TED Conversations

Luke Hutchison

TED Fellow,


This conversation is closed.

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.)


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Mar 16 2013: I like Iceland's answer to that question.because it actually visited that question as a nation and decided that sustainability, thrievability included so much more than capitalism and expressed that in a beuatiful, eloquent crowd sourced constituion.

    Our U.S. Constiutution is actually capitalist and colonilaist..it is a far cry from the eloquently humanitarian and egalitarian vision of the declaration of independence. Jefferson actually visited that when he became president and decided that the ship f state would eventually tack towards what was expressed in the dxelaration of independence and to some extent that has happened.

    By its very definition and workings capitalism eventually includes a 1% who have all the wealth and power and disenfranchised 99% . It is only that false hope that everyone has an equal shot at wealth and advancement that allows it to perpetuate. Now the 99% get that. With no riots upheaval or war the 99% are already leading us away from capitalism towards an economic and social vision that is not only sustainable but hopefully thriveable..

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.