The billionaire founder of Home Depot just pulled a Tom Perkins.
“I hope it’s not working,” Langone told Politico, referring to populist political appeals. “Because if you go back to 1933, with different words, this is what Hitler was saying in Germany. You don’t survive as a society if you encourage and thrive on envy or jealousy.”
Politico noted that Langone’s comments would inevitably “draw ire from those who find such comparisons to Nazi Germany insensitive” and that he “showed no hesitancy” in invoking the Nazis.
Langone had already been beat to the punch by Tom Perkins, the wealthy venture capitalist whose letter to the Wall Street Journal that called liberals’ efforts to reduce income inequality a “progressive Kristallnacht” sparked a firestorm earlier this year. Perkins later purposefully doubled down, saying that the wealthy should be entitled to more votes.
It’s also not the first time the Home Depot founder has spoken against income inequality. He told CNBC that he was worried Pope Francis’ statements criticizing capitalism and the income gap may make some of the rich stop giving to charity.
But according to Politico, comments ripe for villification by the populist crowd might not gain so much traction now that the economy is improving and the situation in Ukraine dominates headlines.
“We obviously see other things driving the news cycle,” an unnamed top executive told Politico. “Ukraine keeps the focus off the evil 1 percent, so I guess we have Putin to thank for that.”
This post has been updated.