by ilene - February 5th, 2010 7:13 pm
Courtesy of Charles Hugh Smith, Of Two Minds
Hoping that old jobs return is a doomed project; we must look ahead to new modes of production and creating value.
Frequent contributor Michael Goodfellow responded to The Wal-Mart Model of Self-Destruction: Lowest Prices, Always (January 24, 2010) with this story on the future of small-scale manufacturing: In the Next Industrial Revolution, Atoms Are the New Bits (Wired.com).
His point was that to bemoan the loss of old large-scale manufacturing jobs was not productive compared to forward-looking models such as the "workbench" production and crowd-sourcing/out-sourcing described in the Wired article.
What I find radically appealing is not so much the technical aspects of desktop/workbench production of parts which were once out of financial reach of small entrepreneurs--though that revolution is the enabling technology--it is the possibility that entrepreneurs can own the means of production without resorting to vulture/bank investors/loans.
Anyone who has been involved in a tech startup knows the drill--in years past, a tech startup required millions of dollars to develop a new product or the IP (intellectual property). To raise the capital required, the entrepreneurs had to sell their souls (and company) to venture capital (vulture capital) "investors" who simply took ORPM (other rich people’s money) and put it to work, taking much of the value of new promising companies in trade for their scarce and costly capital.
The only alternative were banks, who generally shunned "speculative investments" (unless they were in the billions and related to derivatives, heh).
So entrepreneurs came up with the ideas and did all the hard work, and then vulture capital swooped in to rake off the profits, all the while crying bitter tears about the great risks they were taking with other rich people’s spare cash.
Now that these production tools are within reach of small entrepreneurs, the vulture capital machine will find less entrepreneural fodder to exploit. The entrepreneurs themselves can own/rent the means of production.
That is a fine old Marxist phrase for the tools and plant which create value and wealth. Own that and you create your own wealth.