Review Of 'With Liberty And Dividends For All' By Peter Barnes

Sep. 04, 2014 2:39 PM ET1 Comment
Hazel Henderson profile picture
Hazel Henderson


  • Hazel Henderson reviews Peter Barnes' 2014 book "With Liberty and Dividends for All".
  • Explores Barnes' rethinking on the design of capitalism to account for structural problems.
  • Offers market-based solutions for more balanced, sustainable economies that might also reduce resource depletion.

With Liberty and Dividends for All by Peter Barnes, Berrett-Koehler, San Francisco, 2014

This book, With Liberty and Dividends for All, secures author Peter Barnes as a major public intellectual, rethinking the design of US capitalism. Building on his Capitalism 3.0 (2006) and his decades of experience as a successful entrepreneur of companies in the solar energy and telecom sectors, banker/economist Barnes addresses today's structural problems of unemployment, crumbling infrastructure, widening inequality and the disappearing middle-class. Unlike Thomas Piketty in his best-seller Capitalism in the 21st Century (2013), which rarely ventures outside economic orthodoxy, Barnes re-conceptualizes the US economy beyond economics, as a dynamic, complex system governed by feedback loops, and identifies pieces of its source-code which continue to drive and amplify all these current problems.

Barnes also pinpoints all the familiar policy bromides: more job creation, training, education, stimulus, innovation, and why these focus on symptoms rather than identifying the economic system's 80-20 power-law distribution discovered over a century ago by economist Vilfredo Pareto. Stimulus, whether fiscal, monetary or QE pump-priming, fails to reach its targets and often leads to asset bubbles and wider inequality. Job creation can no longer provide access to the middle class since automation and globalization are reducing the need for US workers, while the top ten growth occupations are all in lower-paying service industries like home health care, food service, retail, etc. Education as a panacea is a logical fallacy: the fallacy of composition (i.e., what works for a few will work for all). Increasing the supply of college grads neither increases demand or pay rates for them, but will lead to falling wages for all graduates and more of the better-educated janitors and taxi drivers we see today. Innovation, the favorite US panacea, is now simply driving the automation and further digitization of sectors of the economy, from manufacturing and retail to the former white-collar professions in medicine, law and financial market mediation.

This article was written by

Hazel Henderson profile picture
Hazel Henderson D.Sc.Hon., FRSA, is the founder of Ethical Markets Media, Certified B Corporation and producer of its TV series. She is a world-renowned futurist, evolutionary economist, a worldwide syndicated columnist, consultant on sustainable development, and author of The Axiom and Nautilus award-winning book Ethical Markets: Growing the Green Economy (2006) and eight other books. Her editorials appear in Wall Street International Magazine and many other media partners, including Other News, and her book reviews appear on Her articles have appeared in over 250 journals, including (in the USA) Harvard Business Review, New York Times, Christian Science Monitor; and Challenge, Mainichi (Japan), El Diario (Venezuela), World Economic Herald (China), LeMonde Diplomatique (France) and Australian Financial Review. Since becoming a full-time media executive in 2004, Hazel has stepped down from many of her board memberships, including Calvert Social Investment Fund (1982-2005), the Social Investment Forum and the Social Venture Network. She has been Regent's Lecturer at the University of California-Santa Barbara, Horace Albright Chair in Conservation at the University of California-Berkeley, and advised the U.S. Office of Technology Assessment, the National Academy of Engineering, and the National Science Foundation from 1974 to 1980. She remains on the International Council of the Instituto Ethos de Empresas e Responsabilidade Social, Sao Paulo, Brasil; serves on the Program Council of FORUM 2000, Prague, Czechoslovakia, founded by the late President Vaclav Havel; is a World Business Academy Fellow; an active member of the National Press Club (Washington DC), and a member of the Association for Evolutionary Economics. She is an Honorary Member of the Club of Rome. She shared the 1996 Global Citizen Award with Nobelist A. Perez Esquivel of Argentina. In 2007, she was elected a Fellow to Britain’s Royal Society of Arts, founded in 1754. She leads the Transforming Finance initiative, created the Green Transition Scoreboard®, co-developed with Calvert the GDP alternative renamed the Ethical Markets Quality of Life Indicators, co-organized the Beyond GDP conference for the European Commission, and funded three Beyond GDP surveys, finding strong support worldwide for ESG metrics in national accounting. In 2010, 2012, 2013, and 2014, she was honored as a "Top 100 Thought Leader in Trustworthy Business Behavior" by Trust Across America. In 2012, she was honored with the Reuters Award for Outstanding Contribution to Development of ESG & Investing at TBLI Europe. In 2013, she was inducted into the International Society of Sustainability Professionals Hall of Fame.  Her 2014 monograph, Mapping the Global Transition to the Solar Age, published by ICAEW and Tomorrow’s Company, UK, is available for free download from

Disclosure: The author has no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. The author wrote this article themselves, and it expresses their own opinions. The author is not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). The author has no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

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