The current disparities in wealth have been in existence for many years. The gap between the rich and the poor started to widen due to the emergence of industrialization. Inventors of various technological components monopolized their inventions. This enabled them to accumulate enormous wealth (Portes 1).
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This article examines two authors namely George Henry and Carnegie Andrew and how they argue about wealth accumulation and its effects. Their ideas on the effects of accumulation of wealth in the development of America are indeed conflicting.
For instance, Henry believes that accumulation of wealth by a few individuals negatively affects America. However, Carnegie exudes confidence that there are myriads of positive effects when individuals are allowed to accumulate enormous wealth.
According to Henry (Portes 2), the true wealth of an individual should be limited to the individual’s ability. Other factors (such as monopolies) that allow certain individuals to accumulate mass wealth should be discouraged. He believes that the difference in the innovativeness of individuals is not as large as the gap that exists between the poor and the rich (Portes 3).
In addition, he supports his argument with case studies of millionaires who existed during his lifetime. He describes the way those millionaires accumulated their wealth. From his analysis, it is evident that several wealthy people employed high levels of manipulation, monopolization, and fraud to acquire their riches. He asserts that all human beings have the ability of becoming rich.
However, the current gap between the rich and the poor coupled with individualism has made it almost impossible for the poor to acquire wealth. He advocates for government regulations on the amount of wealth that can be owned by an individual. In his paper, he also philosophically asserts that the true wealth of Americans should almost be equal.
Henry’s perspective is a complete contrast to Carnegie’s point of view. Carnegie believes that Americans who are being allowed to accumulate wealth allow better economic development. He envisages that the spirit of individualism encourages competition and self-actualization (Portes 2). Moreover, he has no problem with Americans accumulating wealth.
He perceives it as a normal occurrence in humanity since an individual’s social status is dependent on effectiveness and. He offers explanations on the relevance of wealth accumulation and how it has helped to further the industrial revolution in the country.
In addition, he believes that if Americans’ freedom of wealth accumulation is restrained, the developments realized so far will be significantly affected. His opinion is based on the natural human instincts of an individual’s success rather than group success.
The efficiency of Americans will be downgraded if individualism is prohibited. Furthermore, he argues that most Americans may not realize their full potential. Therefore, the accumulation of wealth from Carnegie’s point of view is seemingly better for the sake of all Americans.
The two authors agree to some extent that the emerging gap between the poor and the rich should be addressed. However, they offer different methods of addressing the growing disparity between the poor and the rich. To begin with, Carnegie believes that nobody should acquire riches using fraudulent deals. However, he advocates for incentives so that all Americans can be enabled to accumulate enough wealth.
This is opposed to direct wealth redistribution. He offers several measures such as increasing training facilities and educational support that will enable the poor to bridge the gap between them and the rich. Additionally, he advocates for active utilization of the accumulated wealth. In addition, he proposes the initialization of government policies that compel the rich to help the poor in society.
This contradicts Henry’s perspective who believes that the available wealth should be distributed among all the Americans. He suggests that this is the only way that equality can be realized in the American society. Furthermore, he narrates that the accumulation of wealth is a means of manipulating of government processes. He compares it with the way judiciary has been manipulated for long as a result of accumulated wealth.
The rich people use wealth to acquire almost everything they need including justice. In order to avoid such occurrences, he suggests equitable distribution of wealth among the Americans. Carnegie rejects this proposal by arguing that wealth distribution will not solve the problem since it is a temporary solution to the challenge.
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He believes that redistribution of wealth will eventually result into emerging cases of the rich and the poor due to the management styles of those who own property. This is opposed to Henry’s suggestion.
Analyses of the two authors’ arguments confirm that that they agree on the problem that is facing Americans, namely the growing gap between the poor and the rich (Portes 8).
While Carnegie trusts that the two diverse groups will always exist and nothing can be done to bring everything on the same level, Henry is emphatic that all Americans can be equal provided that the necessary measures are put in place to tackle the disparities. Carnegie suggests that very little can be done in terms of uplifting the poor people.
Redistribution of the wealth will downgrade the achievements that were made during industrial revolution. The revolution was a success because individuals were allowed to obtain maximum returns from their contributions. Hence, it encouraged competition for resources and eventually enhanced development (Portes 10). The acknowledgement of excessive wealth accumulations because of capitalism and individualism is quite intriguing.
The author advocates for wealth accumulation but believes that there should be a maximum amount of wealth that an individual can posses. He points out on the available mechanisms that can be used to redistribute wealth. The most common mechanism is the distribution of wealth to family members.
He note that this option of wealth redistribution may be ineffective since individuals may not be willing to share their wealth with family members before they die. Besides, most people die without the proper documentation on wealth distribution.
One of the solutions offered is that in cases where individuals own massive wealth, they should use the same to uplift the society during their lifetime. He is against cases where individuals’ wealth is used to help the society when the actual owners are already dead. This offers no room for appreciation of the help offered and therefore, it limits the number of people who are willing to give back to the society (Portes 13).
To recap it all, the arguments posed by the two authors are indeed substantial although some recommendations may be unrealistic. However, both of them are advocating for all Americans to be rich. Henry believes that all Americans are wealthy but they have been denied their riches, while Carnegie emphasizes that the rich should use their wealth to develop a platform for bridging the gap between the rich and the poor.
Portes, Alejandro. Social Capital: Its Origins and Applications in Modern Sociology. Annual Review of Sociology 24(1998): 1-24. Print.