Home Depot co-founder Ken Langone says he is frustrated that President Donald Trump’s administration isn’t doing more to improve the nation’s education system and that most companies don’t fully appreciate and take care of their workers.
“I wish there was more of a focus on education by the president and by his administration,” the Invemed Associates founder explained to CNBC.
“Why? I know the importance of my public school education in my later life I'm only here today because I came from a wonderful school district in Long Island. The parents were involved. The parents demanded results from the kids, from the teachers,” he said.
“We've got to help these kids get qualified to take advantage of the opportunities” available today, he said.
“What are we going to do about educating these kids in public schools to put them in a position where they can read and they can count and they can write? We've got a serious social issue here,” he said.
Langone said the “quality of education eroded” in the eight years Barack Obama was president.
Langone said that while education is obviously important to future generations, not everyone is cut out to attend college.
“I think right now we've got to change the focus in America on education and secondarily on saying to a kid, ‘It isn't such a bad thing to be a plumber. Or an electrician,’” he said.
He said he often talks kids out of heading to Wall Street careers and urges them instead to “go to work for a company, learn the business. Learn what drives a customer. Learn about inventory. Learn the basics of the business then you've got something to sell,” he said.
Langone wants to essentially pay it forward because he admits his own success was only because of young, hard-working employees at Home Depot, now the world’s largest home-improvement chain.
Trump's $1.5 trillion tax overhaul, touted as major tax relief for individuals and corporations, is showing up in bigger paychecks and bonuses awarded to workers by companies whose tax bills are being slashed, Reuters explained.
More than 200 companies, including Home Depot Inc., American Airlines Group Inc. and AT&T Inc., are giving bonuses to at least 3 million U.S. workers, according to the conservative Americans for Tax Reform group.
“I am as successful as I am for one reason and one reason only: those 400,000 kids that put an apron on every single day. These wonderful kids that work crazy hours and put up with all kinds of grief, I hope all 400,000 of those kids are listening to the show so they can know the gratitude of what they do for the company,” he said, noting that he refers to any Home Depot employee younger than himself as “kids.”
“A smart businessman, an enlightened businessman takes care of his people, and we will. We've never paid anybody minimum wage in our entire history, never once,” he said.
“If you don't take care of your people” any business owner is likely only setting himself up for failure, Langone said.
“Taking care of them, paying them, respecting them, rewarding them, telling them what a good job they do,” is the little-appreciated key to success, he said.
But some business experts say a few hundred companies isn't all that many — there are over 3,500 publicly traded corporations in the U.S., after all. "And to some, they amount to little more than well-timed PR stunts designed to curry favor with the public and the president," Bloomberg reported.
But they’ve been enough to get some analysts rethinking just how much the $1.5 trillion package of cuts might benefit ordinary Americans and the broader economy.
One thing’s pretty certain: This is a good moment for workers. A tight labor market has pushed unemployment to historic lows and many economists see wage gains just around the corner. On top of that comes the big tax cut, which may encourage more companies to pass some of the savings onto employees, instead of simply reward shareholders.
“If the unemployment rate were 8 or 10 percent, you wouldn’t be seeing a lot of these announcements,” said Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Amherst Pierpont Securities. Companies would still be investing in their businesses, but the “wage piece of it is probably driven primarily by the labor market.”
(Newsmax wire services contributed to this report).
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