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WARREN BUFFETT Printer Friendly Page

Warren Buffett: A Wealthy Philanthropist with Some Bad Ideas
By Martin Morse Wooster
November 2, 2011



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See also:  Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

                 Everytown for Gun Safety

Warren Edward Buffett was 
born in Omaha, Nebraska on August 30, 1930. His father, Howard Buffett, was a stock broker who was elected to the U.S. Congress in 1942. Warren entered the University of Pennsylvania at age 16 to study business, and transferred two years later to the University of Nebraska, graduating at age 20. After earning a master's degree from Columbia Business School in 1951, he spent three years selling securities for Buffett-Falk and Company, followed by two years working as an analyst for the Graham-Newton Corporation under Benjamin Graham, who had been his mentor at Columbia. Buffett would later credit Graham's book, The Intelligent Investor, for the great impact it had on his life.

In 1952 Buffett married Susan Thompson, a rebellious New Age leftist with whom he went on to have three children. Thompson was a strong ideological influence on Buffett, passing on to him her views in support of population control, abortion rights, and a nuclear freeze. According to Forbes magazine, these issues “remained a life-long passion, even an obsession, for both,” and were “heavily funded by their foundation” – a reference to the Buffett Foundation, which the couple used as a vehicle for charitable giving, and which was renamed the Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation (STBF) in 2004 after Thompson's death. Over the years, STBF has contributed at least $1.3 billion to pro-abortion groups like the National Abortion Federation, NARAL, Catholics for Choice, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and Planned Parenthood. Buffett once described Planned Parenthood as “the closest thing we have” to a vehicle by which to “make every child born in this country and this world a wanted child,” adding: “Until women have the right to determine their reproductive destiny, we’re in an unequal society.” Even before the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision of 1973, Buffett helped sponsor a “church” named Ecumenical Fellowship, which assisted women in finding places to obtain abortions.[1]

In 1956 Buffet founded the Omaha-based investment firm Buffett Partnership Ltd. (BPL). Utilizing techniques he had learned from Benjamin Graham, Buffett was successful in identifying undervalued companies, including a textile company in New England named Berkshire Hathaway. He began buying stock in that company in the 1960s and assumed control of it by 1965.

After his father died in 1964, Buffett, who was already a liberal Democrat at heart, officially changed his party affiliation to Democrat.

In 1969, Buffett dissolved BPL despite its success, to concentrate on Berkshire Hathaway. Phasing out its textile division, Buffett expanded the firm by buying assets in media, insurance, and oil. His success in investments earned him the moniker, the “Oracle of Omaha.” 

Buffett and his wife separated in 1977 but remained married until the end of Susan Thompson's life 27 years later. Before relocating to San Francisco in '77 to pursue a singing career, Thompson arranged for Astrid Menks, a Latvian-born woman whom she and her husband had met and befriended in recent years, “to become,” as Forbes puts it, “Warren's live-in housekeeper and to look after him in whatever ways he needed … as a kind of wife substitute in all ways except in law.” Two years after Thompson’s death in 2004, Buffett and Menks married.

In 1980, Buffett denounced the famed publisher William Randolph Hearst for having spent so much of his wealth on the construction of his mansion in San Simeon. “Just as the Pharaohs did when building pyramids,” wrote Buffett, “Hearst commanded massive amounts of labor and material away from other societal purposes to satisfy his personal consumption desires.” Buffett also stated that people who lived off of their family inheritance “might feel themselves perceptive in observing the debilitating effects of food stamps for the poor but would fail to observe that they themselves are the beneficiaries of an almost boundless lifetime supply of privately-funded food stamps bestowed upon them at birth.”

Buffett became director of Berkshire Hathaway in 1989, by which time he had accumulated a net worth of $3.8 billion, and he held that position until 2006.

In 2006 Buffett announced that he planned to donate, over time, his entire fortune to charity, with 85% going to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In 2010, Buffett and Bill Gates collaborated to form The Giving Pledge, a campaign intended to recruit wealthy contributors to charitable causes.

Continuing to build his Berkshire Hathaway empire, Buffett purchased the H.J. Heinz Company in 2013, Duracell in 2014, and Kraft Foods in 2015.

In recent years, Buffett has been a vocal advocate for tax hikes on wealthy Americans like himself, calling it unjust, for instance, that he himself was taxed at a lower rate than his own secretary simply because his income came from investments rather than in the form of a salary. “My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress,” Buffett wrote in 2011. “It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice.” President Barack Obama, of whom Buffett was an enthusiastic supporter, often cited and lauded the so-called “Buffett Rule” which held that households earning more than $1 million per year should be taxed at a higher rate than their middle-class counterparts. In 2017, Buffett opposed the Republican tax cut bill which was signed into law by President Donald Trump.

In 2015-16, Buffett praised the presidential bid of Senator Bernie Sanders, even though he formally backed Hillary Clinton's campaign. Characterizing Sanders as an “articulate” spokesman for his cause, Buffett said: I think we all have lessons to learn from him.”

Calling it “highly likely … that climate change poses a major problem for the planet,” Buffett in 2016 boasted that Berkshire Hathaway Energy “has invested [$16 billion] in renewables and now owns 7% of the country’s wind generation and 6% of its solar generation.”

In 2017 Buffett criticized President Trump's calls for enhanced border security and the stricter enforcement of immigration laws. “A tide of talented and ambitious immigrants” had been key contributors to “the greatness of the country” during its development, said Buffett, implying that Trump's position was blind to that reality.

In addition to the business ventures cited above, Buffett has served as the director of Citigroup Global Markets Holdings, the Gillette Company, and the Graham Holdings Company. He is also an advisory board member of Everytown for Gun Safety.

Buffett's fortune is currently estimated at $87.1 billion.

For additional information on Warren Buffett, click here.


[1] STBF has also supported organizations like DKT International and Gynuity Health Projects, both of which work to expand access to abortion in developing countries.Moreover, the Foundation has gone so far as to purchase abortion machinery and donate it to clinics in poor nations.



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