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Word Salad

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I’m worried about writing a review, for Barron’s, of Douglas Rushkoff’s Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus [2].  The reason for my worry is that this book is little more than a cascade of contradictions.  And when he’s not contradicting himself, Rushkoff serves up wildly tossed word salads.  Here’s an example from page 62:

A surplus of productivity should not be a problem.  It’s only troublesome in an economy in which markets are driven by scarcity alone and value is understood as something to be extracted from people rather than created for them.

Huh?

I’ve no doubt that Rushkoff, somewhere in the recesses of his mind, thinks that this statement makes sense.  And it might even be the case that he has in his mind here a thought that, even if it’s economically mistaken, is at least meaningful and coherent.  But I’ll be darned if I can makes sense of this passage.  What, exactly, are “markets driven by scarcity alone”?  (Are there markets for non-scarce goods?)  And how do markets – in which no one is coerced into any exchange – extract value from people without creating value for them?

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