The 'Tax the Rich' Talk TED Deemed 'Too Political' to Post (UPDATE: Now with Video)
[There was a video here]
After he delivered a well-received talk on income inequality at the TED University conference on March 1st, multimillionaire investor and Amazon.com early adopter Nick Hanauer was all-but-assured by organizers that his talk would be published on the TED website.
That never happened.
Instead, he was informed earlier this month that his talk was "too political" for the nonpartisan nonprofit to seemingly endorse by making it available for public consumption.
The sticking point appears to be Hanauer assertion that "rich businesspeople like me don't create jobs," but rather it's the middle class consumers who fuel business growth and subsequent job creation by spending their hard earned money on stuff.
According to Hanauer, it follows from this, then, that "taxing the rich to pay for investments that benefit all is a great deal for both the middle class and the rich."
In an e-mail dated May 7th, TED curator Chris Anderson explained to Hanauer that the "out and out political" nature of the talk makes it impossible for TED to release it.
"We're in the middle of an election year in the US," Anderson wrote. "Your argument comes down firmly on the side of one party. And you even reference that at the start of the talk. TED is nonpartisan and is fighting a constant battle with TEDx organizers to respect that principle."
Anderson added that he personally agrees with most of Hanauer comments on inequality, but felt publishing the talk would only stoke "a tedious partisan rehash of all the arguments we hear every day in the mainstream media."
In response to media inquiries, Hanauer released a statement saying he thinks TED's excuse falls short of the truth.
"[I]f it was too political, why have me do it in the first place?" he says. "They knew months in advance what I would speak about and I gave the talk word for word. My arguments threaten an economic orthodoxy and political structure that many powerful people have a huge stake in defending. They will not go easily."
Attempting to censor something more often than not makes that thing far more public than it otherwise would have been, as Barbra Streisand learned in 2003. If you'd like to read the text of Hanauer's talk, you can do so here. Business Insider has the slideshow that goes with it.
UPDATE: In a blog post responding to the brouhaha surrounding the decision not to publish Nick Hanauer's talk, Chris Anderson claims the whole thing is a "non-story about a talk not being chosen" over "better ones," and not a case of deliberate censorship. To prove his point, he uploaded the talk in question so viewers can "judge for themselves" (see above).
"No doubt," he concludes, "it will now, ironically, get stupendous viewing numbers and spark a magnificent debate, and then the conspiracy theorists will say the whole thing was a set-up!"