TED Conversations

Luke Hutchison

TED Fellow,


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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: there is a simple saying...THERE IS ENOUGH FOR EVERYONES NEEDS,BUT NOT FOR EVERYONES GREEDS....capitalism is deep rooted in our subconscious...we all learn to compete.regardless of the fallout..how is a system based in our image of self going to cease to self replicate? we believe in competion,so how will this eager,motivational force worshiped in myth,suddenly be enveloped by a new point of view? Logic may tell us that the system is faulty,and yet most of us are hardwired to be tapped in..here is another way I one day tried to write this weird self replicating circle...How can truth be unknowable?(2)how can facts disintergrate in front of belief(3)If beleif is truth..then what do facts prove?...thusly becasuse of all of this seemingly to be true...as a people we fail to examine the foundation of our collective beliefs..and so on we lop along,half crushed,and half ressurected
    • Feb 27 2013: Carolyn,

      You struck a nerve about "we believe in competition".
      Yup, we do. Another sale was made sometime ago.
      Capitalism is competition for the almighty dollar. No doubt about it.

      Did you know?
      There are people who believe that competition is not good.
      And go so far as to manufacture non-competitive games for kids.

      I think that there is a place in our society for this type of thought.

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