Saturday, November 25, 2006

ruthless philanthropy (for the happy tutor)

"Hegemonic incorporation is the taking into the self of the worldview by which one is subjugated." Thank God, we are Free in Wealth Bondage.
[David] NASAW: Carnegie early in his career said, and acted on this, that he believed in unions. Then he looked into the future and he saw not only the promise of steel but he saw the danger to Pittsburgh of Chicago steel manufacturers. So he made it clear that in order to continue to make a profit he had to cut their wages. And he had to increase their workday from eight hours to 12 hours.

Carnegie's decision to become a philanthropist made him much more ruthless. And he legitimizes it and says so quite frankly that if the money goes back to his workers in higher wages, they're going to eat more meat, drink more alcohol, spend more on clothes. It is better for him to take those few dollars a week out of their salaries and build a library or a concert hall for them.

RYSSDAL: Do you think he would recognize large-scale philanthropy today?

NASAW: No. He'd be very distressed and he'd sit down and lecture Warren Buffet.

He'd say it's not enough to give away 85 percent of your Berkshire Hathaway stock. You've got to dedicate yourself to making sure that money is well spent. Carnegie was very much a beliver in Herbert Spencer's social Darwinism. And the fact that he had all this money was proof that he was smarter, and therefore he was in a better position than anybody else to spend it wisely. His greatest disappointment in life was that he couldn't give away all his money. He was defeated by the inexorable piling up of compound interest. In the end he realized he had no choice but to set up the Carnegie Corporation.


Anonymous Gerry said...

He was able to hire smart people to help him run his industrial enterprises, why not similarly delegate his philanthropic projects? It seems to me that his failure to give away enough in his lifetime is either/both a failure of imagination and proof that he was not the best qualified to be a philanthropist. Social Darwinism is a pretty serious mental error/defect.

I would argue that his failings were in the domain of philosopy, and that he really could have used a holy fool or two

11/26/2006 10:22 AM  

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