TED Conversations

Luke Hutchison

TED Fellow,

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 7 2013: It's impossible to live with the capitalism AND a sustainable society. That's because, in it's origin, capitalism is to divide in unfair portion all the wealth. That's the truth, but it doesn't mean that we can't make it work a little better. Eradicate poverty is a hard task, and I think it's not building a consumer society, where there's too many people doing it, the better way to solve those issues.
    After all, world population is growing in geometrical patterns, and the food we produce is properly measured by arithmetical scale. What can we do? CHANGE some of our foolish beliefs, for example, think about humanity in opposition of the way we think today: individually and in some cases, being victims of an awful greed as nothing matters but only ourselves .

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