Fair Warning about civilizations threat to itself

Submitted by Charles Frost on Sun, 01/03/2010 - 21:17.


An amazing Jeremy Rifkin interview (in english).

Definitely worth the time!!!

Nobody sees the coming crisis :-(

I had to let this video load a fair amount of time to watch it unbroken.



Jeremy Rifkin (born 1945,[1] Denver, Colorado), founder and president of the Foundation on Economic Trends (FOET) and creator of the Third Industrial Revolution (TIR), is an American economist, writer, public speaker and activist who seeks to shape public policy in the United States and globally.

He advised the government of France during its presidency of the European Union (July 1 to December 31, 2008). Rifkin also served as an adviser to Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, Prime Minister Jose Socrates of Portugal, and Prime Minister Janez Janša of Slovenia, during their respective European Council Presidencies, on issues related to the economy, climate change, and energy security. He currently advises the European Commission, the European Parliament, and several EU heads of government, including Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero of Spain and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany.

Rifkin has testified before numerous congressional committees and has engaged in litigation extensively to ensure "responsible" government policies on a variety of environmental, scientific and technology related issues. Since 1994, Rifkin has been a fellow at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton Executive Education Program, lecturing CEOs and senior corporate management from around the world on new trends in science and technology.

From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeremy_Rifkin


Thanks Bill! I appreciate this sort of big picture thinking. I am feeling so invigorated now, that I am going to go out and shovel my driveway and walks! The distribution argument with the open source model is totally hopeful for folks like you and me who are concerned not only with having energy, but also with global social justice. Whoda thunk that some hippies might offer a vision?

I encourage everyone to take 30 minutes to be inspired by this video interview.

Happy New Year, Bill!

peeling off the top?

Sometimes I see wheels turning slowly, but with the internet things can happen faster. For example, Debra just posted a link to Democracy Now's move your money launch. Could this idea, which began this still lingering holiday season, really disable the too-big-to-fail banks? Can the internet allow people with ideas to reform a global economy by simply getting a church key into the top of that can? This will be interesting to watch. It will be interesting to see if it is possible for the masses to drain all the hubris and elitism out of big dollar mongers... nonpartisan? This might be the one issue on which blue and red can agree.

the growth of the Third Sector - Rifkin

In 1995 I was up to my ears in running an arts non-profit. Most of my waking hours (those not spent rearing a child) were invested in that activity. It was not until I extricated myself from that 80 hour a week devotion that I had the time to think more broadly about the economy and my place in it. I suspect that there are many in the US who, with the unemployment rate rising steadily, are having time now to consider what's next.

Before you posted this video interview, Bill, I was unaware of Jeremy Rifkin. I just had my head in a hole I guess. So since I was so taken with his world view based on that half hour, I decided to do a bit more research. I found this 1995 article which might have seemed like science fiction then, but is certainly ringing true today: The Jobs Letter.

In this letter, Rifkin posits that we will see the end to the blue collar sector, the market sector and that it will be replaced with more work in the civil sector. This is interesting because just the other day I was having a conversation in which one speaker said that he would suggest that we change the name of the nonprofit sector to the "public benefit sector". He said that when you tell someone that you work in the nonprofit sector they immediately think of the market sector and a business in the market sector that does not turn a profit is a failure right in the door. It is a subtle semantic argument, but one that Rifkin makes eloquently.

With automation there will be need for fewer and fewer people working in manufacturing. The service economy was supposed to be the next big thing, but it has quickly been revealed as a blip rather than something which could last a century or more (like the industrial revolution which replaced family farms and tightly knit small communities and drove the growth of urban living). Even the Information Age does not hold the key for the millions who are or will soon be unelmployed.

Acknowledging that both the manufacturing and service sectors are quickly re-engineering their infrastructures and automating their production processes, many mainstream economists and politicians have pinned their hopes on new job opportunities along the information superhighway and in cyberspace. Although the "knowledge sector" will create some new jobs, they will be too few to absorb the millions of workers displaced by the new technologies.

He goes on to discuss the shorter workweek as a way to begin the transition to a rearrangement of the market/manufacturing sector.

Even with a much-reduced workweek, the United States and every other nation are still going to have to address the problem of finding alternative forms of work for the millions of people who are no longer needed to produce goods and services for an increasingly automated market economy. Up to now, the marketplace and government have been looked to, almost exclusively, for solutions to the growing economic crisis. Today, with the market economy less able to provide permanent jobs and with the government retreating from its traditional role of employer of last resort, the nation's civil sector may be the best hope for absorbing the millions of displaced workers.

While politicians traditionally divide the economy into a spectrum running from the marketplace on one side to the government on the other, it is more accurate to think of society as a three-legged stool made up of the market sector, the government sector and the civil sector. The first leg creates market capital, the second leg creates public capital and the third leg creates social capital. Of the three legs, the oldest and most important, but least acknowledged, is the civil sector.

In another article A View of the Future The Good Life in The Post-Market Age he posits:

THE YEAR is 2045. Life for most people is quite different today from what it was half a century ago. Perhaps the greatest visible change is the diminishing role of the economic marketplace in day-to-day affairs. Now that we are deep into the Information Age, most of the world's goods and services are produced in nearly workerless factories and marketed by virtual companies run by a small team of entrepreneurs and highly trained professionals. Sophisticated computers, robots, and state-of-the-art telecommunications technologies have replaced the "worker" of the industrial era. Less than 20 percent of the adult population works full time.

Most people receive their economic livelihood, in the form of voucher payments, from their local governing body in return for community service work in non-profit organizations. The vouchers are financed by the imposition of a value-added tax on high-tech goods and services.

Their projects run the gamut from helping take care of children and the elderly to working in preventive health programs, local art galleries, park maintenance, history projects, adult education, community gardens, and neighborhood sports teams as well as religious and political activities. Interestingly enough, the kind of nurturing and community-building skills that characterize work in the volunteer sector are the least vulnerable to replacement by computers, robots, and telecommunications technology.

So as I have long ago learned I prefer to work with - not for an employer. I prefer to work with others for a cause or a public benefit. I might finally find my niche in Rifkin's world view. I have worked for others and found them slow to see and/or adopt changes that would make their businesses better, more user friendly, more profitable. I have worked in a nonprofit sector that is bent on making a profit. It is when I have dedicated myself to the public benefit that I seem most fulfilled.

It is unlikely that I will be around to see 2045, but as Rifkin says in his interview, the world is changing more rapidly than we may have previously thought. Open water at the poles by 2020? Maybe, maybe not. But did that guy whose livelihood depended on building wooden and metal wheels for horse-drawn buggies and wagons see Ford and Goodyear coming? Did Cleveland see the end to the industrial revolution en route like a speeding train? Between now and then a transition to more pockets of community in this region will be difficult, but placing one's hopes and taxpayer dollars in the growth of manufacturing to create work for Clevelanders (or anyone for that matter) may be just pissing in the wind. It certainly seems that way to me at least.