Ken Langone, the multibillionaire founder* of Home Depot, is back in the news for writing a book gracefully titled I Love Capitalism. Even Peggy Noonan likes it! But it would be interesting to know how well Home Depot’s hundreds of thousands of employees feel Langone’s brand of capitalism is serving their needs.
Langone himself is almost beyond parody—he seems completely guileless and sincere in his childlike belief that because he rose from humble beginnings to work on Wall Street and become a billionaire corporate titan, anyone can, and therefore Bernie Sanders is “the antichrist.” If I were as rich as Ken Langone I would love capitalism too! A longtime Republican donor who has defended Donald Trump and compared Democrats concerned about inequality to Hitler, Langone famously granted his friend Dick Grasso $140 million when he left his job as head of the New York Stock Exchange and defended that decision with the sort of righteous fury usually reserved for fighting against, I dunno... Hitler.
I love capitalism!
Much of Langone’s argument rests on the idea that capitalism is good not just for rich guys but for everyone—in his case, the many people employed by Home Depot, the business that made him rich. So what is it really like working at Home Depot? Is it lucrative? Is it safe? Do you feel respected? Are you free to organize (lol)? Is it a fulfilling career, or a job in hell? The answer to these questions certainly has a direct bearing on how seriously we should be taking this rich, rich man.
If you currently work at Home Depot or have in the past, email me and tell me your story. We can keep you anonymous. Ken Langone is waiting for you to validate him.
*Correction: He was an early financier of Home Depot who exercised control over the company.