Warren Buffett Has the Cash Americas Infrastructure Needs
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Make America Not Break Down Again
America is out of balance. CEOs earn 320 times the average worker. The top 10% of American households owns 70% of the country’s wealth. “Emily in Paris” gets Golden Globes nominations, “I May Destroy You” gets none.
Meanwhile, the country’s infrastructure is crumbling, burning up or freezing to death, depending on the season, even as Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway sits on $138 billion in cash it can’t spend. This may sound like an apples-and-oranges kind of deal until you realize, as Conor Sen does, that Berkshire also happens to sit on the country’s biggest agglomeration of infrastructure assets through its railroad and energy holdings. You see where this is going: Maybe Berkshire can boost the return on that cash by helping America run a little better.
Climate change will make such crises more routine. America’s farmers, including Buffett’s Nebraska neighbors, could help this particular fight by using their land to store carbon, Bloomberg’s editorial board writes. With technical assistance from the USDA, they could plug their farms into a carbon-credit market that benefits them, corporations such as Berkshire Hathaway, human beings such as Warren Buffett, and maybe America’s sense of balance.
Free Ain’t Free
One defense of some of the tech behemoths that dominate our lives is that they give away their products for free: Can Facebook and Google really be consumer-harming monopolies if they charge nothing for their services? But one of life’s oldest and truest rules is that there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Alex Webb breaks down just how much of the world’s advertising dollars these two behemoths devour, forcing other providers to jack up prices for products they once supported with ads. Free search and social media end up making everything else on the internet more expensive.
We Can’t Always Wait for Elections
In case you missed it, Andrew Cuomo as of this writing remains the governor of the state of New York, despite mounting scandals that would have long ago sent any corporate leader packing to spend more time with his family. And maybe this is just. Or maybe it’s the latest reminder, hot on the heels of the presidency of Donald Trump, that the U.S. could really use a more foolproof system for removing leaders without having to wait for elections. Stephen Carter suggests there’s no reason we can’t take a page from Corporate America and make politicians sign employment contracts. This could help put America’s lawyer glut to use.