Knowing better, but not doing better

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When Warren Buffett himself comes out and says, “Inequality is getting worse,” and adds that since our near economic disaster five years ago, business has come back and now the rich are faring very well. We had better listen to that knowledge. He notes the aggregate wealth of the Forbes 400 is as much as $2 trillion. But he also says that the general populace is suffering. The bottom 20 percent of households (24 million households, 60 million people), at the top level, earns just $22,000. Our economy is delivering $50,000 in GDP per capita and we have an awful lot of people not living very well. “I don’t want to try to live on $22,000 with a couple of kids,” Buffett continued.

So what about you? We know Warren is living larger than any of us can imagine, but he is still correct in his assessment. His wealth does not automatically negate his knowledge of the financial markets and the economic conditions of our society. We have the same general economic knowledge he has; or we have access to it. We can see what he has done with his knowledge; what have we done with ours?

Remember when your parents told you not to do something, like play around the hot stove or throw rocks at one another? After you got hurt, some of our parents and grandparents would say, “No better for you; I told you not to do that.” So, let’s add their admonishment to the end of our saying: “Once you know better, you should do better or ‘no better’ for you.”

(Jim Clingman can be reached through his Web site, blackonomics.com.)

 

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