Apr 022015
 
 April 2, 2015  Posted by at 10:05 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , ,


Esther Bubley Passengers on Memphis-Chattanooga Greyhound bus 1943

I think I’ve never understood the American – and international – fascination with money, with gathering wealth as the no. 1 priority in one’s life. What looks even stranger to me is the idolization of people who have a lot of money. Like these people are per definition smarter or better than others. It seems obvious that most of them are probably just more ruthless, that they have less scruples, and that their conscience is less likely to get in the way of their money and power goals.

America may idolize no-one more than Warren Buffett, the man who has propelled his fund, Berkshire Hathaway, into riches once deemed unimaginable. For most people, Buffett symbolizes what is great about American society and its economic system. For me, he’s the symbol of everything that’s going wrong.

Last week, Buffett announced a plan to merge a number of ‘food’ companies in a deal he set up with Brazilian 3G Capital. For some reason, they all have German names (I’m not sure why that is or what it means, if anything): Heinz, Kraft, Oscar Mayer. Reuters last week summed up a few of the ‘foods’ involved:

His move on Wednesday to inject Velveeta cheese, Jell-O, Lunchables, Oscar Mayer wieners, and Kool-Aid into his portfolio, stuffs an already amply supplied larder. The additions came from the acquisition of Kraft Foods Group Inc by H.J. Heinz Co, which is controlled by 3G Capital and Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway. His larder already included everything from Burger King’s Triple Whopper burgers, Coca-Cola soft drinks and Tim Horton donuts to See’s Candies and Dairy Queen icecream Blizzards, as well as such Heinz brands as Tomato Ketchup, Ore-Ida fries, bagel bites and T.G.I. Friday’s mozzarella sticks.

Isn’t it curious to see that once people have more than enough to eat, they sort of make up for that by drastically lowering the quality of their food, like there’s some sort of balance that needs to be found? Give them more than plenty, and they’ll start using it to poison themselves.

The key term here, the one that tells you where this goes awry, is what in economics is called ‘externalities’. Something large industries are very good at circumventing. The larger the are, the better they get at it. Mostly this has to do with environmental destruction as a result of resource extraction, but the razing of large swaths of natural habitat for the construction of highways and suburbs that make people use more products provided by the oil industry, is a good example too. That and the direct effect these products have on people’s physical health.

Buffett, the supposed genius, can only do these deals because nobody demands anybody to pay for the externalities that arise as a result of Warren pushing crap posing as food upon the American people. And then when he’s done getting even richer off of poisoning your kids, he’ll donate billions to their well-being.

But in a better and wiser world, Warren should pay into the health care system right now, he should pay for the obesity and diabetes costs his ventures and investments are going to cause. And he should do so in advance, not just after the fact in some warped and distorted kind of philanthropy. Warren Buffett kills American kids for profit. Huge profits.

The ballooning waistlines of America can be traced back, in a very simple and straight line, to the sorts of ‘food’ that Buffett’s new conglomerate produces. That’s where type 2 diabetes comes from. This is not some vague future scare scenario, it’s here and it’s now. As someone in a poor black community said a few years back: ‘we’re raising a generation of blind amputees’.

And it’s of course not just Buffett, the poisoning and degradation of America’s food runs across and through industries, both vertically and horizontally. The insanity of corn syrup and processed food ranges from Monsanto to Cargill to McDo’s to a zillion other companies and products. Who, as an industry, have managed to keep any responsibility, let alone litigation, at bay.

Who would even dream of taking McDonald’s to court for poisoning American kids? In the present set-up, it would be an impossible and unwinnable case. But that’s not because the accusation is absurd or even far-fetched. It’s because the narrative is that, even if it could be proven, people still have the right to choose to eat what they want.

The companies get the profits, society at large gets the damage. It’s the ultimate form of the Tragedy of the Commons. If you allow people – and companies – to dump the negative consequences, and the costs, of their undertakings on the public, they will, and they can get very rich off of that.

Yeah, Warren has Coke and Utz Potato Stix for breakfast. What a great story… But does that mean he is too thick to understand what happens in America? Does he not see the bulging waistlines? Or is his own bottom line simply that much more important? Does Warren Buffett consider his own profits way more important than the future of America’s children?

You could be forgiven for thinking so, couldn’t you? Warren Buffett is revered all over the place, but in reality, he’s the schoolbook example of everything that’s wrong with America. That whole money before and over anything else (including people’s health and well-being) mentality.

It makes people stupid, and it makes for stupid people. And sick ones, too. It’s their own choice, though, and their own responsibility, advocates of the model will say. All the industry does is help them make that choice by bombarding them with endless feel-good ads. But is that really a good idea if and when it means the world’s health care systems threaten to implode because of it?

Like many other industries, Buffett’s crap-for-food enterprise would not nearly be as profitable (probably not even viable) if it were to be charged for the damage it does to society and the people living in it. That’s what’s wrong with the current American economic model, and Warren epitomizes this.

This Tragedy of the Commons abuse is so ingrained in the economy that it’s hard to see how it can be changed. And that does not bode well for anyone except the Warren Buffetts profiteering from it.

Home Forums Warren Buffett is Everything That’s Wrong With America

This topic contains 11 replies, has 11 voices, and was last updated by  RolyPolyMan 3 years, 3 months ago.

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  • #20263

    Esther Bubley Passengers on Memphis-Chattanooga Greyhound bus 1943 I think I’ve never understood the American – and international – fascination with m
    [See the full post at: Warren Buffett is Everything That’s Wrong With America]

    #20265

    Professorlocknload
    Participant

    Warren is only playing the game within the parameters of a government sanctioned Corporatocracy.

    #20266

    John Day
    Participant

    Our current society grew, step by logical step, from the feudal world, where we were fully integrated into steady state local ecologies.
    It is a reduction to absurdity, yet every step was logical and an improvement of some sort.
    We are not the critters we were born to be, but don’t tell us. It’s depressing. We’re fine…
    Zoo Animal MD

    #20270

    V. Arnold
    Participant

    It’s not an overly complex dance that involves almost everybody.
    But in order for there to be a dance requires the music and the dancers to that music.
    There is more than enough shirked responsibility to cover almost everybody.
    What’s forgotten is that there is always a choice; some of us choose not to dance or even listen to the music.
    If it all becomes unbearable we still have choices; one of which is to leave; whatever way you choose to interpretate leaving.
    I’m much less sympathetic (as time goes forward) to those employing the whaa factor.
    Once a government proves itself intransigent is the moment of truth: Aren’t we past that point now? I thought so back in 2003, and so did some, well before that.

    Warren Buffet has been marketed as the “Oracle of Omaha”, and to his credit gives away a hell of a lot of his money (in the billions), but a deeper look reveals some very hawkish attitudes in his support of the military.
    As to food? Hell, I made conscious choices long, long ago which involved educating myself about food; it has more than payed off to this very day.
    Physician; heal thyself…

    #20273

    Dr. Diablo
    Participant

    The Buffet argument leads to some interesting places. Do people have the right to eat what they want? Even if it’s bad for them? Who’s going to decide? Science, which keeps getting everything wrong? Who’s going to stop them? The police, who enforce the law in proportion to your net worth and often enough kill the little fish with impunity but let the big criminals free?

    And there is a real damage, real cost to the “Society At Large.” But that is just us again, who either have rights or do not. And what happens if you double up on the costs to Society At Large by offering universal health care? One of the few restraints on bad (health) decisions is the knowledge that you’ll be paying for your own errors. So what happens if you never pay, but make your neighbor pay for you?

    So if you agree to health care not paid individually, (which promotes death to the poor) don’t you immediately then have to take control over everyone’s eating, smoking, exercising, and life habits? And therefore, logically, once you accept helping Society At Large, you need to control and enforce every thing every human does down to every decision, every action, every breath, every bite?

    I mean, isn’t that logical? If Buffet is responsible here, then aren’t we responsible to take it away from him, to force our will on society for its own good, as well?

    It’s interesting stuff.

    #20278

    Fred Nupel
    Participant

    Good article, but I wish it focus more precisely on the model of capitalism as it is practiced in the world today.

    All decisions and business are based on “does it make money?” That reasoning leads to stupid decisions that destroy the environment we live and serves to only benefit the few people at the top of pyramid. It’s like defecating in the bed we sleep in, but it’s okay because some corporation makes a profit doing it.

    It seems every problem that we have would be cured if only we had more money to deal with it. That is a very telling clue. I now understand what is meant by ‘money is the root of all evil’

    There’s nothing wrong with money or doing business, but when everything is done for profit only we make stupid decisions. Why should a company like PG&E make a profit off of providing necessary utilities to humanity? Why can’t it be run as a non-profit community benefiting enterprise? Of course it needs to be paid for, but why should we also have to pay for someone to make a profit? Why can’t it be run just for the cost, so that everyone working there gets paid a fair salary and the infrastructure is maintained? We don’t need to make a profit as well, that only serves some elite people at the top.

    We need a new mentality to address the proper organization for society. We have too long been ruled and brainwashed by the people in power.
    rticle, but I wish it focus more perci

    #20279

    RBM
    Participant

    Stanford U.’s series on Hacking Consciousness included a presentation titled The Hacked and Highjacked Body:

    Dr. Pam Peeke talks about the science behind food and addiction. She also shows us how we can harness the emerging science of epigenetics to make lifestyle changes, including transcendental meditation, which can transform our own DNA.

    Topics include a fledgling science call epigenetics which is about gene expression and it relationship to diet choices. Also cutting edge new research on food addiction processes.

    #20281

    Ken Barrows
    Participant

    Fred Nupel,
    Good points, but I’d say you don’t really skirt the problem with not for profits. After all, the executives can still earn a lot of …. money. Discussing what’s worth doing is, nonetheless, a useful first step.

    #20282

    khiori
    Participant

    Agree about Buffet. Did you know he has a real estate firm now? I can’t believe all the signs around me, everyone is using him! I see Berkshire Hathaway sale signs and wonder WHY these people all want to give him a commission?!

    Food additives is my soapbox. Did you see the recent research on emulsifiers? Dietary emulsifiers impact the mouse gut microbiota promoting colitis and metabolic syndrome in Nature? I will email you the article. They tested 2, but there are at least a dozen emulsifiers used in processed foods. I am surrounded by people with colon problems, who are having portions removed. It’s agonizing. If this is the cause then the food companies should pay, but first I predict they will fight it like Big Tobacco.

    On another food issue, Be glad you are in the EU and don’t have to have ractopamine with your bacon. Those bacon whoppers can be a killer!

    #20285
    #20305

    Golden Oxen
    Participant

    You have a perfect right to be poor or not acquire any more excess wealth than what you need.

    Warren has the perfect right to be a very successful investor as well.

    It’s all about freedom from tyranny, and those who would tell us that we should be like them, the good people. The caring people. Those who love us and are looking out for our own good. Al Gore, Michelle Obama and Dear Leader Kim Jong-un come to mind, there are scores of other good wise people who would also rise to the task of telling us that they are good and we are bad.

    Another wonderful article from Pravda.

    #23034

    RolyPolyMan
    Participant

    Assigning blame to Warren Buffet for any part of America’s obesity problem is asinine. You speak as if none of these companies existed until Buffet clapped his hands and poof! That, if not for Berkshire Hathaway, Coca-Cola and Whoppers would not exist.

    All these food companies under Berkshire Hathaway’s umbrella existed in its present form before being purchased, and they all sold the same “crap” that you accuse Buffet for. It’s not as if Dairy Queen was selling organic spinach turnovers before joining the Berkshire Hathaway family.

    You also assume that America’s obesity problem is due to excessive influence of corporate marketing on consumers’ choices. A more plausible answer: people should learn to cook the old-fashioned way, wIth raw ingredients. Obesity is the symptom, but the real issue is the dissolution of the nuclear family in modern society and the failure of the parent(s) to take responsibility in leading healthy lives and being positive role models for their families.

    Your writing is normally informative and knowledgeable, but this sort of character assassination is out of line. Perhaps you should perform due diligence on your subject before you denigrate his person behind the protection of your monitor.

    I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul. – Principal James Downey.

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