Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus blamed wokeism and socialism for a decline in the American work ethic.
Marcus told the U.K. Financial Times that under the economic agenda of “socialism” being implemented by President Joe Biden and the Democrats, “Nobody works. Nobody gives a damn. ‘Just give it to me. Send me money. I don’t want to work — I’m too lazy, I’m too fat, I’m too stupid.’”
The 93-year-old billionaire, who co-founded Home Depot with Arthur Blank in 1979, said there are several barriers to launching a successful company now.
They include: “human resources executives, government bureaucrats, regulators, socialists, Harvard graduates, MBAs, Harvard MBAs, lawyers, accountants, Joe Biden, the media and ‘the woke people,'” according to the Post.
If he and Blank would have launched Home Depot in the present business climate, “we would end up with 15, 16 stores. I don’t know that we could go further,” Marcus said.
The home improvement store chain now boasts 2,300 locations with an annual revenue of over $150 billion.
Marcus retired from his position as chairman of the board of Home Depot in 2002 soon after his 19-year run as the company’s CEO ended.
“I’m worried about capitalism,” Marcus said in the Times interview, which was conducted by video from his Boca Raton, Florida home.
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“Capitalism is the basis of Home Depot (and) millions of people have earned this success and had success. I’m talking manufacturers, vendors and distributors and people that work for us (who have been) able to enrich themselves by the journey of Home Depot. That’s the success. That’s why capitalism works,” he added.
Marcus also lamented the cancel culture employed by the left.
There were calls to boycott Home Depot in 2019 in response to the businessman’s announced support of then-President Donald Trump’s 2020 re-election bid.
“We used to have free speech here. We don’t have it,” he said. “The woke people have taken over the world. You know, I imagine today they can’t attack me. I’m 93. Who gives a crap about Bernie Marcus?”
Marcus said he does not trust the government because “it’s bureaucratic [and] politically driven.”
He called Biden, “the worst president in the history of this country,” while Trump’s policies were “spot on.”
“[It’s] going to be very interesting in ‘24 because I think that [Florida Gov. Ron] DeSantis will challenge him. And may the better man win,” Marcus said.
In a 2019 video, Marcus argued, “The reality is that the free market system has created the biggest middle-class population in the world.”
“And while some may say that socialism is well-intended, the fact is that it robs people of their independence, their dignity, and their finances leading to government dependence, suppression of ideas, and lower standards of living for those under its thumb,” he said.
The late Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman had a famous interchange with talk show host Phil Donahue in 1979 — the year Home Depot was founded — on whether socialism or capitalism was the best economic system to live under.
“When you see around the globe the mal-distribution of wealth, the desperate plight of millions of people in undeveloped countries, when you see so few haves and so many have-nots, when you see the greed and the concentration of power with it, did you ever have a moment of doubt about capitalism and whether greed’s a good idea to run on?” Donahue asked.
“First of all tell me, is there some society you know that doesn’t run on greed? Do you think Russia doesn’t run on greed? Do you think China doesn’t run on greed?” Friedman questioned in response.
“The world runs on individuals pursuing their separate interests,” he continued. “The great achievements of civilization have not come from government bureaus.”
Friedman cited scientist Albert Einstein and car maker Henry Ford as examples of people who provided great advances to society apart from government agencies.
“In the only cases in which the masses have escaped from the kind of grinding poverty you’re talking about, the only cases in recorded history, are where they have had capitalism and largely free trade,” he said.
Societies that depart from capitalism are far worse off, Friedman contended.
“So the record of history is absolutely crystal clear, that there is no alternative way so far discovered in improving the lot of the ordinary people that can hold a candle to the productive activities that are unleashed by a free enterprise system,” he said.
Donahue countered saying that capitalism does not reward virtue, but rather an ability to “manipulate the system.”
“What does reward virtue? Do you think the communist commissar rewards virtue?” Friedman asked.
Even U.S. presidents, he observed, choose people for their administration based on political clout rather than virtue.
“Is it really true that political self-interest is nobler somehow than economic self-interest?” Friedman asked.
“You know I think you’re taking a lot of things for granted,” he continued. “And just tell me where in the world you find these angels that are going to organize society for us? I don’t even trust you to do that.”