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 15 2013: Sure, do we still Barter?, I do! But not on a scale that I could seriously profit from, without getting arrested. I have even thought about the concept of having a Dual System of Wealth. Both Capitalistic and a Human Wealth System, but the more I think about it the more it would create "classes" that we don't need. The Human "Condition" needs to be at the forefront of Human concern. Not Money. It has become something that it was never intended. It is the decider as to what happens, not the needs of men.
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      Mar 15 2013: The human condition is the issue. As for barter, it occurs, and probably on a wider scale than you imagine. I mentioned it simply because you seem to be opposed to money. Money simply represents a trading tool based on the value of labor. Is it always valued correctly? No. To me, the labor of a farmer is far more valuable than the labor of a movie star, but I seem to be in the minority.

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