I just read this really great article written by Nick Hanauer for Politico.com. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. In my view, it’s a great argument by an extremely wealthy entrepreneur with the aim of convincing other entrepreneurs that social inequity is not only bad, but dangerous and self-defeating for plutocrats like himself.
Apparently, I was hiding under a rock in 2012 when Hanauer created waves because his TED talk (see below) was not put online and promoted on TED’s website. Chris Anderson defended the exclusion of this video in a blog post, stating some of TED’s primary reasons for excluding this video were because it was “explicitly partisan” and “included a number of arguments that were unconvincing”. Anderson and TED did finally put up the video to presumably “spark a magnificent debate”, but only on YouTube and not in TED’s official channel.
While I agreed with the content of the talk, I concur with Anderson that it was a little lackluster. I sincerely hope that Hanauer polishes it, adds some more content and ideally, some real data and stats to make it a very compelling and entertaining talk. This is a subject that many people have written about (including my right-wing friend* Jonathan Kay who wrote a great review of The Trouble with Billionaires), yet there is still a lot more to be said about it. Richard Wilkinson has a better TED talk about the problem of economic inequity, and there is a recent great piece in the Financial Post about how the Danes have narrowed the inequity gap and seem to be prospering.
So, despite my agreement that this isn’t the best talk, I find Chris Anderson’s reasons for excluding it dubious at best — TED has put up no less than 3 videos of Jonathan Haidt (one of my least favourite intellectuals with legit academic credentials), which all make vacuous and unconvincing arguments. I would take this Nick Hanauer talk over anything I’ve heard Haidt say any day.
Anderson’s claim to have posted this video online for reasons other than to deflect heat and criticism of censorship now seems even more dubious since the account it was posted under 2 years ago still only has one uploaded video.
*I find the whole right/left false dichotomy of political persuasion uninteresting. While I would agree that by these stereotypes, Kay is more to the “right” than I am, I wouldn’t say he’s “right wing”. It’s just my way at getting back at him for being called his “left wing” friend here.