Posted 19 January 2009 - 07:21 PM
Watching Booktv.org this weekend, I caught part of a discussion by Gar Alperovitz and Lew Daly: Unjust deserts: how the rich are taking our common inheritance and why we should take it back. The discussion took place on 1/9/09 at The Center for American Progress They were proposing an economy based on shared knowledge rather than on accumulated wealth. Premises included: all knowledge is based on social knowledge in the public domain; most inventions are inevitable, and most scientific discoveries, as historians have discovered, have often been the result of several people or teams working on new developments at the same time; even accumulated wealth is based on knowledge that has been gathered for generations. Audience members made even more radical proposals, speaking about all materials having at some point been derived from the earth, so ethics requires us to invest in the natural infrastructure; any kind of economy is based on carbon, and carbon-based life forms have existed on earth for at least 3.5 billion years. There was discussion of how to achieve fair payment, fee structure, education, and perhaps taxation based on an information economy, with an emphasis placed on spreading the ability to gain knowledge, whether in technical, cultural, artistic, or other areas important to human endeavors and the human spirit.
Social mobility has been limited for countless generations by monopolies or by limiting access to knowledge, any kind of knowledge. In a knowledge economy, computer techs and computer programmers who are really good at what they do and are helpful to the community at large would be rewarded on a much fairer basis, and would have a more favorable position in society. School teachers would receive better salaries. After hearing that discussion this weekend, it made me wonder if perhaps some of the socially-privileged do not want knowledge to be shared very equitably, nor do they wish for opportunities in better education to become more easily available.
The major problems that I can see: how does one organize, manage or structure agencies/associations/corporations, etc., in such an economy, and how would fair remuneration/fair payment for governmental services be determined? I fear that bureaucracies will always be with us, and bureaucracies are often top-heavy with useless administrators and mid-level management and have insufficient numbers of grunts (the people who do the real work and know what's really going on) at the bottom. Why do so many government and private outfits go under in tough economic times? One reason is poor organizational structure which does not encourage a useful flow of information upward.
Open source and shareware applications have started us on this path. Where do we go from here?