You’ve teamed with 3G on several deals including Heinz. They’re known to fire lots of people after they take control. Is that ok by you?
Well, if a company has too many employees it better do something about it. We try to buy companies directly that have too many that already have the right number of employees. Berkshire itself with 350,000 employees has 25 people at headquarters so we practice what we preach on that. But the whole progress of the economy depends on doing things efficiently. We had 40% of the population on the farms in 1900, we’ve got have 2% now. Now, you can say, ‘my all those farmers lost their jobs’ but the truth is they went out and did other things, they’re working at Microsoft or something now. You can’t have progress without increasing productivity per capita and the way you increase productivity per capita is you figure out ways to do more efficiently. I take my hat off to them for finding ways to turn out the same output with less people. That’s what we try to do. The only difference is we buy companies where it’s already been done and they buy companies where it needs to be done.
You own Coke, Kraft/Heinz. Are you concerned that these brands won't be relevant because of America's move away from processed foods?
Coca-Cola (KO) has dozens and dozens of brands, many of which don’t have a gram of sugar in them. But they have some very big brands that do and those brands are actually doing pretty well. They do well in the United States -- they do well worldwide. And I’m talking about the Coca-Cola the one you know from 1886 or whenever it came out first. It does very well around the world and it’s doing fine in the United States. I happen to drink roughly five a day, so I get about one-quarter of my calories come from Coca-Cola. You’re looking at a guy who’s one-quarter Coca-Cola. I’m not sure which quarter it is but I am one-quarter Coca-Cola, I’m 85 and I feel terrific. I don’t know any 85 year olds that feel better than I do and I’ve been doing this since I was about 6 or 7 years of age. It’s working fine.
Keystone Pipeline support
There was probably a lot of opposition in this state. It was taken to the Nebraska Supreme Court. There was a lot of feeling against it. I, personally, was in favor of it. But the opinion would be very divided in Nebraska on it and there was a lot of ‘not in my backyard’ feeling and that’s understandable. Nevertheless, it’s dead now. I think it’s probably pretty dead. I think TransCanada (TRP) who sponsored this has taken it off the table. I, personally, was in favor of it. That’s interesting, a lot of people think I was against it because it had some effect on the railroad, but I actually think it would have been good for Canadian-U.S. relations, I think the oil is going to be produced… the amount of oil that’s going to be produced is going to be determined by the demand for it. If you want to change the quantity of carbons, CO2 going into the atmosphere from oil… you should go after the demand for it not the supply. The supply will match the demand.
Does anything keep you up at night?
The only thing that I ever feel badly about is friends or relatives having illnesses or deaths. You don’t get over that but nothing other than other people’s – or my own if I were feeling terrible – discomfort or serious illness, or the extreme, being death. And as you get older you have more friends that die… there’s no great solution for how you feel about that. But nothing keeps me up at night. Never has.
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