Capitalism 3.0: Chapter 9

Building the Commons Sector

If you don’t know where you’re going, you probably won’t get there.
—Yogi Berra

My sons play a computer game called Sim City. It’s a brilliant invention that lets you design, grow, and govern your own virtual metropolis. You plunk down streets, sewers, power systems, and subways. You zone for commerce, industry, and residences. You drop in schools, hospitals, and fire stations. Soon a city comes to life. It’s enough to engross kids for hours.

Now imagine an adult game called Sim Commons that lets you design and grow your own virtual economic sector. The object of the game is to produce the most happiness with the least destruction of nature. You plunk down commons trusts, and from simple menus you assign them property rights, ownership regimes, and management algorithms. As you play, the computer displays your happiness and nature scores. Through trial and error, you learn what combinations of moves work best.

In the real world, building a new commons sector will be something like that. While we wait for an historic shift at the national level, we can build and experiment at lower levels. We can test different kinds of trusts, nonprofits, and informal associations, seeing how closely they can hew to commons principles. Then, when history is ready for bigger changes, we’ll be ready too.

In this chapter I’ll describe some of the models we’ll want to replicate and refine. I’ll start locally and move upward, saving global thoughts for the chapter’s conclusion. My aim is twofold: first, to celebrate seeds that are already emerging, and second, to suggest how, taken together and multiplied, these seeds can grow into a sector powerful enough to balance the corporate sector. Figure 9.1 gives an idea of what the commons sector will look like at the local, regional, and national levels.

Local Initiatives

caption Figure 9.1.

“Where’s the action?” the gamblers ask in Guys and Dolls. When it comes to building local commons institutions, the action is just about everywhere. Here’s a sampler.

Land Trusts

I’ve already mentioned the Marin Agricultural Land Trust and the Pacific Forest Trust. The aim of such trusts is to shield pieces of land from development or degradation. They do this by owning land outright, or by owning easements that restrict how land may be used.

Land trusts aren’t just for the countryside. In Boston, people in the Dudley Street neighborhood formed one in 1988 to buy vacant land and determine how it could best serve the community. Today there are six hundred new and rehabbed homes—all with a cap on resale prices—plus gardens, a common area, parks, and playgrounds. These efforts revitalized the neighborhood without displacing local residents, as would have happened through private property and gentrification.

Surface Water Trusts

The Oregon Water Trust, founded in 1993, acquires surface water rights to protect salmon and other fish. So far it has worked with over three hundred landowners to put water back into streams, some of which had been sucked completely dry. Sometimes a water rights seller forgoes water by switching crops, or by irrigating only during the spring, when stream flows are ample for farmers and fish alike. At other times, deals have hinged on delivering water from a different source, while leaving it in streams where fish need it. Recently, similar trusts have sprung up in Montana, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Nevada.

Groundwater Trusts

Groundwater, the source of half of America’s drinking water, is being pumped faster than nature replenishes it. The problem is especially acute in the High Plains, where farmers are depleting the Ogallala Aquifer, and in the Southwest, where many cities face water shortages. In San Antonio, which gets 99 percent of its water from the Edwards Aquifer, the Edwards Aquifer Authority now limits groundwater withdrawals by issuing permits. A similar trust for the Ogallala Aquifer is a solution waiting to happen.

Community Gardens

Turn the corner in Manhattan and you may discover a green oasis rising from the rubble of a vacant lot. Amid the bean vines and tomato plants stand sculptures, shrines, and toolsheds, all on land the gardeners claimed after buildings had been demolished. New York City is dotted with 700 community gardens. About 150 of these will eventually give way to housing, but the rest will stay.

And it’s not just New York. The American Community Gardening Association counts seventy major cities with community gardens. In Seattle, more than nineteen hundred families raise food in these neighborhood spaces. In Philadelphia, gardeners save an estimated $700 each year on food bills. In Boston, the Food Project produces over 120,000 pounds of vegetables on twenty-one acres; most of it goes to people in need. Just as importantly, these gardens turn strangers into neighbors.

Farmers' Markets

Until the Civil War, most American cities had public food markets. In the 1940s, there was a brief resurgence, as farmers sought better prices and shoppers sought fresher food. Then came interstate highways, and the market for seasonal local produce collapsed.

Now these commercial commons are being reestablished. From Union Square in New York City to San Francisco’s Ferry Building, city-dwellers are rediscovering the pleasures of meeting each other and the people who produce their food. There are now nearly four thousand farmers’ markets in the fifty states, double the number that existed ten years ago.

Public Spaces

From New York City’s Bryant Park to Portland, Oregon’s, Pioneer Square to Boston’s Copley Square, urban plazas are coming back to life. Even Detroit, which was built by the automobile, is reviving its downtown by rerouting autos around a new public square called Campus Martius Park. The park bristles with life in both summer and winter, and has attracted some $500 million in new investment to the area.

In Portland, informal groups of neighbors have reclaimed street intersections. They paint vivid designs on the pavement to mark the place as their own, and often add community-building amenities such as produce stands and play areas.

Time Banks

Helping your neighbor is an American tradition. But as people relocate more frequently, it’s harder for them to trust that favors they do will be repaid. Time banks are one solution.

The idea is simplicity itself. When you help a neighbor for an hour, you earn one “time dollar.” Then, when you need help, you can spend your saved dollars. In Brooklyn, New York, members of an HMO for the elderly use such temporal currency to help each other with home repairs, transportation, and companionship. It’s a model waiting to be replicated.

Municipal Wi-Fi

The Internet is the sidewalk of the twenty-first century, so it’s not surprising that cities are starting to build high-speed wireless networks the way they once built streets. Many operate wireless “hot zones” that offer free access over dozens of blocks. In San Francisco and New Orleans, free access may even be citywide. Other cities, like Philadelphia, are rolling out low-cost service citywide.

Regional Initiatives

Some commons are regional in scale and require regional management. The examples that follow are in the early stages of conception, design, and implementation.

Air Trusts

While the federal government dallies on climate change, several states are taking action. Most advanced is the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, launched by seven northeastern states from Maine to Delaware. Their plan will limit carbon dioxide emissions from power plants and require utilities to hold emission permits. Still undecided as of mid-2006 is a crucial question: will polluters pay for their permits, or will they get most of them for free?

Dozens of citizens’ groups are calling upon the states to auction emission permits and use the proceeds to reduce costs to consumers. “Historically, polluters have used our air for free,” says Marc Breslow of the Massachusetts Climate Action Network. “But there’s no justification for allowing them to keep doing so. The atmosphere is common property.”

As this is written, some politicians are listening. The Vermont legislature voted to auction 100 percent of the state’s emission permits, rather than give them free to polluters. In Massachusetts, a key committee approved a five-year transition to full auctioning—though the state’s governor, Mitt Romney, abruptly withdrew Massachusetts
from the regional initiative. In New York, the state attorney general, Eliot Spitzer, announced his support for 100 percent auctioning. This could be especially significant if Spitzer, as seems likely, becomes governor in 2007.

Watershed Trusts

In the 1930s, there was the Tennessee Valley Authority. Its main job was to control floods and bring electricity to a seven-state region. Today a watershed trust’s missions would be different: to protect rivers and fish, and to promote sustainable agriculture.

Consider our largest watershed, the Missouri-Mississippi-Ohio, which drains water and waste from twenty-five states into the Gulf of Mexico. In the mid-1980s, fishers in the Gulf noticed a growing “dead zone” during summer months, when fish and crustacean populations plummeted. According to the EPA, the dead zone has now swelled to some five thousand square miles. The problem is hypoxia, or absence of dissolved oxygen. The proximate cause is overabundant algae growth that triggers a cascade of effects that ultimately sucks oxygen out of the water.

What causes aquatic plants to grow so fast they overwhelm an entire ecosystem? In a word, nutrients—the same nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorous) that farmers feed to their terrestrial crops. Excess nutrients run off the soil and are washed down the Mississippi. In 1997, an interagency task force was created to study the problem and recommend solutions. In 2001 it called for “voluntary, practical, and cost-effective” actions by industry and government. Unfortunately, so far not much has happened.

What if we considered the topsoil and flowing waters of the Mississippi basin as a commons to be preserved for future generations? We might, then, create a Mississippi Soil and Water Trust. The trust would hold all rights to introduce fertilizers (and perhaps pesticides and herbicides) within the basin. Its job would be to reduce chemical inputs to safe levels and to reward farmers (and others) for proper stewardship of their land.

Each year the trust would sell a declining number of tradeable soil input permits; manufacturers would bid for these. It would then recycle revenue from permit sales to landowners who meet stewardship guidelines. This would raise the cost of chemical-intensive agriculture while rewarding farmers for being good land stewards. Farmers’ crop yields might decline for a while, but their incomes wouldn’t. In a decade or two, the Gulf would come back to life, and farming in America’s heartland would be a lot more organic. The transition time would depend on the rate at which the trust decreases the number of permits it issues.

Buffalo Commons

The Great Plains have been called America’s lost Serengeti. Once, millions of bison, antelope, and elk roamed here, sustainably hunted by native tribes. When European settlers arrived, so did cattle, wheat, and fences. Soon the big wild animals were all but exterminated.

The Great Plains boomed for a while, but declined after the 1920s. By the 1980s, population had plunged, soil erosion was at Dust Bowl levels, and the Ogallala Aquifer, the source of much of the region’s water, was dropping fast. In 1987, geographers Deborah and Frank Popper proposed a long-term restoration concept they called the Buffalo Commons.

The metaphor sparked the region’s imagination. Meetings were held, studies conducted, task forces formed. What emerged is a movement to reestablish a corridor large enough for bison and other native wildlife to roam freely. This unfenced prairie, perhaps ten or twenty million acres in size, would not only restore some of the bison’s lost habitat; it would turn the whole region into a high-quality place to live. The Nature Conservancy and similar entities are now trying to build this commons piece by piece.

National Initiatives

Commons organizing principles are scalable; the same rules that work locally and regionally can also be applied nationally. Generally, it’s best to organize commons at the lowest level possible; that increases community involvement and transparency. Sometimes, though, the scale of the underlying commons is so large that the management structure must be national or international. Here are examples of possible national institutions.

An American Permanent Fund

An American Permanent Fund would be the centerpiece of the new commons sector proposed in this volume. It’s a way to fix, or at least ameliorate, capitalism’s flaw of concentrating private property among the top 5 percent of the population. It would do this, like the Alaska Permanent Fund, by distributing income from common property to every citizen equally. This would add a third set of “pipes” through which income would flow to Americans, the first two being wages and private property income.

As discussed in chapter 7, the American Permanent Fund’s income would come in part from the sale of pollution permits—mostly for carbon dioxide—and in part from the commons’ share of corporate profits. The first revenue source would be directly correlated to our efforts to curb global warming. If we decided to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, say, by 3 percent per year for the next three decades, as scientists say we must, this would generate a substantial flow of income into the American Permanent Fund. Some of that might be invested or spent on public goods, and some would be used for per capita dividends. The faster we reduced emissions, the higher these dividends would be. In effect, the dividends and public goods would be a bonus to Americans for doing the right ecological thing.

Eventually, when a post-carbon infrastructure is built, carbon emissions would stabilize at a low level, and so would this revenue source for the American Permanent Fund. By this time, the second revenue source—dividends from holding a portion of publicly traded corporate shares—would kick in. This revenue source would give every citizen a stake in increasing corporate profits, just as the first source gives them a stake in decreasing pollution. Who could object to that combination?

Getting the Permanent Fund up and running, even if it starts small, would be a crucial precedent and signal. Like the Social Security Trust Fund, it would be a pipeline through which more money would flow over time. It would establish a fundamental principle for the commons sector—one person, one share. And it would change the way Americans think about our economic relationship with nature: every penny not paid by a polluter would be a penny out of everyone’s pocket. It wouldn’t be just future generations, then, who experience a loss when nature is degraded; the bank accounts of living Americans would suffer as well. Irresponsibility toward the future would carry an immediate and widely felt price.

The Children's Opportunity Trust

The Children’s Opportunity Trust is the second big piece of national commons infrastructure. It’s a way to fix capitalism’s other bad habit of perpetuating class privileges from one generation to the next.

Unlike feudalism, which was based on hereditary aristocracy, capitalism is, in theory, a meritocracy, or at least a “luckocracy.” Players are supposed to have a fair, if not equal, chance to succeed. Winners are supposed to be determined by hard work, talent, and luck, rather than by accident of birth. Yet, as we’ve seen, Capitalism 2.0 falls far short of this ideal.

The Children’s Opportunity Trust would give every child, as a birthright, an infusion of start-up capital—a kind of Social Security for the front end of life. The trust’s revenue would come from end-of-life repayments, as explained in chapter 7. This funding mechanism, I believe, is better than taking money from the general treasury. It directly links start-up help from society with an end-of-life obligation to repay, creating a kind of temporal commons that connects arriving and departing generations.

A Spectrum Trust

A spectrum or airwaves trust would have a distinct mission: to reduce the influence of corporations on our democracy. Its economic an ecological impacts could be significant (reducing corporate political influence will improve many policies), but they’re secondary to the political objective.

According to a study by the New America Foundation, the market value of the airwave licenses we’ve given free to corporate broadcasters is roughly $500 billion. It’s possible this value will decline as unlicensed wi-fi spreads, but meanwhile broadcasters sell our airwaves to advertisers and reap billions that belong, at least in part, to all of us.

Part of that money comes from political candidates who must purchase TV and radio ads to get elected. The problem isn’t so much the unearned windfall broadcasters collect; rather, it’s the fact that candidates are compelled to pay it to them. That makes politicians kowtow to corporate donors in order to pay broadcasters. Other democracies give free airtime to political candidates, but we protect the broadcasters’ lock on our airwaves. By privatizing our airwaves, in other words, we’ve effectively privatized our democracy. The job of a spectrum trust would be to take back our democracy by taking back our airwaves.

This could be done in a couple of ways. One wouldn’t require an actual trust: Congress could simply say that, in exchange for free spectrum licenses, broadcasters must give a certain amount of free airtime to political candidates. Alternatively, broadcasters could pay for their licenses, with revenue going to a nonpartisan trust. That trust would allocate funds to candidates for the purchase of TV and radio ads; the allocation formula would take account of cost differences between media markets and other relevant variables. Neither of these approaches would prevent corporations from lobbying or contributing to candidates’ other expenses, but they would level the political playing field by greatly reducing the sums candidates have to raise to get elected.

Commons Tax Credits

Some commons trusts will generate income from the sale of usage permits. Many others will need income to acquire property rights, restore degraded habitat, or give children start-up capital. It’s therefore essential to encourage a multiplicity of revenue sources. The best way to do this is through a federal commons tax credit.

When I was in the solar energy business during the 1970s, our customers benefited from a combination of federal and state solar tax credits. As I frequently explained then, a tax credit isn’t the same as a tax deduction—it’s bigger. A deduction is subtracted from the amount of income subject to tax; if your marginal tax rate is 30 percent, a tax deduction saves you thirty cents on the dollar. By contrast, a tax credit is subtracted from the amount of taxes you pay, regardless of your tax bracket. If you owe taxes, it always saves you one hundred cents on the dollar.

The premise behind a commons tax credit is that wealthy Americans owe more to the commons than they currently pay to the government in taxes. That being so, a commons tax credit would work like this. The federal government would raise the uppermost tax bracket by a few percentage points. At the same time, it would give affected taxpayers a choice: pay the extra money to the government, or contribute it to one or more qualified commons trusts. If people do the latter, they get a 100 percent tax credit, thereby avoiding additional taxes. The message to the wealthy thus is: You have to give back more. Whether you give it to the IRS or directly to the commons is up to you. If you want to eliminate the government middleman, that’s fine.

What qualifies as a commons trust? It’s a trust that either benefits all citizens more or less equally or collects money to restore an endangered commons. Social Security, the American Permanent Fund, the Children’s Opportunity Trust, and most land and watershed trusts, would qualify. By contrast, a normal charity would not. Contributions to normal charities would remain deductible from taxable income, but not from taxes owed.

Global Initiatives

According to a near-unanimous consensus of scientists, the world is very close to a tipping point on atmospheric carbon: we must drastically curtail our carbon burning or climate hell will soon break loose. This means every nation must install economy-wide valves for reducing their carbon use. I described earlier how America might do this using a carbon, or sky trust. Since we can’t halt global warming by ourselves, however, the necessary complement to such an American trust is a global trust.

A global carbon trust would require national governments to recognize that, just as they can, and should, delegate internal trusteeship duties to trusts, so should they delegate global trusteeship duties. The alternative, I’d argue, is paralysis in the face of clear and present danger.

Consider the long and tortuous climate negotiations that began in the early 1990s. They produced, first, a toothless pledge by all nations—the Rio Convention of 1992—to voluntarily reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to the 1990 level by 2010. Five years later, they produced a slightly toothier protocol in Kyoto, which too another five years to ratify and translate into operational rules. An equally prolonged negotiation now looms for the successor to Kyoto, which expires in 2012.

No doubt these negotiations could move faster if the current U.S. administration weren’t so obstinately opposed to them. But the deeper problem is that nearly two hundred sovereign nations are trying to negotiate a deal that satisfies everyone. The process is inherently cumbersome, and not surprisingly, the results fall far short of what scientists say is necessary. Perhaps, therefore, it’s time to delegate.

I can imagine a global atmosphere trust working something like this. It would be governed by a smallish board of trustees and a general membership consisting of all signatory nations. The general membership would appoint the trustees. There might be, as in the U.N. Security Council, a number of seats reserved for “great powers” (in this case, large emitters) and another number set aside for regions. However, once trustees are appointed, their loyalty would shift from individual nations or regions to future generations. This is critical.

The trustees would decide, based on peer-reviewed scientific evidence, where to set a global cap on carbon emissions. Each year, they’d issue tradeable carbon emission permits up to that year’s limit. A portion of these permits (initially, a majority) would be distributed at no cost to participating nations based on a pre-agreed formula. The remainder would be auctioned by the trust, with the revenue used to remediate damage caused by climate change and aid the inevitable victims. The trust would determine on a yearly basis how many permits were needed for these purposes, and how the remediation funds would be spent.

The trustees would make decisions by majority vote, with no vetoes. Like a court, they’d explain their decisions in writing, showing exactly how they protect future generations. The general membership could override a trustee decision by, say, a two-thirds majority. In this way, signatory nations could put short-term interests over long-term ones, but they’d have to do so explicitly, and implicitly admit to stealing or borrowing from future generations.

The knotty question is, What formula should be used to distribute carbon emission permits among nations? The key to crafting such a formula, given the disparate interests of so many nations, is to ground it on some universal principle of equity. The Kyoto Protocol didn’t do this; it was a hodgepodge of deals and escape hatches aimed at pleasing the United States, which in the end didn’t ratify anyway. The next international regime, however, must appeal to the poor and the up-and-coming, as well as to the United States and other developed countries. Without an organizing principle based on equity, it’s hard to see how any deal can be reached.

Fortunately, an equitable organizing principle has been advanced: it’s known as contract and converge. Here’s how it would work.

First, an overall reduction schedule would be agreed to; this is the contract part of the equation. Then, rights to the global atmospheric commons would be divided among nations in proportion to their populations—in other words, one person, one share. However, absolute proportionality wouldn’t kick in for a decade or two, during which time the allocation formula would converge toward proportionality. The rate of convergence would be a topic for negotiation; the goal of per capita equity would be accepted at the outset.

Before and after convergence, poor and populous countries with more permits than emissions could sell their excess permits to rich and relatively underpopulated countries that are short on them. In this way, nations could pollute at different levels, with overusers of the atmosphere paying underusers for the privilege. Americans could, in other words, extend our present level of carbon use for another decade or so, but we’d have to pay poor countries to do so.

Would a global atmospheric trust be too great a surrender of national sovereignty? I think not. We’re not talking about world government here. We’re talking about a trust to manage a specific worldwide commons. The one and only job of that trust would be to set and enforce limits on certain emissions into that commons. Some loss of sovereignty is involved, but less than we’ve already yielded to the World Trade Organization. Compared to the benefit we and all nations would gain—a stabilized climate—our loss of sovereignty would be small potatoes.

If a global atmosphere trust could be established, it would be a watershed twenty-first-century event. Geopolitically, it could lay the foundation for a harmonious century, much as the Versailles Treaty paved the way for a disharmonious one in the twentieth. It would also help the world deal gracefully with the decline in global oil production that experts say is imminent.

Economically, a global atmosphere trust would spur some important changes. Corporations the world over would immediately pour money into energy efficiency and noncarbon energy infrastructure. There’d be a rush to deploy new technologies. Economies—including ours—would boom, not despite higher carbon prices, but because of them.

Why would this happen? The simplest reason is that a global atmosphere trust would remove an enormous cloud of uncertainty. Businesses would see the future of carbon burning, and be more confident that a price shock—more damaging than a gradual rise—wouldn’t derail their plans. Such a trust would also remove a major source of international tension—the scramble for declining oil supplies—that could easily lead to war. In addition, the flow of money to poor countries (from sales of emission permits to rich countries) would lift their economies and wages, help U.S. exports and slow U.S. job loss. All these things would ensure that while high-carbon activity declines, low-carbon activity rises at a comparable rate.

But growth in aggregate economic activity isn’t the only benefit we’d see; qualitative improvements would also occur. Thus, as long-distance transport costs rose, manufacturers would shift from global to local production. Farmers would return to practices they used before cheap petrochemicals became available. They’d grow more food organically and sell more through farmers’ markets and urban buying clubs, cutting out middlemen and keeping more of their products’ value. For nonperishables, consumers would shop more on the Internet and less at drive-and-haul malls. Thanks to eBay, Craigslist, and similar services, they’d also buy more secondhand goods and dump fewer into landfills. More workers would ride bikes, jitneys, and trains, and work online from home. Cities would favor footpower, suburbs would reorganize around transit hubs, and new forms of co-housing would spread. All these changes would be profitable and even exciting. And they’d proceed with relative smoothness if we placed the global atmosphere in trust.

On the other hand, if we leave our atmosphere as an unmanaged waste dump, our glorious industrial party will abruptly end, brought to its knees by oil price shocks, climate disasters, or a monetary panic. After that, no one can know what will happen. That’s the stark choice we face.

The Role of Government

One of the most valuable lessons I learned in business was, when you need something done, find the right person, give that person clear marching orders, authority, and resources, and get out of the way. In other words, delegate.

The same logic applies to government. When government wants to do things, it has to find people to do them. It can add people to its own bureaucracy, or it can contract with outsiders. It shouldn’t matter as long as the public purpose is met at reasonable cost.

When it comes to building the new commons sector, there’s plenty for everyone to do. Government in particular has four important roles to play:

  1. Until it assigns responsibility for a commons to someone else, government is the default trustee, and should be held to trusteeship standards.
  2. Government is the initial assigner and ultimate arbiter of property rights. Instead of privatizing nearly everything, it should assign more property rights to commons trusts and give commons rights precedence over capital’s.
  3. Only government can broker inter- and intragenerational compacts like Social Security and Medicare. We need government to do this again for health insurance and the Children’s Opportunity Trust.
  4. Government can help finance the reacquisition and restoration of previously privatized pieces of the commons. State and local governments in particular have the authority to issue long-term tax-exempt bonds, which can be used to acquire private land and water rights.

These four roles reflect government’s unique responsibilities and strengths. But there are areas where government doesn’t have a competitive advantage, and much of this book has been about one of them.

Earlier I discussed the trusteeship function—the work that someone must do to protect our shared inheritances. We need this function to work right, because if it doesn’t, our descendants, along with many other species’ offspring, are doomed. So we have to ask, who is best suited to perform this function? The evidence suggests that neither government nor private corporations can do this particular job well. So we’re left with trusts that are accountable to future generations.

I suggest to those who care about the future: it’s time to delegate the trusteeship function to trusts.We should give the trusts clear missions, authority, and resources, and then get out of their way. The trusts may not be perfect, but they’re likely to do a better job, for a longer time, than any of the known alternatives.


  1. land trusts: See the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative.
  2. surface water rights: See the Oregon Water Trust.
  3. Portland public spaces: For more information about Portland’s street intersections, see The City Repair Project.
  4. Brooklyn time bank: For more information on ElderPlan in Brooklyn and “time dollars” generally, see Time Banks.
  5. atmosphere is common property: See the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative website. Go here for Marc Breslow’s quote.
  6. state emission changes: Information about the Vermont law, the Massachusetts bill, and Spitzer’s statement can be found at /RGGI.htm here.
  7. The problem is hypoxia: For information about the Mississippi Basin and hypoxia, see the EPA.
  8. Buffalo Commons: Frank and Deborah Popper, “The Great Plains: From Dust to Dust,” Planning, Dec. 1987.
  9. market value of airwave licenses: For an estimate of the value of public spectrum given free to broadcasters, download the New America Foundation’s Citizen’s Guide to the Airwaves.
  10. contract and converge: For information on contract and converge, see the website of the London-based Global Commons Institute.
  11. a global atmosphere trust: The 1919 Treaty of Versailles, drawn up at the close of World War I, carved up the Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires, set up the League of Nations, and imposed stiff reparations on Germany. Some believe it paved the way to World War II.

This is a chapter from Capitalism 3.0: A Guide to Reclaiming the Commons (e-book).
Previous: Chapter 8. Sharing Culture  |  Table of Contents  |  Next: Chapter 10. What You Can Do



Barnes, P. (2007). Capitalism 3.0: Chapter 9. Retrieved from


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