Most of you have probably heard of TED talks—you know, the ones held at conferences people like to go to so they can listen to speakers like Sheryl Sandberg and Mary Roach present “ideas worth spreading.” The cost to attend one of these conferences can range anywhere from $2,500 to $7,500, according to the registration costs of upcoming conferences. Sometimes, we find the talks interesting, and other times, we find them ineffective. And it’s great that even if you can’t afford to attend a conference, you can watch the videos for free on the TED site.
But, according to The National Journal, not all of the talks make it onto the TED site.
TED organizers invited a multimillionaire Seattle venture capitalist named Nick Hanauer – the first nonfamily investor in Amazon.com – to give a speech on March 1 at their TED University conference. Inequality was the topic – specifically, Hanauer’s contention that the middle class, and not wealthy innovators like himself, are America’s true “job creators.”
“We’ve had it backward for the last 30 years,” he said. “Rich businesspeople like me don’t create jobs. Rather they are a consequence of an ecosystemic feedback loop animated by middle-class consumers, and when they thrive, businesses grow and hire, and owners profit. That’s why taxing the rich to pay for investments that benefit all is a great deal for both the middle class and the rich.”
You can’t find that speech online. TED officials told Hanauer initially they were eager to distribute it. “I want to put this talk out into the world!” one of them wrote him in an e-mail in late April. But early this month they changed course, telling Hanauer that his remarks were too “political” and too controversial for posting.
It’s unfortunate that TED is willing to post polarizing discussions on climate change and birth control, but not income inequality. It’s especially unfortunate because if we’re going to have a legitimate discussion about something like income inequality from the viewpoint of a rich person, it’d be good to have Hanauer’s argument alongside someone like Edward Conard. Thankfully, The National Journal has posted a transcript of Hanauer’s talk here.
Photo: Flickr/Erik Charlton