Why don't we think more about stages? I attended the Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting this weekend, largely for the opportunity to hear Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger take five hours of Q&A. One of Munger's best lines was something like "I shudder to think that 13-year-olds in my family are using social media to permanently document their worst ideas." A lot of people make parenting decisions, for instance, based on the rules. So they let their kids join Facebook when they turn 13. But there's nothing magical about the age 13 (or 16 or 18 or 21). We need to think carefully about life stages, and maybe the answer isn't just to let the letter of the law decide when things are OK. We also need to be comfortable with the fact that we all have to go through stages -- in life, in business, and otherwise. We have to be OK with that.
Savers aren't the enemy The White House budget proposed in April called for a limit of $3.4 million on the amount Americans could accumulate in tax-preferred retirement accounts. It's not going to turn into law, but it says that capital is to be viewed with suspicion, or maybe even hostility. $3.4 million is a lot of money -- nobody should doubt that. But consider this: If you wanted to get $40,000 a year in retirement income and do it just on interest payments alone (without tapping your nest egg), then if you had your money in "safe" 10-year Treasury bonds earning 1.78%, you'd need more than $2.2 million in the bank. Our biggest single fiscal problem is that we can't afford our entitlement programs, and discouraging people from saving is the straightest path to a negative-feedback loop. We have to get the economy to grow faster, and that requires people to save and invest more...not less.
What is "Google official"? Google has now shifted from calling them the "Palestinian Territories" to "Palestine". It doesn't mean anything diplomatically, but we may be living in an era in which large companies (like Google) may have greater impact on the world than real nation-states. Balance sheets may matter more than armies.
Thanks for listening this week! Extended notes on today's show are available on my website.
- Brian Gongol - firstname.lastname@example.org - email@example.com