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Luke Hutchison

TED Fellow, Google

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 16 2013: Tyler,
    Greed got ya by the short and curlies, huh? When you mature as a person you'll learn better. Until then try to maintain some cool.
    • Mar 16 2013: I didn't mean to come off as...uncool? I'm serious about this. I want to live in a free society both economically and socially. I don't think it's greed. I live within my means, and I really don't need a lot. Even if I made a million or more a year I probably would live about the same. I just don't see a legitimate reason for forcing someone to do what I want them to do, whether that's being more charitable or throwing them in jail for smoking pot. I want to see the government leave us alone as much as possible. I really do mean to have a cool discussion because I am fairly concerned about this.

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