TED Conversations

Luke Hutchison

TED Fellow, Google

TEDCRED 50+

This conversation is closed. Start a new conversation
or join one »

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.)

+12
Share:

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • Mar 11 2013: In our presentations for the Economics for Ecology conferences in Sumy we'd bee making the point that it wasn't sustainable. What I found interesting recently is that we seem to have common ground with a leading Marxist on the issue:

    http://www.p-ced.com/1/node/41
    • thumb
      Mar 11 2013: i would found that suspicious as opposed to interesting
    • thumb
      Mar 11 2013: Looked at the site, read the perceptions and had some understanding but got lost on the solutions.
      I think it is some kind of mix of two diametrically opposed economic systems with a lot of oversight.

      My philosophy has always been that government role in an economy is more like the referee in a football game and not like a director in the theater.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.