Pay to Prey

A review of Capitalism 3.0: A Guide To Reclaiming The Commons by Peter Barnes
Peter Barnes, co-founder of Working Assets Long Distance and Credit Card Services, and writer for Newsweek and the New York Times, says capitalism needs an upgrade. In Capitalism 3.0: A Guide To Reclaiming The Commons (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, $22.95), he proposes an ingenious and feasible way of protecting the commons by giving it property rights. Barnes" basic tenet is that when corporations take from the commons, or pollute into the commons, they should pay for that privilege. That isn’t revolutionary—many have suggested corporations pay to pollute—but he recommends that the power to make them pay be taken from government and given to trusteeships, which are strictly bound in their legal responsibilities to beneficiaries. He also suggests that when corporations pay to pollute, the money is sent to each American as an annual dividend check. One person equals one share in the commons.

Capitalism 3.0 is full of similar groundbreaking ideas. Barnes supports start-up capital for each person, limiting advertising, and greatly reducing patents and intellectual property rights. We may not be able to install his changes tomorrow, but this book offers solutions that are truly amazing in their practicality and effectiveness. —Shannon Huecker