The Gospel of Wealth is an essay written in 1889 by billionaire captain of industry Andrew Carnegie. Carnegie amassed Carnegie.jpghis fortune in the steel and railroad industries, selling his Carnegie Steel Company to JP Morgan for $480 million in 1901. Carnegie devoted the remainder of his life to philanthropy. He believed those in a position of wealth and privilege had a duty and a responsibility to help those who had less than them. Carnegie himself was familiar with the harsh realities of poverty as he grew up the child of destitute Scottish immigrants. Carnegie is hollowed as an innovative industrialist, a benevolent philanthropist and the embodiment of the "rags to riches" sentiment. Carnegie proved that with hard work and determination, even the most poverty stricken of people work their way into a position of wealth. His life and success served as motivation and inspiration for millions of Americans and remains a prime example of social mobility.
The purpose of The Gospel of Wealth was to infuse the business world, especially the upper class of self made millionaires, with a new sense of philanthropy. The essay's central message is that wealthy entrepreneurs should not simply pass their fortune on to their kids or to any other person or group that is unqualified to handle it. Instead of wasting money on extravagance, self indulgence, and frivolous expenses, Carnegie argued that such money should be put towards the public good. Carnegie proposed that this redistribution of wealth was the best way to deal with the new found phenomenon of wealth inequality, especially seeing as it was as a result of some of the practices of the wealthy that this gap continued to exist and grow. Carnegie did acknowledged that capitalism did not afford everyone the same opportunities and that the system often hurt some while benefiting others, but The Gospel of Wealth was not an attack on the laissez faire system of capitalism. Carnegie maintained that corporations should be allowed to act how they pleased with limited government interference. To counteract the imbalance created by capitalism, Carnegie claimed that the wealthy entrepreneur had a responsibility to help those whom the system was hurting.
Carnegie based his philosophy on the observation that the heirs of large fortunes spend their inheritance foolishly and don't do anything productive with it. By today's standards nothing much as changed (ie. Paris Hilton etc). Carnegie even spoke against granting money to charities as there is no guarantee that the money paid to the charity will go to a cause that the person donating the money would approve of. Carnegie also believed in spending money on establishments that would aid in the education and formation of people so that they could better themselves and give themselves more opportunities. Carnegie believed that charities did just the opposite and only served to keep people in their poverty stricken state as they did not provide a person means with which to escape poverty, only to survive it. As means to distribute his wealth, Carnegie formed the Carnegie Foundation in 1903 and began dispensing his money in the form of endowments to libraries and other public institutions.
During his lifetime, Carnegie gave away approximately $350 million. Over $56 million went to build 2509 libraries throughout the English speaking world. All of the philanthropic investments made by Carnegie over his lifetime are far too vast to list but include many public establishments meant for the betterment of society in general and the poor in specific. Carnegie founded Carnegie Mellon University, the Carnegie Museum of Pittsburgh, the Carnegie Institute of Washington and Carnegie Hall in New York, among other things. More significant than the institutions that Carnegie's wealth went to establish was the philosophy behind his philanthropy. Carnegie inspired many of the super rich to realize that their responsibility lay not only to themselves and their families, but to the entire community. The idea that the wealthy have a moral obligation to help the poor helped to unify society and helped set the precedent for future generations of the extremely wealthy. This precedent has certainly been followed and in the modern day almost every celebrity or person of great wealth has their own charity with its own cause, from Bill Gates to Tiger Woods. Not only did Carnegie's Gospel of Wealth help inspire the wealthy to acknowledge the poor as a group worthy of concern, it helped to ease disparity and tension between the two groups.

Andrew Carnegie’s “Gospel of Wealth” podcast by CarnegieCouncil