What’s going on? Is TED turning into yet another online filter bubble where the TED staff decides which talks are appropriate for its online audience based on what they think the audience wants to hear? Did someone powerful enough dislike the talk so much that he or she forced TED to remove the talk? Or is this just some self censorship going on? I guess we’ll never know since Chris Andersson, curator of TED, apparently didn’t want to comment on the subject.
Now, banning the talk from the official ted.com site of course doesn’t mean that the talk is unavailable online – you just have to watch it on YouTube instead.
So what is this controversial talk about? Well, Nick is talking about one of the most politically sensitive subjects in the US; taxation of the rich – the capitalists.
He’s also talking about the relationship between wealth and job creation, since a lot of (mostly rich) people argue that the more wealthy capitalists a country has the more jobs will be created (actively by the wealthy capitalists). The reasoning goes something like this; the wealthier a capitalist gets the more he or she will invest in new companies and thus new jobs will be created.
When one first hears this argument it sounds quite reasonable, but one important factor is forgotten about and that is basically the main point of Nick’s talk; without enough consumers (with enough money to spend) there is no need for a capitalist to start a new company since no one will be able to buy the products or services the new company produces. Nick compares this to a complex eco system where everything depends on something else – remove something and everything will be affected.
Nick also made a very funny and insightful remark about the capitalists view on job creation; a capitalist sees hiring someone as a last resort – they only hire new people if it’s absolutely necessary to do so. If they are forced to do so.
There are a few other potential problems with the relationship between wealthy capitalists and job creation:
– Wealthy capitalists often prefer to invest their money in the financial sector instead of starting new companies, for example buy buying stocks, bonds, etc. There are many reasons for this, but if you have a lot of money it’s often easier since starting new companies doesn’t require that much money and often takes a very long time to generate profit.
– Wealthy capitalists often prefer to create jobs in low wage countries rather than their own , so why should the people of their own country subsidize their activities by allowing them to pay as little tax as possible?
– Wealthy capitalists pay as low wages as possible, often forcing people to take multiple jobs and thus increasing competition for jobs among the workers. In effect this might mean that even though more jobs are created, fewer people are employed!
Let’s return to taxes for a short while since I’m currently reading the book “Dead Aid” by Dambisa Moyo and one of the most intriguing things mentioned so far in the book is the relationship between taxes, the government and the people of a country. My interpretation of what she writes is this:
– In a well functioning country both the people and the government respect each other and know that they are dependent on each other.
– The people thinks it’s ok to pay (high) taxes since they know the government will spend the country’s money wisely and thus the people will benefit from it.
– The government realises that they are dependent on the people to get the money the require to build the country they want and thus have to spend (enough of) the country’s money on things that benefit the people.
A similar reasoning can probably be used for wages, capitalists and workers where each part realises that they need each other and capitalists understand they have to pay quite high wages in order to get consumers with money to spend on the products the capitalists produce. The workers understand that they cannot have too high wages since the company wouldn’t survive and then they would lose their jobs.
Just like the eco system Nick is talking about!