CAPITALISM IN FOCUS: Ken Langone, the founder of Home Depot, Bucknell

CAPITALISM, Ken Langone, Home Depot, Bucknell

Ken Langone, the founder of Home Depot and an investor and philanthropist, has written an autobiography that conveys the excitement of business, “I Love Capitalism.”  Langone decided that not many people were talking about capitalism these days, nor were they extolling its virtues and merits.

Young people certainly don’t hear about it in school, from kindergarten through college.  (In fact, a few years ago, I questioned a teacher, asking about how she explained the world of work to her students and her reply was one of disbelief, saying, “Oh, no, we never mention work to our students.” I’ve puzzled about that for years: If work isn’t mentioned to students, then how do they come to understand the connection between what they are learning and their later lives – that is, in the world of work?)  Similarly, Langone says, “In 2016 I saw Bernie Sanders and the kids around him, and I thought: This is the antichrist! We have the greatest engine in the world.”  Langone believes that if he made it, everyone can.  And, that the wealthy have an obligation to help others.  “Where would we be if people didn’t share their wealth?  I got 38 kids on Bucknell scholarships.  they’re all colors of the rainbow.  Some are poor kids, rough around the edges.  It’s capitalism!”  He definitely believes that capitalism can win the future but that “we have to be more emphatic and forthright about what it is and its benefits.  A rising tide does lift boats!”  He discusses how Home Depot has changed lives:  “We have 400,000 people who work there and we’ve never paid anyone minimum wage.  Three thousand employees came to work for us fresh out of high school, didn’t go to college, pushing carts in the parking lot.  All 3,000 are multimillionaires.  Salary, stock, a stock savings plan.”  Capitalism at work.  But – nothing handed out for free – they worked for it.

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