Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
I'm with you on a lot of this.  This diary is a cross-post from the Daily Kos, and there I replied to a comment similar to yours.  Let me see....

Ah!  Here--something I said in the Daily Kos diary in reply to the point that an information econony doesn't use a lot of matter and energy]

The limiting case is probably "information worker"--people who get a living by moving pixels around.  To do that takes some matter (the computers are made out of something) and energy (electricity, heat or AC, food), but the value added seems much larger than the physical inputs.

Some people say that services are layered atop the traditional extractive, matter-and-energy work of the economy, which never went away in a real sense.  We in the U.S. might tend to forget that, since many of the "smokestack" industries of yore have gone overseas; but we still depend on them.  We use more steel than we did three decades ago, but we make way less steel than we did then.  


I wrote in reply to someone in the other diary that I linked to this one that an alternative way to view factors of production is to see them in these three categories:  matter, energy, and intelligence.  Certainly products (and services, like medical services) in which a high degree of learning/design/information/knowledge is embedded have a higher value-to-matter/energy ratio that stuff like, oh, iron ore.  But just about everything partakes of all three.  Growth in the intelligence/design/knowledge part of everything will let us save matter and energy, and let us achieve efficiencies that reduce (or slow the growth in) the ecological footprint of economic activity.  

Henry George, airbrushed from history: yes.  Interesting that he was advocating a single tax on land, as the prime productive asset.  Land is the  great net by which we capture current solar income, which (eventually, I believe) we will have to learn to live within.  And some people advocate a single tax on low entropy, or on carbon:  get rid of the income tax and tax the thing that leads to externalities, the extraction of valuable matter and energy from nature.

Industrial society is not sustainable. Unsustainable systems change--or disappear.

by Eric Zencey (Eric dot Zencey at UVM dot EDU) on Tue Mar 11th, 2008 at 03:45:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Others have rated this comment as follows:


Occasional Series