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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 15 2013: The 'definition' you state is not an official definition that I have ever read. In fact, what you write is similar to an expert from a comment about Webster's official definition of the word on Webster's website. The comment was started with: "The 'Left' has Hijacked the word greed." He goes on to basically re-define the word by saying "Greed is not the desire for things, it is the desire for things at the expense of others." This is not the definition of the word...ANYWHERE!!! While I do not want to disrespect Luke's original question by going too deep into Political manipulation (or disrespect you), but this is what this is. Greed at its base is all about "Excess!" Having, Consuming or Desiring more than one's needs. What you would like to have pass as "another" definition is actually "creating" a new definition, so the "Right' can throw yet another label on folks in need, or of little means, as well as justify your own Greed by in essence "changing" the definition of Greed. You completley ignore the fact that "value" has to be "determined" as does the "percentage" in return. Who decides that the CEO of Wall-Mart is of more Value than my child's 6th Grade Teacher? Its the folks with the most money that will have more influence as to what and how things are both determined and done....who gets what and how much. So Greed is a Natural path for our Culture to take. Money is the power. It is the most important thing on the Planet. We don't embrace our People, we embrace our money. You would rather choose to shift blame and characterize an individual who does not have the means to bring equal "value" (as you decide its not) to the table, simply because they would like to have something that may make their life better...not more or too much....as Greedy, Instead of taking the definition as it has been for hundreds of years, and apply it where it should be. As long as we use the system as it is, many will never have an Equal chance. Its not like we started yesterday.
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      Mar 15 2013: Sean Newman Maron has a good comment on greed below. I will not debate the term any furthere since it seems to be settled in your mind. There was never a dissagreement on that to begin with.

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