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Warren Buffett: I'm a 'card-carrying capitalist,' rejects US embrace of socialism

Javier E. David
Editor focused on markets and the economy

At Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meeting — dubbed Woodstock for Capitalism — chairman Warren Buffett dispelled any doubts about his commitment to the free market democracy.

"I'm a card-carrying capitalist,” the legendary investor told shareholders on Saturday.

“I believe we wouldn't be sitting here except for the market system and the rule of law on some things that are embodied in this country,” Buffett said. “So you don't have to worry about me changing in that manner.”

Buffett’s remarks appeared to push back against a groundswell of anti-capitalist sentiment, and come amid a wide ranging debate about whether a free market democracy is working for everyone.

Several of the proposals floated by 2020 White House contenders involve massive government intervention in vast sectors of the economy.

Against that backdrop, a number of wealthy individuals have also suggested that capitalism is in crisis, or in dire need of root-and-branch reform.

A rejection of socialism

With an estimated net worth north of $80 billion, Buffett is frequently mentioned alongside Amazon (AMZN) CEO Jeff Bezos and Microsoft founder Bill Gates as one of the wealthiest men in the world.

However, he’s has supported progressive-leaning policies and backed Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 elections. Most recently, he teamed up with Bezos’ and JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon on an initiative to lower health care costs.

[Click here for coverage of the 2019 Berkshire Hathaway Shareholders Meeting.]

In a recent interview with Yahoo Finance’s Andy Serwer, Buffett also bemoaned the growing problem of income inequality—a hot topic in the burgeoning field of Democratic presidential candidates.

Yet at Berkshire’s (BRK-ABRK-B) shareholder meeting, Buffett rejected the idea that the world’s largest economy could eventually turn socialist, as some have posited with the rise of politicians like Queens congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, a self-described socialist, is one of the top contenders in the crowded Democratic primary.

"I don't think the country will go into socialism in 2020 or 2040 or 2060,” said Buffett, whose thoughts were echoed by his longtime business partner, Charlie Munger.

“I think we’re all in favor of some kind of government social safety net in a country as prosperous as ours," Munger told the audience. "What a lot of us don't like is the vast stupidity with which parts of that social safety net are managed by the government."

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Credit: David Foster/Yahoo Finance