All this talk of legalizing vs outlawing has gotten really interesting. I quit practicing law 20 years ago because I lost faith in law as a way of resolving human differences. For me, every time someone says ‘we need a law’ I see a social/ relational problem that human beings need to work out at a community level. In my experience the issue usually has to do with social power differences, and is intended by well-meaning people who are too strapped for time and resources to get involved themselves. So they ‘pass a law’ – the effect of which is to delegate the responsibility of protecting vulnerable others to some bureaucratic social entity. There, done! Conscience appeased. Now it’s someone else’s responsibility to care and make everything right. With rare exceptions, it doesn’t. Yes, in the short run, the new legal protection often becomes a hot issue and benefits a few early adapters. But the existing, damaging power structures typically remain unchanged. The overall effect is that those with power find a new way around it eventually – sometimes even to more advantage than they had in the first place. Plus, the law usually privileges one marginalized group over another. This upsets the existing balance between low totem groups – with the result that these competing outsider groups end up hating each other more. Long and short, I don’t believe in laws. I do, however, believe in principles – Like: 1. like one person, one vote; and 2. no one gets seconds until everyone else has firsts, and 3. we’re all members of a human family and the most important thing any of us can do who say we want a better world is to do the difficult, challenging relational work of learning how to treat each other that way. A word more about this ‘Human Family’ thang: The essence of any family worthy of the name is that it cares about its members and tries to do right by them . Yes, there are rules, but the rules are flexible and able to adapt to individual needs. When the family is feeling happy, well and good about each other, the rules are barely thought of – even though, in practice they may be broken a lot. The only time the rules are cited, is when family members feel threatened – usually because something isn’t working in the family’s relationships between members or with the outside work. This kind of tension is rarely fixed with a rule. The rule, if any, is merely a symbol that family members have worked out the tension between them, renegotiated the balance of power, and now have a coherent plan for going forward. Once the relationships start working – and people feel good about each other again, most challenges are handled by the give and take of natural good will. Often, there new rule is soon forgotten and become irrelevant. That’s a very different concept than enacting laws. Laws are basically needed to referee power imbalances and insure fairness when people: 1. don’t care about each other 2. don’t want to bother to spend time getting to know each other. I’d argue, if that’s the case, and that’s your starting point, then you’re going to fail no matter what law you pass. Trying to create a society that leaves people free to not give a rip about the welfare of their neighbors and communities, IS IN ITSELF a recipe for power abuses and self-dealing. In other words, the fallacy is that laws protect us. They don’t. The way to protect us is to structure society in ways that encourages people to care about each other. That’s why Oldhead and others are so correct when they assert that capitalism is doomed. People say that the kind of radical change I’m talking about isn’t possible but it is. It requires a change in consciousness and a deliberate change in intention as to how we see and relate to each other. It also requires the social will to free up the resources, time and energy for families and neighbors to spend with each other. That because one of the best ways to foster caring is to 1. take away their need to compete with each other for basic survival needs 2. see people as allies (offering advantages) instead of enemies (depleting resources) 3. see people as being more like you than different on the inside (which takes trust, which takes time and energy to build). To be sure, almost no one has that kind of freedom in this society – but we could. We really could decide to adopt a safety net that guarantees a minimum standard of living in return for a willingness to participate in making available the necessary basic level of resources that everyone wants and needs. Again, its a matter of ‘will’ not ‘way.’ At any rate, whether it’s possible or not, that’s the world I want to live in. So, to the extent I’m able, I’m voting with my life for that.