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It's a hard-knock life

These comments from Warren Buffett and Jay-Z on the role that luck played in their professional lives shouldn't be missed:

Interestingly, Buffett's comments -- he says that he'd work for seashells, and that the policy and cultural context mattered as much or more than his individual talents -- seem like a serious problem for Steve Forbes's ideology, but Forbes, who's conducting the interview, doesn't seem to notice.

(Disclaimer: Buffett is on The Washington Post Co.'s board of directors.)

By Ezra Klein  | October 18, 2010; 2:35 PM ET
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Steve Forbes' probably doesnt have much of an ideology beyond rich white man uber alles, which is understandable. Every person alive has views shaped by his life's experience.

Forbes is a white man born in the United States in the middle of the 20th century to a very wealthy family. Its hard to imagine more than a handful of people in human history more lucky than he is. That he probably doesnt see it that way is hilarious though.

Posted by: zeppelin003 | October 18, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse


That's the great irony: The rich, white guy who got rich through his own efforts/smart acknowledges the role of luck and favors policies (e.g., the estate tax) to smooth out the role it plays in economic outcomes.

The rich, white guy who inherited his wealth/position, meanwhile, is the one convinced that the government should play very little role in smoothing out economic outcomes and that people will only do economically productive things if tax rates are as low as conceivably possible.

Having built up the notion of the Randian uber-capitalist, you'd think conservatives would pay more attention to the views of the actual real-world examples we have of such men (Buffet, Gates, etc.).

Posted by: edwardlahoa | October 18, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

if we had flat taxes, everyone would be lucky.

Posted by: bdballard | October 18, 2010 5:50 PM | Report abuse

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