Carnegie And The Refinements Of Civilization

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Essay 1 Wealth and Poverty October 11, 2010 Carnegie and the Refinements of Civilization One of the wealthiest individuals in US history, Andrew Carnegie is a virtual poster child for the American dream, starting as a poor immigrant who, as he stated, “pulled himself up by the bootstraps” to become one of the most powerful figures of his day. Some think of him only as wolf in sheep’s clothing or a robber-baron who made his fortune on the backs of his downtrodden workers. Both points of view are certainly valid, but a third category is of equal importance. He is also known as the “Patron Saint of U.S. Libraries,” a philanthropist who provided vast sums of his accumulated wealth to the development of public libraries throughout America. Carnegie took a strong stance on wealth and its stewardship. He argued that wealth in the hands of the few is actually beneficial for the progression of civilization overall: it is “essential for the progress of the race, that the houses of some should be homes for all that is highest and best in literature and the arts, and for all the refinements of civilization” Many disagree with the viewpoint that concentrated wealth in the hands of a few benefit the welfare of the greater masses, but I believe that not only was this a valid idea when he proposed this theory as a whole, but that his work has done immeasurable good and that it is still a valid theory in practice today by some of our wealthiest citizens. Many criticize the ideals in his essay The Gospel of Wealth as being elitist. Carnegie was to a certain point because he had earned the right to be with hard work, determination and business savvy. When he wrote this essay he was not writing it to talk down to the poor and destitute, he was writing this piece to urge his peers to demonstrate responsible stewardship with the wealth they had accumulated. Others still

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