Analysis of media issues, politics and current events.
When is an idea in a forum designed for mind-challenging ideas too out there? And if that’s the case, as much I love TED Talks, your forum’s purpose is B.S.
Nick Hanauer, a venture capitalist from Seattle, gave a speech a few months ago at the TED University conference about who he believes are the real job creators. He argued that job creation is more of an eco-system. Business does play a role, but are not the top of the job creating food chain. Here’s an excerpt from his speech:
“I have started or helped start, dozens of businesses and initially hired lots of people. But if no one could have afforded to buy what we had to sell, my businesses would all have failed and all those jobs would have evaporated.
That’s why I can say with confidence that rich people don’t create jobs, nor do businesses, large or small. What does lead to more employment is a “circle of life” like feedback loop between customers and businesses. And only consumers can set in motion this virtuous cycle of increasing demand and hiring. In this sense, an ordinary middle-class consumer is far more of a job creator than a capitalist like me.
So when businesspeople take credit for creating jobs, it’s a little like squirrels taking credit for creating evolution. In fact, it’s the other way around.”
Though his speech was presented at TED Talks, the forum refused to post the talk along with all the others on its web site. Apparently afraid such a controversial topic would offend–possibly sponsors and some in the business community.
Was the idea that embarrassing or wrong headed? Did he give a talk about why Jews smell? Or blacks can’t think intelligently? No, he simply said and gave a thoughtful argument as why business leaders may not be at the heart of job creation engine. In fact, like my blog post around the same time, he argues very much like I did that people are job creators. And business are important, but serve in the role of job distributors.
He doesn’t have to be right. And like my argued opinion, I don’t have to be right. Just reasonably argued. But for such a supposed open and forward-thinking organization, he should be heard.
Now are there any ideas that perhaps should not get a forum? No, with one condition. Any idea is welcomed if you can give an intelligent defense. If you can show you can explain the idea with reasoned logic and/or facts than can illuminate, it deserves a forum.
You’re probably not going to have a lot of facts or reason that doesn’t seem like thinly veiled hate if you have a talk why black smell. Or like the now viral speech of the woman who spoke at a city council meeting why homosexuals like to kill. Some presentations are just hate or fear put into words.
Mr. Hanauer simply argued from his real experience as a business person and observations. And he did so in a way and with enough information given to the audience where they can do work prove or disprove. That’s all any idea can hope for. To make you think and work to support or disprove it’s argument. Like any good scientific argument or theory like when he says,
“Another reason this idea is so wrong-headed is that there can never be enough super-rich Americans to power a great economy. The annual earnings of people like me are hundreds, if not thousands, of times greater than those of the median American, but we don’t buy hundreds or thousands of times more stuff. My family owns three cars, not 3,000. I buy a few pairs of pants and a few shirts a year, just like most American men. Like everyone else, we go out to eat with friends and family only occasionally.”
He brought his idea, his thinking, his reasoning. What TED Talks seem to forgot was an open mind to challenging ideas.TED Talks has done this before. When comedian Sarah Silverman spoke, one of the founders immediately apologized for her presentation. Sliverman spoke about the need for adoption of terminally ill children. She did do it in her comedic style of cynical, purposely playing clueless humor. Using it as foil to make here point. Yet TED acted like she farted on stage and lit a swastika.
For supposedly enlightened people with mind expanding ideas, TED Talks sometimes shows its own small mindedness. If an idea comes in a form that isn’t within its taste range, it may sometimes throw the baby of thought-provoking ideas out with the bathwater.
For such a smart organization. That’s just stupid.