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Billionaire Bailout Recipient to America: "Suck It In and Cope, Buddy"

POSTED:
Readers, I am in the middle of a deadline and therefore half-insane, but this just had to be passed along without delay. Check out billionaire vice-chair of Warren Buffet's Berkshire Hathaway, Charles Munger, telling people in economic distress that they must "suck it in and cope" and that they should "thank God" for bank bailouts.

A little background here: Buffet and B-H made a $5 billion equity investment in Goldman Sachs at the height of the financial crisis. If Goldman doesn't get $13 billion via the AIG bailout, that investment vanishes. If Goldman doesn't get handed a federal bank charter overnight (allowing them to borrow huge amounts of cheap cash from the Fed) and doesn't get a ban on short-selling and doesn't get $10 billion from the TARP, again, B-H loses that $5 billion. Moreover Berkshire-Hathaway is the largest shareholder in Wells Fargo, which got $25 billion from the TARP and also had government help in acquiring Wachovia in a shotgun wedding for $12.7 billion (W-F balked at buying Wachovia until it was given about $25 billion in tax breaks by the government).

So that's just two of Berkshire-Hathaway's biggest investments that collectively received at least $70 billion in government aid during the bailouts, by my count (this doesn't even include the various Fed facilities and lesser-known bailout programs that helped banks like Goldman and Wells-Fargo stay afloat). And this Munger guy wants to tell us that this is no problem, but individuals who think the government should have bailed them out are whiners and malingerers. Here's how he put it at a discussion at the University of Michigan, per Bloomberg:

At the Michigan event, [one questioner] asked whether the government should have bailed out homeowners instead of Wall Street, Munger said: "You've got it exactly wrong."
 
There's danger in just shoveling out money to people who say, 'My life is a little harder than it used to be,'" Munger said at the event, which was moderated by CNBC's Becky Quick. "At a certain place you've got to say to the people, 'Suck it in and cope, buddy. Suck it in and cope.'"
 
I'm not sure individuals should have gotten a bailout either. But if billions of bailout dollars helped pay your Christmas bonus, then on that subject, I think, the correct move is to shut the fuck up.

 

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Matt Taibbi

Matt Taibbi is a contributing editor for Rolling Stone. He’s the author of five books and a winner of the National Magazine Award for commentary. Please direct all media requests to taibbimedia@yahoo.com.

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