Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus believes wholeheartedly that if he and his business partner were to have started Home Depot today, it wouldn’t have lasted long in this anti-business climate.
“We would end up with 15, 16 stores. I don’t know that we could go further,” he said this week in an interview with The Financial Times.
Why? Because these days, a thousand and one obstacles have been erected to prevent entrepreneurial success.
“The list of potential obstacles to entrepreneurial success in the US today is long, according to Bernie Marcus, co-founder of Home Depot: human resources executives, government bureaucrats, regulators, socialists, Harvard graduates, MBAs, Harvard MBAs, lawyers, accountants, Joe Biden, the media and ‘the woke people,'” the Times reported Thursday following an interview with Marcus.
Marcus’ core concern is that capitalism in the United States is slowly but irrevocably being destroyed.
“I’m worried about capitalism. 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 said to the Times.
But thanks to “socialism,” he says, things aren’t the same anymore.
“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,’” he said to the Times.
While that’s certainly a controversial thing to say, Marcus is no stranger to controversy. In 2019, he made headlines after he committed the crime of publicly revealing that he supported then-President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign.
“[H]e was a top contributor to Donald Trump during his presidential run. And Marcus [says] that he plans to support the president’s re-election bid,” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported at the time.
“While Trump ‘sucks’ at communication, Marcus said, the president deserves praise for boosting U.S. jobs, confronting China on trade and taking action against Iranian and North Korean aggression,” AJC added.
His mere support for the president prompted Trump haters to launch a boycott of Home Depot — albeit an unsuccessful one:
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) July 9, 2019
But just the fact that a boycott was launched in the first place seems to irritate Marcus.
“We used to have free speech here. We don’t have it. 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?” he complained to the Times.
Indeed, to the “woke,” Marcus is just another “greedy,” perhaps even “evil” billionaire. Never mind all his philanthropy.
“Marcus embodies the version of American capitalism modelled by the likes of Andrew Carnegie. The industrialist spent the last two decades of his life giving away the fortune he had accumulated in half a century of hard-headed dedication to his business,” the Times notes.
“Similarly, Marcus and his wife, Billi, were among the first signatories to the Giving Pledge, set up by Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates, under which billionaires promise to donate at least half their fortunes to good causes before they die. Over 30 years, they have donated more than $2bn to more than 500 organisations through their Marcus Foundation.”
His foundation has “funded research into autism, stem cells, cancer, stroke and military veterans’ post-traumatic stress disorder,” has “donated money for an integrated emergency response unit for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta,” and “backed the construction of the Georgia Aquarium, at the time of its opening in 2005.”
“Marcus believes in hands-on giving, based on the Jewish concept of tzedakah,” according to the Times.
Exactly, and what bothers him isn’t men like Trump — who too has his own history of philanthropic giving — but rather men who give nothing back.
“Too timid to jump in, these are people who took great risks in whatever they did, but they’re afraid to take this risk [to get] into the charitable world and help other people. Why, I don’t know,” Marcus reportedly wrote in his just-released book, “Kick Up Some Dust: Lessons on Thinking Big, Giving Back, and Doing It Yourself.”
Kick Up Some Dust: Lessons on Thinking Big, Giving Back, and Doing It Yourself by Bernie Marcus is a candid, rollicking business memoir from the Home Depot cofounder, filled with personal stories, savvy business advice, and timeless lessons for a life well lived #KickUpSomeDust pic.twitter.com/2TfhrfXcLJ
— BN Temecula (@bn_temecula) November 20, 2022
But speaking of Trump, while he remains a fan, he’s also become a fan of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, whose 2022 reelection bid he’d reportedly supported.
This of course leads to the question — who would he support if Trump and DeSantis were to go up against one another in the 2024 GOP primary?
For that, there appears to be no answer as of yet.
“[I]t’s going to be very interesting in ‘24 because I think that DeSantis will challenge him. And may the better man win,” was all Marcus would say about the next election.
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