Saturday, October 31, 2009

Money Talks - BBC 2 Evan Davis and Warren Buffett

Many thanks to fellow BU blogger Barnaby Capel-Dunn for suggesting that the Evan Davis interview of Warren Buffet on BBC 2 might make for some interesting viewing. It did and provided a fascinating insight into the life not only of the man with his mega wealth but also that of family members.

I have always believed and to some extant had that belief supported by occasional real life meetings with very wealthy people, that much wealth like much cigarette smoking risks damaging the health and lives of those involved and the lives of others. Matthew in the New Testament records:
It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God
However quite what that means is not certain. Many people in the West of average wealth are immensely wealthy when compared with millions in impoverished parts of the world. Further more I can leave the tap running away copious amounts of water whilst brushing my teeth whereas some women in Gaza have to queue for hours to fill water bottles from infrequent well standpipes. As regards water we in Britain are rich indeed...

Reverting to Warren Buffett the impression he made was positive and I would be surprised if there isn't somewhere a needle's eye large enough for him to slip through.

Snippetts from the programme that made a large impact are in no particular order:

His Berkshire Hathaway company's website is simple and devoid of images - quite the reverse of the received wisdom that a company website to be effective needs to have all the latest bells and whistles.

His daughter recalled a time when she needed some $19,000 to extend her kitchen at home but her dad refused to lend her the money - presumably as he felt that the easy loan would not be good for her character.

His son seems to eschew dad's business and instead concentrates on making and playing music.

Warren Buffett accepted that he had a talent for making money but modestly signified that he was so far from perfect at spending it that he was giving much of it (ie untold $bns) to Bill Gates' already mega bucks charitable foundation, to spend on charities and aid where most needed rather than attempt to maintain control of the spending himself.

He left the control of companies that he bought largely with the local management.

The control freak element often associated with the very powerful or wealthy did not seem to be to the fore of his life. Interesting that he'd rather trust fellow billionaire Bill Gates with the philanthropic side of his wealth than governments or quangos. This is perhaps more a sad reflection of the state of international politics, leaders, the UN, governance and bureaucracy, than of any reluctance to let go and give freely of Mr Buffet.

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