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Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus

How Growth Became the Enemy of Prosperity

By Douglas Rushkoff
12-minute read
Audio available
Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus: How Growth Became the Enemy of Prosperity by Douglas Rushkoff

Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus (2013) explores society’s unhealthy relationship with money, as it transformed from a means to facilitate trade to a goal in itself. The rise of digital markets has done little to improve the situation. These blinks explore the history of money and offer practical solutions to help local communities make money work again for everyone.

  • Workers concerned about losing a job to a machine
  • Students exploring sociology, history, economics or politics
  • Entrepreneurs

Douglas Rushkoff is a bestselling author, teacher and documentarian, and won the Media Ecology Association’s first Neil Postman award for Career Achievement in Public Intellectual Activity. He is a professor of media theory and digital economics at CUNY Queens and a technology and media commentator for CNN.

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Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus

How Growth Became the Enemy of Prosperity

By Douglas Rushkoff
  • Read in 12 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 7 key ideas
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Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus: How Growth Became the Enemy of Prosperity by Douglas Rushkoff
Synopsis

Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus (2013) explores society’s unhealthy relationship with money, as it transformed from a means to facilitate trade to a goal in itself. The rise of digital markets has done little to improve the situation. These blinks explore the history of money and offer practical solutions to help local communities make money work again for everyone.

Key idea 1 of 7

The greed for growth has driven elites to exploit the working classes since the Medieval period.

There was once a time when a person had to either make or sell any product on the market. If you sat down at a restaurant, for example, you had to order your meal from a waiter. These days, you can go to McDonalds and order a burger from a self-service stand.

What does that mean for employees? People all over are losing their jobs. A company’s relentless pursuit of growth is essentially taking jobs away from people.

Computers are often scapegoated for the decline in jobs, but really, it’s our greed for growth that is to blame. Businesses are so eager to expand that they replace people with cheaper machines whenever possible.

How did we get here? Why do we as a society rely on such a small number of rich companies for employment and economic prosperity?

The answer to this question starts with the Middle Eastern bazaar system, an open market for exchanging goods and ideas. Europeans who took part in the Crusades brought this market idea back with them to Europe.

The introduction of open markets led to rapid economic growth in Europe as well as the expansion of a merchant class, people with the ability to exchange products and services directly, without middlemen.

A craftsman, for example, could go to a market and buy oats directly from a peasant for a price equal to its real value, since there was no longer the need to pay a commission to a grain dealer.

As the merchant class grew wealthier, however, the aristocratic class started to lose both wealth and clout. So they developed monopolies, which led to the top-down economic system we still use today. They essentially killed the open market by granting certain companies exclusive rights in the industry in exchange for a share of their profits, curtailing trade in the bazaars.

This eventually led to our modern system of markets, in which workers earn wages from market-controlling companies, rather than trading directly from one another.

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