It’s 4:30 in the morning, and I’m awake and I’m thinking about my country. Praying even. Out of bed; go downstairs; confirm what I suspected when I went to bed at 9 last night, that Obama and indeed won reelection; check the day’s schedule.
The main item today is a mid-afternoon conference call with an investment committee on which I sit.
What do I say to my fellow committee members? 5,000 families have entrusted their savings to us, the accumulated results of their lifetime of labors, and they have put almost 7 billion dollars of it into our care. They’ve trusted us to help them preserve and grow it a little so they can retire, volunteer for charity, give to the poor, and help their children and grandchildren to get a start in life.
What I would tell them is this: You are used to thinking of America as a place that honors you and what you do, which thinks of entrepreneurship and investing as a noble thing. For this reason, the major investment decisions in the past have been whether you should invest in American stocks or American bonds. The former were a little bit riskier than the latter, but if you could stand it, the best thing is to put as much of your hard-earned cash into good, solid American companies and leave it there for a long time and not give it a second thought. If you were an entrepreneur, your main question was how quickly to expand your business and that almost always meant how quickly to expand in the U.S.
But all of that has changed. Half of this country no longer honors wealth creation, and that half of the country is in charge. For whatever reason: economic illiteracy, class envy, a progressive education which values feelings over logic, thousands upon thousands of movies and TV episodes portraying business as evil, family breakdown which leaves many people seeking the nation as a substitute family and the president as a substitute father, and an increasingly post-Biblical society which looks for an earthly rather than a heavenly king as the source for security and provision in the world. Pick your poison. Maybe it’s a toxic brew of all of those factors. But for whatever reasons, our nation has left behind the iron laws of human nature upon which was built the greatest engine of prosperity this poor, shivering, starving human race has ever seen.
I don’t know if it is permanent. I think that it probably is not. But it is here now, and you’ve got to adapt to it.