The Commons Commodified?

The "commons" are increasingly falling into the hands of private owners, prompting Jay Walljasper to what it means to have commonly shared spaces in the modern world.
April 2, 2011, 11am PDT | Nate Berg
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"As the market economy becomes the yardstick for measuring the worth of everything, more people are grabbing portions of the commons as their private property. Many essential elements of society-from ecosystems to scientific knowledge to public services- are slipping through our hands and into the pockets of the rich and powerful.

One example of what we're losing comes right out of today's headlines about spiraling health care costs. The creation of many widely prescribed drugs, which millions of people depend upon, was funded in large part by government grants. But the exclusive right to sell pharmaceuticals developed with public money was handed over to drug companies with almost nothing asked in return. That means we pay exorbitant prices for medicine developed with our tax dollars, and many poor people are denied access to treatments that might save their lives."

But Walljasper notes various efforts by activists and citizens to retake or reclaim the commons.

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Published on Friday, April 1, 2011 in Terrain
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