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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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    Mar 8 2013: When I was young adolescent in the communist Romania, because of the strong propaganda I did believe that 'capitalism is evil' . It took time, and real life experience to realise, alternatives are tyrannies and worse. It is possible, soon we will be anyway in Information Age, but creating a company and also offering work to others, creating wealth to be able to help children In university, as I did later is not 'evil' or bad. And nor is 'menial job' At some time in that communist country even that was that was denied to me. I do feel the talk about 'bad capitalism' is propaganda, that gets old anyway. Taking money, wealth from one does not makes the others happy or less poor. Free enterprise is what can do more then 'distribution of what is'
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      Mar 13 2013: No Julie, the alternatives are not tyrannies or worse. Now you are listening to the opposite line of propaganda to the one that you were brought up with. Recognise both for what they are: a method for enslaving us. In fact we can strike a balance between the forces of economy and our humanity.
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        Mar 13 2013: So how do you view Nz's current change to the shareholder led country Joanne? almost 300.000 registrations for one energy companies shares in just a matter of days. These companies hiked their prices up touting higher energy costs which must be passed on to the public when in reality they upped their asset worth. The current push by that group that want to slap the banks hands for over charging on their bank fees has my vote only because the gorging was allowed to carry on too long.
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          Mar 15 2013: Well obviously I view it with sorrow and dismay Ken. I see it as the first stage in what will inevitably be the demise of all that I hold precious; a stable, relatively equal, humane, safe, comfortably well off, society.

          Firstly, please do not be under the illusion that we are looking at a demorcratically led transition. Quite the contrary. White colonial New Zealand was a country founded on the egalitatrian Socialist principles of a people escaping a cruel class system. That socio political legacy is still firmly entrenched in the hearts and minds of most Kiwis. In tandem with that, the Tangatawhenua or 'People of the Land' or original people, the Maori, follow a communtiy principle of whanaungataugna .

          This translates to a concept of togetherness, family, belonging to community and the land. These two ethos combined mean that there is a great deal of active and strong opposition to privatisation here in New Zealand. This has not stopped it proceeding however. Although there are protests and petitions each week and last week a large hikoi or 'meeting' produced nearly half a million signatures on one petition alone (a significant result in a country only four million strong.) it will not change much.

          The process of turning over the democratic system, and placing paid employees in key decision making roles is complete. The people who wait to harvest this market just sit back and wait for their patsy's to deliver.

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