Peter Barnes shows us how to build a new economic sector that is held in trust for future generations. Ecosystems and their services would be managed for long-term benefit rather than short-term profit, and all Americans would get cash dividends.
Ben Cohen, co-founder, Ben & Jerry’s
What You Can Do
We come at last to the inescapable question: what can each of us do to help build Capitalism 3.0?
Earlier, I noted that corporations dominate American government most, but not all, of the time. Once or twice per century, there are brief openings during which non-corporate forces reign. No one can say when the next such opening will occur, but it’s safe to say that it will. We must be ready when it comes to build a strong, self-perpetuating commons sector, not easily dismantled when the political wheel turns again.
Being ready then means getting busy now. We should, first of all, start noticing and talking about our common wealth. Whenever we see it, we should point to it and let the world know to whom it belongs.
Second, we should demand more birthrights and property rights than we have now. Rights that belong to everyone. Rights built into our operating system. Rights that protect future generations as well as our own.
Third, we should imagine and design multiple pieces of the commons sector — that is, organized forms we want the commons to take. And we should build and test our models wherever possible...
The road to a new operating system isn’t short or clearly lighted. We — meaning all of us together—will have to agree first on premises, and then on some basic design principles. We’ll have to test theoretical models in the real world, then debug them as needed. Eventually, we’ll have to scale up.
What I’ve sought to do in this book is to light this road. I’ve imagined a new operating system and called it Capitalism 3.0, though the name matters less than the substance. It involves balancing our selfish desires with our joint responsibilities, and embodying those responsibilities in our economic operating system.
What’s particularly nice about Capitalism 3.0 is that we can install it one piece at a time. We needn’t shut the machine down, or delete the old operating system, before installing the new one. Indeed, we’re not even replacing most of the old operating system, which is fine as it is. Rather, we’re attaching add-ons, or plug-ins, that allow for a gradual and safe transition.
These add-ons will curb our current engine’s unchecked excesses. When illth of one sort gets too great, the new bits of code will crank the illth valve down, or give authority to trustworthy humans to do so. If money circulates too unequally, the new code will alter the circulation. It will make similar adjustments when there’s too much corporate distortion of culture, communities, or democracy itself.
Not everything, however, will change. Winners in the marketplace will still enjoy privileges. Government won’t overregulate our private lives or businesses. Nobody’s private property will be expropriated. Markets will remain dynamic.
And, for businesspeople, here’s the best part: Capitalism 3.0 will preserve the driving force of American capitalism, the profit-maximizing algorithm. All Americans will benefit both from nature’s health and from the health of corporations.