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Why Did TED Talks Originally Refuse to Publish This Presentation on Taxing the Rich?


"...taxing the rich to make investments that grow the middle class, is the single shrewdest thing we can do for the middle class, the poor and the rich.

Multimillionaire venture capitalist Nick Hanauer gave a presentation on taxation and “income inequality” at the TED University conference in March. And although it was well-received, it was not originally published on the TED website.

Why? It was apparently “too political."

"It is astounding how significantly one idea can shape a society and its policies. Consider this one," Hanauer said, "If taxes on the rich go up, job creation will go down. This idea is an article of faith for republicans and seldom challenged by democrats and has shaped much of today's economic landscape."

"But sometimes the ideas that we know to be true are dead wrong. For thousands of years people were sure that earth was at the center of the universe.  It's not, and an astronomer who still believed that it was, would do some lousy astronomy," he added.

"In the same way, a policy maker who believed that the rich and businesses are 'job creators' and therefore should not be taxed, would make equally bad policy.

TED has since backed down and published the video of his talk, which you can see here:

"In a capitalist economy, the true job creators are consumers, the middle class.  And taxing the rich to make investments that grow the middle class, is the single shrewdest thing we can do for the middle class, the poor and the rich," Hanauer concluded.

What was TED's reason for refusing to post the video?

The problem, according to Gawker’s Neetzan Zimmerman, was that as a "nonpartisan nonprofit" organization, TED didn’t want to be seen as siding with an advocate of raising taxes on the “1 percent.”

Hanauer was informed earlier this month by TED curator Chris Anderson that they couldn’t possibly post his "out and out political" presentation.

"We're in the middle of an election year in the US," Anderson wrote in an email. "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."

TED believed that publishing the video would incite "a tedious partisan rehash of all the arguments we hear every day in the mainstream media," Anderson added.

Hanauer responded by accusing TED of not being exactly honest in their reasoning:

[I]f it was too political, why have me do it in the first place?

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.

However, as mentioned in the above, TED backed down and posted the video.

It’s a "non-story about a talk not being chosen" over "better ones," Anderson wrote in response to Hanauer. So, to prove a point, as Neetzan puts it, TED posted the video.

"No doubt," Anderson adds, "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!”

But what do you think? Do you think that hosting a guest speaker who advocates raising taxes on the rich is appropriate for a "nonpartisan nonprofit" organization?

Keep in mind, this isn't the first time they've hosted a lecturer who was political in nature. Earlier this year, The Blaze reported on a popular TED talk by Gen. Peter van Uhm, who gave a passionate defense of the military -- and even made some controversial comments about people owning guns.


This story has been updated.

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