Monthly Archives: September 2012

Audio from my speech in Austin

Thanks to the wonderful organizers at Cooperation Texas, I recently had the chance to address a gathering of co-op activists at the 5604 Manor space in Austin.  Here’s the audio from my talk:

Download the mp3 file * Watch the video

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Podcast: Discussing 2012 election prospects with Ian Masters

Journalist Ian Masters hosts a daily radio news show on Pacifica Radio’s KPFK station in Los Angeles, and conducted a half-hour interview on the possible upshots of the 2012 elections and what they might mean for working people and communities.

Listen now:

Download this segment

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If You Don’t Like Capitalism, and You Don’t Like Socialism, What Do You Want?

If You Don’t Like Capitalism, and You Don’t Like Socialism, What Do You Want?

The Possibility of a Pluralist Commonwealth and a Community Sustaining Economy



It is increasingly obvious that the United States faces systemic problems. Income and wealth disparities have become severe and corrosive of democratic possibilities. Unemployment, poverty, and environmental challenges deepen day by day. Corporate power now dominates decision-making through lobbying, uncontrolled contributions, and political advertising. The planet itself is threatened by global warming. The lives of millions are compromised by economic and social pain. Our communities are in decay.

Is there any way forward?

In this accessible introduction, Gar Alperovitz and Steve Dubb outline the principles of an emerging alternative system, one based on projects emerging all across America which democratize wealth, decentralize power, rebuild communities, and help create a sustainable future.

Read for free online

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You Really Didn’t Build That

As Mitt Romney and the Republican establishment continues to attack President Obama for daring to claim that business owners depend on public infrastructure to make a profit, many commentators on the left are pointing out the irony of how such and such Republican business person decrying the “you didn’t build that” line received such and such direct subsidy from the government.  But this misses the larger point: in a technologically advanced society like our own, gains in productivity are overwhelmingly attributable first and foremost to the rapidly growing common inheritance of human knowledge, a point I explored in depth in my book with Lew Daly, Unjust Deserts.

More about the book: Unjust Deserts: How the Rich Are Taking Our Common Inheritance and Why We Should Take It Back

Podcast:  A discussion of Unjust Deserts at Washington, D.C.’s Politics and Prose:

[ Download this segment * Subscribe on iTunes * Podcast link ]

Article in Truthout: How the 99 Percent Really Lost Out – in Far Greater Ways Than the Occupy Protesters Imagine

The biggest “theft” by the 1 percent has been of the primary source of wealth – knowledge – for its own benefit.

Knowledge? Yes, of course, and increasingly so. The fact is, most of what we call wealth is now known to be overwhelmingly the product of technical, scientific and other knowledge – and most of this innovation derives from socially inherited knowledge, at that. Which means that, except for trivial amounts, it was simply not created by the 1 percent who enjoy the lion’s share of its benefits. Most of it was created, historically, by society – which is to say, minimally, the other 99 percent.

Interview about the book: Dissent Magazine

Basically the story is that we have moved from a labor-intensive, small-scale farming economy to a knowledge-based information economy. In the process, the sources of growth have changed, but it’s important to understand that individuals have not really changed. We work no harder today than our ancestors did in 1800 or in the ancient past, and just the same, we are no more intelligent, in terms of basic brain capacity and reasoning ability. The cave paintings of earliest human culture are works of roughly the same basic intelligence as the theory of relativity. Let’s hold that thought: Essentially, we work no harder and are no more intelligent than our ancestors from the near or even the ancient past.

And yet our economy is more than 1,000 times larger than it was in 1800, and the best measure of prosperity, per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP)—the amount of output the economy generates for every person—is twenty times higher today than it was in the early nineteenth century (it was $42,000 in 2006, the equivalent of almost $170,000 for a family of four). The key to this growth, experts agree, is rising productivity, usually measured in terms of the amount of output per hour of work, which rose more than fifteen-fold since 1870.



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