business leadership in every country to come to the table, to begin discussing this full transition of the nature of work, to sit down and collaborate with labor and government and community to create a seamless web of relationship between all these sectors and get down to the task of exploring how we share some of the vast potential revenue gains of this new technology revolution. Very few business people I have talked with have disagreed with my diagnosis. When I ask businesses -- small, medium and large -- do you see more and more workers in the picture, or fewer and fewer, almost every business person I work with says as they become more successful, they see fewer workers in the picture.

I do think we are on the cusp of a new era. And I think we owe it to ourselves and our children to perhaps have this debate now rather than later, because I think if we don't, the voices of anger will be so loud five or 10 years from now we won't be able to have this kind of intelligent conversation at the center of life in each country.

GT: But you are, in essence, also suggesting that government should be paying for people to work in the third sector.

Rifkin: What I'm suggesting is that we need to see all three legs of this stool as reciprocal even if they are sometimes adversarial to each other. What makes a strong society is a streamlined democratic government, a very effective market economy and a very strong civil society. The market is the juice, the government is the regulator, and the civil society is the social glue. Each leg of that stool has to be proportional and reciprocal to the other. I've made various suggestions, but beyond these, here is the bottom line: Are we willing to tax a small portion of the vast revenue stream in this Information Age economy and make it available for income so that surplus can be used, not for prisons, but for providing training and jobs in the civil society?

People say they are paying too much in taxes. Well, I recently spent a few hours with the President of Finland. The average person in Finland pays 48 percent income tax. So I suggested he take just 5 percent of that existing revenue stream and use it for income vouchers to begin to prepare young people for decent work in the social economy. That 5 percent alone could go a long way in providing a vision and a mission -- a new sense of vitality for your economy.

So there are many ways to provide, but the question is, do we have the will and the resolve? My wife, who is a journalist and tends to be more cynical, tells me it is going to move toward collapse and crisis before anyone responds. I pray for our children's generation that it doesn't have to get to that.


Blake Harris  |  Editor