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Luke Hutchison

TED Fellow, Google

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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: Is capitalism sustainable?
    I'm tired tonight and will take this from off the top of my head.

    NO,
    unless the US Congress can water down both Corporate and Political
    Limited Liability Laws or abolish them completely.

    Congress must find a way to control or eliminate lobbies,
    before our capitalistic system of commerce eats itself into oblivion.

    Capitalism infects -
    All Executive Branches of Government, US Presidents
    and their Administrations, 50 State Governments, their
    Counties, Cities, and every Town in this nation.

    All these US Governments are protected by Capitalism--
    Insurance, Corporate and Political Limited Liability Laws,
    plus collective bargaining agreements with Employee Unions.

    Lest we forget hidden US government Capitalism in action--
    'non-government' Association and Corporate memberships.
    Members being US Government past and present Executives
    and other Employees. These Associations blur the roles of
    US Government Executives and Employees and provide no
    transparency at all, and instead are ripe with non-safeguards
    for our nation's citizens.

    Capitalism history, aka: They called it a Bail Out.--
    The Banking Industry in the 1960's was prohibited from investing
    public and private retirement funds into leveraged high risk investments
    such as wall street's circular investment schemes.
    After 30 intense years of lobbying, the Banks were deregulated.

    The US government today, still sends to the Banks Bail Out money.

    Go figure.

    Extra-- A recent example of Capitalism in government--
    Some Federal Government Department's when exposed to
    sequestration, could only find budget cuts through advising
    lower level employees of likely furloughs, and 4 day work weeks.
    Plus cutting of services to citizen beneficiaries. (Nothing was
    said about reducing Executive Compensation.)

    That became a capitalistic mess before sequestration has begun.

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