TED Conversations

Luke Hutchison

TED Fellow,

TEDCRED 50+

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.)

Share:

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Mar 16 2013: The best system is one which allows the people to achieve their personal potential, while championing human dignity. In the words of Deng Xiaoping, "It doesn't matter whether it is a good cat or a black cat, a cat that catches mice is a good cat". If communism proved itself to better humanity I would happily see a communist world.
    • thumb
      Mar 17 2013: Agreed, at least in theory, although conversion from capitalism to some other system, or forced redistribution of wealth probably has more in common with Mao and his definition of where power comes from!
    • Mar 17 2013: Ok, I'm still trying to think about that. What do you mean by human dignity? What about saying....Justice is the most important law and it's absolute, and that mercy is encouraged but we can't force it? This is basically straight frederick bastiat and I'm not even sure if I LIKE the way that's phrased or if I completely understand it.
      • thumb
        Mar 17 2013: Spare me your banalities.
        Neither bore me nor try to seduce me with your benevolent insolence.
        • Mar 17 2013: Seriously, "Banalities, Insolence"? I would have liked an answer as well! This is not the forum to not be ready to go in depth with what you think.
          The Cat, by nature will hunt the mice. If hungry it will eat its head. The cat does not ask for money in return. "It doesn't matter whether it is a good cat or a black cat, a cat that catches mice is a good cat" If in fact the mice is 'deemed' "Good", then it does matter. By mere association, does not make every Chines person profound.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.