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 24 2013: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=njSV5LtVmR4

    watch ^ video: Owned & Operated is a mosaic of the world through the lens of the internet. Showing our lives as consumers, under the thumbs of privileged individuals and their methods of contro
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      Mar 24 2013: Kareem,
      You didn't seem to understand what James had written. It's about how capitalism as been bent and twisted by politicians and greedy individuals for their own benefits. Capitalism is not perfect, It has been abused. Abuser's should be punished, severely punished. Capitalism is built on the premise that goods and services are exchanged with both parties receiving equal value.
      No other "system" is based on that premise.
      And the other thing that most detractors ignore in their criticism, is that even the most outrageous capitalist employs people who may not otherwise have employment. Someone has to build those private yachts, those palatial estates. As bad as they are, I think capitalists are not as egregious as others. I have never been told what job to do, or where to live, or how to vote, or where to go to church or not, or what to say or not, or who I can call friend or not, or how to vote. I live a a capitalist economy in a constitutional republic. It's not utopia, but of all the utopias, I've seen attempted, I'll stay with this one.

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