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Luke Hutchison

TED Fellow, Google

TEDCRED 50+

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Is capitalism sustainable?

Bono stated in his TED2013 talk that the numbers show that we can eradicate all poverty worldwide by 2030. While I really hope that is true, it begs the question: Is capitalism sustainable? Is it possible to have a rich and middle class without a poor class? The sad reality of capitalism is that if there is an exponentially small number of people with exponentially large wealth, there has to be an exponentially long tail of much poorer people who are each contributing to that wealth. Not that we necessarily need an exponentially small number of people with exponentially large wealth, but would the world keep running without capitalistic incentives that increase the separation between rich and poor? Can we eradicate all poverty without the rich sharing their riches? What happens to civilization when nobody is willing to work in the factories and orchards, or build roads?

(Please don't take this question the wrong way! Personally I wish that nobody had to work menial jobs. I just don't understand how we can eradicate poverty when so many jobs will always translate into low-paid labor.)

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  • Feb 27 2013: I dont think it can work because any time we fix one problem we bring up another." For example, there have been a number of projects to increase the standard of living in Ethiopia, which is a country literally famous for being impoverished. One such project involved installing water taps in Ethiopian households. While this had several incredibly beneficial effects, most notably dropping the infant mortality rate, it ultimately contributed to household shortages. More children means more family members to support, and those water taps weren't spitting out any extra money -- so essentially, the children were surviving infancy only to grow up starving. By solving one problem, another equally devastating problem was created."
    If you thought this was to long just read it on http://www.cracked.com/article_20216_5-insane-theories-about-why-we-havent-discovered-alien-life.html
    Strange how we find some answers by looking somewhere else

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