Carnegie, the Selfish Philanthropist

Andrew Carnegie, The Selfish Philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, born on November 25, 1835, was a Scottish philanthropist who was one of the richest men in America in the 1900’s. I completely agree with Carnegie’s opinion of how the rich should donate their money toward the good of mankind before they die, but disagree with his actions toward his workers . He started working in a cotton mill making $1. 20 a week only to upgrade to $2. 20 working as a messenger boy. He eventually taught himself telegraphy and worked as Thomas A. Scott’s assistant for $35 a month.

He moved on to investing, with the help from his “mentor” Scott, in the Woodruff Sleeping Car Company and several small iron mills and factories. He was so successful that he was able to buy an industry of iron products. This investment brought him to buy a piece of land and build a steel manufacturing factory on it. With the millions he made, he visited Scotland often to see his family. Carnegie thought it was a good idea to put most of the money that he made back into the community. He gave his money away through public programs, which was a little overwhelming for him it seems.

He cut the wages of his workers to provide more money for him to put back into his programs. There was a strike that broke out which caused his second in command to hire immigrants. This changed Carnegie’s reputation. It also influenced him to retire and sell all of his holdings to J. P. Morgan for a sum of 480 Million dollars. Over the course of the rest of his lifetime, he ended up giving away 350 million dollars. He encouraged other fortune holders to do the same as him. John D. Rockefeller was one of the few that followed his Idea. Carnegie had great intentions.

Carnegie believed that “a man who dies rich dies disgraced. ” He explains this as the wealthy who die wealthy , did nothing with their wealth to better mankind. His thinking was influenced by Herbert Spencer, who was a social Darwinist. Carnegie agreed with Spencer’s “survival of the fittest” belief. He felt that there existed superior people who would be classified as “fittest” (this included himself). Carnegie mainly donated money to his interests in the community. His love for learning was something that fed his “charitable mind. ” He funded the building of 2,509 libraries before he ended this program in 1917.

His interest in music is what gave him the idea to donate pipe organs to churches despite his lack of faith in a religion. The establishment of the Carnegie Foundation was something founded by Carnegie, to continue to give after his passing, after finding out that he would not be able to spend his fortune in his lifetime. Some examples of people that agree with Carnegie would be Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. Bill Gates and Warren buffet created “The Giving Pledge” which was an agreement among 57 billionaires to donate half of their fortunes during their lifetimes.

Their thoughts were intertwined with Carnegie’s thoughts of giving back to the community and improving the quality of life for human beings. An example of someone that disagrees with Carnegie would be Teddy Roosevelt. Teddy Roosevelt-“if Carnegie had employed his fortune and his time to doing justice to the steelworkers who gave him his fortune, he would have accomplished a thousand times what he accomplished. ” Roosevelt is referring to Carnegie giving to the good of mankind, while at the same time hurting his own workers by undermining them with less pay.

If someone like Carnegie wanted to help the community and make life better for mankind, he should start with his own company. I agree and disagree with Carnegie. I agree that the rich should devote some of their riches toward the benefits of mankind before they die/as they live their life, but agree with Roosevelt’s argument toward Carnegie’s ruthless strategies of cutting his own workers pay just to put more money toward his “giving”. The reason that the wealthy should put some of their wealth back into the community is because that is where they made their money.

Without other people to buy, sell, or trade, where would the wealthy get their wealth? This also prevents the family member or the heirs of the inheritance to be spoiled. Carnegie had a great point for doing this. For some strange reason, Carnegie cut the wages of his steel workers while at the same time putting money toward public programs that would benefit mankind. He even stated that he could put more use of that money than the workers ever could, which is ridiculously egotistical and rude. By not giving his workers a fair wage, he was hurting the economy. Our economy is based off of consumers spending their money.

In my honest opinion, I think Carnegie is a selfish attention seeking mastermind. He seems very sensitive to what other people think of him. Don’t get me wrong, he sounds like a nice, caring, and independent man. His intentions though, are outweighed by the means and basis for his profit: unfair and underpaid labor. The money that he made from his steel factory was ironically against his “giving” attitude that he was trying to generate. I think that after he realized that he would never have to worry about his financial situation ever again, he focused on becoming a public figure and cared about the public opinion of himself.

An example to prove this would be how he reacted to the steel strikes. While he was visiting Scotland, his next in command (Henry Clay Frick) replaced all of the strikers with immigrants. This action is said to have caused the death of 10 men. Carnegie took the blame and lost positive reputation. He later retired by selling all of his assets (Probably to further the steel factory from being associated to his name) and continued to give his money away to recover from his lost reputation. (This is what I think anyway). Carnegie had the right idea to donate his money to a better cause, but used the wrong means to get there.

I agreed with his method, but not his means. Works Cited: 1 . ” Andrew Carnegie. ” 2012. Biography. com 24 Oct 2012, 12:51http://www. biography. com/people/andrew-carnegie-9238756 2. Mills, Harry. “Andrew Carnegie: Master deal maker and robber baron. ” The Naked Negotiator. The Mills Group, 24 2009. Web. 24 Oct 2012. ;http://blog. millsonline. com/2009/08/24/andrew-carnegie-master-deal-maker-and-robber-baron/;. 3. . “Spreading gospels of wealth. ” The Economist. SANTA BARBARA | from the print edition | United States, 19 2012. Web. 24 Oct 2012. ;http://www. economist. com/node/21555605;.

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