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 22 2013: Thomas,
    I really can't make out much of what you are trying to say. I majored in philosophy at university and I've never known that Locke said any such thing as you imply. Perhaps your reading of him exceeds mine.

    You appear to be an advocate of some concept of which I am unfamiliar with your "Three Principles of Philosophy". Are you caught up in some cult that is applying its own definition of philosophy?

    As for David Suzuki, I happen to know him personally. I assure you that he is no philosopher! I read him as an arrogant little twerp who is of genius IQ - and won't let anyone forget it. Not satisfied with being brilliant, he also wants to be thought of as wise. He isn't. He rides his various hobby-horses unmercifully, verbally attempting to destroy any arguments contrary to his. If you know him, mention my name to him and remind him of the debate he and I had at York University in 1973. That ought to shut him up for 30 seconds or so - a long time for him.

    Thanks for commenting but I'm not interested in your religion or beliefs or philosophy, whichever it is.

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