E Charlie Munger Proves That Youth Is A Good Trade For Wisdom (You Don't Get A Choice In The Matter, Anyway)

I was very impressed with a recent interview conducted by Becky Quick with Charlie Munger of Berkshire-Hathaway.  Not only because Ms. Quick is smart and knows what she is doing by virtue of accumulated reportorial experience and a fondness for Mr. Munger that she makes no secret of, but because she is obviously respectful of what old guys like me once called “our elders and betters.”

This interview happened to coincide with the news splash concerning Amazon’s decision to scrap “HQ2” plans for New York City.  Ms. Quick, being aware that Mr. Munger is a fan of Jeff Bezos, took the opportunity to ask him about it.  It couldn’t have been better timing, it couldn’t have been a better topic, it couldn’t have been a better guy to ask the question, and it couldn’t have been a better woman to ask the question.

Interestingly (to me), Mr. Munger’s answer was not a simple yes or no to the question of whether Amazon, New York City, New York State, or the respective influencers of those factions, or Mr. Bezos himself, made the right decision.  I think Mr. Munger respects that those things are up to those people, and therefore he is thinking about what Berkshire’s role is: How does this play out in terms of Amazon’s fortunes and therefore those of Berkshire’s shareholders translating from whatever position his outfit may take in the stock.  But it didn’t take the perspicacious Ms. Quick to realize that this was an opportune moment to query the wise Mr. Munger about what he was seeing in the general landscape of how the American people of 2019 view such matters as public policy.

Is it about job creation?  Is it about potential tax revenue to be thrown off?  Is it moral/ethical or economically sound/justifiable for a political entity to offer tax breaks to an enterprise to accomplish public-policy objectives in luring it to their jurisdictions?

There is something very distinctive about asking a man like Charlie Munger these questions, and not just because of the enormously powerful position he holds, but because Mr. Munger is himself the form of Plato’s philosopher king, if there can be such a thing in the worlds of finance and business.  And it is also because, at 95 years of age, Mr. Munger is thinking about issues that are very tough to think about at that age, namely his own mortality and all the thoughts that consideration gives rise to as a man who has himself shaped history, and therefore has a right, and also a duty, to consider in the context of his own actions and how they have changed people’s lives

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Kurt Benson 1 year ago Member's comment

Nicely done. How can we see the actual interview?

Reid Holloway 1 year ago Author's comment
Kurt Benson 11 months ago Member's comment

Thank you much!