And Another Billionaire Just Compared Liberals to Nazis

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March 18 2014 11:09 AM

And Another Billionaire Just Compared Liberals to Nazis

Venture capitalist Kenneth Langone speaks during the NYU Langone Medical Center celebration at the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum on October 2, 2011 in New York City.
But tell us what you really think, Ken.

Photo by Charles Eshelman/FilmMagic

Conservative billionaires just don’t give a damn about Godwin’s law, apparently. Following in the footsteps of venture capitalist Tom Perkins, who in January warned that the nation might be on the verge of a “progressive Kristallnacht,” Home Depot co-founder Ken Langone is quoted in Politico today suggesting that populists worried about income inequality are … basically Nazis. Here are the two key paragraphs of the piece (which is generally about how wealthy political donors are feeling pretty good going into the midterms):

In two-dozen interviews, the denizens of Wall Street and wealthy precincts around the nation said they are still plenty worried about the shift in tone toward top earners and the popularity of class-based appeals. On the right, the rise of populists including Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz still makes wealthy donors eyeing 2016 uncomfortable. But wealthy Republicans—who were having a collective meltdown just two months ago—also say they see signs that the political zeitgeist may be shifting back their way and hope the trend continues.
“I hope it’s not working,” Ken Langone, the billionaire co-founder of Home Depot and major GOP donor, said of 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.”
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Outrageous? Sure. But in a way, it’s also pleasantly transparent. Wealthy men like Langone fund our elections, after all. Best to hear what they actually think, rather than speculate about what gets said behind closed doors. Hopefully one more billionaire will decide to break out the Hitler analogy, and we can get a New York Times trend piece out of it.

Jordan Weissmann is Slate's senior business and economics correspondent.