Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Andrew Carnegie: The Gospel of Wealth

In his document titled “The Gospel of Wealth,” Andrew Carnegie makes the excellent point that money should be a symbol of one one’s ambition and hard-work. He proposes that families should not hoard their wealth or pass on their savings to the next generation. He communicates two reasons for this; the first of which is that “it is not well for the children that they should be so burdened.” Carnegie states that by giving a child inheritance, you are taking away their ambition and sense of motivation. Second, Carnegie states that society will have no reason to work if many people gain wealth through inheritance. He states that if too many families hoard their wealth, the country will be in danger of becoming an aristocracy and commoners would no longer have the opportunity to rise to success. Both these points are absolutely true. Carnegie is stating that those who work hard should be rewarded, and that the wealthy should demonstrate “competency, which […] should be the aim of all to acquire.” I also respect the fact that Carnegie believes that the rich should help the poor and that this help should come in the form of resources such as libraries and educational institutions—not cash. Carnegie clearly adhered through the philosophies he preached. He funded many charities in his lifetime and created an extremely respectable University (Carnegie-Mellon). He communicates the rich man’s burden as providing “moderately for the legitimate wants of those who depend upon him.” He states that the rich should help the poor get to their level, however this transition must come only after struggle. In the document, he also states that 'death taxes' can be necessary in cases where a person does not voluntarily give up their fortune.
However, there can be an argument on the other side as well. Parents want to provide security to their kids, so is it really fair that we should take this right away? Perhaps some people work to provide for their family and for the generations that will follow them.
"The Gospel of Wealth" is controversial, but it is absolutely worth reading through. Carnegie definitely offers some "food for the thought." I, myself, was conflicted while reading the document. While his ideas sound great in theory, I feel they might not be practical. I will attach a link to the document below. Feel free to offer your insights and let me know what you think in the comments!

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