Buffett and Quicken Loans want to give you $1 billion for a perfect NCAA bracket--just because they can.
In historians' quest to find the perfect anecdote to summarize this era of unprecedented economic inequality, they confront an embarrassment of riches (pun intended).
There are the stories of billionaires like Tom Perkins, Stephen Schwarzman and Ken Langone insisting that criticism of inequality is akin to Nazism. There are more subtle antics at the local level -- for instance, there is news this week that in New York (aka one of the most unequal states in America) Republican legislators are aiming to create a special sales-tax exemption for those buying private jets. And there is, of course, the tale of the billionaire vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, Charles Munger, telling everyone to "thank god" for massive bank bailouts, and then telling the poor to "suck it in and cope" with their own problems.
Each of these makes a good modern-day analogue to the legend of Marie Antoinette's attitude toward the proles during the 18th century. Yet, none of these examples rise to truly iconic "let them eat cake" status in the way the recent episode involving Warren Buffett does.
I'm referring, of course, to Buffett's headline-grabbing deal with Quicken Loans to give away $1 billion to anyone who can perfectly predict the outcome of every game in the NCAA basketball tournament.