Truth be told, Warren Buffett’s politics and policies scare the crap out of me. Every one of his public pronouncements about what we should do in the political realm almost always contradicts what he does in business. It seems like an obvious contradiction and raises the question as to whether or not he could have achieved his fantastic wealth if his ideas were implemented sooner.
A fascinating lunchtime discussion with Buffett and Bill Gates took place last May at Gate’s home in Medina, Wash. Moderated by Michael Kinsley, the three discussed Gates’s idea of creative capitalism, the latest twist on corporate social responsibility.
“[W]hat if you had three percent … of the corporate income tax totally devoted to a fund that would be administered by representatives of corporate America to be used in intelligent ways for the long-term benefit of society?” Buffett asks in his opening remarks.
The rich, he claims, will never trust government to effectively administer their money, so tax them anyway, but have it administered by representatives of corporate America.
Interesting idea, but it’s still the forced redistribution of wealth to fund someone else’s idea of what’s socially good. Milton Friedman famously wrote on the topic in his essay “The social responsibility of business is to increase its profits.” That was 1970, and the arguments he raised then still rage today. I point you to the August issue of Boomer Market Advisor for a discussion of the socially responsible steps that corporations and individuals are taking that aren’t forced and are incredibly effective.
The entire transcript of the lunchtime discussion can be found at http://creativecapitalism.typepad.com. It’s well worth the read.