Odds, Taxes, and Warren Buffett

I’ve had it so good in this world, you know.  The odds were fifty-to-one against me being born in the United States in 1930. I won the lottery the day I emerged from the womb by being in the United States instead of in some country where my chances would have been way different.

Imagine there are two identical twins in the womb, both equally bright and energetic. And the genie says to them, ‘One of you is going to be born in the United States, and one of you is going to be born in Bangladesh. And if you wind up in Bangladesh, you will pay no taxes.  What percentage of your income would you bid to be the on that is born in the United Sates?’ It says something about the fact that society has something to do with your fate and not just your innate qualities.  the people who say, ‘I did it all myself,’ and think of themselves as Horatio Alger – believe me, they’d bid more to be in the United States than in Bangladesh. That’s the Ovarian Lottery.

–Warren Buffett on page 643 of The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life


  1. Posted December 2, 2008 at 11:03 pm | Permalink

    Jake LOVES Warren Buffet.

  2. Nate
    Posted February 9, 2009 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    As a tax attorney, I really appreciate that quote.

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