Sloan: Where the billionaire gets paid and the blue-collar workers get canned

Warren Buffett | Courtesy of trackrecord/Flickr
Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway posted a record quarterly profit earlier this month. | Courtesy of trackrecord/Flickr

If you want to see how a billionaire can prosper at the expense of blue-collar workers’ jobs, take a look at Warren Buffett. Yes, Warren Buffett — the widely admired, plain-spoken, venerated guy who wants taxes raised on people such as himself and who has led a campaign to get billionaires to leave at least half their assets to charity.

Sure, it sounds unbelievable that someone who sounds as saintly as Buffett is profiting directly from blue-collar misery. But he is. You can see that if you do what I did and link two recent announcements made a day apart.

On Nov. 5, the Kraft Heinz food conglomerate, which Buffett’s backing helped create five months ago, said it was cutting 2,600 Kraft jobs in North America and closing seven factories.

The following day, Buffett’s company, Berkshire Hathaway, reported its biggest-ever quarterly profit. Close to half of it — $4.4 billion of $9.4 billion — came from an accounting gain on Berkshire’s stake in Kraft Heinz, which it financed heavily and in which it is the largest single shareholder.

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Allan Sloan is a columnist for The Washington Post. He is a seven-time winner of the Loeb Award, business journalism’s highest honor. View Archive

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