AJ Ericksen's Blog World

Tuesday, June 27

Dynastic Wealth

Yesterday, every major new outlet reported on Warren Buffett's $31 billion gift to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Mr. Buffett and the Gateses gave a great hour-long interview with Charlie Rose on PBS last night that was very interesting. For example, it was heartening to note that "leakage" is very low in vaccine distributions in corrupt countries -- much lower than in projects such as developing infrastructure.

In this avalanche of news reports, I found this little gem from Mr. Buffett on welfare programs:
Nothing is more offensive to the American tradition of meritocracy, [Buffett] said, than rich men being able to pass on "dynastic wealth" and let their grandchildren determine the fates of hundreds of fellow Americans.

Jokingly asking if he had left anyone insulted, he described how offended he was when he heard rich Americans at country clubs describe their feeling that giving welfare to poor people keeps them in poverty "while they are trying to leave their children a more-than-lifetime-supply of food stamps and are substituting a trust officer for a welfare officer."
Regarding inheritances, Mr. Buffett has also been much quoted over the years as saying that he would give his children enough money to do anything but not enough to do nothing.


  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Dominic Siclare, at 7/03/2006 10:22 AM  

  • As for Mr. Buffett's concern that dynastic wealth creates grandchildren that will determine the fate of hundreds of fellow Americans. This is a valid concern and most likely based upon Mr. Buffett’s first hand experience. However, I think it is like blaming the trucks for running over your dogs and children while forgetting that the truck also brought the community the milk and bread. It is better to develope safer trucks and truck drivers than to stop using trucks.

    Dynastic wealth is a tool that has been used for both good and ill. Close examination will reveal far more good than ill.

    By Blogger Dominic Siclare, at 7/03/2006 10:23 AM  

  • The gem from Mr. Buffett can be turned around.

    Nothing is more destructive of family and family values than a system of well intended, but misguided meritocracy, a system of meritocracy which puts the fate of millions of families in the hands of bureaucrats.

    I have never been a country club member. However, having been a public administrator involved in public assistance programs, I can say this: A country club member concerned that welfare keeps people poor is a more caring statement than many want to believe.

    By Blogger Dominic Siclare, at 7/03/2006 10:26 AM  

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