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  #1  
Old 05-13-2008, 10:31 PM
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Andrew Carnegie on Wealth

Carnegie was an interesting fellow. He thought inheritance taxes should be 100% as to do otherwise would enable the rise of entrenched dynasties, the likes of which having made the Europe from which he and his family fled rigid and unappealing.

He said it was much easier to make large amounts of money than it was to give it away intelligently, and that he was frustrated in that he couldn't give it all away, continually frustrated by the inexorable march of compound interest (?!). He wrote that "the man who dies rich, dies disgraced."

His essay Wealth is a bit long but it's interesting. I must confess I've yet to read it all.

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Old 05-13-2008, 11:19 PM
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There are a couple of points on which I disagree with Carnegie:

'Objections to the foundations upon which society is based are not in order, because the condition of the race is better with these than it has been with any others which have been tried. Of the effect of any new substitutes proposed we cannot be sure. The Socialist or Anarchist who seeks to overturn present conditions is to be regarded as attacking the foundation upon which civilization itself rests, for civilization took its start from the day that the capable, industrious workman said to his incompetent and lazy fellow, "If thou dost net sow, thou shalt net reap," and thus ended primitive Communism by separating the drones from the bees."

He seems to believe that the rich are hardworking and the poor are lazy. I think this is inaccurate. The division of wealth and power can't be explained by contrasting hardwork and laziness. It might be explained by smarts and shrewdness. It also might be explained by power and military might. It might be explained by luck, historical accident or propitious ecological circumstances. But in any case, there are millions of hardworking poor around the world.

He also writes:

"Thus is the problem of Rich and Poor to be solved. The laws of accumulation will be left free ; the laws of distribution free. Individualism will continue, but the millionaire will be but a trustee for the poor; intrusted for a season with a great part of the increased wealth of the community, but administering it for the community far better than it could or would have done for itself. The best minds will thus have reached a stage in the development of the race iii which it is clearly seen that there is no mode of disposing of surplus wealth creditable to thoughtful and earnest men into whose hands it flows save by using it year by year for the general good."

arguing that the rich are going to be the caretakers of the poor. This is paternalism at its worst. One of the most basic human needs for a satisfying human life, is a sense that one is responsible for oneself. Under Carnegie's system the poor are consigned to a life of dependence and dissatisfaction.
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Old 05-13-2008, 11:32 PM
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Adam Smith had a problem with inheritance too, IIRC.

I think that inheritance, like procreation, is tied to human instinct. Procreation is to ensure continuation of the genome and species while inheritance provides an advantage to that genome. That's what we do. It is a huge reason why men and women get up every morning and go to work -- to provide advantages for their young. If many of us didn't have that perception of responsibility then society's engine would soon sputter to a halt as Mr Bot and his cohorts all decided to take the day off and drink beer while fishing.

But that desire to provide advantages to our young appears to be in conflict with the social responsibility we have to our culture. How do we reconcile it? I think it is by NOT totally embracing Carnegie's path but also by not ignoring it. So we tax the inheritance, not to punish hard working parents but to decrease the probability of creating self-perpetuating estates, "trusts". the argument currently is over how much "death tax" is appropriate. Carnegie says 100%.

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Old 05-14-2008, 12:29 AM
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Rather than have an inheritance tax, distinct from other taxes, why not just tax inheritance as regular income?
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Old 05-14-2008, 11:54 PM
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Some good points, Kerry. I don't see eye to eye with him on all matters by any means. Interesting fellow nonetheless.

I worked at a gorgeous Carnegie library in OlyWA while in high school. It was later a cool restaurant, "Carnegies" and is now vacant.
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Old 05-14-2008, 11:57 PM
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He was a shrewed an amazingly evil businessman who was willing to have his workers shot to put them back in line.

I hope one day I have so much money I have that problem.

He built some nice homes to, and had some good toys.

Wealth isn't evil, being poor and depending on other people is. Your a drag on society.
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Old 05-15-2008, 12:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cmac2012 View Post
Some good points, Kerry. I don't see eye to eye with him on all matters by any means. Interesting fellow nonetheless.

I worked at a gorgeous Carnegie library in OlyWA while in high school. It was later a cool restaurant, "Carnegies" and is now vacant.
He certainly funded lots of great libraries around the country. I also agree that inheritance rights are a huge problem within capitalism since there's no guarantee that a shrewd businessman will have children who invest money on a comparable level. Perhaps inheritance taxes should be earmarked to provide free college education to the most promising children of the poorest citizens.
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Old 05-15-2008, 12:19 AM
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He was a shrewed an amazingly evil businessman who was willing to have his workers shot to put them back in line.

I hope one day I have so much money I have that problem.

He built some nice homes to, and had some good toys.

Wealth isn't evil, being poor and depending on other people is. Your a drag on society.
But you see, once you are rich, you can have all sorts of stupid, high falutin ideas like this guy. Before then, you are too busy trying to scratch out a living. Once you have made it, you can say "Money is nothing" and that "the man who dies rich, dies disgraced.". What utter BS. He could have given it off or spent it off any day he wanted. I can't believe anybody would be so stupid to listen to his crap.
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Old 05-15-2008, 12:20 AM
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Most money is lost by the third generation anyway, so taxes which can be pretty easly avoided just speed up the process.

The first gen is shrewed and makes it, the second usualy isn't so bad, its the third thats bad they just piss it away because they are soft and spoiled.

Any family that can keep it past three generations is IMHO impressive and deserves it. You really have to carefully groom the following generation to do so, thats not an easy task.
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Old 05-15-2008, 12:21 AM
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But you see, once you are rich, you can have all sorts of stupid, high falutin ideas like this guy. Before then, you are too busy trying to scratch out a living. Once you have made it, you can say "Money is nothing" and that "the man who dies rich, dies disgraced.". What utter BS. He could have given it off or spent it off any day he wanted. I can't believe anybody would be so stupid to listen to his crap.
Yep, poor people can't afford to care about this stuff. When you are working extra hours to make ends meet you dream of having those problems!
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Old 05-15-2008, 12:23 AM
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He certainly funded lots of great libraries around the country. I also agree that inheritance rights are a huge problem within capitalism since there's no guarantee that a shrewd businessman will have children who invest money on a comparable level. Perhaps inheritance taxes should be earmarked to provide free college education to the most promising children of the poorest citizens.
The way I see inheritance is this. I earned 1 million dollars. Do I have the right to give it to whomever I please? Must I give it to my sons and in a certain percentage? I don't think so. I should be able to give it to the dog shelter and bypass my kids if I so choose. Conversely, I should be able to give it to my kids in whatever fractions I choose. I earned it.
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Old 05-15-2008, 12:26 AM
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Yep, poor people can't afford to care about this stuff. When you are working extra hours to make ends meet you dream of having those problems!
His tripe is about as believable as me saying I am laughing at the cripple in order to motivate him. Know what? When the day comes that I have to fire somebody, I am going to tell him that it hurts me more than it hurts him and that I am trying to use that firing to motivate him so he attains greater heights.
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Old 05-15-2008, 12:30 AM
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Most money is lost by the third generation anyway, so taxes which can be pretty easly avoided just speed up the process.

The first gen is shrewed and makes it, the second usualy isn't so bad, its the third thats bad they just piss it away because they are soft and spoiled.

Any family that can keep it past three generations is IMHO impressive and deserves it. You really have to carefully groom the following generation to do so, thats not an easy task.
I'm all for inheritance. Why? Because it motivates the shrewd guy to work harder so he has more to pass on to his kids. Yes, you may say that it is lost by the third generation. However, that shrewd guy might not see that. Now if you tax all the inheritance, might that reduce the motivation of the shrewd guy? After all, he now has less motivation to work if he cannot pass it on.

Think about this. Would you rather the 3rd generation piss away 1 million or 10 million. They can't earn it. Let the shrewd guy break his back and make the 10 million.
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  #14  
Old 05-15-2008, 12:34 AM
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Well as you said it all works out in the end. If you piss away $10m someone else will get it, someone who is smarter than you!
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Old 05-15-2008, 12:36 AM
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His tripe is about as believable as me saying I am laughing at the cripple in order to motivate him. Know what? When the day comes that I have to fire somebody, I am going to tell him that it hurts me more than it hurts him and that I am trying to use that firing to motivate him so he attains greater heights.
Yep, finding good people is hard. If they messed up fire them and hope that its a wake up call.

Its like when people have renters who don't pay and they are all sympathetic. I'm like WTF don't pay the bank and they don't give a damn, they foreclose. The bank wants a check they don't care that your car broke down and you can't pay the mortgage.

I think those people who don't pay the rent and expect a roof over their heads are the selfish ones, I don't really give a damn what excuse they come up with.

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