tv 60 Minutes CBS December 11, 2011 7:00pm-8:00pm PST
captioning funded by cbs and ford-- built for the road ahead. >> kroft: on friday morning in the white house cabinet room, we sat down with president obama and questioned him about his record, the economy and his leadership. >> no matter how well we're steering the ship, if the boats rocking back and forth and people are getting sick, they're being buffeted by the winds and rain, at a certain point if you ask them are you enjoying the ride right now, folks are going to say no. and are they going to say do you think the captain doing a good job. people will say a good captain would have had us in
some smooth waters and sunny skies at this point. >> kroft: even among some of your supporters, strongest supporters there is a sense, a little sense of disappointment. they think you've been too cautious. that you have just -- >> as opposed to my critics who think i have been this radical socialist. >> warren buffett, america's second richest man is a household name. his son howard, not so much. and yet he's the person warren buffett wants to succeed him as chairman of berkshire hathaway, the megaholding company that buffett built. like his father, howard does not live the high life. in fact, he's a farmer who would rather dig up the ground than sit in a boardroom. >> are you sure he's your son. >> well, i think that's worth checking out. you'll have a big exclusive.
>> i'm steve kroft. >> i'm lesley stault. >> i'm morley safer. >> i'm lara logan. >> i'm byron pitts. >> i'm scott pelley. those stories tonight on "60 >> i'm scott pelley. those stories tonight on "60 minutes." it blindsided us. what is it? our college savings account. how do you think it happened? not sure. i think something we bought a while ago turned out to be something else, annnnnd, i remember a lot of other stuff in there had the word "aggressive" in it. is everyone okay? well, now, yeah. who knows later. ♪ is the pain reliever orthopedic doctors recommend most for arthritis pain, think again. and take aleve. it's the one doctors recommend most for arthritis pain... two pills can last all day. ♪
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>> kroft: after months of listening to attacks from republican presidential candidates and congressional leaders, president obama took off the gloves this past week and emerged in full campaign mode. it began with a major speech in the nation's heartland, with a vigorous defense of his economic policies directed at the middle class.
and it spilled over into the white house press room with a contentious response to republican criticisms of his foreign policy. on friday morning, in the white house cabinet room, we sat down with the president and questioned him about his record, his leadership, the economy and his prospects for reelection. we have a new cbs poll, which is out this weekend, and i'll give you the... the news that's good for you first. people like you, they respect you, they think that you're working hard. and... and they realize that you faced an enormous amount of trouble and problems, many of them inherited. and your approval rating is four times higher than the congress. ( laughs ) >> president barack obama: that's a low bar, i gather. ( laughs ) >> kroft: but they're not happy with the way you're doing your job. you've got 75% of the people in the country think it's headed in the wrong direction. 75%. and 54% don't think that you
deserve to be reelected. i mean, those are not good numbers with 11 months to go before the election. >> obama: well, look, we've gone through an incredibly difficult time in this country, and i would be surprised if the american people felt satisfied right now. they shouldn't feel satisfied. we've got a lot more work to do in order to get this country and the economy moving in a way that benefits everybody, as opposed to just a few. [nat sound kansas speech] ( "hail to the chief" plays ) >> kroft: on tuesday, we accompanied the president as he took that message to the middle of the country for what's been called the unofficial launch of his reelection campaign. in osawatomie, kansas, where theodore roosevelt unveiled the basic tenets of the progressive movement just over 100 years ago, president obama spoke out against the growing economic inequality he says is destroying the middle class.
>> obama: this is a make-or- break moment for the middle class, and for all those who are fighting to get into the middle class, because what's at stake is whether this will be a country where working people can earn enough to raise a family, build a modest savings, own a home, secure their retirement. >> kroft: the president, in laying out the broad themes for his reelection bid, said the system has been rigged against the middle class, and he blamed the republicans for fighting tougher regulations on the financial industry and opposing higher taxes for the wealthy. >> obama: their philosophy is simple: we are better off when everyone is left to fend for themselves and play by their own rules. i'm here to say they are wrong. ( applause ) steve. >> kroft: mr. president. >> obama: good to see you, sir. >> kroft: good to see you. we spoke to the president immediately following the 55-
minute speech, which he wrote mostly himself, clearly drawing the battle lines for the next election. i mean, you were really talking about income inequality, which suggests redistribution of... of wealth. >> obama: i'm going to interrupt you there, steve. >> kroft: there are going to be people who say "this is the socialist obama, and he's come out of the closet." >> obama: look, the... everybody's at... concerned about inequality. those folks in there who were listening to the speech, those are teachers and small businesspeople, and probably some small-town bankers, who are in there thinking to themselves, "how is it that i... we're working so hard..." and meanwhile they know that corporate profits are at a record level, that a lot of folks are doing very well. what's happened to the bargain? what's happened to the american deal that says, you know, we are focused on building a strong middle class? >> kroft: this is the class warfare you have been accused of by the republicans. >> obama: i... i... the... look,
the problem is, is that our politics has gotten to the point where we can't have an honest conversation about the greatest income inequality since the 1920s. and we can't have an honest conversation about the irresponsibility that resulted in the worst financial crisis since the great depression without somebody saying that somehow we're being divisive. no, we're being honest about what happened, and we've got to be honest about how we move forward. >> kroft: look, we're getting close to the start of the presidential campaign. does this mean no more governing for the next year until next november? i don't mean just for you; i mean, for congress. do you have any hope that anything is going to get accomplished between now and the next election? >> obama: if i have anything to do about it, absolutely. we're going to keep on pushing to get things done. i want to work with congress. i want to work with both parties in congress. i think that we can still make progress on a balanced approach to deficit reduction. what i'm not going to do is wait
for congress. so, wherever we have an opportunity-- and i have the executive authority to go ahead and get some things done-- we're just going to go ahead and do them. >> kroft: after returning to washington, he was even more combative when he was asked about republican charges that his foreign policy in the middle east is one of appeasement. >> obama: ask osama bin laden and the 22 out of 30 top al qaeda leaders who were taken off the field whether i engage in appeasement. or whoever's left out there, ask them about that. >> kroft: we talked to him about this new approach friday morning at the white house. since the midterm elections, you made an effort at bipartisanship. it hasn't worked out that way. and it seems to me, it... it appears, watching you the last month or so, that you're... stopped reaching out to republicans. that you're being... that you're going on the offensive...
>> obama: well, i... look... >> kroft: ...and taking your message to the voters. >> obama: i think that when i came into office in 2008, it was my firm belief that at such an important moment in our history, there was no reason why democrats and republicans couldn't put some of the old ideological baggage aside and focus on common sense, what works, practical solutions to the tough problems we were facing. and i think the republicans made a different calculation, which was, "you know what? we really screwed up the economy. obama seems popular. our best bet is to stand on the sidelines because we think the economy's going to get worse, and, at some point, just blame him." and so, we haven't gotten the kind of engagement from them that i would have liked. >> kroft: isn't it your job as president to find solutions to these problems, to get results, to figure out a way to get it done? >> obama: it... it... it is...
it is my job to put forward a vision of the country that benefits the vast majority of americans. it is my job to make sure that my party is behind those initiatives, even if sometimes it's breaking some china and going against some of the dogmas of our party in the past. we've done that on things like education reform. and it's my job to rally the american people around that vision. >> kroft: you say that you've rallied the country, but how? these poll numbers show otherwise. >> obama: steve, here's the thing: as long as the unemployment rate is too high and people are feeling under the gun, day in, day out, because their bills are going up and their wages and incomes aren't, or they're out of a job, they're going to feel unsatisfied. i mean, there... there's... there's no secret to this. if i can't get republicans to
move partly because they've made a political, strategic decision that says "anything obama's for, we're against, because that's our best chance of winning an election..." but, keep in mind, i'm talking about republican members of congress; i'm not talking about republicans around the country. >> kroft: they don't like you much better. it's only a 7% approval rating. >> obama: yeah. no, i understand. but i... but i think that they like the ideas that we put forward. i mean, the interesting thing is, the majority of republicans actually think we should have a balanced approach to deficit reduction, including tax increases for the wealthy. the majority of republicans do think that we should make investments in roads and bridges and improving our airports and... and investing in basic research and medical research. so, if you... if you take my
name out of it and just look at the ideas that we've been presenting, these are common sense, mainstream ideas that republican presidents in the past have... have supported. >> kroft: with the unemployment's 8.6%, you've still got soft consumer demand. you've got no business investment. there's still a fairly steady downturn in... in housing prices. do you see some hope? do you think that things are going to get better? well, do you think that you might have the unemployment rate down to 8% by the... by the time the election rolls around? >> obama: i think it's possible, but i... you know, i'm... i'm not in the job of... of... prognosticating on the economy. i'm in the job of putting in place the tools that allow the economy to thrive and americans to succeed. and, you know, keep in mind that when i came into office, eight
million jobs were gone and things were cratering. six months later, the economy was growing again. and we've now had nine consecutive quarters, two and a half years, in which the economy's grown. about nine months later, we were creating jobs again. so, does that make people feel better? no. you know, we did all the right things to prevent a great depression and to get the economy growing again and to get job creation going again, but it hasn't made up for the hole that was created in those six, nine, 12 months before my economic policies took effect. you know, sometimes when... when i'm talking to my team, i describe us as, you know, we're... we're... i'm the captain and they're the... they're the... the crew on a ship going through really bad storms. and it... no matter how well we're steering the ship, if the boat's rocking back and forth
and people are getting sick and, you know, they're being buffeted by the winds and the rain and, you know, at a certain point, if you're asking, "are you enjoying the ride right now?," folks are going to say, "no." and are they going to say, "do you think the captain's good... doing a good job?" people are going to say, "you know what? a good captain would have had us in some smooth waters and sunny skies at this point." and i don't control the weather. what i can control are the policies we're putting in place to make a difference in people's lives. >> kroft: there's a general perception that the stimulus was not enough, that it really didn't work. >> obama: let... let me stop you there, steve. first of all, there's not a general perception that... that the stimulus didn't work. you've got john mccain's former economist and a whole series of prominent economists who say that it created or saved three million jobs and prevented us from going into a great depression. that works. so that's not true.
it is true that some people have argued, given the magnitude of the crisis we were in, we should have done an even larger recovery act. and then i'm bumping up against the realities of congress-- which is, this recovery act was twice as large as most people thought was even possible. the recurring challenge is always going to be: even if we've done the right things, if people's reality right now is still difficult, they're going to be frustrated. and they should, because i'm frustrated. the question in the election... >> kroft: and they hold you equally accountable with the... with the congress. >> obama: and... and the question next year is going to be-- and this is how a democracy's supposed to work-- do they see a more compelling vision coming out from the other side? do they think that cutting taxes further, including on the wealthy, cutting taxes on corporations, gutting
regulations, do we think that that is going to be somehow more successful? and... and if... if the american people think that that's a recipe for success and... and they're... a majority are persuaded by that, then i'm going to lose. but i don't think that's... i... i don't think that's where the american people are going to go because i don't think the american people believe that, based on what they've seen before, that's going to work. >> kroft: why do you think you deserve to be reelected? what have you accomplished? >> obama: not only saving this country from a great depression, not only saving the auto industry, but putting in place a system in which we're going to start lowering health care costs. and you're never going to go bankrupt because you get sick or somebody in your family gets sick. making sure that we have reformed the financial system so we never again have taxpayer- funded bailouts, and the system is more stable and secure.
ending "don't ask, don't tell." decimating al qaeda, including bin laden being taken off the field. but, you know... but when it comes to the economy, we've got a lot more work to do, and we're... we're going to keep on at it. >> kroft: we also asked president obama why there have been no prosecutions of wall street executives, about the failure to reach an agreement on deficit reduction, and the republican candidates who are after his job. all of that when we come back. [ male announcer ] feeling like a shadow of your former self?
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>> kroft: in a wide-ranging conversation friday morning, president obama discussed everything from the sins of wall street to his handling of the deficit negotiations with congress. at the heart of our conversation were questions about the effectiveness of his leadership that have been raised not just by republicans, but by democrats, as well.
we also talked about his chances in the upcoming election in the face of some grim public opinion polls, and his thoughts about the republican challengers. we start with wall street, where president obama has laid the blame for the country's economic meltdown. one of the things that surprised me the most about this poll is that, when asked who your policies favor the most, 42% said wall street. only 35% said average americans. my suspicion is, some of that may have to do with the fact that there's not been any prosecutions, criminal prosecutions of people on wall street and that the civil charges that have been brought have often resulted in what many people think have been a slap on the wrist. are you disappointed by that? >> obama: you know, i can't, as president of the united states, comment on the decisions about particular prosecutions. that's the job of the justice department. and we keep those things separate so that there's no
political influence on decisions made by professional prosecutors. i can tell you, just from 40,000 feet, that some of the most damaging behavior on wall street-- in some cases, some of the least ethical behavior on wall street-- wasn't illegal. that's exactly why we had to change the laws, and that's why we put in place the toughest financial reform package since f.d.r. and the great depression. >> kroft: the implementation of those reforms is still being fought over, with the banking industry and the republican leadership trying to limit their scope. just another symptom of the political standoff that has paralyzed congress since the negotiations to raise the debt ceiling and reduce the deficit began last summer. there are people that think that you took a very hard line, that the republicans weren't the only ones that were being intransigent, that... >> obama: that's based off... >> kroft: let's take the issue of tax reform. it seems to be an issue everybody's interested in right now. the republicans, your own
simpson-bowles commission, recommended cutting the basic rates, getting rid of deductions and making the tax form simpler. the republicans made a couple of overtures during those negotiations to raise revenues... >> obama: steve... >> kroft: ...by tax reform... >> obama: steve, it... >> kroft: ...and you didn't... >> obama: no, steve. steve, that's just not the case. what happened was that they made overtures where they were willing to raise about $200 billion in exchange for $2 trillion or so worth of cuts of core programs like medicare that seniors depend on for their security in their golden years. and what i said to them was, a balanced approach means exactly what it says; it means it's balanced. what we haven't seen is any serious movement on the other side. >> kroft: well, they say they're ready to do it. they say it's your insistence on raising the taxes to the upper... you know, to the wealthiest americans, that you're fixated on that and that there are other ways to raise revenue. >> obama: steve, the... the math
is the math. you can't lower rates and raise revenue unless you're getting revenue from someplace else. now, either it's coming from middle class families or poor families, or it's coming from folks like you and me that can afford to pay a little more. >> kroft: the argument has been that if you reform the deduction process... >> obama: the... the... and... and the deductions mean home mortgages for middle class families. the deductions mean, you know, things that a lot of people of modest means rely on. but you can't get away from the basic concept that either we have a system in which the people who have benefited the most from this new economy by a magnitude of... of 200%, 300% increases in their income, either they're doing a little
bit more or they're not. i think they should because-- and this is not because i'm interested in punishing the rich. i want everybody to be rich; that's great. it has to do with the fact that the less i'm asking you or me to do, the more i'm asking somebody who's in a much tougher position to sacrifice. and... and that... that is basic math. and... and it... so... but... but i want to... i want to be very clear here, steve. democrats have moved significantly on a whole range of issues, in part, because of my leadership. >> kroft: but not all of those democrats are happy with it, or the ultimate outcome. many believe the president was too willing to compromise during the deficit negotiations. you gave up a lot. you said you wanted a balanced approach; you didn't get it. you cut a trillion dollars and set up the framework to cut another trillion plus, and the
republicans gave up nothing. i mean, there are people in your own party who think that you were outmaneuvered, that... >> obama: all right, so... >> kroft: ...you were stared down by john boehner and grover norquist, and... and capitulated. >> obama: right. steve, you've got to get your story straight, though. the first argument was that i don't compromise at all; now you're saying i gave up too much. >> kroft: well, not... it seems to be, all the compromising is being done by you. >> obama: both stories can't be true. ( laughs ) right? so... so... so... the... i... i think what you'll see is that we were willing to make some tough cuts on programs that... some of which i like and would like to see in place, but we can't afford them right now. what is going to really solve the deficit over the long term and not just the short term, it requires we democrats to agree to make some modifications on entitlements so that they're sustainable and stronger over the long term.
and it requires republicans to get off the dime when it comes to revenues and... and to make sure that everybody's doing their fair share. and if we do that, we can solve this problem. >> kroft: even among some of your supporters, strongest supporters, there is a sense... a little sense of disappointment. that they thought that you were going to be bolder, that you were going to take more steps, that you were going to work outside the box, so to speak. be a little unconventional. and they think you've been too cautious, that you've just kind of played it by the numbers. >> obama: that's opposed to my critics, who think i've been this radical socialist. ( laughs ) if my goal was to maintain the extraordinary popularity that i had right after i made my convention speech in 2004, then i would have never left the senate.
i would have been sitting on 70% approval ratings. i wouldn't have been lead... leading this country. but people would be really attracted because i wouldn't have had to make any choices and make any decisions and exercise any responsibility. i took a different path. and as michelle reminds me, "you volunteered for this thing." >> kroft: have you and michelle ever had a conversation about whether you should really seek a second term? have you ever... have there been any doubts in your mind about not running again? >> obama: no. not because our quality of life might not be better if i were not president. not because michelle is so enamored with me being president. but because we both think that what we're doing is really important for a lot of people out there. >> kroft: with the election still nearly a year off and no
republican nominee to contrast him with, it's impossible to handicap the president's chances of reelection. you're being judged now on your performance. >> obama: no, no, no. i'm... i... i'm being judged against the ideal. and, you know, joe biden has a good expression. he says, "don't judge me against the almighty, judge me against the alternative." >> kroft: do you... you've spent a lot of time, your staff and the democratic national committee, going after mitt romney, but the person that now seems to be definitely on the move is newt gingrich. >> obama: well, first of all, i'll tell you, steve, it doesn't really matter who the nominee is going to be. the core philosophy that they're expressing is the same. and the contrast in visions between where i want to take the country and what... where they say they want to take the country is going to be stark. and the american people are going to have a good choice, and it's going to be a good debate. >> kroft: what do you make of this surge by former speaker gingrich? >> obama: he's somebody who's been around a long time and is
good on tv, is good in debates. and, you know... but mitt romney has shown himself to be somebody who's... who's good at politics, as well. he's... he's had a lot of practice at it. you know, i think that they will be going at it for a while. when the republican party has decided who its nominee is going to be, then we'll have plenty of time to worry about it. >> kroft: four years ago. springfield. cold. >> obama: it was freezing. >> kroft: you declared your candidacy, and you said, "the reason we've not met our challenges is a failure of leadership, the smallness of our politics, the ease with which we're distracted by the petty and the trivial, our chronic avoidance of tough decisions, our presence for scoring cheap political points instead of rolling up our sleeves and building a working consensus to... to take on big problems."
i mean, those were eloquent words and true words. unfortunately, they're still largely true today. did you overpromise? did you underestimate how difficult this was going to be? >> obama: i didn't overpromise, and i didn't underestimate how... how tough this was going to be. i always believed that this was a long-term project. that reversing a culture here in washington dominated by special interests, it was going to take more than a year. it was going to take more than two years. it was going to take more than one term. probably takes more than one president. the one thing i've prided myself on before i was president, and it turns out that continues to be true as president: i'm a persistent son of a gun. i just stay at it. and i'm just going to keep on staying at it as long as i'm in this office. and we're going to get it right, and america will succeed. i am absolutely confident about that.
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>> stahl: warren buffett, america's second richest man, is a household name. his 57-year-old son howard? not so much. and yet, he's the person warren buffett wants to succeed him as chairman of berkshire hathaway, the mega-holding company that buffett built that owns everything from insurance to ice cream, with its stock trading at over $100,000 a share. we wanted to find out, what are his son's qualifications for the job? for most of his adult life,
howard, the middle of buffett's three children, has been a corn and soybean farmer in nebraska and illinois. when he's not up on his tractor, he spends his time using his farming skills and his father's money to help alleviate world hunger. like his dad, howard does not live the high life. unlike his dad, he loves getting down in the dirt. this is the man who will become the next chairman of the company-acquiring, investment- picking, money-making machine berkshire hathaway, if warren buffett has his way. howard is a farmer who would rather dig up the ground and drive big machines than sit in a boardroom. were you stunned? were you surprised? >> howard buffett: i was surprised. >> stahl: but no sign that he's about to leave? >> buffett: he won't leave until he's buried in the ground. i hate to put it that way. >> stahl: we're going to go pick
some corn? >> buffett: yeah, we're going to pick corn. >> stahl: this is no gentleman farmer. howard buffett works his 1,500 acres in pana, illinois, himself. we're going to go pick corn. >> buffett: yeah, we're going to pick corn. >> stahl: this year, he harvested 87,000 bushels of corn with his 300-horsepower combine that he runs hands-free off gps. you're like a kid, you know, who can ride his bike without his hands, right? >> buffett: it's a big toy. >> stahl: it's a big toy... >> buffett: but it's expensive. >> stahl: but with corn prices soaring, he can afford it. and, incidentally, even a farmer named buffett can get farm subsidies. howard received $300,000 in federal payments over 13 years. here's something you said once. this is a quote. "it seemed nothing i could do would be as successful as what he did," meaning dad. >> buffett: that comment would mean that, in the world's eyes, you know, i would never be seen in the same success as he would, particularly in investing and in business. that's okay.
and i mean, you know... and my mom and dad always made it clear that that was okay. >> warren buffett: there's no sense in trying to compete with me because he's not going to play my game. he should have his own game. grain shipments were down a lot last week. >> stahl: warren buffett says he always told howard to find something he loved as much as he loved making money. >> warren buffett: naturally, i have a lot of top secret stuff. >> howard buffett: you always do. ( laughs ) >> stahl: you're all business. i think of you as "mister indoors." the... the numbers... >> warren buffett: you got it. ( laughter ) >> stahl: i got it. so here you have this son... >> warren buffett: i know. >> stahl: he's a farmer, he's outdoors, he's down in the dirt. are you sure he's your son? >> warren buffett: well i think that's worth checking out. ( laughs ) you'll have a big exclusive. >> stahl: well, he is really different. explain that. >> warren buffett: he likes doing big things, you know, moving dirt. and he just is happiest when he's working hard. i'm happiest when i'm just kind of sitting around watching football. >> stahl: howard's different in
another way-- he's an active, hands-on philanthropist who visits up to 20 countries a year. the howard g. buffett foundation focuses on world hunger, spending $50 million a year on projects like feeding programs in ethiopia and agriculture education in afghanistan, and he records it all through the lens of his own camera. >> howard buffett: you, all of a sudden, begin to kind of look around, and you notice, "there's a lot of people around that don't look too good," and, you know, they're hungry. and they don't have great living quarters, they may not have access to water, they don't have good sanitation. >> stahl: you were seeing farmers who couldn't feed themselves? >> howard buffett: oh, absolutely. i looked at that and i thought, you know, "this... this is wrong. i understand agriculture. i should be able to do something about this." >> stahl: in places like el salvador, he's funding a training program for 5,000 poor farmers like carla and edwin
trujillo. they learn new planting and fertilizing techniques to improve the quality of their corn and red beans. >> howard buffett: carla, i'm howard. >> carla trujillo: hola. mucho gusto. >> howard buffett: buenos dias. >> stahl: we tagged along as howard inspected their six-acre plot in the tiny village of san juan el espino. >> howard buffett: oh, and she's got... and she's got an irrigation system. >> stahl: no big combines here. and their irrigation? it consists of hoses connected to a barrel of water brought in by horse. howard wanted to check on the quality of carla's corn. >> howard buffett: does she mind... tell her i won't destroy her corn crop... >> stahl: and that meant doing his favorite thing. you're going to dig it up? >> howard buffett: yeah. >> stahl: come on. he didn't just dig up her corn; he was like a doctor doing an invasive exam, pulling up the roots, ripping it open... >> howard buffett: you always have tough husks in this part of the world. >> stahl: ...and cracking it in half. his verdict? >> howard buffett: you've done
an excellent job with... with what you got. >> stahl: since howard's program started, carla has doubled her income. in one way, at least, he is like his dad-- he insists that the farmers learn accounting and managing credit, and that they buy their own seed. >> howard buffett: they're looking for the standard kernels. >> stahl: howard buffett is making a big difference, but on a small scale. he started out giving farmers the best of modern agricultural technology, but now he only teaches methods they can afford themselves after his projects end. howard's passion for farming started early. when he was just five, he turned the family backyard into a cornfield. his father was fast becoming a multi-millionaire, but the family always lived modestly. did you know, as a kid, that you were rich? >> howard buffett: no, not at all. and... and the greatest story is my sister who, when you had to go around the room in grade school and answer, "what does your father do?" and, you know, we knew him as a security analyst, and we had no
idea what that really meant. and so, she basically said, "well, he's a security guard." ( laughter ) and that's what we thought for a long time. we just didn't know any differently, you know? >> stahl: as his father's fame, and fortune, grew, howard seemed to zig and zag on his own path, dropping out of three colleges, one after the next. you must've been worried, or concerned. >> warren buffett: i wasn't. >> stahl: you weren't? >> warren buffett: no, i wasn't. he was just kind of finding what he wanted to do. >> stahl: and so it didn't... >> warren buffett: so it made no difference to me if he found it in a college or not. >> stahl: really? now, that is an unusual parent. >> warren buffett: it is an unusual parent. but it was the way both his mother and i felt. none of our kids graduated from college. now, if they pool all of their credits, we can get a degree. >> stahl: one degree. >> warren buffett: yeah. just pass it around. >> stahl: once howard settled on farming, warren bought land for him, but then made his son pay rent and tied it to his body weight. so, if you gain weight, your rent goes up, and if you lose weight, the rent goes down.
>> warren buffett: something like that. financial incentives are supposed to work in some things. they don't work very well in weight, incidentally. >> stahl: but why wouldn't you just give your son a farm? >> warren buffett: well, i just don't think that's, you know, the way to bring up a son. i mean, i don't think he's entitled to be given a farm just because his last name is buffett. we didn't want them to see the world, you know, through the lens of a super-rich kid that got everything he wanted. >> stahl: you just didn't want spoiled little rich kids. >> warren buffett: yeah. yeah. >> stahl: warren buffett was famously reluctant to give his money away to charity... >> warren buffett: i'm turning it over to you. >> stahl: ...so it came as a big surprise five years ago when he donated the vast bulk of his fortune-- some $31 billion-- to the gates foundation. >> bill gates: it's a real challenge to make sure his money gets used in the right way. >> stahl: bill gates is often described as warren's "third son." they vacation together, spend their birthdays together.
so the size of his gift to gates left an impression that the buffett children were given short shrift. warren buffett doesn't believe in inherited wealth? >> warren buffett: i don't believe in lots of inherited wealth. i haven't been spending my life trying to figure out how to transfer wealth and not have taxes and all of that so there can be a dynasty of all kinds of little buffetts going around for hundreds of years, never having to do anything. >> stahl: but don't cry for those little buffetts. howard, his brother peter, and sister susan have gotten multi- million dollar gifts of money and berkshire hathaway stock from their parents. so while he's not on the fortune 500, howard is, by any measure, a wealthy man. on top of the outright gifts, each buffett child is getting a billion dollars to go towards their philanthropy. but all that pales next to the $31 billion that's going to the gates foundation. so did you know, as far back as you can remember, that you were not going to inherit his money...? >> howard buffett: yeah, yeah. >> stahl: ...the bulk of it? you've sort of always known that as you were growing up? >> howard buffett: yeah, yeah. and from time to time, that was
a little frustrating. ( laughs ) >> stahl: because you wanted it, or what do you mean? >> howard buffett: well, i just mean, you feel like that there are a lot of things you could do if you had more money. and i think that way, even in the foundation. >> stahl: but here's the irony-- bill gates is spending a huge chunk of warren buffett's money on poor farmers in africa, giving them hybrid seeds and synthetic fertilizers. it's exactly the kind of high- tech approach howard tried and now feels is doomed to fail with farmers who make barely a dollar a day. >> howard buffett: they're pushing a system that really is similar to what we have outside this door. >> stahl: but doesn't... isn't that wonderful? >> howard buffett: no. what i would argue is that, at some point, those guys are going to go home and the money's going to not be there. it's exactly the same thing we did, and i don't think it worked. >> stahl: well, you know bill gates. have you said to him, "80% of what you're throwing down there in africa is not going to work?"
>> howard buffett: well, i said it a little differently, i think. and that is that we need to quit thinking about trying to do it like we do it in america. >> gates: well, howie's the farmer here. so he can speak with knowledge. i'm the city boy on the panel. >> stahl: bill gates and howard buffett were both honored recently at the state department for their work on combating world hunger, work underwritten, in both cases, by the largesse of warren buffett. so your father gives all this money to gates. you come out and tell us what he's doing is all wrong. >> howard buffett: i'm not saying it's all wrong. >> stahl: well, a lot of it's wrong. little bit of sibling rivalry there? >> howard buffett: no. >> stahl: maybe. >> howard buffett: no, you know, that's why we call him "brother bill." but... but... ( laughs ) >> stahl: exactly. >> howard buffett: no, i... you know what? bill gates is the smartest guy in the world, next to my dad, maybe. i better say that if i'm on tape. >> stahl: how old are you? >> warren buffett: i'm 81, but i feel good. >> stahl: yeah, you look great. warren buffett says, if the berkshire hathaway board
approves his son as chairman after he dies, howard would not be paid and would not run the company day to day. howard would be what warren calls the "guardian of the culture." what were you worried about? >> warren buffett: well, you worry that somebody will be in charge of berkshire that uses it as their own sandbox, in some way; that changes the way that decisions are made in reference to the shareholders or some... you know, the odds of that happening are very, very, very low. but having howie there adds just one extra layer of protection. >> stahl: i guess... i guess someone who's on the outside looking in would say, "but what does he know about this business?" >> warren buffett: oh, he knows plenty about the business. >> stahl: does he? >> warren buffett: in the sense of the values of the business, sure, sure. i mean, he doesn't know what insurance policy we're writing today, you know, or how many carloads of the... the bnsf carried last week or something. but he knows the values of it. >> stahl: besides, howard is the only one of buffett's children who has been a corporate executive-- in agribusiness-- and the only one who has ever served on the berkshire board.
let me just make sure i understand you-- you will not be picking investments. >> howard buffett: absolutely not. and i shouldn't, i mean, you know. >> stahl: do you have concerns about taking over this big role? >> howard buffett: well, as long as i can keep farming, i'm okay. ( laughs ) >> stahl: and as long as he can keep funding projects in remote regions of the world, where, as we found, he is still working on becoming a household name. what did you know about howard buffett before? had you ever heard of him? >> trujillo: no. >> stahl: never heard of him? >> trujillo: no, no. ( laughs ) >> stahl: had you ever heard of his father? he has a very famous father, warren buffett. had you ever heard of him? >> trujillo: si. >> howard buffett: oh. i'm impressed. >> welcome to the cbs sports update. i'm james brown in new york. greenbay moves to 13 and 0 and clinches a first round buy, defroit 8 and 5 and tim tebow does it again in overtime.
captioning funded by cbs, and ford-- built for the road ahead. >> an update now on the story that we aired two weeks ago called hard times generation, about children living with their families in vehicles in central florida because homeless shelters were full. the children we met included aerial and austin metzger who showed us how they get through the day after
getting ready for school in gas stations. they didn't ask for anything. but since our broadcast, viewers have sent in or promised more than $1 million to help homeless families in central florida. beyond the cash came offers of housing and jobs, and for aerial and austin, three colleges have offered full scholarships. the metzgers and other families we interviewed have been given free housing and all of the parents in our story have been offered jobs. quite a holiday present. >> i'm scott pelley. we'll be back next week with another edition of "60 minutes." and i'll see you tomorrow on the "cbs evening news." a bluetooth connection. a stolen vehicle locator. roadside assistance. and something that could help save your life - automatic help in a crash. it's the technology of five devices in one hard-working mirror.
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