What's in your closet, Warren?

Friday, September 6, 2013   |   Posted by Jim Hightower
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Are you one of those people who simply has too much stuff?

You know who you are, so don't try to deny it. Yeah, you – your closets are jammed floor to ceiling, there's not an inch of empty space on your shelves, you've stuffed all the stuff you can under the bed and couch, and you've already filled two rental spaces at the U-Store-It Barn. In fact, you've tucked away stuff that you don't even remember you had – like those two railroad lines you forgot you'd bought.

Say what? Yes, choo-choos. I'm not talking about model trains, but actual railroads, with locomotives, freight cars, steel tracks, and engineers. Who has so much stuff that they could forget they’ve got a couple of real-life, multiple-ton railroads somewhere in their pile?

Billionaire Warren Buffett, for one. The avuncular investment guru, known as the "Oracle of Omaha" for his financial acumen, owns some 80 corporations with more than 2,000 subsidiaries, including everything from jewelry companies to utilities. In 2010, his sprawling Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate picked up another bauble, paying $43 billion for the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad. To get the okay of the Transportation Department for taking over the BNSF, he had to disclose whether he owned any other rail companies. "No," was his unequivocal answer.

But – oops! – a few months ago, Buffett discovered that, actually, he does own a short-line railroad in Iowa and yet another one in Oregon. My bad, he told the regulators, explaining that his closet is so packed with corporate things that he didn't know he had two trains tucked in there.

Okay, people, the lesson here is clear: Stop stashing, and start disgorging! And here's a fun website to help you – or even Warren Buffett – say no to our culture of stuff: www.StoryOfStuff.org.

"Berkshire Hathaway sells two railroads," Austin American Statesman, December 27, 2012.

"Berkshire Hathaway Sells Two Railroads The Company Didn't Know It Owned," www.huffingtonpost.com, December 26, 2012.

"STB Orders Berkshire Hathaway to Divest Two Railroads," www.joc.com, September 27, 2013.

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