Consumer Capital and the Commons
The commons is the cultural and natural resources accessible to all members of a society, including natural materials such as air, water, and a habitable Earth. These resources are held in common, not owned privately. Wikipedia
Capital is a powerful artefact that develops and creates resources of all types. Today it is physically changing the planet on which we live. We have implemented capital so that individuals own and control both natural and human-created resources. In its present form, capital leads to the short-term exploitation of both human and natural resources to suit the immediate needs of individuals. Today, capital is the antithesis of the commons and leads humans to destroy the natural world that makes human existence possible.
However, humans invented capital, and it can be changed to support the commons while still retaining its power to develop and control resources. We can change it so that rather than seeking a short-term advantage for individuals, it can work towards the long-term survival of the human species.
The change in capital to support the commons is for it to become the right to pay for future output. Ownership of future production includes those in the future who have the right to pay for it. For the earth’s resources, it includes generations yet to be born.
When we purchase goods and services, the purchase price includes the cost of capital and the cost of production. With consumer capital, the purchaser receives the consumer capital and pays for the cost of production. Wealth passes to the consumer as the right to purchase future goods and services.
Holders of capital receive a return on investment with a discount on the price of the goods and services when they make a future purchase. Buyers of goods and services like the price to lower and the amount of capital transferred to be higher. To resolve this conflict, they want a low cost of production.
Free markets of many buyers and sellers have the same incentive, which leads to economic productivity. Consumer capital embeds this incentive within each organisation and amplifies the effectiveness of a free market to create economic productivity.
Changing capital from ownership of an asset to ownership of the right to purchase output reduces the cost of operating an economy, increasing economic productivity. For this reason, consumer capital is likely to replace ownership capital. It may provide enough investment capital to reverse the environmental changes and keep the planet habitable for unborn generations.