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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Mommy, Where Do Jobs Come From?


Let’s say that you and I are both farmers. I grow apples and you grow oranges.  I decide that I’d like some oranges and you’ve just about had your fill of oranges and would like a few apples.

So we get together and barter.  People have bartered for centuries. Gold. Salt. Spices. Food. All of these things and more were bartered for years ago.

Eventually things evolved to the point where if I wanted something I actually went to work for someone else, received a wage and then exchanged a portion of my wages for your goods.

When a demand is created for a certain product or service, the provider of said product or service usually takes it upon himself or herself to meet the demand. Since a single individual usually cannot meet excess demand, it often becomes necessary to bring in additional people to help meet the demand. Thus “jobs” are created.

The Third Economic Revolution

Last week I listened to a radio interview of economist Jeremy Rifkin.  According to Rifkin, we are on the cusp of the third economic revolution. One that will create millions of jobs and thousands of new businesses. Of course, we all pray that he is correct.

Jeremy Rifkin – is the president of the Foundation on Economic Trends, an economist advisor to European Union, author of 18 books including his latest, “The Third Industrial Revolution”.

According to Rifkin, great economic changes occur whenever new energy regimes emerge and they are accompanied by corresponding new communication regimes to help manage them.

In the 19th century: print technology became cheap because of steam power.  At this same time the Then public school system was being introduced throughout America/Europe so that a “print literate” workforce could organize the coal and rail industries.

In the 20th century: Centralized electricity provided the energy for using the telephone, TV and radio as communication tools to both market and manage the auto and oil industries during the build up of suburban America.

Our technology in America is old, and our energy sources are sun setting. In a nutshell, our infrastructure is now on life-support. 

We are now at the dawn of the 21st century and Mr. Rifkin sees the Internet communication technology merging with renewable energy to provide the third industrial revolution.

During the interview, Rifkin mentioned the term Distributed energy:  Distributed Energy is energy that is found everywhere: sun, wind, geothermal, garbage, ocean tides. Contrast that with Elite energy i.e. energy that can only be found in certain locations. Elite energy (coal, oil, gas, uranium) requires massive geo-political capital.

The European Union is currently using Rifkin’s ideas. Germany in particular is leading the charge in this new industrial revolution. The 5 pillars of the EU energy strategy are: 1) Focusing on renewable energy, 2) Determining how to collect this energy, 3) the effective storage of this energy 4) Determining where internet technology connects with this energy, and 5) Fuel cell transport and electric vehicle-to-grid plug-in.

It’s interesting that this man is working for the EU and not America. Why? Is this just another example of America’s decline? Can we get out of our own way in order to save ourselves economically?

Oil & Gas industries have tons of lobbyists to protect their interests but at what cost to the rest of us?  A few individuals make billions off of old, dying industries while the masses are being left in the dust.

If what Rifkin says is accurate, I wonder will America get on board? If America does get on board can we overcome our recent propensity to engage in political in fighting and corporate shenanigans?

Can we become a major player in the third economic revolution? We can advantage the entire society by working together cooperatively.

That is where jobs come from.

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