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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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  • Mar 3 2013: Capitalism is at least partially based on:
    1. perpetual consumption
    2. perpetual growth

    we also see this pattern in cancer
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      Mar 3 2013: Cancer?
      I see evolution.
      Let's define capitalism.
      You got to a workplace every day and perform certain tasks and at the end of the week you get a check for an agreed upon amount of pay for your services. Most of us do that.
      A few of us, gather all the capital they can, by making loans, asking others, putting all they have and can get into a workplace, with materials, tools, and hires the most of us to make a product or provide a service
      that they can market to anyone who might purchase that product or service at a price that returns a profit.
      Regardless of sales, those few must pay for the workplace, the material, tools and his employees at the agreed upon costs. If no profit, those few loose everything. not only all their investments but the investments of others who believed in their success. It has been recorded that 97 out of 100 of these few lose. The surprising thing is that the employees, the real estate people, the tool manufactures, material suppliers, the money people all have a number of legal protections to cushion the loss caused by failure of those few. A failed capitalist can't even draw unemployment insurance.
      Why do you berated those who provide most of us a living, agreed some better then others, at the risks that they face?
      • Mar 15 2013: You might find "The ragged trousered philanthropist" a good read, set 100years ago.
        Who's providing who with a living?
        Those poor people at the top risking their money just so that we can work.
        Work to live or live to work, I know which one I'd prefer.
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      Mar 3 2013: how do you plan to stop "perpetual consumption"? maybe we should give nukes to iran after all. it is very good against consumption.
      • Mar 3 2013: Marketers sometimes play on our emotional triggers to get us to buy more than what we need. So marketing can be partially blamed for perpetual consumption.
      • Mar 3 2013: I've been convinced to buy something that I later regretted, yes. Most people make unnecessary purchases because they are led to believe it will do something for them or make them feel some way.

        Not that I buy crap off of infomercials but that kind of advertising would be an example of how people get led to believe they should buy something they don't really need.
      • Mar 3 2013: I have a problem with lying, yes.
        • Mar 4 2013: Do you have problems with someone like Assad, Putin, Mugabe, and some of the "leaders in Somalia, Sudan or even Argentina. Or you don't think they are lying with their citizens?
          Do you mind to ask these "slum dwellers" here if they desire to move to these countries because there are less marketing theanhere in the US?
          Even in the Indian villages, people are still subjected to some "marketing" by street venders. But whether or not you buy the commodity is still up to you. If you can afford the buying due to the "lying" promotion, that wouldn't harm you very much. However, if you can't afford it and were persuaded to buy the commodity, then you should at least share the "evil" event due to your own weak willpower!
          Human interactions always involve some lying, promotion, and exaggeration because that programed in human nature. So as I see it, to blame the marketing promotion is just a one-sided view of something that has been programed into human nature including yours.
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        Mar 3 2013: Perpetual Consumption?
        You are pulling my chain aren't you ? Life is perpetual consumption!!

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