The man who dies thus rich dies disgraced. — Andrew Carnegie
One of the most profoundly impactful industrialists, Andrew Carnegie, was additionally a respected philosopher and philanthropist, having written much in his lifetime. While Carnegie and similarly John D Rockefeller and Ford are most commonly remembered for their business practices, today’s most innovative entrepreneurs have dug deep into the lives of these men through their writings. One essay of surging importance today is, “The Gospel of Wealth” written by Carnegie in 1889.
Carnegie believed that the wealthy winners of capitalism were “but a trustee for the poor; entrusted for a season with a great part of the increased wealth of the community” for the purpose of administering that wealth for the improvement of society. Having credited access to information for his success, Carnegie said, “The treasures of the world which books contain were opened to me at the right moment. The fundamental advantage of a library is that it gives nothing for nothing. Youths must acquire knowledge themselves.” This belief in the power of information prompted Carnegie to build over 2,500 libraries.
Inspired by “The Gospel of Wealth,” today’s wealthiest entrepreneurs like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have taken “The Giving Pledge” and given rise to a new crop of entrepreneurs like Sean Parker and Mark Zuckerberg. These newest “trustees” for the poor, have committed to dedicating a majority of their wealth to philanthropy, while simultaneously modernizing Carnegie’s methods through targeted philanthropic social enterprises. Carnegie concluded that obedience to this “true Gospel concerning Wealth” would “some day solve the problem of the Rich and the Poor, and to bring ‘Peace on earth, among men Good-Will.’”
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