Did Buffett just accept a bribe?
When I first read his op-ed in the Times, I was surprised by the sycophantic tone of his comments. He certainly didn't sound like the same WEB we used to know. If you read any of his previous articles and compare it with this latest piece, you might think they were written by two different people. (As a side note, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that were in fact written by two different people. Why have secretaries if you can't let them do some piece of creative writing?)
Anyway, at first I thought Buffett had just sincerely fallen in love with Uncle Sam. But then I saw a piece of news suggesting that the old man could have an obvious personal motive. He already had all the money in the world, so it would be hard to impress him with that. But the one thing he didn't have was a medal. And that's just what he got yesterday - a Medal of Freedom from the president.
Public awards can be a powerful motivator; in the ancient times noblemen would happily give away a village to get themselves the Baronet title. And Buffett has already shown, by donating his fortune to charity, that he is not totally indifferent to public recognition. So why not show some gratitude by writing a panegyric to the people who are giving you a prestigious award?
To be sure, the causation between the two events cannot be inferred with a 100% certainty, but the fact that the op-ed was published on the same day when the medal was awarded is telling.
"(Reuters) - President Barack Obama on Wednesday named billionaire Warren Buffett a winner of the 2010 Medal of Freedom, along with former President George H.W. Bush and German Chancellor Angela Merkel."