We're reading an interesting piece by Kevin Carson on OpenManufacturing who discusses the challenges of switching manufacturing from today's highly centralized, mass produced, container shipped model to a more distributed, local and "home" based manufacturing world.
Obviously there are challenges to providing appropriately capable equipment and software for such ventures, but in the piece Carson mentions another dimension of barrier to microenterprise: Legal obstacles. He recommends:
- Scaling back health and safety regulations and associated licensing, particularly where homeowners already have the devices onsite for personal use
- Eliminating zoning codes that force businesses into specific commercially-designated areas, which really doesn't make sense when today's microbusinesses are effectively invisible, unlike 20th century factory businesses
We would add another one to that list: reforming patent and copyright laws to encourage innovation to actually occur, rather than encourage monopolistic control of every imaginable idea by big corporations and patent trolls. A microbusiness cannot survive arbitrary cease and desist orders that might not even be applicable to their operation.
What do you think are the barriers to a distributed economy?