Multi-millionaire Nick Hanauer has an important message for those who think the rich are America's job creators. Problem is, he can't seem to get it out.
“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,” Hanauer said at a March 1 speech, according to the Atlantic. “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.”
(Read the entire speech at The Atlantic)
Hanauer, one of the first nonfamily investors in Amazon.com, shared this argument as part of a talk he gave at the TED University conference. Now, the organizers of TED -- a movement aimed at bringing attention to “ideas worth spreading” -- is refusing to share Hanauer's talk on the internet, calling it too “political,” according to the National Journal.
Chris Anderson, the curator of TED, wrote in a post on his website responding to the allegations that the organization is inundated with requests to post talks on its homepage and only features those that are “truly special.” Anderson also claimed that once Hanauer found out the site would't be posting his talk, he hired a public relations firm to promote the talk to progressive organizations like MoveOn.org. Anderson also released a video of Hanauer's talk, providing a link to it in his post.
“The talk tapped into a really important and timely issue,” Anderson wrote. “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.”
In his talk, Hanauer argued that the rich, people like him in other words, aren't responsible for the bulk of America’s job creation and therefore shouldn’t receive tax breaks to help them create jobs. Instead, he noted that middle-class consumers are more likely to create jobs by spending and spurring businesses to hire. Brandishing a chart comparing millionaires’ effective tax rates to the unemployment rate over time, Hanauer noted that a drop in the tax rates of the super rich hasn't meant a drop in the unemployment rate (h/t Business Insider).
“If it were true that lower tax rates and more wealth for the wealthy would lead to more job creation, then today we would be drowning in jobs,” he said in the talk, according to the Atlantic. “And yet unemployment and under-employment is at record highs.”
It may seem odd that TED won't distribute Hanauer's talk just because it evokes political tropes, especially since the TED website features talks from actual politicians, including British Prime Minister David Cameron and former Vice President Al Gore.
In addition, Hanauer's remarks shouldn't have been too much of a shock to TED organizers, considering that he's been an outspoken critic of the notion that lowering taxes on the rich will help create jobs. In December, Hanauer penned an op-ed for Bloomberg, which included many of the same arguments featured in his TED talk. It even used some of the exact same language.
UPDATE: This story has been updated to include comments from Chris Anderson, TED's curator and a video of the talk.