TED Conversations

Luke Hutchison

TED Fellow,

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 26 2013: Nope. It's unsustainable. As long as Corporation focus their agenda to shareholder instead of their employees welfare. I don't see it that it will be sustainable in the future.

    In recent years the robot technology (humanoid) is on the rise. What do you think will happen when Corporations make a decisions to replace their cheap labor workers around the world with a lot more cheap and effective humanoid robot?

    For comparison according to ILO there are 215 millions of child labor around the world. So I can only say that eradicating all poverty by 2030 is unrealistic.
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      Mar 26 2013: It is sad to me that these great capitalists cannot see that even they will be happier if all are. We are all in this together.

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