Article Review – “The Gospel of Wealth”

In keeping with the theme of Philosophy, the Currie team is recommending that all distributor clients read Andrew Carnegie’s piece entitled “The Gospel of Wealth”.  This essay is not new (it was written in 1889), yet it is quite current.  The society which Carnegie portrays is from centuries ago, yet his observations remain depictive of life today.  Created after the Industrial Revolution, the timing of Carnegie’s work is opportune in consideration of the upcoming presidential election in the United States, which carries an immensely powerful hot-button issue – wealth, income and class disparity.  And, as business owners today, Currie’s Dealer Principals are every bit the merchants, business owners, and entrepreneurs of the time, complete with the philanthropic values that have made industrial equipment dealerships the very foundation of the communities in which they exist.

Some important Carnegie beliefs, as indicated by his work in “The Gospel of Wealth” are timeless.  Although historically not the case, today’s gap between classes is widening. Although this is concerning for many people, the theory is that it is natural and inevitable.  As opposed to prolonged debate over whether this state of the society is right or wrong, it must be accepted that it “just is”.  The developments described in Carnegie’s time are in direct correlation with the changes in our more current world, and the evolutions in our marketplace as well.  Mr. Carnegie described the laws of competition, capitalism, and free market.  He mentions successful (financially) people as being essential to the civilization

In “The Gospel of Wealth”, Carnegie discloses some interesting perspectives on the issue of income disparity and how to alleviate it.  This becomes the “meat” of his work after he describes the three modes for distribution of surplus wealth.  Whether or not to agree with his viewpoints remains exclusively the reader’s choice.

The author’s strategy is clear– the wealthy are morally obligated to serve their community, albeit in very precise ways.  How does this study relate to an equipment dealership?  Most of the references that Carnegie makes are, as mentioned in the opening section of this review, to business owners, entrepreneurs and merchants.  These anchors of the community, like the industrial equipment distributors of today, are the game-changers.  Dealer Principals, as business owners, become the mainstays of the surrounding communities, the employers of choice, and the demonstrations of family-based enterprises with solid values.  Equipment dealerships serve as great philanthropic providers.  In other words, you are The Rock. Since we have been deep into the subject of Engagement, let’s draw some additional connections: this culture leads to enhanced internal engagement amongst the enterprise team; this culture leads to increased external, community engagement; and karma comes full circle back in the form of loyal customers, increased business, profitability, and greater self-actualization for the ownership team as well as the extended team.  Sounds like a win-win to me.  This is something that all of our dealer clients are doing, and doing quite naturally.  The observations from the consultant’s perspective are soundly defined by Mr. Carnegie’s work.  And, although the tenets of the dealership as a natural, community benefactor are admirable, there need be no deliberation over whether it’s right or wrong – it “just is”.

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