Buffett’s Partner: ‘It’s Over’ for U.S. Economy

Dan Well
MoneyNews.com
23 February 2010

Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett’s longtime business partner in Berkshire Hathaway, warns in a new column that the U.S. economic empire is crumbling before our eyes, thanks to federal debt and poor planning.

In an article penned for Slate.com, Munger uses the form of a parable to explain how Wall Street’s love affair with gambling has destroyed America’s Main Street.

The article leads with this headline: “Basically, It’s Over.”

The Berkshire Hathaway vice chairman describes the economic history of Basicland, which happens to match U.S. history.

Early in its history, debt is unknown except for home mortgages and some consumer loans, and people live within their means. Speculation is discouraged, and commodities markets are small and tightly regulated.

Under this rational system, economic growth skips merrily along at a steady 3 percent, Munger explains.

Taxes are limited and pay for only “essential services” like fire protection, courts, and defense. Most taxes are collected on imports, and government spending matches that tax income. Debt via government bonds is limited.

Then things take a turn for the worse.

“The extreme prosperity of Basicland had created a peculiar outcome: As their affluence and leisure time grew, Basicland’s citizens more and more whiled away their time in the excitement of casino gambling,” Munger writes.

The article continues at MoneyNews.com

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