This week marks Warren Buffett's first appearance on the cover of TIME. I'm not sure how he's avoided it until now, but he's using this moment in his long and storied career to speak out about what the U.S. should do to move forward.
Buffett is as classic and iconically American as the brands he invests in: Coca-Cola, American Express, IBM. But his solutions are anything but orthodox or predictable. He believes the tax system is unfair, the superrich do not pay their fair share, and corporations don't need a tax break. He is dubious about the conventional wisdom that education and innovation can solve our economic woes. He believes a certain percentage of any nation's population will of necessity be poor. And he thinks demography is destiny and America's demographics will return us to glory. Though some have called him the richest socialist, his view of government is less Lenin than Lincoln, who said, "The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but can not do, at all, or can not so well do, for themselves."
Our superb economic columnist Rana Foroohar spent time with Buffett in his hometown of Omaha. This cover story is part of our mission both to explain the economy and to focus on solutions for the U.S. and the world. Just a few weeks ago we explored how America started selling cars again; before that we looked at the rise of income inequality and the decline of social mobility. This year you can expect a series of cover stories on how the economy is affecting us all, as well as pieces on how to fix both the U.S. and global economies. In an election year, there is no more important subject.
- Rick Stengel
TIME managing editor
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