The American Formula

It’s that time of year when investors (including me) spend the morning reading Warren Buffett’s annul shareholder letter.

There are always nuggets of wisdom and insight in these letters and I enjoy them very much.

In this year’s letter, Warren spells out the formula that America has used to build the greatest economy in the world.

Sadly one of those four pillars is at risk – “a tide of talented and ambitious immigrants.”

We can’t allow that to happen. There is too much to lose by turning off that tide.

Thanks to AVC reader Abid Azam for sending me that quote this morning.


Comments (Archived):

  1. JimHirshfield

    “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

    1. David C. Baker

      That’s such a moving quote. Every time I hear it I choke up a little. I’m a US citizen, but didn’t come to live in the US until I was 18. When I came here, it was such a welcoming, safe place. I’d been with a tribe of Mayan Indians in a remote part of the Guatemalan highlands–no electricity, no running water, no indoor bathrooms, no paved roads, no stores. (Parents were medical missionaries.) I’ll never forget how amazing America felt to me. Now, after visiting and working in 40 countries, I always feel the same sense of wonder when I scan my fingerprints as a “Trusted Traveler” and enter that safe place again.

    2. Richard

      I’m yearning to breathe free, can we agree on a tobacco test for new immigrants?

    3. JamesHRH

      “But for the next 90 days, I need to fulfill a campaign promise to my base, even thought I know it is almost completely ineffectual. Seven nations, targeted by the prior regime as troublesome, 90 days.”Come on.

  2. harvestgrand

    This forum is full of very smart people from what I can tell. You don’t truly think that immigration into the US is at risk do you? I mean truly? Think about the big picture before responding. Think about what immigration will look like 20 years from now. Do you really think it is at risk??

    1. Kent Karlsen

      Depends on definitions: “talented and ambitious” have alternatives where to move and start a business, invest money and create jobs. This is very different from “any immigrants”. Talents create jobs and pay above average taxes to give back to welfare systems.

    2. pointsnfigures


    3. Donna Brewington White

      I believe that it is possible to be truly empathetic and intellectually honest at the same time. It does, however, make things more complicated.My answer to your question is no. But I do believe that we have some hard issues to address that require both of the above.

      1. JamesHRH

        this is one of the all time tough balancing acts.

    4. JamesHRH

      not even close.

    5. cavepainting

      I don’t think so in the long term, but it will ebb and flow at various times depending on perceived threats to national security and the state of the US economy. However, it is important to understand that the values we hold dear to the country (openness, free speech, welcoming of all religions and types of people, etc.) can be damaged by politically motivated and short sighted leaders.

    6. falicon

      No – as long as enough of the public continues to stay informed, involved, and empowered.That being said, we absolutely have to be careful of the bystander effect (… ) – as well as just pure apathy by our citizens (which many seem to finally beaten into these days).

    7. ashafrir

      absolutely! I am an immigrant. I have been here for over 20 years. America has been kind to me. I am asked daily by people from various countries on whether they should move here. My answer has gone from Absolutely! to Definitely Not! and I am but a small but representative sample. When the best and the brightest no longer default to the US as their destination – there absolutely will be an impact to the US. And not a positive impact.

      1. harvestgrand

        What has made you change your mind from “Absolutely! to Definitely Not!” Surely it’s not because of the past 39 days?

    8. Darius V

      20 more years of this and you’re definitely adding risk. I know the defenders of the muslim ban say it’s only for 90 day but you just opened the wounds of all the other immigrant groups – the Japanese, the Chinese, the Africans, the Indians, the hispanic.. and why? Because of a campaign promise? How many other campaign promises are being kep that this one is so sacred?

  3. markslater

    sorry but there are 2 pillars at risk here. The rule of law.

    1. Vendita Auto

      According to Attorney General Sally Yates yes I would agree

      1. JamesHRH

        She should have responded to the WH in private, with her concerns about the drafting (which was poor) of the XO.She got fired for playing politics and rightfully so.

        1. Vendita Auto

          Loving the HRH : )

          1. JamesHRH

            Much obliged. Wish I had mor time to spend here.

    2. lisa hickey

      The judicial system is doing its job, at the moment, under difficult circumstances—but there is no doubt it is under attack and therefore at risk. That was part of the reason for the flood of donations to the ACLU during the first travel ban. Immigration and the legal system are intertwined, and you can’t save one without understanding the dynamics of the other.

      1. JamesHRH

        Lisa, this is just not true.While it is completely wrong for the President to speak about any judicial ruling, other than in technical legal terms, President Trump has shown he does not play by those social mores. No news there, it clearly energizes him to pick fights and flaunt social norms.You have insulted the entire sitting bench of the US judicial system, if you think that this kind of juvenile BS from the President worries them, threatens them or affects how they do their job.Why do people how so little faith in the professionals who staff the institutions of American democracy?You are getting played, While you are all in a lather, he gets an energy boost and no on talks about important issues.

    3. JamesHRH

      This is ridiculous.When a journalist is jailed, the existence of a free press is at risk.When the elimination of immigration (not just enforcing current immigration laws) is announced, then the tide of ambitious and talented immigrants is at risk.When the members of the 9th Circuit Appelals Court are jailed or disappear, or shot @ Pikes Place Market @ noon on a sunny Saturday, then the rule of law is at risk.This is not productive.Its not true.It widens the gulf between the extremes.You wonder where #fakenews gets its traction? Its from this kind of BS.Liberals have always thought of themselves as superior to conservatives: more humanistic, less material, more spiritual, less hypocritical. Now it turns out that you are more hysterical and less rational.Maybe its not a surprise that most totalitarian regimes are socialist as much as they are nationalist.You are getting played, masterfully, by a political savant.Come on.

      1. markslater

        Or are you?Trying to apply a rational filter to this man – like you are doing – is the clearest sign you are still brainwashed in the policy layer, while other republicans like me are judging character and have been for some time.The man is a nightmare – keep playing piers morgan though.

        1. JamesHRH

          Tillerson, Mattis, Kelly, Ryan, McMaster, Pompeo, Sessions, Gorsuch, Mulvaney, Preibus, McConnell – just a top of my head list of experienced and highly respected people (OK, Ryan & McConnell maybe a stretch, but on the Hill its respected to get where they are) who have varying attributes that perfectly fit their jobs.Mulvaney’s a Trump classic: McCain hates him because he is going to cut Defense budget. Tthat is just awesome air cover for what Mulvaney’s actual billet is – do you know what it is? I don’t either but that would prove my point…..What DO I know about him? Hawk….which means cuts, more Dems yelling about something and then getting outvoted.But, even Dems say ‘ he is the smartest person on the Hill’ – can’t find that exact quote, trust me ;-). I am pretty sure I had CNN on the day he was announced and heard it there.He chooses the perfect tool for the job for rational allocation of resources to existing operations or he picks someone with a strong idea of the desired end result for a KDR…….Knock Down Rebuid, Comm RE jargon.Even Perry, (who knew Energy included nukes btw google it) qualifies.Pushing my argument back on me might be debate 101 and it may make you feel like you are winning for an hour or two, but in the real world, he’s going to fundamentally change America while liberals wring their hands over bottles of chardonnay, shake their heads at the endless list of poor taste things the President does and are, as stated below by someone else, completely intellectually dishonest about what the President is doing when he yanks their chain and sends them off on a rant.BTW, the right tool to fuck with liberals…….Steve Bannon.

    4. cavepainting

      and the market system too, if we start using tariffs on imports.

  4. creative group

    CONTRIBUTORS:Empathy!Whenever you feel like criticizing any one…just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.F. Scott FitzgeraldWhenever you are about to find fault with someone, ask yourself the following question: What fault of mine most nearly resembles the one I am about to criticize?Marcus AureliusEmpathy is like giving someone a psychological hug.Lawrence JI think we all have empathy. We may not have enough courage to display it.Maya Angelou

    1. JamesHRH

      Its a huge asset. Ask Drew Carey (google how he got Price is Right gig).But, right and wrong matter.And, empathy does not scale.Logic, rules and consistency scale.

      1. Vendita Auto

        “empathy does not scale” ? respect and trust do……… one in the same

        1. JamesHRH

          Empathy requires sensing the feelings of others and responding to those feelings. It is therefore done on a case by case basis.Trust and respect are behavioural conduct standards / concepts. They scale, even though the interpretation of what to do to show respect or build/keep trust can vary greatly.The concept of caveat emptor scales, as does Billy Graham’s concept of care about everyone we ever do business with, stay in touch with them, etc.

          1. Vendita Auto

            Empathy is the powerful (and rare) ability to imagine what motivates someone else to act.”Trust and respect” are personal. Nothing to do with your version of the definition which clearly lacks empathy.

  5. Tom Labus

    I love his ongoing bet with the hedge fund guys to beat a standard index fund. Only one person has taken the bet over the years (and lost). Fees have cost investors a 100B.

    1. Girish Mehta

      In most things in life, You get what you pay for.But in Investing, you get what you Don’t pay for (John Bogle first said this I think..).p.s. The hidden truth behind that statement is that just like returns compound, costs/fees compound as well.

      1. Matt Zagaja

        When I took my new job I received a bunch of literature on benefits, one of them being the add-on retirement plan (as a government employee I participate in a pension, but they also encourage us to save our own money on top of that). The only way to participate in this tax favorable plan is to do so through the finance firm they contract with, which unfortunately for all of us workers is not Vanguard. The main “feature” of this plan besides being tax deferred is that it comes with lots of “advice” and they happily take a percentage cut of your assets every year for this service. The folks at Vanguard do not do so. Fortunately the IRS lets me invest some of my own money in the form of an IRA, but that is capped. I am conflicted about this. As a fairly sophisticated individual I am happy to have the freedom to make a good decision that works well for me, but I can easily imagine the parade of snake oil salesmen and what they would induce people to do with their retirements if we gave folks more flexibility.

  6. LE

    In this year’s letter, Warren spells out the formula that America has used to build the greatest economy in the world.The truth is that many things in this country were built on the backs of immigrants who were vastly underpaid and with workers that were under-protected. [1] As an example I was watching the other night a PBS about the building of the Boston Subway (the first subway in the US apparently). The immigrants who helped to build that made .14 per hour. Adjusting for inflation, by my calculations using… , that’s $4.09 per hour in todays dollars. I wasn’t able to find what the union workers building (as one example) the 2nd ave subway in NYC are making but we can stipulate that it’s most likely at least 10 times $4.09 per hour if not more including benefits. Ditto for many bridges and other public and private works projects. There were also those immigrants called slaves who contributed greatly to economic benefits we now all enjoy.[1] As oppposed to now where they are overprotected.

    1. Vendita Auto

      These the same people you commented in a prior post”the class of people that is perfectly happy sitting around doing nothing all day long and not having to work. And this (despite Albert’s good intentions) doesn’t mean they are going to pursue some higher purpose or creative endeavors.This is similar to how you will see cows in a field just standing there and grazing and looking content. The brain has not developed enough to care or be bored. Not everyone’s brain is looking to be enlightened and challenged. Not the cow, not my cat, not some people who will be happy not to work and just engage in a passive activity.”

      1. LE

        Actually no. Hardworking immigrants the ones that actually make it here are motivated to the point where they are taking jobs away and doing them for less money than the lazy people that grew up here. But not everyone in the world falls into this category just like not all legacy people here are lazy.

        1. Vendita Auto

          I apologise I though you were talking about home sapiens in general not just the ones that run on your software “People ought to think more about who wrote the software that’s running in their head It probably wasn’t them.” intellectually honest yes but not to the point were one is seemingly “Hanging by his heels in the odour of sanctity” (J Joyce)I simply do not equate lazy as a social misdemeanor Aspen St Lucia Monte Carlo or Paris this year Mom.

    2. Pete Griffiths

      Add to that the gigantic economic benefits of usurping the land with NO payment to native Americans. And so it goes… 🙂

      1. JamesHRH

        What’s the point here?That caucasians should feel guilty for things that happened half a millennia ago?

        1. Pete Griffiths

          Gimme a break. Of course not. But a little dose of reality doesn’t hurt, does it?

          1. JamesHRH

            I just think it’s wrong to play cute with that bit.Why don’t you ask the remaining Beothuk people of Newfoundland about the perils of European exploration in the latter part of the last millennium?Hint –

          2. Pete Griffiths

            What’s cute about reality?In face, if we are going to get into this in any detail, what’s cute about the fact that there are ongoing transgressions of treaty terms resulting in further abuses of the sovereign status of the native American peoples.Ironically, most US citizens literally don’t know about or understand the distinctive status of the native American peoples.Hint –

          3. JamesHRH

            Exactly. There is nothing cute about it.Native Amerixan peoples may have been in the weakest position of any conquered peoples in history.

    3. Vasudev Ram

      Points like these were mentioned in the recent HN thread about Buffet’s report.

  7. LE

    Insurance, Warren’s core business, is the perfect racket. Right now the industry is floating stories to mass media about how distracted driving is the reason that auto insurance rates are skyrocketing. While there is no doubt that there are distracted drivers and perhaps more accidents as a result of texting there is also no doubt that the auto insurers are using this carefully done pr to be able to justify rate increases which are way above what is justified by the increase in claims. While they are not meeting secretly to plan this they all are very easily able to see what their competitors are doing and then smell an opportunity same as what happened with property and casualty rates in the past. Once again I am not doubting there are more claims just this idea that it’s an amount that justifies the rate increases.

  8. kbb

    Last month’s match galvanized support for the rule of law pillar. This month’s to immigration …

  9. Matt Zagaja

    I enjoy Warren’s writing very much, and decided to pick up Shoe Dog from Amazon based on his recommendation. My favorite quip was the following:“When a person with money meets a person with experience, the one with experience ends up with the money and the one with money leaves with experience.”

    1. Vasudev Ram

      Ha ha, good one. Another:Who is an optimist? A person with no experience.Who is a pessimist? An experienced optimist..

  10. jason wright

    US pop. is +300 million people. You have home grown talent. Develop it and stop cherry picking other countries inclusive social and educational systems for the economic benefit of your 1%.Bad behaviour.

    1. Twain Twain

      So the same could apply to the U.K. No more university students or workers from Europe, India, China etc.

      1. jason wright

        Way too many overseas students at UK universities.

        1. Twain Twain

          A lot of overseas students study STEM subjects which are unpopular with British students who prefer to study Liberal Arts (history, philosophy, languages etc).So the overseas students fill in the missing quotas in STEM subjects.Overseas students also pay double (sometimes triple in the case of Medicine) the fees and tend to rent/buy more expensive student accommodation, so those £££ go towards supporting the boarding schools and university education system in the U.K.

          1. jason wright

            They occupy places that should be available to British kids, ideally state educated kids. The UK is already riddled with socio economic injustices.

          2. Twain Twain

            Well, then the government should commit more budget to STEM education for state-educated kids. The kids should choose to study these hard subjects instead of easier ones. Plus they should work hard to pass the criteria to get into a STEM degree.Overseas students would not be able to “occupy” anyone’s place if more British kids studied STEM and passed the exams in the first place.

          3. jason wright

            i come from a city that has its schools ranked at the very bottom (last time i looked) of the national league table of attainment, and yet it has a university ranked consistently about 20th. there’s a complete disconnect between the two in the same geo location. too many privately educated British kids and too many overseas students.Blair’s regime enriched GPs. it should have spent the money on teaching salaries.

          4. Twain Twain

            I hear you, Jason.My view is that the democratic process and its technologies are under-serving people. Sure, every 4 years we get a vote. And, in between, we post a whole bunch of comments online and kid ourselves that politicians listen and get it because they happen to join Twitter or some such.And then along comes blockchain promising democratization but the power is in the hands of some miners in China rather than some politicians in 10 Downing Street (or something).Ironies abound!Meanwhile, there’s no coherent system for democracy itself.In the case of Blair’s education policies, the politicians send their kids to “independent” schools (read fee-paying public schools) so they themselves don’t believe in the state education system.I don’t know what the answers are to the UK’s ingrained class system that holds back talented kids, graduates and non-graduates from achieving their potential.

          5. LE

            As I pointed out in my other comment that actually contributes to inflation in education costts. And unfortunately is very hard to roll back. Generally an organization will grow it’s expenditures in line with revenue it gets. So in the end this becomes golden handcuffs. We also saw this happen in the US with student loans and what that did to education costs.

    2. LE

      I agree with you actually. For example many of our colleges and universities have grown and suffered tuition inflation as a result of taking in full load paying students from overseas. [1] Ditto many top universities (Ivy or neo Ivy) have spots taken up by foreign students instead of US born students. So it’s harder to get into because of the competition and geographic diversity. Not taking a position on whether this is good or bad just stating a fact as I see it.[1] Or the case of one of my daughters who attended a very good public university (a public ivy’ it’s called) in another state than the one she grew up in. So we paid full tuition for her slot. I am pretty sure she got accepted because of the full load money paid as a result of out of state tuition charge. What does this mean? She took up a slot from someone in the state. Not fair, but the way the system works. Is it good to have out of state students at Universities? Sure. Is it good to have foreign students at US universities? Sure. But probably not to the degree that it is being done (gut statement, not based on facts).

      1. Darius V

        By this logic we have to only drive cars made in our sate, eat food grown in our sate, listen to music in our own state, watch movies made in our state, use software only made in our state…

    3. JamesHRH

      I think you are wrong and have expanded on it in this forum.America the Idea is one of mankind’s greatest inventions.It has never been duplicated and not even really well imitated.”Come, work, make life better for you and your children. In return, embrace America and follow the rules.”Unmatched anywhere.PS – what’s the list of social and educational systems they are ripping off? Name a place where staying put matches the individual’s opportunity in America.

      1. jason wright

        any system where higher ed. is essentially free at the point of access funded by collective taxation is being ripped off by the American H1B (as an example) immigration system. educate your own people in tech.

        1. JamesHRH

          Why do people become H1B visa holders if there is so much opportunity where they live?The original societies are uncompetitive.

  11. SubstrateUndertow

    May be off topic ?This morning I heard a GOP TV pundit saying that the difference between the GOP and the Democrats was that:the GOP was all about creating wealthwhere asthe democrats are all about redistributing wealthSo sad to continually hear such simplistic linear 19th century framing at this late stage of the game.We are neck deep in an age of synergistic organic interdependencies thrust upon us by the unstoppable phase change forces of modern cyber economics yet still we must endlessly listen to this kind of childish faults dichotomist drivel. It is so painfully obvious, at this stage, that these two economic variables are synergistic flip sides of an integrated organic economic interdependency.Cyber age organic reframing:re-distribution equitable-distribution of wealth amplifies the creation of wealth

    1. lisa hickey

      “equitable-distribution of wealth amplifies the creation of wealth.” Thank you for that.

      1. JamesHRH

        Catchy, but note evidence based. How is Sweden doing on this front?

    2. JamesHRH

      Philosophy matters.

      1. Donna Brewington White

        Well that’s not something you hear every day.At one time I considered a PhD in philosophy, partly to be steeped in the exercise of critical thinking. I know there are other ways to accomplish this but I had limited exposure in early life to the various alternatives. Besides, I love business and am not unhappy to have landed there.At times like this I wish my thinking skills were stronger.

        1. JamesHRH

          I was scared of my shadow, it turns out, in college.I stayed away from Psych, Phil ……all the stuff that I think is vital, after some battles with life and myself.You are your choices.You are your actions – how you choose to act, what process you use to take action, what framework underlies those choices, how self aware are you of all these factors…..its what matters most.Is creating wealth more important than distributing wealth? Are they equal? Your answers are who you are.It turns out.

          1. Vendita Auto

            I guess Leucippus and Democritus would fit both categories

        2. Vasudev Ram

          >At one time I considered a PhD in philosophy, partly to be steeped in the exercise of critical thinking.Interesting goal and reason for thinking of taking a philosophy degree. Was it more because at the PhD level you have to think more, or is philosophy as a subject, one that makes you think – okay wait, the very meaning of the word is “love of thinking” – so maybe it was some of both? :)>At times like this I wish my thinking skills were stronger.You have more alternatives now, like MOOCs. And if you only want to improve your critical thinking skills (and not particularly learn about philosophy), some courses that involve problem-solving – like boolean or classical logic may be of help too. Even debating – could join a club for it.Just some ideas …Edit: P.S. There was an interesting thread on HN recently about Stoicism.How to Be a Stoic (…Click on title in the thread to go to the original article that the thread is about.

          1. Donna Brewington White

            Thanks so much. At the time there were also some other objectives wrapped up in exploring that direction.Interestingly, I do use boolean logic for Internet searches. Maybe I’m just skimming the surface of how to apply this.Logic is certainly a part of critical thinking. But I also think it involves recognizing intent and detecting bias. Much of bias comes from a way of viewing reality and that is one of the ways that philosophy enters in. Most of modern thought falls into certain constructs. But one does not need to study philosophy to accomplish this. In part it is recognizing our own biases. And a commitment to honesty, integrity and awareness, including self-awareness. Especially the latter.But you are right, there are other ways to accomplish the objective of learning to think more critically.

          2. Vasudev Ram

            >Thanks so much. At the time there were also some other objectives wrapped up in exploring that direction.NP.>Interestingly, I do use boolean logic for Internet searches. Maybe I’m just skimming the surface of how to apply this.Yes, could be so – since I think that in Internet searches, one would mainly use the and/or/not part of boolean logic. What I meant was more of the kind of logic meant by things like:Socrates is a man.All men are mortal.(Therefore) Socrates is mortal.That is, implications from propositions to conclusions.Of course that above example is simple, but logic gets more complex, with various kinds of clauses, etc., quantifiers like “For all” and “There exists” and so on. Partly overlaps with some math topics.I think understanding some of that sort of logic helps with understanding and critically evaluating arguments that people in various spheres of life may make, such as public life, science, groups of various kinds (official or unofficial or volunteer), government, business, etc. – particularly arguments being made with a view to choosing between one or more alternative decisions or courses of action.>Logic is certainly a part of critical thinking. But I also think it involves recognizing intent and detecting bias. Much of bias comes from a way of viewing reality and that is one of the ways that philosophy enters in. Most of modern thought falls into certain constructs. But one does not need to study philosophy to accomplish this. In part it is recognizing our own biases. And a commitment to honesty, integrity and awareness, including self-awareness. Especially the latter.Great points. I agree.

  12. Richard

    I’d like to see a drug and tobacco test for new immigrants, with penalties for each.

  13. Pete Griffiths

    The tide of immigrants appears to fall into several broad classes:a) highly qualified labor the country can take pretty much unlimited amounts of – STEM grads, doctors etc etc Such immigration should surely be legal for the benefit of such immigration is blindingly obvious to even the most obtuse. Sadly, it is more difficult than it should be to poach much needed talent from around the globe, much to the dismay of Silicon Valley.b) poor economic migrants. The thing that is often overlooked about this class is that they are here to work and that they will (and do) undertake work that the native population is not interested in. These immigrants tend to be young strong and healthy. These immigrants, with the exception of those on temporary work permits such as farm workers (without which we would barely have an agriculture industry) tend to be illegal. Ironically, studies show their economic contribution is positive. c) refugees. This is a humanitarian question and your feelings about if and how many are largely determined by your understanding of their circumstances and your empathy.The enormous wealth generation of the US economy has consistently resulted in disruption and hardship for some existing social groups. Globalization and automation are just the latest iterations. Such social groups have always protested, as they should. But trying to stem the tide is hopeless. We need highly qualified labor and young strong labor for purely demographic reasons. These immigrants are the ones who will be paying the bills for social security and medicare. Ironically, the country that truly suffers from this immigration is the coutnry they leave.

  14. Scott Juranek

    It appears the focus is on curbing illegal immigration and putting more thought into the vetting process of legal immigrants. I think sensationalizing this to imply the entire immigration system is at risk is dishonest. Nobody opposes a tide of talented and ambitious immigrants. If someone advocated for speed limits and other driving laws (to improve the overall driving experience for everyone) they aren’t anti-vehicle!

    1. harvestgrand

      I agree, it’s simply irresponsible… “I think sensationalizing this to imply the entire immigration system is at risk is dishonest. I hate to jump on the bandwagon but this is an example of FAKE NEWS 🙂

    2. JamesHRH

      +1000.Intellectually dishonest = #fakenews

  15. BobWarfield

    What a great sounding quote, and so much the better that it was made by Warren Buffer. But that doesn’t make it right.America’s economic dynamism was created by only 1 thing: a Middle Class that was empowered to make themselves successful, that did steadily better over time, and that were the majority of the population. It’s the same story as the Renaissance, when the merchant class arose and brought light to the Dark Ages.That’s the core, and anything else that isn’t actively making that happen is just noise. That Middle Class has not been empowered and has not done steadily better for a long time. Moreover, it is actively shrinking as a percentage of the population.We have a party that takes from them for the 1% and another that takes from them for the poor–it’s no accident the Middle Class largely pays for Obamacare and many other things.Now we’re bitterly unhappy because after so many years, the Middle Class is tired of being abused and had the temerity to vote for Trump. He is unlikely to help them much, but then neither were any of the others.Be as unhappy as you like. Bemoan this President constantly (I know I will). But until we restore the dynamism to the Middle Class, things will get a lot worse before they get better.That’s the missing piece that isn’t talked about nearly enough.

    1. JamesHRH

      I disagree. Buffet is right.Ambitious and talented immigration applies to all levels of the American economy – from Polish seamstresses to AI wizards from Hyderabad. Moving across the planet is not what the lazy and slothful do, very often.

  16. pointsnfigures

    Disagree immigration is at risk. We will have plenty of immigration under Trump. I would agree immigration policy is messed up. But it was messed up long before Trump got there and unfortunately it will probably be messed up after he leaves. Obama didn’t do anything to fix the immigration problem.I also disagree with Mark Slater. The rule of law has been under attack for a while now. Happy to see Democrats getting religion on states rights and less intrusive federal government. Maybe on that point we can agree.

  17. jason wright

    devolve immigration decisions to states?

  18. jason wright

    Is the next good cause donation going to be to that new marginalised minority, journalists?

  19. William Mougayar

    Some things are changing for sure. I’ve just landed at the Toronto airport, and now the customs lines have “Canadian residents & US citizens” together. That’s new.

    1. Vasudev Ram

      What was it like earlier?

      1. William Mougayar

        Canadians & residents separate, and all others together. What’s new is lumping Canadian & US together.

  20. RobM1981

    “Sadly one of those four pillars is at risk – “a tide of talented and ambitious immigrants.”jPoppycock. In what way?Have you, Sir, ever been to Ellis Island? Is that the “spigot of immigration?”Yes?Well, do you have enough common sense to realize that it was, in every way, “The Wall?” Ellis Island, and all of the other immigration points, were Screening Points. Irish couldn’t land in any port they chose. Italians couldn’t just walk ashore on the beach. Swedes, Germans, etc. – all controlled. Ditto on the West Coast.Heck, just watch The Godfather, if you want the Hollywood version. Do you understand that the pejorative “WOP” comes from screeners who labeled immigrants WithOutPapers, and then turned them back? No papers; no entrance.This is how it has ALWAYS worked. LEGAL immigrants, based on our needs and our desires to help ourselves (first) and by extension the world (which was always the secondary purpose – always).Read a bit of history, please, and wake up.

  21. jon vanhala

    Much respect all around. Love the post and the spirit within the Warren quotation. I agree that immigration is and always has been a value driver for this country and we can not allow tribalism to negatively disrupt this flow. We embrace, want, and need that tide. That said, I can’t help but notice the standing start comment by WB is slightly revisionist or at least incomplete. I’m reminded that America’s economic dynamism was miraculously enhanced by the 5th pillar of slave and/or cheap labor, manufacturing, environmental, and civil rights practices we could not imagine allowing today . . . . the future relies on our ability to balance the ideal of our Constitution with reality of fueling growth.

  22. Dave Pinsen

    Buffett makes a great point. America had a much tighter immigration policy from the mid-’20s to mid-’60s. All it managed to do then was win World War II, build the interstate highway system, the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, the Grand Coulee Dam, the Golden Gate Bridge, the George Washington Bridge, invent Rock’n’Roll, create Social Security, and lay most of the groundwork for putting men on the moon.

  23. jason wright


  24. Susan Rubinsky

    This whole album resonates. One of my favorites.

  25. Susan Rubinsky

    oh yeah. Last great American Whale.

  26. JamesHRH

    If you needed an example of the close minded, liberally biased nature of editorial boards of major, ‘serious’ newspapers (throw MSM in here for fun), that opener is the Bomb.I actually don’t know what to do with illegals in America. But, I can tell you that I wonder why anyone would ever follow the rules at this point. That can’t be good.Is the NYT saying that following the rules is a legal or intellectual issue, not a moral one?They pander as hard as Fox, they just are not aware of it. At least the weasels at Fox are self aware.

  27. JamesHRH

    Why would he do that?Immigration is going to continue as per the last 40 years, with the exception of places where jihadists are common (worst case scenario).

  28. JamesHRH

    I saw Temple Grandin speak this week.She thinks Einstein was autistic. He sure got himself well grounded in social reality throughout his life if he was.What an understated missive.As it turned out, A LOT of high quality ore is up here in the Great White North. Although its ownership is not.

  29. JamesHRH

    Pretty sure Warren doesn’t play that way.