The Gospel of Wealth Helps to Follow Heroic Carnegie’s Path

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In Andrew Carnegie’s “The Gospel of Wealth,” he details the drastic changes occuring in society in his time. Now, there is “the palace of the millionaire and the cottage of the laborer” which differs dramatically from the “old conditions,” which were “disastrous”. For Carnegie, this transformation in society “is not to be deplored,” but celebrated and used to further improve the human race. He argues that the wealth generated and owned by the rich must “be administered during their lives,” as this is the only way to benefit society, a path followed by many individuals today, including Bill Gates.

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I very much agree with Carnegie’s argument. It is hard to know whether the people whom you consider sharing more profits with or those whom you give alms will use it for good or ill. In the case of the poor and needy, it may be better to give food, clothing, etc., as the use of these items is limited, whereas money can be spent on anything. However, it could be even more beneficial to create institutions that help everyone. Either the rich distribute their wealth to the other members of society who then use it for various purposes, or they spend it for them on projects that no one else, save the wealthy, would be able to afford. It seems to me that the latter case will prove much more useful and lasting than anything an individual will spend his/her money on.

Carnegie’s life was very reflective of the philosophy promoted in “The Gospel of Wealth.” One cause he advocated for was the creation of free public libraries for everyone to use, spending $56 million for over 2,500 new libraries. He also created numerous institutions, including Carnegie Mellon University, a leader in research; the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission, which rewards individuals who risk their lives to help others; the Carnegie Relief Fund for steelworkers hurt on the job; and the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland for higher education in his homeland. Finally, he had an interest in peacemaking, leading to the creation of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, hoping to resolve hostilities between nations. Rather than increasing the wages of his employees, Carnegie gave much of his wealth to public causes that continue to benefit society today.

An individual who follows Carnegie’s example in the present is the billionaire Bill Gates. One project he is working on is a partnership with Oxitec to engineer a mosquito to kill off its own offspring carrying malaria in an attempt to eradicate the deadly disease, a goal he has invested $2 billion in. Another cause he donated to was the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014, giving $50 million through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to fight it. Alongside Ebola, Gates has been combating polio as well, granting $38 million to a Japanese company to develop a cheap polio vaccine. It is clear that Bill Gates walks in Carnegie’s footsteps by donating vast amounts of his wealth to public causes, rather than merely distributing it.

Andrew Carnegie’s “The Gospel of Wealth” continues to influence philanthropy to this day. His message of the “proper administration” of wealth during one’s lifetime “for the common good” still resonates with many in society. Today’s world may be much more “revolutionized” than it was back then, but rest assured, there are still wealthy individuals who follow Carnegie’s path. People like Bill Gates remind everyone that the rich have a responsibility to their community, one that was clearly outlined and exemplified by Carnegie himself.

Works Cited

  • Brueck, Hilary. “Bill and Melinda Gates Are Giving $4 Million to Help Scientists Engineer a Malaria-Killing Mosquito – Here’s How It Could Work.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 21 June 2018, www.businessinsider.com/bill-gates-melinda-gates-malaria-killing-mosquito-2018-6.
  • Carnegie, Andrew. “The Gospel of Wealth.” Carnegie Corporation of New York.
  • Dutton, Jack. “At $50 Million, Bill Gates Just Made His Largest Donation Ever To Fight Ebola.”
  • Business Insider, Business Insider, 12 Sept. 2014, www.businessinsider.com/bill-gates-donates-50-million-to-the-ebola-outbreak-2014-9.
  • Kelland, Kate. “Gates Foundation Backs Takeda Polio Vaccine with $38 Million Grant.” Business Insider, 8 May 2016, www.businessinsider.com/r-gates-foundation-backs-takeda-polio-vaccine-with-38-million-grant-2016-5.
  • Lenkowsky, Leslie. “Andrew Carnegie.” Philanthropy Roundtable, Philanthropy Roundtable, www.philanthropyroundtable.org/almanac/people/hall-of-fame/detail/andrew-carnegie.
  • “Philanthropy of Andrew Carnegie.” Columbia University Libraries, library.columbia.edu/locations/rbml/units/carnegie/andrew.html. 
29 April 2022

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