Warren Buffet's Hathaway group recently purchased the Richmond Times Dispatch and a number of other mid-size city papers. One can hear the palpable sigh of relief and the joy of the writers, editors, and even the subscribers here in Richmond. A collective whew…. Someone bought the paper who loves small city America as much as we do. Someone bought the paper who wants to be engaged here for the long haul. That will generate loyalty and trust and appropriate risk-taking and all the other good things that keep businesses going. Buffet said he won't interfere with editorials or news stories: he leaves that to the professionals.
But wait! Think!
Would the writers, editors, and subscribers be feeling the same thing if the RTD had been acquired by Bain Capital? By Rupert Murdoch? If not, why not?
And what does the answer tell us about the type of capitalism that we would like to support and endorse? Would it be desirable to change the tax laws to encourage more Buffets and fewer Bains?
Perhaps we need to re-think our economics education, which mistakenly places profit-taking ahead of creating actual products that have intrinsic as well as extrinsic value for communities. Buffet has a passion for doing things well, and I believe that passion can bring better economic results, in the long run, than the short-run financial shenanigans of corporate raiders.
[This post was published also at Pundits Podium.]