Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Rich: Job Creators?

TED describes itself as a "nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading."  The acronym stands for "Technology, Entertainment, Design," and it launched in 1984.  They now note on their website that their scope has become even broader.  

But when venture capitalist Nick Hanauer spoke at TED recently about job creation and taxes his speech was not posted on the TED website.   Hanauer complained.  Subsequently, TED head Chris Anderson posted the remarks on YouTube and accused Hanauer of making up a controversy.   

Anderson Blogged, "The talk tapped into a really important and timely issue. But it framed the issue in a way that was explicitly partisan. And it included a number of arguments that were unconvincing, even to those of us who supported his overall stance. The audience at TED who heard it live (and who are often accused of being overly enthusiastic about left-leaning ideas) gave it, on average, mediocre ratings."  

Anderson continued,"We discussed internally and ultimately told the speaker we did not plan to post. He did not react well. He had hired a PR firm to promote the talk to MoveOn and others, and the PR firm warned us that unless we posted he would go to the press and accuse us of censoring him. We again declined and this time I wrote him and tried gently to explain in detail why I thought his talk was flawed"

Here is Hanauer's speech, the link is taken from YouTube.  In essence, Hanauer claims that the idea that the rich are job creators is "upside down."  He says consumers are jobs creators because they buy products and services.  Hanauer, who has made a fortune backing such firms as Amazon, notes that, "I own three cars, not three thousand." He says it is not right to tax the rich at 15%, the capital gains rate, and the middle class at 30%.  He points out that the middle and poorer classes make up most of the consumers.  His remarks appeared to receive enthusiastic applause.  Listen to his talk and judge for yourself.

TED describes its mission on its home page: "We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world. So we're building here a clearinghouse that offers free knowledge and inspiration from the world's most inspired thinkers, and also a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each is an ever-evolving work in progress."   

A work in progress, indeed.

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