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Luke Hutchison

TED Fellow, Google

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: I doubt that we can do much to improve human nature. People will be what they are. The best economic system to work within the framework of human inconsistencies is capitalism. It provides the chance to have something other than government sanctioned poverty. That being said, what can we do to make capitalism a more fair and sustainable system?

    1. We can support and encourage the prosecution of those who use capitalism as a tool to cheat others.
    2. We can support laws that will aid in that prosecution.
    3. We can support candidates who will do the 2 things mentioned above.
    4. We can work toward convincing, and educating people that economics is not a zero sum game, that taking everything means losing in the long run.

    Those are my modest suggestions, anyone have more or better ideas?

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