Daily Archives: June 13, 2012

The Awl: Our Billionaire Philanthropists

-By Maria Bustillos

June 13, 2012- In June of 1889, Andrew Carnegie published his essay "Wealth" in the North American Review: a famous document, as remarkable for the author’s delusional self-regard as it is for the case he makes for private philanthropy. The steel baron launched his argument with the dumbfounding claim that until "the past few hundred years [of human history] there was little difference between the dwelling, dress, food, environment of the chief and those of his retainers." He then sails blithely along to insist that we should all welcome the changes in society that make violent wealth inequality inevitable, because the benefits of wealth must inevitably trickle down to the least fortunate, etc., an assertion that many of later generations have come to view with a certain skepticism.

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