Monday, March 17, 2014

Someone actually wrote this: Jeremy Rifkin, "The Rise of Anti-Capitalism"

I've previously noted the weirdly popular view that because we are approaching a post-scarcity economy, we should determine our political and economic beliefs accordingly. Now, in this column in The New York Times, Jeremy Rifkin attempts to prove that we are approaching what he calls "a zero-marginal-cost economy." Let's look at some of his examples:
The first inkling of the paradox came in 1999 when Napster, the music service, developed a network enabling millions of people to share music without paying the producers and artists, wreaking havoc on the music industry.

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This phenomenon has even penetrated the manufacturing sector. Thousands of hobbyists are already making their own products using 3-D printers, open-source software and recycled plastic as feedstock, at near zero marginal cost.

So how is this going to work in the rest of the economy? Will we be able to 3D-print everything from cars to electronics in our own homes, or will we just download new ones, as with Napster?

Lest you think that Mr. Rifkin is alone in thinking such things, he informs us, "Industry watchers acknowledge the creeping reality of a zero-marginal-cost economy...." He never identifies those industry watchers, though. As far as he lets on, they could be roadside psychics, and why would I not be surprised?

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