When Home Depot co-founder Ken Langone sat down for an interview with Yahoo Finance’s Julia La Roche at the All Markets Summit on Sept. 20, he had a pointed message for millennials who support socialism.
When discussing young people who are open to the idea, he said, “I’ll put you in my plane, and I’ll fly you down to Venezuela, and let’s see how good socialism is doing down there.”
Langone explained that young adults who lived through the market crash of 2008, had a somewhat skewed idea of capitalism.
“They were 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 years old,” Langone said, adding that capitalism “did not present itself very well” at that time. He also said that the recession was the result of a system that went “amok.” One of the more painful results of that financial decline was the burden of student loan debt, which has passed $1.5 trillion, MarketWatch reported.
The financial strain of student loan debt, or public education indoctrination could have helped shape an attitude toward socialism that frightens many right-thinking Americans.
According to an August poll from Gallup, young Americans don’t have a positive opinion about capitalism. In fact, only 45 percent view capitalism positively.
Like many freedom-loving Americans, Langone was shocked at those numbers. The businessman told Fox Business in May that he was astonished when he saw how many people were attracted to Sen. Bernie Sanders’ socialist ideas during the 2016 presidential election. He added that by embracing socialism at such an early age, young people were essentially giving up before ever trying to succeed.
In fact, the idea that so many seemed to be drawn to socialism inspired Langone to write a book in defense of capitalism.
The book, entitled “I Love Capitalism,” is a memoir that describes Langone’s journey to success.
The billionaire said that we live in the greatest nation on earth. He also said that there are “incredible opportunities” in this country, people just have to look for them, work hard and give back.
When speaking with La Roche, Langone said that he believed there was absolutely nothing wrong with being successful.
The former banker also said he made “no apology whatsoever for having a beautiful airplane that takes me wherever I want to go, or beautiful homes. None of that.”
He went on to add that his success allowed him to give back. He said that he and his wife have given away more than they’ve spent.
“If you add up all the money we’ve spent on ourselves, homes, vacations, cars … it’s a fraction of the money we’ve given away to great causes,” he said.
His most recent donation was $100 million to an endowment that will fund tuition for all medical students at New York University. He said that the money he gave was a small amount of the total that was needed to make the endowment happen, adding that $400 million came from other private donors.
Langone said giving was the result of a “moral obligation” he felt to reach “the most people possible.”
That kind of giving doesn’t occur in socialist countries, experts agree, because socialism creates very little wealth (or, only for the few elite), so all it can offer people is poverty.
And that’s what millennials don’t seem to get. A CBS/New York Times poll found that only 16 percent of them could accurately define socialism, which seems to indicate that young people are falling for romanticized notions of free education and health care without stopping to consider who will pay for those things.
In his interview with La Roche, Langone said the biggest price America would pay for people getting things for doing nothing was a lack of self-respect.
Most educated people would agree with him because they understand that working gives people a sense of achievement and worth. A good work ethic instills values, while socialism tends to destroy incentive. Working also gives people the chance to do more, and as a result, make more money. Langone wasn’t handed his success — he had to work for it — and there is nothing wrong with being successful.
While some millennials might be put off by Langone saying he would fly them to Venezuela to get a first-hand look at how well socialism is working, the message is on point.
Socialists like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sanders can sing the praises of socialism all day long, but the truth of the matter is they are still living in a country that affords them small luxuries like groceries, which Venezuelans can only dream about.