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: We have never had a democratic subject willing attempt at anything. Don't fall into the trap of blaming individuals. Imagine being offered the equivalent of a lottery win as a bonus every year for just doing your job. That is what happened with the bankers, you can't blame them for taking the money.
    We need to have a complete rethink about how we lead our lives and for what purpose.
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      Mar 15 2013: Then you must agree that it is human nature that is flawed, that is if given temptation all individuals will fold. Granted, the whole system needs a rethink.

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