TED Conversations

Luke Hutchison

TED Fellow,


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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 20 2013: I do not think capitalism is sustainable. From the first time (thousands of years ago) one person decided to charge another person "a little bit more" for his/her own benefit, THAT is when capitalism became unsustainable. Capitalism uses "supply and demand". People and corporations who use "supply and demand" for profit ruin any possiblity for capitalism to work.

    If you would like me to explain further, I can for just 29.95 plus shipping and handling. (restrictions may apply, monthly charges will begin without you knowing)
    • Mar 22 2013: Corporations demand they be supplied with Profit. The intended consequence is Guaranteed Profit, but also Guaranteed Poverty. I like your satirical ending (you forgot the bonus for those who respond right now, just pay extra shipping and handling), but you highlighted my "theory" on: Less Terms of Service and More Customer Service. My point is, Corporations and/or Wealthy Individuals have stacked the deck in favor of them, always.
      How does Exxon/Mobil make a steady 25% profit, per quarter? This is not Capitalism, the opposite of Communism, it is Corporationism. All situations between the customer and the Corp are in the Corp's favor, just read ALL the fine print. Legitimate grievances may be blocked by "Tort Reform", if not obliterated in court by a "Big Lawyer" firm. We have the most important terms in fine print and legislation crafted by non Legislators, with the prize buried so deep and subject to some "magical" comma for interpretation. In Capitalism the customer is "always right", In Corporationism the CEO is always right.
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        Mar 22 2013: Hello,

        I agree, but because I read the response I have to charge you 29.95. :)

        (watch out for late fees)
        • Mar 22 2013: SUE ME. I sue for Peace. I sue for Liberty. I sue for Philosophy

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