The Uncommon Commons | Dissident Voice

Peter Barnes co-founder, president, or a director of various socially responsible businesses, wants “capitalism 3.0” to replace “capitalism 2.0,” the existing economic “operating system.” He complains that corporations, with no resistance from “our” government, are privatizing the commons, profiting from it and externalizing the costs.

He defines “the commons” as assets we all share by inheriting or creating them together and subdivides them into three sectors, nature, community, and culture. Together they represent our “common wealth” (a most insightful concept), in contrast to our “private wealth,” the latter representing all the property we inherit or accumulate individually. Private wealth collectively in the U.S. was estimated to be around $48.5 trillion in 2005. What do you think our total American common wealth is? Economists can’t begin to estimate it in its entirety, but what they can estimate, Barnes tells us, comes to about $70 trillion. Is it any wonder then why, as Barnes asks, corporations on the one hand take valuable stuff “worth trillions of dollars” from the commons for short-term profit and on the other hand dump bad stuff into nature’s commons and pay nothing?

His proposal relies heavily on the idea of property rights because our U.S. Constitution guarantees them, they shape economies, they produce value or wealth, and, most importantly, there’s no requirement that they be concentrated in profit-maximizing…

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