We have a think tank on Martha's Vineyard. Because most of the foundation money in the country has dried up we do not have an official building and must hold our meetings on the beach. But the weighty problems of the world are still discussed in depth.
For example, at the last session a professor from Harvard revealed some startling statistics. He said that at the present rate of production there would be 300 billion more test tubes in the world in the year 2000 than there are today.
If each one of these test tubes were used to produce one baby there would not be enough food to supply the world's population.
A woman who heads up the Planned Parenthood Society of West Tisbury said her organization was willing to support a program to put a limit on the number of test tubes made in any given year.
This met with an immediate response from the pro-test tube advocates, who asserted that it was a sin to interfere with new test tubes.
"By destroying test tubes," one of them said, "you are impeding the forward march of chemistry. We will not stand idly by and see anyone break a test tube which could someday be used as a means of fertilizing an egg."
A dean from MIT tried to find a middle ground. "We should not ban the manufacture of test tubes by law. What we have to do is educate the world's population that it must face the consequences if it uses test tubes indiscriminately. We must strive for zero-base test tube manufacturing goal, and only replace those that have been broken or lost in laboratories.
The Planned Parenthood spokeswoman would have none of it.
"In my opinion we should sterilize every test tube that comes off the line. We can't allow them to proliferate and endanger the whole human race."
The pro-test tube man angrily kicked sand in the Planned Parenthood spokeswoman's face. "Who are you to say what we should or should not do with glass? The test tube is one of the greatest miracles of mankind. By sterilizing test tubes you are interfering with the laws of nature. Our organization will fight for the right of any glass company to make as many test tubes as it wants to."
The Harvard professor said, "I believe this is a serious mistake. We know from our research figures that most of the major powers would not take advantage of their test tubes. But we must think about the Third World countries, which in many cases cannot feed their populations now. If they can get a large supply of test tubes God knows what they'll do with them. Perhaps the solution to the problem would be to put an embargo on test tubes to those countries that cannot feed themselves."
"It won't work," the MIT dean said. "You can't keep the manufacture of test tubes secret for any length of time. With the right materials even a college kid could be able to make one in his basement."
"Then what is the solution?" I asked.
"I think this is a personal matter between a woman and her glass blower. If she wants a test tube then she should be allowed to have one," someone said.
"What about the husband?" a man asked. "Doesn't he have a say in the matter?"
"Only if he gets involved in what the woman wants to do with the test tube."
The meeting broke up in anger. The pro-test tube advocates started making signs for a demonstration in front of the Martha's Vineyard Hospital.
The Planned Parenthood group threatened a counter-demonstration against the Owens Corning Glass Co. And a chemistry professor from Yale said he and his team were now working on a pill that could be put in a test tube to prevent anything sexual happening.