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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 6/20/14

Wharton Prof, Adviser to the European Union, Says Capitalism Is Starting to Be Replaced By Something Better

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By what, specifically? In short, by a solution for artificially created scarcity and needlessly long hours of tedious work.

This great book was written by a professor (since 1994) at the Wharton School of Business. It was reviewed in an interview on BookTV.org. Jeremy Rifkin, the author, is an adviser to Angela Merkel and the European Union, and at least one of his previous books have been read by the former premier of China who is in all likelihood now reading this one, which provides a grand unifying theory of the author's thinking as expressed in his 20 previous books written over a span of four decades.

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Main points & predictions

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Just as John Maynard Keynes predicted in 1931, new machines and new economic arrangements will finally change what it means to be human. They will undermine our craving for private property and excessive ownership, free us from a great deal of unnecessary toil, and turn us into free agents in a new global "sharing economy," the beginnings of which we already see, with organizational/economic possibilities pioneered by the likes of AirBNB, Uber and Lyft, as well as the millions of non-profit, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that are burgeoning worldwide, including many (here and here) that facilitate cooperative food production & distribution, as well as cooperatively-owned and -built housing.(Close out the first screen to see the important part.)

So, as decently paid jobs become ever more scarce, why shouldn't our government now fund ever more NGOs of a kind that put chronically unemployed, young (and older), dark-skinned (and white) men (and women) to work (at a decent wage) refurbishing run-down housing so that it can be affordably available to all those who have fallen on hard times? In all probability this would be less expensive for taxpayers than spending $50,000/year, each, keeping so many young, disadvantaged, (and mostly minority) men behind bars, often for much of their lives. Even if the government had to pay to have these men taught, on the job, all the skills they needed, it would still be less expensive (for society) than the alternative, which consists of tracking them down, arresting them, prosecuting them and jailing them for years on end, all of which happens after they learn to fight poverty, poor educations, low wages, and job discrimination by resorting to drug peddling, pimping, auto theft, burglary, mugging, or whatever, to make a living.

Here's a city-based NGO Community Housing Development Corporation (CHDC) that has developed 200+ affordable, new or rehabilitated homes and 500+ affordable rental units in Richmond, California. See their past portfolio of CHDC completed developments here. This NGO is currently developing 500+ units of affordable housing in one city. Also see their list of CHDC developments that are in their "pipeline."

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India alone has a million NGOs. By 2008, the IRS had recognized more than 1.9 million tax-exempt organizations (many of them NGOs) in the US, the combined assets of which represented $2 trillion dollars. Most of the larger organizations with tax-exempt status can be found online at this address.

As Rifkin reports in his book, "According to a survey of 40 nations conducted by the Johns Hopkins University Center for Civil Society Studies , the nonprofit Commons accounts for $ 2.2 trillion in operating expenditures. In eight countries surveyed-- the United States , Canada, Japan, France, Belgium, Australia, the Czech Republic, and New Zealand-- the nonprofit sector makes up, on average, 5% of the GDP. Its portion of the GDP in these countries exceeds the GDP of all utilities, and is also equal to the GDP of the construction industry, and is nearly equal to the GDP of banks, insurance companies, and financial services." This sector of the economy, Rifkin says, will continue to grow until it becomes dominant, forcing capitalism to the periphery.

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Several years after receiving my M.A. in social science (interdisciplinary studies) I was an instructor at S.F. State University for a year, but then went back to designing automated machinery, and then tech writing, in Silicon Valley. I've (more...)
 

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