Walt Taylor. Trafford Publishing, $17.95 Isbn 1-55212-234-4
His thesis is simple enough. On one hand the world is plagued by environmental and military crises. On the other, millions of people are unemployed. Can't we marry these twin evils and in their union make something of a resolution? Can't we put people to work saving the earth?
Walt Taylor, now in his '80s, who has been pondering this question for decades, sets out a two-part plan: identify the world's most pressing jobs (such as reducing climate change and promoting nuclear abolition), then raise the money necessary to fund them. He envisions the project being undertaken by non-governmental organizations which would gather themselves into a "Waging Peace Coalition" and establish the "Trillion Dollars-Per-Year Fund" he thinks necessary to make the thing fly. (Why $1 trillion? That's what the world spends annually on war.)
The crux, as always, is financing. He urges NGOs to put aside their individual fund-raising efforts and embark on a cooperative campaign, arguing this would be attractive to donors and produce larger gifts. Well, maybe. I've been in fund-raising many years but remain unconvinced. I think donors prefer the specificity of targeted niche organizations. From the fact I give to Oxfam, Peacefund and The Council of Canadians it doesn't follow I would give to a new umbrella group they participate in - much less that I would increase my contribution's size. Taylor thinks that because his project is of titanic importance - it is! - the money will be forthcoming.
I don't want to be completely dismissive of his fund-raising proposals, for he offers at least one useful suggestion: appeal to members of the "Responsible Wealth" organization. These people - among the top five per cent of American earners - are disarmingly honest about the source of their money (much of it comes "not from our own ingenuity and effort, but from the labor of others...") and seem willing to support projects such as Taylor's.
The strength of Waging Peace for a Living is not its details but the work's boldness (who else talks about a trillion dollar fund?) and the seriousness with which it treats environmental catastrophe. On a more theoretical level, it offers profound insight into why unemployment is so tragic; at the very moment when our survival depends on certain jobs being done, the people who could do them stand idle.
Reviewed by Gideon Forman, a board member of Peacefund Canada.