The Improbable Dream

A few years ago, Bill Gates wrote seductively of "friction-free capitalism," a happy system in which technology unites producers and consumers with ultimate efficiency. And you might think of Jeremy Rifkin as an advocate of "friction-free socialism," in which rational governments nudge enlightened citizens toward an ever more perfect existence. In just under a decade's worth of provocative books, the prolific Rifkin, president of a Washington-based thinktank called the Foundation on Economic Trends, has told us that we'll have to stop eating meat (Beyond Beef) and using fossil fuels (The Hydrogen Economy); that full-time jobs are passé (The End of Work);...

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