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 14 2013: it seems the only way to look at this is in real time as in watching a class emerge from being impoverished in china india brazil etc. and recognize the sameness of the pathway has not changed. It is a petro and material mining economy which subjects us all to it's very significant physical consequences. Having a source of energy that represents technology evolution to leave these consequences which tether us to them would change the age old fear dominance and submission class model and thereby allow it to work. So capitalism small c replaces an age old Capital C version with a sustainable passive energy technology in my vision of it anyway.

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