Friday, August 26, 2011

Warren Buffet, Crony Capitalist?

Remember the letter that President Perry (or was it Romney) sent to the Danbury Tea Party in 2015? Here is an excerpt:

I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of business, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Economy & State.

Yeah. It's a pity that they left that bit out of the Bill of Rights. Because what we have, in Hurricane Obama, where politics and business are all mixed up, is an "establishment" or virtual nationalization of business. And just as you can't trust divines to get mixed up in politics or politicians to get mixed up in religion, surely we can all agree now that it is death to let politicians meddle with business. Just as nobody would think of letting businessmen run the government.

Exhibit A in all this is Warren Buffett, Sage of Omaha. He's just ponied up $5 billion for some preferred shares in Bank of America, currently fingered as the weakest bank. That comes a couple of weeks after Buffett penned an Obama-friendly op-ed in the New York Times and just before Buffett hosts an Obama fundraiser at the end of September.

Perfectly harmless you say? OK, let's put Republicans in all the speaking roles. Remember when old Sam Walton penned a Bush-friendly op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, then invested a few billion to rescue bankrupt Enron, then hosted a Bush fundraiser, all the time getting calls from the president on economic policy? You don't remember that? Of course not. Neither Sam Walton or the Bushies would dare to mount such an obvious staging of crony capitalism.

If I were Warren Buffett in the US in 2011, I would be hedging my political bets. Look here. Berkshire Hathaway is valued today, August 26, 2011, at $172 billion. At any moment some political aide at the White House could sicc the SEC or the Justice Department or the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on one of Buffett's businesses, just as the SEC and the EPA are currently hounding the horizontal "fracking" business. Right now the jackals, from New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to Elizabeth Warren of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, are hounding Bank of America, trying to get BofA to pull the nation's mortgage chestnuts out of the fire.

How do you get the jackals to go away? Call in Warren Buffett!

Let's go back 100 years, to the aftermath of the great Crash of 1907. Back then J.P. Morgan got the richest men in America, locked them in a room, and wouldn't let them out until they had triaged the US economy. They let the insolvent firms go to the wall, the healthy ones survive on their own, and lent money to the firms they thought would survive with a bit of help. They did all this with their own money.

Fast forward a couple of years and the politicians had their progressive knickers in a twist over the "money trust." Just a few men, you see, seemed to own most of American business. Yeah. No doubt. And those were the men who, with Morgan stiffening their backs, kept their heads in the market meltdown when everyone else was losing theirs.

I'm sure that Warren Buffett is an honorable man, not a crony capitalist. But in times like these, when Hurricane Obama could rip the roof off your business just in order to narrow the odds on a marginal state next year, what businessman in his right mind would not be paying protection money to the politicians? After all, that's a nice business you got there, Mr. Billionaire. It sure would be a pity if something happened to it.

No comments:

Post a Comment