Capitalism 3.0 by Peter Barnes


Peter Barnes' new book "Capitalism 3.0," is revolutionary. Several years ago Barnes, who co-founded Working Assets, developed the idea of an atmospheric commons in his earlier book "Who Owns the Sky?" (which influenced the McCain-Lieberman Climate Stewardship Act). He has now extended this idea to provide a foundation for a whole new vision of capitalism in which government is no longer responsible for protecting the commons: Trusts, chartered to protect particular commons, are.

Barnes' book is endorsed by such progressive luminaries as Frances Moore Lappe, George Lakoff, Michael Pollan, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Ben Cohen, and Carl Pope, ED of the Sierra Club. At the same time, Barnes clearly and explicitly articulates the reasons why government consistently fails to protect the commons adequately. In any other book, Barnes' account of public choice theory (the theory of government failure) would be attacked as a conservative trick to undermine support for government solutions.

Barnes, whose father is an economist, is revolutionary because he completely acknowledges the decades-old argument that government failure is endemic. His version of the argument is accepted by progressives because, for the first time, he offers what amounts to a non-governmental solution: Creat private trusts with a public interest in order to ensure the long term preservation of key elements of the commons.

I won't go into the details here, but I do recommend that everyone read, and digest, Capitalism 3.0. Over the next ten years or so, this book could shift many policy debates, but especially environmental debates, from angry, bitter accusations across partisan lines to pragmatic negotiations concerning which commons should be placed in what kind of trusts.

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