Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The means of production are democratized

A recent npr planet money story discussed 3-D printing and how it is bringing to means of production to anybody with a personal computer and a desktop 3-D printer that are already as cheap as 2-D printers were a decade ago. Noting that Karl Marx said "power belongs to those who own the means of production [capital]" it pained an optimistic view of a more equal future.

Of course this really isn't new. As my economic history prof/adviser Avner Greif noted, Marx' revolution never came because even though he's right that capital is the road to wealth, right as he died, human capital began to supplant physical capital as the most important capital in the economy. And human capital is harder to concentrate.

Already 70% of the US economic is from services. 3-D printing may help democratize the shrinking sliver of the economy that is about making things, and that is a good thing, but its not that new.
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