An Open Letter From Ken Langone

Stop bashing business, Mr. President:

A little more than 30 years ago, Bernie Marcus, Arthur Blank, Pat Farrah and I got together and founded The Home Depot. Our dream was to create (memo to DNC activists: that’s build, not take or coerce) a new kind of home-improvement center catering to do-it-yourselfers. The concept was to have a wide assortment, a high level of service, and the lowest pricing possible.

We opened the front door in 1979, also a time of severe economic slowdown. Yet today, Home Depot is staffed by more than 325,000 dedicated, well-trained, and highly motivated people offering outstanding service and knowledge to millions of consumers.

If we tried to start Home Depot today, under the kind of onerous regulatory controls that you have advocated, it’s a stone cold certainty that our business would never get off the ground, much less thrive.


16 thoughts on “An Open Letter From Ken Langone”

  1. I’d really like someone like that to actually sit down and compile a chart and table of the aggregate amount their company has paid to employees. Total payroll, total taxes-allocated-to-benefits (unemployment, FICA, worker’s comp etc.) and total direct benefits. Add “Total investment” for the starting capital and any other injections. I’d fully expect it to be pretty devastating, particularly when compared to the moronic stimulous numbers.

  2. There’s also how much effort is needed to fulfill the various rules and regulations. If you need two people to handle the paperwork for five “real” employees it’s going to make the picture even worse (I’ve no idea what the real numbers are. I suspect that the overhead doesn’t scale–that it favors large companies over small ones).

  3. Mr. Langone is probably understating the number of jobs Home Depot has created over the years. That 325000 is just Home Depot employees; how many people find temporary employment by standing at the Home Depot parking lot exit every day? Some Home Depots even have shelters built for temporary workers waiting for day jobs – in effect, creating their own jobs.

    I bet you the number of those jobs far exceeds anything generated by the Stimulus.

  4. Heh. They left off the more normal “supplier jobs” effect as well. That is, truckers who don’t necessarily work for Home Depot that were paid to transport anything closer to a HD shelf, etc.

  5. Yah. On the other hand, there is one class of business that hasn’t been bashed anywhere near enough. That is the “financial services” sector. Bankers – transparently obvious. But also the entire class of people whose function is to collect money owed while siphoning off as much money as possible for themselves; debt collectors, lawyers, bailiffs…

    IMHO, putting a bullet through the head of anyone employed in such a capacity is justifiable pesticide.

  6. Fletcher,

    Not if I shoot you first. Or garotte you. And I’d do it too, and so would anyone working on Wall St. Those guys are mean.

    Careful with your threats. Someone might take you seriously one day and practice pre-emptive self defense.

  7. Brock, you are wrong! They would not practice pre-emptive self-defence; they would have their minions and lackeys in government do it. Never get their lillywhite hands dirty when they can get someone else to do the dirty work! Just shift a few more dollars around to cover the expenses!

  8. Fletcher Christian Says:
    October 16th, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    “IMHO, putting a bullet through the head of anyone employed in such a capacity is justifiable pesticide.”

    You are a mentally disturbed individual.

  9. Wait, the same homedepot that contributes to the party and people who’ve been responsible for this interventionist environment? And now they complain?

  10. Bart, you’re probably right. Mentally disturbed, by (for example) being called on the phone three times on a Sunday, about the same subject, by people with barely understandable Indian accents employed on behalf of a credit card company whose bill is slightly overdue. (I am British and the company is British, and I live in Britain. I object strongly to the company using Indians to make even more grotesque profits.)

    By the thought that with a little help, 2 years ago, from a bank that calls itself on TV “the helpful bank” I would still have a viable business. Instead, my “business manager” (who knows frack all about business and would be challenged managing a burger stand) demanded an ever-increasing pile of largely fictional paperwork – and then after 3 months of total inactivity kicked the whole problem to another department because doing otherwise would have involved actually making a decision. And then the useless waste of oxygen in another department promptly disappeared in some internal re-organisation, only being replaced 5 months later by someone else who promptly demanded all the same paperwork again.

    Somewhere in there, of course, was the world-wide financial crash caused by a small number of borderline-criminal bonus grabbers in various banks’ casino divisions. Incidentally, I suspect that the re-organisation mentioned above was caused by the fact that the bank involved has received £34,000,000,000 from British taxpayers (with a further exposure to risk of £280 billion) to protect its board of directors and its speculators from the consequences of their own stupidity and greed.

    Yep, I’m mentally disturbed all right.

  11. So, you’re late in paying your bills and are receiving phone calls for payment, and because of that, you think that’s grounds for mass murder. Got it.

  12. Indiscriminate mass murder, too, Larry J. It’s not just the little guys fumbling around doing their jobs who have committed the unpardonable crime of lese majesty to his person he wants to snuff. It’s not just the higher level guys in charge of his particular portfolio. It’s a whole class of nameless people he has never met whether they had anything to do with his particular predicament or not. They all must pay.

    Can’t imagine why such a lofty personage’s business failed. But, clearly, it is a crime, and people must pay with their lives. All quake and tremble and take heed.

  13. Bart, you might not be able to imagine it – but I can. When the banking crash happened, I lost 30% of my turnover overnight – which of course means a great deal more than a 30% loss in profits. In fact, this event swung it from reasonable profit to substantial loss.

    Of course, I ought to have been prepared for the dishonesty of people across the Atlantic, employed in an “industry” I don’t understand. Sure. And also, I ought not to have any problem at all with the idea that the British government ought to spend billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money protecting people with six-figure incomes from the consequences of their own greed and stupidity.

    Banking used to be a fairly simple affair. Take in money from savers, give it out again to borrowers, take a cut for your trouble. Not any more.

    I’m not the only one who has been ruined by the wastes of space known as bankers, either. Not by a very long way.

  14. Do you have sarcasm there in Britain? I had no idea this was another Yankee innovation which had not yet made it across the pond.

    Maybe you should have outsourced to cheaper Indian labor.

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