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Jeremy Rifkin on San Antonio, the European Union, and the lessons learned in our push for a planetary-scale power shift

Photo: , License: N/A

Photo: , License: N/A

The Third Industrial Revolution: How Lateral Power is Transforming Energy, the Economy, and the World, Jeremy Rifkin, Palgrave MacMillan, $27, 291 page


You don’t stop with the Third Industrial Revolution. This is not the end of the human experiment here. You kind of forecast a little bit into the next era, which you call the 'collaborative era.'
In the next 40 years, the build-out of this infrastructure will provide two generations with jobs. But what’s interesting is the infrastructure itself then becomes smarter and intelligent. So the infrastructure will take 40 years of more labor-intensive, traditional mass-wage labor to build out. What’s phasing in though, the intelligence itself allows you to run the economic system with a more and more boutique and professional workforce, which is happening. So what we need to do is prepare young people for parallel traffic in education, which is to be prepared for work in the commercial arena but also in civil society. That’s where the growth jobs are going to happen, that’s where they are happening around the world. So yeah, I ended with that. I am glad you made note of that. What’s interesting is it's really the last of the great industrial area, but it's also the first of the collaborative age, which is quite different. And I think by 2050, if we survive all this — and everything I say this with a grain of salt, because anything can derail any of this. It’s nice on paper but then you have the real world — but I think by 2050, what we know as the commercial sector will have very small workforces, increasing employment in the not-for-profit society. … There’s a long way between now and then. Forty years, as I can tell you because I'm an old guy now, it goes pretty quick.
The next step is: You can't just do the parts. You’ve got to look at the whole system they have put together and find a way to create public-private partnerships, bring in the community big time on this. Bring in the neighborhoods, bring in the civil society, bring in local businesses, because San Antonio has a real opportunity here. It’s the seventh largest city in the country. They are a city that has a lot of opportunity, but they have two San Antonio’s, a smaller, wealthy middle class, a large poor, mainly Latino underclass. But they have an opportunity to do something that could be a real model for every other community and region, and they’re already a step ahead of the game. Not just because we were there, they were already moving in that direction. What they need now is the kind of inspired leadership at the governing level, and at the CPS level, to do what we're doing in Europe. They’re not coming in alone because Europe is starting to move on it. If Germany can do this, and they are doing it, why can't San Antonio do this for Texas and Texas lead the country?

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