like Center-of-the-Universe Disease and Socially-Acceptable-Schizophrenia will be explored. Understanding and using these concepts can make our inner world a more pleasant place to live. Also, the relationship between oppression and psychological problems will be examined. It can be stated with certainty that as long as so many of us are at war with ourselves, we can expect wars to erupt in the outer world as well.

Chapter 10: Philosophical Antecedents to Peace and Prosperity. One important source of inner conflict is contradictory philosophical notions, or worse yet, philosophies declaring that we should be condemned merely for existing. Our outer world is in large part reflection of our inner world. Proverbs 23:7 declares, "As he thinketh in his heart, so is he." To this I would add: As he thinketh in his head, so will he feel and act.

Everyone is a philosopher&emdash;either conscious or unconscious. The common person's philosophy is usually capsulated in undigested slogans, but these slogans drive people toward action nonetheless. Intellectuals are thought to be more conscious of their philosophical assumptions, but often this is not the case. In fact, intellectual and political leaders have the additional obstacle of benefiting from commonly held cultural misperceptions. Even the victims of a common misperception find it difficult to ferret out unquestioned belief systems. "Slavery, restrictions, and monopoly find defenders not only among those who profit from them but also among those who suffer from them."15

Underlying all philosophical systems are three assumptions: First, we have epistemological assumptions&emdash;assumptions about how we learn what we learn, and whether or not our five senses are adequate to meet the demands of survival. Next, we have metaphysical assumptions&emdash;assumptions about whether the universe is hostile or nurturing, and in turn whether the best defense is a good offense or if we can afford to delay our response to situations. Finally, we have ethical assumptions&emdash;assumptions about which relationships should be guided by coercion, and which relationships should be left to individual choice? Once we understand these assumptions, we can look at a particular philosophy and anticipate what kinds of interpersonal, social and economic relationships will evolve among those who embrace such a philosophy.

Chapter 11: A Relatively Uninformed View of the United Nations. The last ten chapters were devoted to building the theoretical framework in preparation for these last two chapters. The stated purpose of the UN is to bring about peace on earth and to save future generations from the "scourge of war." This chapter looks at how the United Nations has evolved to date.

Not surprisingly, the UN has both its detractors and its advocates. Detractors suggest that the UN is a front organization for developing a world dictatorship, and they fear the prophesy of "a boot stamping on a human face&emdash;forever."16 Advocates, on the other hand, frequently demand blind faith, offering the plea that doing something is better than doing nothing. In many cases, arguments from both sides generate more heat than light.

Robert Muller (who is the reason why this book was written) called for a more impartial analysis of the UN: "The UN enemies will seek in vain arguments and ammunition for their evil designs. Once they have become objective, I will also be ready to discuss honestly the shortcomings of the UN."17 I have no way of judging the intentions of the architects of the UN. Also, I am sure that many people working for the UN, like Robert Muller, have only the best of intentions.

Consequently, this chapter is not about good guys and bad guys. It will simply survey the dominant philosophical assumptions guiding the UN, and how their policies are in conformance with their assumptions. Finally, some ideas will be offered regarding the outcomes we can expect from those policies. (Like the rest of this book, this chapter is not about people, it is about ideas.)

Chapter 12: Some Thoughts on World Cooperation and World Governance. Fortunately, the United Nations is not humanity's only hope for world peace. Any place on the planet can potentially be a good location to start. In fact, most any place might even be a better place to start because it is hard to stand on principle if one cannot even stand on a patch of ground. Therefore, any group of people on any land mass could elect to start an ethical society. This society would in turn become productive and powerful. It would not crusade around the world imposing its system on other cultures. Instead, it would offer itself as an example for those who wish the same results.

In answer to the question of whether or not world government is a good idea I offer this principle: if government protects productive people from predators, the larger its influence, the better. On the other hand, if government itself becomes a predator, the smaller its influence, the better.

Sometimes Simplicity at First Appears Complex

When I was a young man in the Army, I aspired to be thought intelligent by others. To show my "genius" I would make complicated explanations of everyday phenomena. This strategy seemed to work until one day my supervisor, Sergeant Gulliver, took me to task. He looked at me and said, "Larry, I have noticed that you attempt to impress people by making simple things complicated. Wouldn't true intelligence mean making complicated things simple?"

Since then I have had plenty of years to ponder his wisdom. While I have often succeeded in getting to the point in a simpler way, at other times I have not been able to avoid wading through complexity. Cutting the Gordian knot is a wonderful concept, but it often happens that if the knot is cut too soon, it reties itself.

In the five years prior to writing this book, I have given over 110 speeches to various groups. Occasionally, I am given what I consider the ultimate compliment: "You take complicated subjects and make them so simple!" While I succeed in touching a few souls here and there, I am sure an equal number of people wonder which planet I came from. I cannot expect to reach everyone through this book any more than my speeches were able to. Nevertheless, I can try, and in this book I will try. Throughout the book, this old farm boy will do his best to stick with the basics, because anyone "who takes nature for his guide, is not easily beaten out of his argument."18 Of course, this will not always be possible. . .

. . . which brings to mind the story of a Sufi master who was asked why he couldn't make his course of study simpler and accessible for everyone. The master replied that if he did, it would no longer be the same course of study. I have worked hard to make these ideas generally accessible without compromising the integrity of the concepts being considered. In the places where I fail, please be patient and do not be offended if some passages require two or three readings.

I wish to make a final note about the use of gender references in this book. In an age when people become hysterical over minor points, it is easy for a writer to be anathematized and discounted long before the major points have even been considered. Hence, I call upon the wisdom of Venita van Caspel: "I have found that God has been very fair in His apportionment of brains. He has made women as intelligent and as capable as men, so I'll not bother with all this 'he-she' business, but will rather devote myself to the order of the day. . ."19 In her case, she promised to use the masculine pronoun to indicate neutral gender. I can only promise that I will do whatever amuses me at that moment.

Now we are ready to begin our adventure in earnest, and what better way is there to start thinking about world peace than by thinking about thinking?


Genesis 3:19


Thomas Paine, Moncure Daniel Conway (ed.), "Useful and Entertaining Hints", The Writings of Thomas Paine (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1894), p. 23.


Some ethicists reject the idea that people own their own bodies.


Kevin P. Keane, "Legal suicide affronts reason," Rocky Mountain News, April 19, 1992.


Susan Love Brown [. . . et. al], The Incredible Bread Machine (San Diego: World Research, Inc., 1974), p. 152.


"Ownership", Webster's New Twentieth Century Dictionary (New York: New World Dictionaries/Simon & Schuster, 1979), p. 1279.


Jonathan R.T. Hughes, The Governmental Habit : Economic Controls from Colonial Times to the Present (New York: Basic Books, Inc., 1977), pp. 15&endash;16.


"fee simple; noun: plural: fees simple. Law. An estate in land of which the inheritor has unqualified ownership and power of disposition." American Heritage Electronic Dictionary (Sausalito, CA: Writing Tools Group, Inc., 1991)


Rebecca Cantwell, "Farm owners get the bill in bond snafu", Rocky Mountain News, March 12, 1989, p. 7.


Thomas Paine, Moncure Daniel Conway (ed.), Op. Cit., p. 74.


An excellent review of the concept of emergent probability is provided in, Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1982), p. 72.


Thomas Paine, Moncure Daniel Conway (ed.) , "Epistle to Quakers", Op. Cit., p. 124.


Eric Hoffer, The True Believer (New York: Harper & Row, 1951), p. 136.


Frederick Bastiat, translation by Dean Russell, The Law (Irvington-On-Hudson NY: The Foundation for Economic Education, Inc., 1990), p. 21.


Frederick Bastiat, translation by Dean Russell, Ibid., p.13.


George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four (New York: New American Library, 1949), p. 220.


Robert Muller, My Testament to the UN (Anacortes, WA: World Happiness and Cooperation, 1992), pp. 118&endash;119.


Thomas Paine, Moncure Daniel Conway (ed.), "Common Sense", Op. Cit., p. 116.


Venita van Caspel, Money Dynamics for the 80's (Reston, VA: Reston Publishing Company, Inc., 1980), p. 3.

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