The Economy | Video

TED Talk On Inequality Almost Never Came Out: VIDEO

Hanauer

Every year, thousands of bright and interesting people assume the stage to deliver talks at TED, TED-X, and affiliated conferences all over the world, and just about every day TED posts one of those talks for online consumption. The massively popular TED Conference -- "TED" stands for "Technology, Entertiainment, and Design" -- is predicated on the idea that luminaries in all kinds of different fields probably have something of value to share with the world, and the world might be willing to listen if those luminaries distill their One Big Idea into brief, humorous, and passionate speeches. Many of the world's smartest and most inventive people go to TED and affiliated events each year and return home even smarter and more inventive, for TED Talks can be both life-changingly informative and peerlessly inspirational. Sometimes they're both.

Because thousands of people end up on stage at TED-affiliated events each year, not everybody's talk gets featured on TED's website. That's certainly true of those talks, such as the one below, which are pitched and delivered by non-featured speakers -- basically, during the audience-participation part of the conference.

But this particular talk was delivered by Nick Hanauer, the venture capitalist, and its subject was inequality. And when it didn't get featured on TED's website, Hanauer was angry. The National Review wrote a story about the snub, assuming it resulted from some censorious impulse at TED. TED's founder, Chris Anderson, took to the web to defend himself. It's not that TED"s censorious; it's that Hanauer's talk was "partisan" and "unconvincing."

But that's nonsense. Hanauer's talk has now been posted, and it's fine. Anyway, all TED lectures are either for or against something, which is what it means to be partisan. If I can hazard a guess, the problem's that the TEDfolk, like most West coast techno-cultural intelligentsia, are libertarians, and don't like to see gazillionaires bescmirching the free market, which Hanauer does repeatedly.

If, however, you enjoy seeing billionaires besmirch the free market, please watch Hanauer's talk AFTER THE JUMP ...

 

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Comments

  1. It's incorrect to say that all TED talks are for or against something. Many are simply informational.

    It's also a step to say that all West coast technos are libertarians. They go both ways.

    Posted by: Paul R | May 20, 2012 9:11:40 AM


  2. "But that's nonsense. Hanauer's talk has now been posted, and it's fine. Anyway, all TED lectures are either for or against something, which is what it means to be partisan."

    The talks are meant to illuminate, not to function as screeds. I don't have a particular problem with this talk - beyond that it discloses nothing new - but let's not pretend that it remotely approximates most of the other TED presentations.


    "If I can hazard a guess, the problem's that the TEDfolk, like most West coast techno-cultural intelligentsia, are libertarians, and don't like to see gazillionaires bescmirching the free market, which Hanauer does repeatedly."

    This may shock your partisan senses, but libertarians talk a great deal about inequality. There are just fundamental philosophical differences about how to address it, and most of them don't involve giving an inherently inefficient institution such as government more power.

    Posted by: Nat | May 20, 2012 9:23:41 AM


  3. I don't necessarily disagree with the thesis of the talk. In fact, I'm inclined to believe that the basic premise is largely valid. But the presenter's supporting evidence is flawed and the way he attempted to substantiate his claims is indeed "unconvincing." And ultimately, that's the problem I have with this presentation.

    I think if one is to stake a position on this issue, crying censorship is not the most credible approach here. It's much more reasonable to investigate the claims made in the talk, the supporting evidence on both sides, and use these as a basis for discerning whether or not TED's decision to not publish the talk was indeed an act of censorship. One cannot simply ascribe such motives to their actions just because one believes the presenter holds a viewpoint that you agree with.

    Posted by: atomic | May 20, 2012 9:27:10 AM


  4. Another point I'd like to make is that billionaires--or at the very least, those who have sufficient money that they are able to wield disproportionate influence on public policy (social, economic, political)--generally don't need to censor individuals in such a direct fashion. As you can see, such tactics tend to backfire anyway.

    The real corruption is institutional, not individual. It stems from corporate power over elected officials and the mainstream media. These forces don't censor so much as shape and manipulate through propaganda and lobbying.

    So, while it may be true that the billionaires in the audience would disagree with the presentation, they probably wouldn't care enough to try to suppress it and they were likely aware that any attempt to do so would backfire (cf. Streisand Effect). These people have enough money and influence that they have other far more effective channels through which to achieve their ends.

    Posted by: atomic | May 20, 2012 9:41:37 AM


  5. One thing Hanauer didnt touch on is the fact that in any economy there is only a certain amount of money floating around at any given time. Call this a pie.

    The pie is sliced into pieces for every individual. The pie is finite. Some people will get larger pieces, some smaller. However since the pie is only so large, if a smaller and smaller number of people are sucking up all that pie.....the rest of us are left with less to eat.

    Things like healthcare costs, utilities costs (power, water, gas, etc). car insurance, transportation costs. etc, these prices are soaring. At the very beginning these costs for basic items that everyone needs, controlled by private comapnies, should have been socialized.

    Income is not only down for most of us, but spending for neccessary comodities like above has skyrocketed due to profiteering from corporations.

    Posted by: stevenelliot | May 20, 2012 11:12:36 AM


  6. steve n: the economy isn't a net sum game. the pie gets bigger most every year. it's called growth.

    nat: libertarians talk plenty about inequality, but it's all baloney meant to cover up the fact that the central core value and MO of libertarianism and/or "objectivism" is Social Darwinism. Period.

    The rich get richer and the poor die. That's libertarianism in a nutshell. Any talk about concern for the poor in such an ideology is either concern trolling or lies meant to hoodwink the uninformed masses so they vote against their best interests (nay - any interest of theirs at all).

    Posted by: R | May 20, 2012 1:44:46 PM


  7. I liked the premise of the talk and agree with his points, however, he offered almost no supporting evidence for his conclusion. That is most likely why this talk went unposted. I'd love to have a short and sweet talk I could use to shoot down the "job creator" believers, but I feel that, if I didn't already agree with him, I wouldn't be convinced by this talk.

    Posted by: lessthan | May 20, 2012 2:07:33 PM


  8. since this is a gay blog, you all must/should watch this TED Talk. It is one of my favs.

    Elizabeth Pisani: Sex, drugs and HIV -- let's get rational

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LoXAAEy6YQU

    Posted by: QJ201 | May 20, 2012 2:09:15 PM


  9. Without addressing what libertarianism actually is, which I think is an especially complex topic since just on the surface it's a mix of kids who just want to smoke pot and huge corporations that just want to pollute, let's quickly dispense with the myth that there's no such thing as the incredibly homophobic libertarian. There are plenty out there, and I don't have to wander too far into the libertarian blogosphere to find them. In a way they are are even more insidious than so-called "Christian Fundamentalists" because they dress their homophobia in pseudo-scientific gibberish. An example would be the "West Hunter" blog where a Feb 2012 post deduced that homosexuality was spread by a virus transmitted by pedophiles. WTF? I guess the virus sometimes decides to make people become highly-accomplished heterosexual constitutional scholars (Lawrence Lessig) LOL. Point being all heterosexual victims of such abuse continue be heterosexual, but why let reality ruin a good f-g bashing? These people are sometimes just as incapable of critical reasoning as the Republican Right, if not more so.


    Posted by: St. Theresa of Avila | May 20, 2012 2:15:27 PM


  10. What always cracks me up about libertarians is the absurdity of their logic. 'A' addresses a problem (inefficiently they claim) while 'B' does not. Therefore 'B' is to be preferred.

    Instead of addressing the inefficiencies they perceive and doing something about them, they just want to eliminate government all together and replace it with nothing. /facepalm

    Posted by: AladinSane | May 20, 2012 2:16:34 PM


  11. Does anyone proofread anymore?

    Posted by: Alan | May 20, 2012 3:21:15 PM


  12. TED is ran by a bunch of megalomaniacs who think they are unaccountable to no one. Even programs like the ted fellowship have failed because there is zero transparency. TED collects money for these things and spend it how it does. It doesn't share any information with the 'fellows'. It has the same behavior with the TED prize and all other initiatives. There is no accountability or governance. It's just a bunch of megalomaniacs who are riding on other people's talents to make millions. They dont pay anything to the speakers whose talks they post. They are hiding behind the 'non-profit' tag to cream off millions for themselves. This is a very despicable organisation that is using glossy pr to hide its ugly underbelly. One day the real scandals will come out. Not this hot air over one talk. I stopped paying their ridiculous extortionate fees a few years ago. The more people who see through this lying charade and stop feeding the monster the sooner it will end.

    Posted by: Viking Ivy | May 20, 2012 8:06:48 PM


  13. The only reason why there has been such a clamour over this one talk is because this time they screwed someone rich and powerful. An organisation like TED needs better corporate governance and rules. If we hold wall street corps to high standards we should hold non-profits like TED to the same standards.

    Posted by: Viking Ivy | May 20, 2012 8:08:59 PM


  14. VIKING - good post but watch it, being "unaccountable to no one"? uh, you mean "accountable to no one" or "not accountable to anyone".

    Posted by: UFFDA | May 21, 2012 8:56:05 AM


  15. The primary purpose of the TED thingies is to invoke technological optimism in the audience, ie. to have an uplifting discussion on how technology will improve all our lives. A downbeat talk will receive a lot more scrutiny. They aren't entirely libertarian. The conference goers are about 80% self-professed liberals and there are plenty of talks about global warming dangers and starving children in Africa.

    Posted by: anon | May 21, 2012 10:19:14 AM


  16. 'All techno-billionaires are libertarians.' ???? On what planet are you living and what dictionary are using? Did you even watch the Social Network? What part of the non-initiation of force or fraud principle don't you get? It certainly cannot be reconciled with the renown actions of so many that you claim as "libertarians." Words mean something and are not just convenient smears for journalists incapable of making arguments.

    Posted by: Seth | May 21, 2012 8:53:50 PM


  17. Just because someone labels themselves a certain way does not mean that they are that way in reality. The hateful Southern Baptist preachers (that all but call for gay people to be murdered) label themselves not only as good, loving Christians but the bestest Christians evar!

    Just because someone calls themselves a libertarian doesn't mean anything, because nobody uses that term the same way. If a San Francisco Democrat and an Arkansas Democrat both call themselves "liberal" no one really knows what that means or what positions they will or will not support. And that is true for almost every label dealing with politics that I can think of.

    For example, the Koch brothers call themselves "libertarians" yet lobby for crony capitalist protections for themselves and their allies. Milton Friedman called himself a libertarian and yet supported the existence of the central economic planning committee known as the Federal Reserve, was largely responsible for spreading the idea of automatic income tax withdrawal around the world, and held many other positions in support of increased federal government power. Ron Paul calls himself a libertarian and yet supports strict limits on immigration, is against marriage equality, and is rabidly anti-choice.

    Yet I doubt any of those people would say they are violating the "non-aggression principle"; they all claim to revere as a sort of 11th commandment. Saying you have principles is one thing, fulfilling and living by those principles is quite another.

    What exactly makes someone one thing versus another, especially in the morass of ever changing meaning in the field of politics? In most ways I am a libertarian, but I support the idea of a single-payer/universal healthcare coverage system because at this point it would be cheaper and more efficient than the mess of public/private partnerships we have now; plus everyone would be covered for the basics. Progressives say I'm conservative, conservatives say I'm a socialist, and independents think that I should take it down a notch ;)

    A lot of what is wrong with the country at the moment is that everybody is trying to force everybody else into a small static box if they label themselves at all. We don't need politically safe Policy Set A vs politically safe Policy Set B; we need to look all over the world and see what works and what doesn't and then apply those things that work best to our own culture regardless of if those ideas happen to be conservative, liberal, socialist, libertarian, or whatever.

    Posted by: Jason Young | May 22, 2012 4:24:09 AM


  18. They post a fraction of all talks given. Some guys gives a mediocre talk and then whines to the press to get publicity for himself. Crap talk and a manipulative stunt to garner publicity for a mediocrity.

    Posted by: James Peron | May 24, 2012 2:00:13 AM


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