Letter to Jeff Jacoby, The Boston Globe
Dear Mr. Jacoby,
Dear Mr. Jacoby,
Humility is tough when eating crow. But do I eat crow and acknowledge a mistake? Or is there another answer?
Andrew Carnegie. In my brief look at Andrew Carnegie’s life, I am impressed. His Scottish-Presbyterian background places him in a better position than the Koch brothers or other super-wealthy today because, at the very least, he believed in Christian principles. Yes, he was against unions during the time of the robber barons and formation of trade unions in the USA. But did he actually state his opposition to unions or go along with “management ID” and “management groupthink” of his day? Unions were perhaps untested in his day, so did this influence Carnegie’s thinking.
The problem with the web today – and I am just as guilty – is the Vannevar Bush syndrome of “hypertext.” When I read something on the web, I place it in my brain and often forget to document it. This is a problem for which perhaps causes me to eat humble pie. Or does it?
I recall reading a quote attributed to Andrew Carnegie. It went in one of two ways: “Wealth is created by society, not individuals.” The other way: “Wealth is not created by individuals, but by society.” This quote was either in an op-ed in a newspaper like The Palm Beach Post or it was on the Internet. It was most likely in the newspaper. Nevertheless, the Internet has become so pervasive that one can typically find the quote again later.
What has happened is this. I have quoted this from the piece of paper where I wrote the UNDOCUMENTED quote down. In other words, I wrote the quote attributed to Andrew Carnegie, but not the source of the quote. I have quoted this piece of information several times on my blog. Now I attempt to locate this quote as associated with Andrew Carnegie and the only place this is to be found on Google is the three times I have included it in my blog.
What gives here?
In doing research of this question, I have reviewed numerous writings by Andrew Carnegie himself (http://www.swarthmore.edu/SocSci/rbannis1/AIH19th/Carnegie.html, June 1889) and others: (1) well-referenced article by Nicole Notario (http://learningtogive.org/papers/paper80.html) for a graduate research paper; (2) a Fordham U. essay (http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1889carnegie.asp); and various others. One might conclude from this material (and others) that Carnegie might have made such a statement. But an actual attribution would take further research.
I am puzzled who wrote this quote and claimed attribution to Andrew Carnegie. I did not dream this up on my own. I did not just write this down out of thin air because, at the time, I barely knew diddley squat about this man, except to recall a library at my alma mater, Syracuse University, named after Carnegie and an entire university in Pittsburgh bearing his name. QUite frankly, having a library named after this man placed him in high regard. So when I read a supposed quote attributed to him, I took it very seriously.
I am not an idealogue, so I would have had no presumptions or biases. I found it fascinating that a wealthy tycoon of the late 1800s would make such a statement.
I have also read (and again, perhaps I need to document this) that Carnegie sold his steel companies to a ruthless man named J.P. Morgan in order to devote his time to philanthropic measures. It was J.P. Morgan (now part of the name of one of the largest banks – one which has screwed consumers with regard to mortgage loans) who gave Franklin D. Roosevelt a hard time, as the Koch Brothers do today to Barack Obama. It was J.P. Morgan who purportedly (unproven, just word of mouth to me) had his servants cut out pictures and stories of FDR from the morning newspaper each day – before Morgan sat down to read it. Sounds like the fans of Fox Noise – “don’t tell me anything else but what Fox Noise says.”
Nevertheless, perhaps it was Morgan who was more anti-union than Carnegie? A hypothetical question.
Ayn Rand has ruined this nation by creating a strong groupthink of selfishness and greed via a fantasy tale. The visual Media, in particular, has grabbed this extreme fascination with greed and selfishness which causes materialism among the people. Madison Avenue is a shameful group of hyenas who lack any human qualities whatsoever, as they endorse the principles of greed and selfishness, clouding the picture of what true capitalism, as defined by men like Adam Smith, Andrew Carnegie, Teddy Roosevelt, and others had to say about it. Jeff Jacoby’s op-ed this past May in the Boston Globe is a tribute to the stupidity of people who view the world only in black and white. These people say, “either President Obama is a socialist or capitalist, but never can anyone be in the gray areas between and call themselves problem-solvers.” Like narrow-focused religions – Roman Catholic and Mormons, for instance, there can be no consideration of “gray” areas.
Nevertheless, if I am wrong in attributing this quote about individuals, society, and wealth, then I stand corrected. However, my admission that I am wrong is more than what egomaniacs in the wealthy class would be willing to do as they hide their money overseas and refuse to divulge their tax information.
BTW. My scathing remarks about specific religious denominations should not be taken personally, except perhaps those who are hypocrites within those churches. Perhaps they feel guilty, so therefore take it personally. But then, imagine the berating my own denomination took in 2008, at the brief glimpse of statements made by ONE of the myriad pastors and clerics within my church. Double standards in America which remove my liberty and freedom – and the separation of church and state. Are we afraid to speak about the Christian beliefs of Adam Smith and Andrew Carnegie because such Presbyterian beliefs go against the grain of the dogma and doctrines of huge hierarchically-based churches with strong dictatorial leadership?
Is it humble pie for me or the truth being hidden – by deceptive people … no… deceptive egomaniacs – who seek power and control first, before reasoning and rationality? I would like to know.
Hypothesis for “Where Have All the Leaders Gone?”
Mr. Iacocca, perhaps I am not wealthy enough to be allowed to make conclusions. Perhaps I have not made it to the top of the heap, as others have done, so I am simply a stupid intellectual to be ignored.
Nevertheless, my recent reading of essays about the wealthiest persons in the world, Andrew Carnegie, I may have stumbled across the answer to the question you posed in your 2007 book, Where Have all the Leaders Gone?
Andrew Carnegie believed CEOs of corporations had to learn what work ethic is and that those who inherited wealth don’t know what true work ethic is. Therefore, these people should not lead. They become false models for those who work for them. The problem of work ethics lies not in the workers, but in the leaders.
In order to fix this idea of “work ethic,” the late Kenneth Lay and other living stupid leaders force the Ayn Rand “ethics” or “virtues” of selfishness and greed – espoused by Greenspan and Paul Ryan – upon employees like a communist leader or the pope, elders of Mormonism, and the late Jerry Falwell of the Southern Baptists (and other leaders) claim there is “utopia” if people only follow one way of thinking.
There is no objection to the role greed and selfishness played in the rise of the poor son of Scottish Presbyterian immigrants, wealthy tycoon, Andrew Carnegie, to the accumulation of massive amounts of wealth (when considered for the days he lived). There is no denying statements by 18th-century economist, Adam Smith, in the claim capitalism should be free of interference. But to embrace ONLY these statements to validate Ayn Rand’s irrational thoughts about “virtues” or Barry Goldwater’s irrational statements about greed – there is a virtue in NOT “compromise” – is absurd.
Mitt Romney admires Goldwater’s nonsense “virtues” and Paul Ryan admires Rand’s nonsense “virtues.” Both fly in the face of one of the wealthiest men in the world. Andrew Carnegie also believed the wealthy have a duty to society.
Mr. Carnegie lived at a time when unions had not been established, so he agreed with the others in his management cronies. They were all against unions. But his reasoning was based on the fact that HE insisted he never had any assistance (or so he claimed – and he is wrong) to earn his wealth. A teacher had assistance from my mother, became wealthy and departed from the teaching profession, and then spurned my mother. How many wealthy ones like him disavow the assistance they received from peons along the way? Thus, it is right for unions to provide assistance to those who don’t have it. The problem, as you point out in your book, Mr. Iacocca, is when unions become as unreasonable as the wealthy CEOs have also become.
Romney received help from Daddy. Paul Ryan had an attorney as a father who likely made more money than teachers. George W. Bush had assistance from his daddy and made a LOUSY leader (as pointed out in your book, Mr. Iacocca). These are all lousy leaders who have inherited wealth.
Barack Obama worked his way up. Joe Biden worked low-paying blue collar jobs as he worked his way to the top. By Andrew Carnegie’s standards, the choice is clear. Obama and Biden.
Perhaps there are some detected levels of imperfections in these two guys. Perhaps the same can be said about Andrew Carnegie, too. When these two guys “step on toes” of others – as Romney / Ryan do all the time – the roar of Fox Noise is deafening. My bet is that Andrew Carnegie never had that kind of sabotage, but even if he did, his extreme wealth could shut it down immediately.
The problem lies in racism, too. After all, who are the guys who have likely inherited the wealth today? Stupid white men who carry a hidden objection to African Americans or Hispanics working their way to the top. Deceptive men (and women?) who live in denial of their hidden racist attitudes. And yes, there might be disappointed good white Anglos who are passed over, due to affirmative action. But why do these idiots continue to vote for stupid white men like Bush, Romney, and Ryan, rather than work together with those who recognize the value of diversity? Actually, I have heard African Americans, perhaps familiar with Andrew Carnegie’s success, who have spoken out against affirmative action, too.
Where have all the leaders gone, Mr. Iacocca? Perhaps this blog provides some answers. But who the hell am I? Nothing but horse shit, don’t you know?
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