CURRENT STATE OF DEVELOPMENT
At this writing, Wyzdom’s total population stands at 42,600,000, approximately the size of a large Earth city. Seventy percent of the people live on the Jan Plateau, yet the population density there remains slightly less than four persons per square kilometer. All immigrants land on the Plateau, the most Earth-like region of the planet. A majority of these remain there permanently. About five percent of Wyzdom’s population consists of immigrants, the balance being native born; this contrasts sharply with the newer colonies. The average income of immigrants is only six percent lower than that of the population as a whole, a remarkable fact when one considers that immigrants arrive with no real assets save their knowledge and skills. Fewer immigrants earn incomes in the lower 20 percent of the planet’s population, which suggests that immigrants have more consistent economic success than the native population.
Despite shaky beginnings, Wyzdom has developed an industrial base that offers its residents as high a physical standard of living as on Earth. Food consists primarily of plants and animals brought from Earth and cultivated on the colony. Corn, wheat, and barley comprise the staple crops of the Plateau, although rice is increasingly popular in the warmer lowland regions. The Plateau’s climate is varied enough to support most Earthly fruits and vegetables from apples, cherries, and beans in the north to citrus, grapes, kiwi, and squash in the south. Earth’s heavy beef cattle have not adapted well to the planet’s high gravity, but smaller dairy cattle and sheep are raised for their milk as well as their meat. Goats and rabbits have been deliberately excluded from the Plateau because they become wild so easily. In the absence of natural enemies, these harmless creatures would devastate the countryside’s vegetation.
Wyzdom is slowly developing its own unique cuisine that makes heavy use of spices and vegetables native to the planet, as well as of native “bird” eggs. Colonists have domesticated several species of these flying creatures and produce their eggs commercially. Since Wyzdom lacks native grains and fruits, leaves and roots provide the vegetable input to Wyzdomite cooking. The broad, crisp leaves of the Panjam Pad, a kind of water lily, form one of the most popular vegetables. Generally served raw, they may be lightly sauteed or deep fried. Dishes partaking of both native and Earth foods are most common. Kharbog Bulgar, for example, consists of a mixture of Bulgar wheat and kharbog, a soft and nutty tasting root, cooked together with a variety of native spices.
In an expanding society, shelter remains one of the most important consumer industries. Most Wyzdomites live in single-family dwellings sprinkled sparsely across the landscape. Virgin land remains available for claim in all major industrial regions, and economical transportation allows Wyzdomites to work relatively far from their homes. Most homes are built from modular sections manufactured by more than 20 companies, although in a few cases, individuals construct their homes themselves from traditional materials such as wood, stone, and glass. About 20 percent of the population maintains homes in major cities, usually in high-rise structures designed for many families, though most city dwellers also own country homes they can escape to for more privacy.
Almost every type of manufactured consumer good found on Earth from bioscanners, somafields, autoservers, and androids to furniture, clothing, toys and games can be purchased on Wyzdom. The variety of styles is somewhat more limited than on Earth, however, and Wyzdomites appear less style-conscious than Earth people about all things from clothing to computaplex terminals.
Because o f its low population density, Wyzdomites rely primarily on antigravity cars and trucks for personal as well as commercial transportation. Most vehicles employ advanced designs including fully-automatic or semi-automatic guidance control. Large commercial vehicles travel without any Human operator over preprogrammed routes between cities. In the larger cities, antigravs prove impractical, and high density guideways transport people and freight. For long trips, such as from Jan Plateau to New Georgia, supersonic antigrav transports fly over regularly scheduled routes. At this writing, construction is proceeding on the planet’s first bulk transport conduit under the Allahm Mountains to reduce the number of bulk-carrying antigravs making the trip between the Plateau and New Georgia.
Despite the high gravity, Wyzdomites boast excellent health records in comparison with people on Earth. Injury and sickness have not vanished. Falls, even from modest heights, can prove quite serious; so medical services remain a necessity. These services, provided solely by private individuals or companies, span a wide variety of medical theory. No licensing laws exist on Wyzdom; anyone is free to give medical treatment. Because of this, Wyzdomites choose their physicians very circumspectly, and degrees from the famed Hadar School of Medicine are valued highly.
Education for everyone from children to centegenarians is common. Unlike Earth people, Wyzdomites purchase schooling like any other service from a variety of sources, ranging from private tutors to not-for-profit cooperatives. Ready access to computer-aided instruction allows self-education to a very high degree, even for young children. Of course, some parents do not provide well for the education of their offspring, and, without doubt, these children are disadvantaged. Since Wyzdom is a young and growing society no stigma is attached to adults who catch up on education missed in their early lives. Retraining for new jobs or professions also is quite common as economic needs change and new opportunities arise.
Industry and Technology
An industrial infrastructure as comprehensive as Earth’s, if not as large, supports the wide range of Wyzdom’s consumer goods and services. Energy and materials production, capital equipment, manufacturing, transportation of goods, communications, banking and distributing employ almost 50 percent of Wyzdom’s working population.
Wyzdomites are beginning to develop technology that has improved the efficiency and quality of Earth’s industries. The bipolar computer-link technique; pre-conceptual, real-time DNA manipulation, field-reinforced space frames, and the formula for Centauri stones number among the most important of the many industrial techniques and processes invented on Wyzdom. During the coming century, the importance of Wyzdom’s contributions will no doubt increase dramatically.
Governments play smaller roles in the daily lives of Wyzdomites than of Earth people. An excerpt from Medhat Hadar’s address to the colony on the day he stepped down as dictator best summarizes this tradition.
“For five years I have held absolute power over this planet as few have held it in Human history, and I have learned much about what such power implies. Political power cannot exist without economic power. Those who hold the weapons can be no more than lackeys of those who control the grain silos. Once a government wields power over the livelihood of its people, its power will grow inexorably, until its control is absolute. This is true of all forms of government, whether elected by the people or not. I have therefore, in consultation with the wisest people of the colony, devised a constitution which I hope will forever divide the force of arms from the power of industry.”
Since that time, though, Wyzdom has grown from a single settlement to a widely dispersed industrial society, Wyzdomites have maintained the maxim that government’s sole responsibility is to protect the rights of individuals against harmful actions by others, including not only acts of violence and theft, but breach of contract, fraud, and wanton environmental destruction.
The constitution of the planetary government drafted by Medhat Hadar remains the supreme law in effect today. Hadar knew that as Wyzdom grew, its need for regional and local governments would grow, and he therefore allowed for the formation of these. He entrusted the planetary government with only those powers required to guarantee rights, such as freedom from search and seizure and the right to a writ of habeas corpus. Property may not be confiscated, except for payment of a lawful, contractual debt. No government may subsidize any industry, control prices, restrict output, or set arbitrary standards for any product, service, or commodity. Taxation in all forms may not exceed two percent of any person’s income, and no government with the power to tax may enter into any business, save operating courts of justice, police, and planetary defense.
The planetary constitution divides the government into two parts: a policy-making and legislative arm, called the High Council of the Executive, and a judicial branch culminating in the Supreme Court of Justices. The general population elects only the High Council members. Taxpaying citizens are accorded votes in proportion to the taxes they pay. The High Council consists of 11 members who serve for six-year terms expiring on a rotating basis. The Council elects one member to a yearlong term as Chief Executive and appoints key members of the executive branch: Chief of Police, Chief Prosecutor, and Director of the Treasury, GAILE liaison officer, Chief of Administration, and Community Liaison Officer. The High Council makes most laws, although any legislation may be introduced by petition of voters and passed by popular vote. A simple majority of the Council or the voters is required to pass regulations. A two-thirds majority is required to sell bonds or levy taxes, and a unanimous Council vote, combined with 90 percent approval of the population, is required to amend the constitution. It has been amended only five times since its writing.
The Supreme Court of Justices, appointed by the High Council for 30-year terms, forms the highest court to which any decision of a public or private court may be appealed. The Court may review the constitutionality of any existing law. Justices whose terms have expired may request to be admitted to vote with the present court on all matters relating to constitutionality. The High Council also appoints judges to lower courts, but the constitution permits all disputes to be submitted to nongovernmental judges acceptable to both parties. This system prevents clogging of the courts by allowing people to pay to have disputes resolved.
Wyzdom’s limited government appears to work. Crime is low, perhaps because opportunities exist for anyone willing to work, perhaps because “o rganized” crime is small. Of course, Human society will always harbor those who prefer to take their livelihood from others, but Wyzdomite governments have managed to cope with them. Justice is “retributive” rather than “punitive,” meaning that emphasis is placed on the criminal’s repayment of his crime and associated costs. For example, someone guilty of computer embezzlement would be required to pay back all that he stole, plus interest, tracing fees, and the cost of his trial. A person found guilty of assault would have to pay damages to his victim, plus the cost of tracking him down and trying him. Victims have some say in these judicial matters, and may request that the criminally insane be confined to institutions.
Perhaps as Wyzdom grows older and more crowded, the current governmental institutions will prove inadequate. Yet Hadar’s constitution has served through many changes in the society, and, if anything, the system of free enterprise has proved its adaptability.