Friday, May 25, 2012

TED: Don't mention inequality (and tax) please, we're entrepreneurs

TJN is sceptical about the over-blown claims of self-styled "wealth-creators", who all too often should be more accurately described as rent-seekers or "wealth-appropriators", the latter being the preferred term suggested by Professor Sol Picciotto.  We were therefore more than a little intrigued by this article in Salon magazine, which goes some way to puncturing the high-minded claims made for the TED debates, described here as "a massive, money-soaked orgy of self-congratulatory futurism."

What triggered such scorn?  Well, recently Nick Hanauer, a venture capitalist, had the temerity to use his TED lecture to comment - in the context of appalling levels of inequality - that most venture capitalists like himself were not in fact job-creators  and should be taxed at a high rate.  Good stuff, but not apparently the sort of thing that TED audiences feel comfortable with.  As Pareene notes:

"Because TED is for, and by, unbelievably rich people, they tiptoe around questions of the justness of a society that rewards TED attendees so much for what usually amounts to a series of lucky breaks."

So what happened next is that TED 'curator' Chris Anderson declined to promote Hanauer's talk, ostensibly because it was “mediocre”, though he subsequently gave the game away by stating that “a lot of business managers and entrepreneurs would feel insulted” by the argument that multimillionaire executives hire more employees only as a “last resort.” As Pareene acidly observes: "The entire recent history of the fixation on short-term returns, obsession with “efficiency,”  and “streamlining” of most American corporations escaped the notice of Mr. Anderson, apparently."

Censorship takes many forms, and is not the sole prerogative of authoritarian states. When high-profile organisations like TED impose this type of censorship to avoid scaring the elites who fund their activities, they take corruption to a different plane.  The taint of money hangs over TED, not least because, as Pareene points out: "To even attend a TED conference requires not just a donation of between $7,500 and $125,000, but also a complicated admissions process in which the TED people determine whether you're TED material."

Read the full article here

Hat tip: Khadija Sharife


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