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This has been translated into Polish here:

Unfortunately this is just the course of action that is beingpursued by the United Nations. In late 1967, some thirty nationsagreed to the following: "The Universal Declaration of HumanRights describes the family as the natural and fundamental unitof society. It follows that any choice and decision with regardto the size of the family must irrevocably rest with the familyitself, and cannot be made by anyone else.''

By Carlo M. Cipollaillustrations by James Donnelly

Instead of considering the welfare of the individual let us consider the welfare of the society, regarded in this context as the algebraic sum of the individual conditions. A full understanding of the Fifth Basic Law is essential to the analysis. It may be parenthetically added here that of the Five Basic Laws, the Fifth is certainly the best known and its corollary is quoted very frequently. The Fifth Basic Law states that:

The result of the action of a perfect bandit (the person who falls on line OM of figure 2) is purely and simply a transfer of wealth and/or welfare. After the action of a perfect bandit, the bandit has a plus on his account which plus is exactly equivalent to the minus he has caused to another person. The society as a whole is neither better nor worse off. If all members of a society were perfect bandits the society would remain stagnant but there would be no major disaster. The whole business would amount to massive transfers of wealth and welfare in favour of those who would take action. If all members of the society would take action in regular turns, not only the society as a whole but also individuals would find themselves in a perfectly steady state of no change.


A stupid person is the most dangerous type of person.

each human family were dependent only on its ownresources; the children of improvident parents starvedto death; thus, over breeding brought its own"punishment" to the germ line -- therewould be no public interest in controlling the breeding offamilies. But our society is deeply committed to the welfarestate, and hence is confronted withanother aspect of the tragedy of the commons.

The corollary of the Law is that:

That helpless people, namely those who in our accounting system fall into the H area, do not normally recognize how dangerous stupid people are, is not at all surprising. Their failure is just another expression of their helplessness. The truly amazing fact, however, is that also intelligent people and bandits often fail to recognize the power to damage inherent in stupidity. It is extremely difficult to explain why this should happen and one can only remark that when confronted with stupid individuals often intelligent men as well as bandits make the mistake of indulging in feelings of self-complacency and contemptuousness instead of immediately secreting adequate quantities of adrenaline and building up defenses.

A stupid person is more dangerous than a bandit.

The tragedy of the commons is involved in population problemsin another way. In a world governed solely by the principle of"dog eat dog" --if indeed there ever was such aworld--how many children a family had would not be a matter ofpublic concern. Parents who bred too exuberantly would leavefewer descendants, not more, because they would be unable to careadequately for their children. David Lack and others have foundthat such a negative feedback demonstrably controls the fecundityof birds. But men are not birds, and havenot acted like them for millenniums, at least.

1. J. B. Wiesner and H. F. York, 211 (No. 4), 27 (1964).

It is a mistake to think that we can control the breeding ofmankind in the long run by an appeal to conscience. CharlesGalton Darwin made this point when he spoke on the centennial ofthe publication of his grandfather's great book. The argument isstraightforward and Darwinian.

4. J. H. Fremlin, No.415 (1964), p. 285.

Prohibition is easy to legislate (though not necessarily toenforce); but how do we legislate temperance? Experienceindicates that it can be accomplished best through the mediationof administrative law. We limit possibilities unnecessarily if wesuppose that the sentiment of denies us theuse of administrative law. We should rather retain the phrase asa perpetual reminder of fearful dangers we cannot avoid. Thegreat challenge facing us now is to invent the correctivefeedbacks that are needed to keep custodians honest. We must findways to legitimate the needed authority of both the custodiansand the corrective feedbacks.