WARREN BUFFETT 00:08
I would say this about the Microsoft case. That — and I’ve expressed this to a couple news organizations who asked the question earlier.
Twenty years ago, this country really had sort of an inferiority complex about its place in the world economic order.
And we talked about having a country of hamburger flippers. And, we thought we were going to lose our steel industry and our auto industry. And we really didn’t quite see how America fit into the world where it looked like the Japanese and the Germans, to some extent, and all those, were eating our lunch.
And that — there are many of you are too young to remember that. But there are many of you in this room who will remember that. And we were very depressed about our economic situation in this country.
And then this, whatever you want to call it, information age or whatever, came along, fueled by technology. And we’ve just swept the world aside. I mean, it — we are so far number one that it’s difficult to think who’s number two. So here we have —
And it’s changed — in some way, it’s contributed to a change, I should say — in the national mood. And it — whether — what part of our prosperity is accounted for by it, no one knows. But I think everybody in the room would agree that it’s significant.
And that age is going to get — and that development — is going to get more and more important in the years to come. It’s going to be fueling much of what happens in the world and for this country to be the world leader. And like I say, you can’t even see who’s in second place, and moving faster, even, to increase that lead, with all the benefits that brings, you know, I think that —
I think we’ve got something working very well that probably doesn’t make a lot of sense to tinker with too much. So I would not want to go in with a meat axe into something that is pulling this country along, in my view, in a huge way.
And I just, I don’t like to tinker with success. And it’s an important success. It’s really an important success.
Charlie and I may not understand how to play that, in terms of buying the companies that are going to do well 10 or 15 years from now. But we know some companies will do well. And we certainly know it’ll have a huge benefit to society, even if it makes business less profitable but makes the society more efficient.
I mean, that is a huge edge to have. I would love to have the most efficient industry in the world in this country, even though it might pull down returns on capital against the less-efficient system.
So we — I think neither one of us would be inclined to go in there and mess around with something that’s working.
CHARLIE MUNGER 03:08
I think — (Applause)
If you look at the big picture, in patriotic terms, having lost totally in radios, stereos, television sets, et cetera, and in many other places, and having lost position in other major industries to the Japanese and others, we finally get huge leadership in a new and wonderful field — software — that’s needed all over the Earth.
And somebody who’s drawing a salary from the United States government gets the bright idea that they should dramatically weaken the one place where we’re winning big. (Applause)
And he actually goes home at night and is proud of himself. (Laughter)
WARREN BUFFETT 04:13
OK, number 3.
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Stories from the past that are still relevant today.
I think we’ve got something working very well that probably doesn’t make a lot of sense to tinker with too much. So I would not want to go in with a meat axe into something that is pulling this country along, in my view, in a huge way. ~Warren Buffett