A fictional version of Warren Buffett assembles a "cadre" of "super-rich" billionaires to "fix" the U.S. government and return "power to the people," in a new book by political candidate and activist Ralph Nader.
Nader doesn't call his book a novel. He describes it as "a fictional vision that could become a new reality." He's also called it a "practical utopia."
In Nader's alternate reality, Warren Buffett is inspired to action by the government's inability to adequately respond to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. "He beheld in disbelief the paralysis of local, state, and federal authorities unable to commence basic operations of rescue and sustenance, not just in New Orleans, but in towns and villages all along the Gulf Coast. . . He knew exactly what he had to do. . ."
To quote the publisher's news release, Buffett "invites sixteen other super-rich individuals around a table to save America... (They) work together to unionize Wal-Mart, rebuild New Orleans with a speed and efficiency FEMA could only dream about, advance clean and transparent elections, effectively clean up the environment, and otherwise galvanize Congress and the corporate behemoths to be accountable to the people."
In an extended excerpt from the book posted by the publisher, the fictional Buffett tells a news conference:
"Our country is sinking deeper and deeper into troubles that are sapping its collective spirit and blinding it to the solutions that are ready at hand. From my observations of the rarefied world of business leaders, I’ve concluded that the vast majority are not leaders except for themselves. A society rots like a fish—from the head down. I want no part of that lucrative narcissism, that abdication from the realities that are blighting our country and the world. I am here to do my part, my duty, in persuading some of my very wealthy peers to live by the words of Alfred North Whitehead: ‘A great society is a society in which its men of business think greatly of their functions.’"
In the interviews he's been doing in recent days to promote the book, Nader says he's reached out to the real versions of the people in his book, telling the New Yorker he's made contact with "about half of his characters." Many of them have responded positively. So far, I haven't seen any mention of Buffett's reaction, if any.
And while the real Buffett is not as much of a political activist as his fictional counterpart, he has publicly supported Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama for president and called on Congress to raise taxes on the "super-rich."
He also brought together some of the world's richest people last May in New York to informally discuss how they could make philanthropy more effective. We assume, however, that no one was wearing a superhero costume.
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