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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: No sir. Capitalism is a failure and only works for 'upper-class' of the pyramid. And by upper class I mean bankers and people who understand how to exploit bugs in this system.

    IMHO Capitalism is same as 'Ponzi scheme'. Only difference is when this bubble bursts (Corporation paid) politicians run to bail banks out :). Meanwhile media keeps people entertaining.

    Idea of 'healthy capitalism' is a flawed one from its core... as Capitalism promises an annual growth which is impossible due to limited resources and infrastructures (you can always invade other countries but it is a temporary option).

    Capitalism always leads to crises. Crises leads to war. Capitalists finances both (or multiple) sides and hence story continues. [i.e.: Great Depression]
    • Feb 27 2013: Kareem,

      You've won the coveted HITS THE NAIL ON THE HEAD award.

      Your complete understanding is unique.
      Did you know Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison for his Ponzi scheme?
      The ex-CEO of Goldman Sachs, a wall street firm, was sentenced to 2 years for his mistakes.

      The ex-US Treasury Secretary also another ex-CEO of Goldman Sachs convinced Congress
      almost overnight that the bubble had burst, and the only way to save us all was to empty our
      Treasury and send a $Trillion Dollars to Bail Out those To Big to Fail Banks. We are still sending
      the Banks, and others, Bail Outs.

      Most of these politicians were lawyers, graduates of Harvard, and some even ran that University.
      It wouldn't take a lot of convincing to make this all into a conspiracy.

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