The World is in upheaval

A recent program on SBS prompts me to dip my oar in and comment on its content. Perhaps you will be better served to watch the program

Having watched the program, which is also available on YouTube as a Vice program, here is some criticism to anchor your response.

When I was a kid everyone had to develop a relationship with a bank especially if they wanted credit. To get credit the person they needed to know was the manager of the local bank. In our little town we had seven banks and each was keen for your business if you were depositing cash. In the event you thought you needed a home deposit you stood no chance just walking in the door and being granted it. The manager wanted to have evidence you regularly banked over his counter. (It was alway he.)

Next he wanted to know which members of your family banked there. If you passed these tests you had to prove your salary was greater than your spending and then, perhaps he just might say you could have four fifths of what you needed if everyone in your family changed banks. Credit was tight. Today I read banks are softening us up to get used to us paying them just to deposit.

Just perhaps, they understand the damage done in the name of secrecy, with the likes of Big money exposed in the Panama Papers. These leaked documents have illustrated just how ill gotten note owners will do anything to escape supporting the entire population paying taxes used to improve the state. Maybe in a period with next to no interest earned on savings they now think it is prudent to ensure depositors they will get most of their money back after a set period. I think they have missed the boat because even though some of the shady money has moved to crypto currency most people will, within a short period follow it. Thus making banks irrelevant. The one true benefit of banks are governments, with banks regulated governments can monitor where money is. Crypto by passes government regulation this is a point Rifkin only lightly touches.

Jeremy Rifkin’s talk on the third revolution outlines the seven major revolutions that got us to this point. He says, a new revolution begins when there is a convergence of three major new conditions. He illustrates how we are now at that point.

On of the influences is Global Warming. You would have to close your eyes and ears not to notice how it is almost a daily conversation the world is in is grip. This is a manufactured calamity caused by man’s excessive reliance on fossil fuels. In the period of my youth each enterprise had its own chimney emitting smoke into the atmosphere 24/7. The sky was smudged by their output. (In many parts of the undeveloped world it still is.)

Today the world is moving from dependence on fossil fuels but big business has so much invested in this old technology it is reluctant to switch too rapidly to something new that may not be as reliable. In turn this means big industry will be left with stranded assets if it persists relying on it. The people most likely to understand this first are the millennials. They don’t drive, They Uber and ride share. They alone are the ones most determined leaders address this matter with urgency. They are the people most keen to accept vehicles will reliably operate in a a driverless manner. Whilst it is unlikely driverless cars will be universal the proof exists they can operate in an urban environment reliably the reason they are not yet common is government regulation prevents the adoption of the technology.

Predicting the future is difficult. In the twenty-five years since the introduction of the Internet none forecast the ubiquitous reliance the world now has on it. Rifkin has us examine its past influence and quickly moves us to consider The Internet of Thing (IOT). Home kitchens contain refrigerators able to order replacement product as it is used. With your smart phone you are able to open and close blinds, turn on and off the air conditioner, or keep your eye on the front door visitor remotely from wherever you are.

Medical devices can keep track of your vital organs. They can assist your surgeon operate with precision through tiny holes in the body. They can assist the disabled to stand again. They help them hear and work is underway to help the blind see the world.

The IOT is of importance to Industry, Agriculture, infrastructure development, it is also used in energy management. Every day more computers are interlinked in managing world affairs. All this has gained speed each day since the development of the Internet. Rifkin sheds light on this progress and links the growth of this service to the virtual demise of the economy as we know it.

Because the IOT s means computers can talk to each other in a manner that is cost free, once it power is paid. And since power production costs are coming down fast as newer technologies come on line power itself is almost cost less.

Rifkin makes the point that we have reached a time when every person available to work will find work of some kind for the next two decades. This is because computers cannot perform the jobs needed to rebuild the plants and equipment it has recently used. This is good news to me for I have seen the damage each new development has done to reduce the work force.

Sine the war, as the size of equipment grew more people were made redundant. The thousands once employed in manual labour shrank to hundreds, then to tens as machines performed their repetitive jobs. Companies one employed thousands of clerks and typists to record the work done by those labourers. As more computers were employed thousands lost their regular jobs and companies reduced their wages bills.

Today I live in a world where too many are under employed in part time irregular jobs to the detriment of the worker’s finances and health. If Rifkin is right, and on the surface it seems he might be, it will be good for the morale of the people if the refurbishment of factories can only be performed by people and not machines. It is apparent the post war period which eliminated the middle classes and built a very inequitable society has reached its zenith. A place where the rich have become insanely rich and the poor are often left without the ability to survive even with the most common of necessities is coming to an end on the dawn of this new revolution.

It is hard to move from the utopian idea all people will again be gainfully employed to the final illustration Rivkin gives in his thesis “A New Consciousness For A New Era.” Difficult because it ignores the selfishness of mankind and suggests we can accept the best way forward is cooperation. In the past twenty years particularly, I have seen how we have destroyed all the cooperatives we have had for immediate one time profit for shareholders. I have seen how we have voted in Governments all over the world whose only objective was to remove regulation and minimise the importance of government. Giving in to the Right to reduce universal utilities for their people on the notion, “Have a go to get a Go.

In the period of greatest gain by the fewest people Rivkin says Now we will work harmoniously with and for others without complaint. We will do these things because we will share equally in the new economy. This vision has been written off by his critics in one line as “communism”. It is a “propaganda for new slavery.”

In the year our government is trying to appease the Religious Right. It is being forced to examine what benefit the country has got from the millions spent to upgrade the Murray Darling water catchment. All I know is I need to invest $6,000 now on 100 mega litres of water and hang on to it until some farmer screams pound enough he is prepared to spend $24,000 for that 100 mega litres of water and I will have earned 400% on weather I never saw. This is the madness of the water market. Rifkin acknowledges water is becoming more scarce as these changes become manifest. Perhaps we should just selfishly invest in water like some big companies do.

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