Read the Whole Thing

I practically never do this, preferring to add to the discussion rather than to repeat the lines of others, but today’s WSJ has a terrific letter to President Obama by the founder of Home Depot, and it’s just better than anything I can do, so I ask you to go and read it here.

My favorite excerpt:

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. Rules against providing stock options would have prevented us from incentivizing worthy employees in the start-up phase—never mind the incredibly high cost of regulatory compliance overall and mandatory health insurance. Still worse are the ever-rapacious trial lawyers.

Coupled with Daniel Henninger’s spectacular essay on the success of capitalism in the Chilean miner disaster, this represents a high-water mark in recent political discourse on economic systems.  I strongly encourage you to read both essays in their entirety.

2 Responses to “Read the Whole Thing”

  • GRO says:

    I love the way capitalism always wins over central planning. The one thing central planning doesn’t (and can’t) have is the collective lifetimes of experience held by millions of individuals making their own best choices.

    That letter is great….until the end.

    Why does Langone swerve into the contradictory position that the feds should seize the property of successful people after a lifetime of taking their social security money and promising to give it back later? Weird.

    • chrisjones says:

      That isn’t how I read his position at all, although I suppose one could construe it so. If you’re going to have social security at all, then you should have it as it was at least theoretically constructed, which is as a safety net for people that don’t have retirement savings. That is far, far from what it is now. Personally, I don’t like any of it. But I’ve struggled with the policy decision about how to get rid of it, without a whole lot of success. Phasing it out could work, maybe, but where do we start? If you offered me an option to start by means-testing social security, the same as we do with every other government entitlement program, I think I’d take it.

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