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posted by LaminatorX on Sunday March 23 2014, @11:32PM   Printer-friendly
from the Where's-my-20-hour-work-week? dept.

Papas Fritas writes:

"Jeremy Rifkin writes in the NYT that the inherent dynamism of competitive markets is bringing down costs so far that many goods and services are becoming nearly free, abundant, and no longer subject to market forces and while economists have always welcomed a reduction in marginal cost, they never anticipated the possibility of a technological revolution that might bring those costs to near zero. The first inkling of this paradox at the heart of capitalism came in 1999 when Napster enabled millions of people to share music without paying the producers and artists, wreaking havoc on the music industry. Similar phenomena went on to severely disrupt the newspaper and book publishing industries. The huge reduction in marginal cost is now beginning to reshape energy, manufacturing and education. "Although the fixed costs of solar and wind technology are somewhat pricey, the cost of capturing each unit of [renewable] energy beyond that is low (PDF)," says Rifkin. As for manufacturing "thousands of hobbyists are already making their own products using 3-D printers, open-source software and recycled plastic as feedstock, at near zero marginal cost" and more than six million students are enrolled in "free massive open online courses, the content of which is distributed at near zero marginal cost."

But nowhere is the zero marginal cost phenomenon having more impact than the labor market, where workerless factories and offices, virtual retailing and automated logistics and transport networks are becoming more prevalent. What this means according to Rifkin is that new employment opportunities will lie in the collaborative commons in fields that tend to be nonprofit and strengthen social infrastructure like health care, aiding the poor, environmental restoration, child care, care for the elderly, and the promotion of the arts and recreation. "As for the capitalist system, it is likely to remain with us far into the future, albeit in a more streamlined role, primarily as an aggregator of network services and solutions, allowing it to thrive as a powerful niche player in the coming era. We are, however, entering a world partly beyond markets, where we are learning how to live together in an increasingly interdependent, collaborative, global commons.""

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  • (Score: 2) by VLM on Monday March 24 2014, @01:44PM

    by VLM (445) on Monday March 24 2014, @01:44PM (#20213)

    "the assumption that all the water you consume goes into the sewer"

    For a modest fee I can purchase a second water meter for irrigation purposes, if I was the type who irrigated, and then not have to pay sewer charges on that irrigation water. I live in an eastern-ish state where the natural state of untouched land (state parks, etc) is brilliant green so I don't really need to irrigate unless I insist on raising out of area tropical plants or growing plants from seed.

    Also I can temporarily rent a meter to fill a swimming pool or garden pond but the hassle is greater than just hiring a commercial service with a tanker truck and some hoses so no one does that that I know of, although its possible in theory.

    Industries all have two water meters around here, don't have to pay sewer charges if you can prove the water never went down the drain (like if you brew and ship tens of thousands of gallons of beer, or bottle soft drinks or cleaning chemicals or something) There's a lot of legal wrangling over that argument, where if you think about it, every drop of beer eventually enters the sewer system so if they were not politically connected they would be paying sewer charges like everyone else, etc.

    It seems logically reasonable to charge different rates, we have great water wells so other than long term capital costs and chlorination, water doesn't require much processing. The sewers however are a gigantic complicated industrial plants full of huge tanks and pumps and stuff, its obviously very complicated and labor intensive to process so no shocker that it costs a lot more.

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  • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Monday March 24 2014, @02:49PM

    by Grishnakh (2831) on Monday March 24 2014, @02:49PM (#20257)

    Your response, while interesting, still doesn't answer my question.

    I pay a combined water sewer bill and the cost breakdown is roughly $1 for water and $4 for sewer. So its much cheaper to for me to give away glasses of water, than to let you flush my toilet once its time to recycle those glasses of water.

    You claim here that your water is separately metered from your sewer. So your response seems to indicate that's not really the case, only that you could get a second meter for a fee, and perhaps give someone a glass of water out of your irrigation feed that's on a separate meter. That's interesting and all, but obviously (as indicated in your post) not normal practice for residential homeowners at all, only for large industrial users. So unless you're operating a bottling factory and give someone a glass of water out of the water supply that supplies your bottling operation (and isn't charged sewer rates), what you said isn't really correct except for a few homeowners who bothered to get a second meter.