Home Depot Founder Totally Sorry ‘If’ He Offended Any Liberals With That Hitler Comparison

Ken Langone used to be the president of the New York Stock Exchange -- which he tried to buy at one point. He is 78, an investment banker, a billionaire, the co-founder of Home Depot, a big-time GOP megadonor, a Chris Christe supporter, a Barack Obama hater, and he's apparently upset that liberals are focused on income inequality.

After all, what's a rich one-percenter to do? It's not his fault that companies don't have to pay a living wage to their workers.

Politico, in an article titled "The rich strike back," on Tuesday wrote:

In two-dozen interviews, the denizens of Wall Street and wealthy precincts around the nation said they are still plenty worried about the shift in tone toward top earners and the popularity of class-based appeals. On the right, the rise of populists including Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz still makes wealthy donors eyeing 2016 uncomfortable. But wealthy Republicans — who were having a collective meltdown just two months ago — also say they see signs that the political zeitgeist may be shifting back their way and hope the trend continues.

“I hope it’s not working,” Ken Langone, the billionaire co-founder of Home Depot and major GOP donor, said of populist political appeals. “Because if you go back to 1933, with different words, this is what Hitler was saying in Germany. You don’t survive as a society if you encourage and thrive on envy or jealousy.”

[Bolding ours]

Even Politico knew this would be trouble.

"Langone’s comments," the news outlet wrote, are "sure to draw ire from those who find such comparisons to Nazi Germany insensitive."

You think?

Slate's Jordan Weissmann, in "And Another Billionaire Just Compared Liberals to Nazis," writes:

Following in the footsteps of venture capitalist Tom Perkins, who in January warned that the nation might be on the verge of a “progressive Kristallnacht,” Home Depot co-founder Ken Langone is quoted in Politico today suggesting that populists worried about income inequality are … basically Nazis.

The New York Daily News published Langone's apology:

"My remarks were intended to discourage pitting one group against another group in a society. If my choice of words was inappropriate -- and they well may have been that -- I extend my profound apologies to anyone and everyone who I may have offended," Langone said in the statement.

Let's be really clear here.

When I was growing up (I'm in my 50's), perhaps it was true that if you worked hard, got a college education, kept your nose clean, and were basically a nice person, you could get ahead and live a financially comfortable life.

Or so we were told.

Those days, my friend, are long gone, and it's in part the fault of people like Langone, who -- and good for them -- create mega-corporations, and then decide to pay people shit wages, while making huge fortunes.

I was a retail executive throughout most of my career. I know what part-time sales people make. And I know retail is a tough business.

But I also know that if you pay people more than you "have to," if you treat them well and get them to treat your company as if it were their own, if you take good care of them, you'll have happy employees and happy customers and make even more money.

Why does this income inequality, "class warfare" exist?

Who's in control of wages? Hourly employees, or business owners?

It's not hard to figure this out out, folks.

That goes for you, too, Mr. Langone.


Image of Ken Langone with Mike Bloomberg (center) by Azi Paybarah via Flickr

Hat tip: Slog

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