Partendo da alcune riflessioni sul pensiero dell’industriale Andrew Carnegie (1835 – 1919), famoso imprenditore nel settore dell’acciaio e delle ferrovie autore del pamphlet – pubblicato nel 1889 – The Gospel of Wealth, Elizabeth Kolbert indaga sul New Yorker il mondo della filantropia statunitense.
The “Gospel” opened with a discussion of inequity. This was the Gilded Age, and, even as most Americans were struggling to get by, the one-per-centers were putting up “cottages” in Newport. The disparity was, in Carnegie’s view, unavoidable. It was the price of progress, and progress, ultimately, benefitted everyone. “The ‘good old times’ were not good old times,” he observed. “Neither master nor servant was as well situated then as today.”
Having dealt with accumulation of wealth, Carnegie then turned to his real concern: what to do with it. Passing on riches to one’s children was a mistake, he argued, for inheritances “often work more for the injury than for the good of the recipients.”
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