Jacob Weisburg of Slate has written a nice fan letter to Warren Buffett for giving bajillions to charity, but he gets carried away at one point:
There's a human and personal dimension to this as well: Buffett didn't want to cripple his own children by raising them to expect a free ride. As he pointed out in response to a question Monday, people at his country club who complain about the debilitating effects of welfare should recognize that they're creating a cycle of dependency by giving their own kids "a lifetime supply and beyond of food stamps." Buffett has followed through on his beliefs. While he endows the philanthropic work of his children, he doesn't plan to leave them great personal wealth. One of his aphorisms is that you should leave your kids enough to do anything, but not enough to do nothing.
Buffett's children Susie, Howard and Peter range in age from 48 to 52. It's a little late to worry that they'll grow up to be slackers.
-- Rogers Cadenhead
These days kids live at home into their 50s :-)
You mean I only have twenty-five more years to wait to get back the front bedroom?!
I know plenty of slackers in that age range, who've yet to 'grow up'. They play mostly, and pretend they're big business men. They lie to themselves about it, but a little piece of them knows, and it shows. They always make me think of that song, 'Love is the Drug', because they're like addicts without the drug.
The only clubs I ever go to are dance clubs, but I know quite a few members of country clubs and yacht clubs. You expect the elites to complain about the debilitating effects of welfare (what else do they have to do after golf?), but it still surprises me when I hear the not-much-above minimum wage earners who staff the clubs join in the chorus of that tired old rant.
It's Ronald Reagan all over again. Remember his bogus denunciation of Cadillac-driving welfare 'queens', to give cover to the corporate thieves who rob the government every day?
One thing you never hear said at these places is what a massive subsidy for the food-processing industry and supermarket chains food stamps are.
I'd wager that a good number of the 'preppified' have portfolios that benefit from this 'other' form of welfare, but I doubt you'll read about it in the Wall Street Journal.
I don't know if noblesse oblige is still fashionable with old money. The nouveau riche haven't had theirs long enough to refine their sensibilities that much.
I do know that most 'old money' isn't really that old. Most of the great American fortunes of the latter half of the 19th century, and the early part of the 20th century, were acquired by criminals who robbed the workers of the companies they bought, and the very Treasury of the United States.
How odd that their heirs should be regarded as a 'better' class. I have more respect for the inherent dignity of an honest washerwoman than for the unearned blood money of these 'elite' descendants.
As John D. Rockefeller knew so well, when you have hundreds of millions, there's no better place to park it than a foundation.
I think Warren Buffet is a decent fellow, but where did he get the idea we live in a meritocratic society? Some dedicated 'soldiers' see virtue rewarded by advancement in their careers, but it seems that the amoral, greedy, and disloyal warriors are winning the market wars fought everyday in our capitalist economy.
I believe the 'invisible hand' of the market has some of its fingers fettered in the production of a collective good for our society. Corporate officers in collusion with boards of directors have reversed the classical equation so that the pursuit of individual interest by them produces not a gain, but a loss for the commonweal.
Our laissez-faire economic policies need some tweaking. We can't trust these people enough to "let do, let go, let pass." It's not a Monopoly game, and this isn't Omaha.
I can appreciate the sardonic attitude of a billionaire who is the second richest person in the world and lives in a house he bought in Omaha in 1958 for $31,500.
Sam Walton still drove a pickup after he became the richest person in the world and did a hula dance on Wall Street.
I always liked the notion of the most powerful person in the world being an old hermit who lived in a hollow log and drank stump water.
You know, the only way to have it all is to give it all up.
I think you miss the point. "Kids" doesn't just refer to his own children. He's referring to a legacy that he would leave to subsequent generations.
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