April 09, 2007

Capitalism 3.0: replacing government with government

Robert Costanza reviews Peter Barnes's Capitalism 3.0: A Guide to Reclaiming the Commons in Nature and endorses his idea of creating trusts to manage the "commons" - "the atmosphere, clean water, oceans, airwaves, social networks, cultures and many other things that are essential to sustainable human well-being, but that either cannot or should not be put under private ownership." According to Barnes and Costanza communism "put too many assets into the commons" while current capitalism "puts too few, [...] or leaves them as open access to be plundered by private interests," leading to the "depletion" of "our natural and social capital assets." Costanza writes:
One could argue that governments (especially democratic ones) already represent the public interest and the commons sector of the economy, and in some cases may even overrepresent it. But governments have too often become the representatives of private corporate (rather than public) interests and are thus not performing this function adequately, leaving the commons underrepresented, undervalued and underprotected.
But, how can government-appointed or government-like (and perhaps non-democratic) trusts overcome these and other government-related problems? Costanza admits of having no answers to this question. He thus sends us back at the very same place where we started.

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