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Duke Energy Corp (DUK), Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK.B): Should CEOs Talk Politics?

Buffett’s bluff
While Schnatter’s comments focused on the issue of government spending, Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK.B)‘s Warren Buffett recently offered his take on taxation. In a Nov. 25, 2012 New York Times editorial, Buffett outlined his bullish case for a minimum tax for the wealthy.

Just like Papa John’s, the Oracle of Omaha’s words were simultaneously lauded and laughed at. Public backlash boosted when critics found that his minuscule $100,000 salary and massive capital gains would be relatively unaffected by the proposed tax hike .

I give Buffett brownie points for intelligent analysis via a responsible medium. But the personal touch is lacking. His remarks are removed from Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK.B) (he doesn’t mention it) and his suggestions’ scope leaves his own finances unfazed. Buffett’s a smart fellow, but his commentary failed to hit home.

My Foolish perspective
In the midst of heated political debate, it’s easiest to stay silent. With America’s divided population, a slip of the tongue can instantly alienate 50% of customers or shareholders. But business leaders are leaders, after all, and their voices are one of many needed to create effective national discourse.

The Campaign to Fix the Debt may flourish or fail, but I’m happy it exists. Regardless of political perspective or economic opinion, silence is only golden in movie theaters. Responsible commentary is vital to America’s ability to learn and grow, and it’s up to all executives to wield their words wisely.

The article Should CEOs Talk Politics? originally appeared on

Fool contributor Justin Loiseau owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway and General Electric. You can follow him on Twitter, @TMFJLo, and on Motley Fool CAPS, at TMFJLo. The Motley Fool recommends Berkshire Hathaway. The Motley Fool owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway, General Electric, JPMorgan Chase, Microsoft, and Papa John’s International (NASDAQ:PZZA).

Copyright © 1995 – 2013 The Motley Fool, LLC. All rights reserved. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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