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Spread ownership, or spread poverty: Technological and economic change are outstripping the ability of our political institutions to manage them

The recent Italian elections closely reflected the current situation in Europe and much of the Western world: total confusion. The left will dominate the lower house and the right will dominate the upper house. The discredited former prime minister and noted satyr, Silvio Berlusconi, made a substantial comeback and will have a great deal of influence on the choice of the new prime minister; that is, if anyone can actually form a government. If not, new elections will be called and cannot be expected to result in anything very different from the current situation. Equally significantly, the outgoing prime minister, Mario Monti, a technician who managed Italian decline fairly well during his tenure of office, did extremely poorly, while a former professional comedian, Beppe Grillo, symbolically did very well. All of this bodes ill for the future of the European Union and the euro.

While Europe, the United States and much of the rest of the world wallow in stagnation, recession and a staggering debt load, technology forges ahead, providing the opportunity for the development of a more prosperous and just world. 3-D manufacturing, advanced robotization and new oil and gas extraction techniques (especially “fracking”) are making extremely rapid progress, and are transforming the technological/economic landscape, if that future is not entirely ruined by inept and/or corrupt political and social “leadership.”

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