WEALTH was a dirty word for Andrew Carnegie. Or so it seems in "The 'Gospel of Wealth' Essays and Other Writings," (Penguin Classics: 110 pp., $10 paper) edited by David Nasaw. Words such as "selfish" and "unworthy" keep popping up in these articles Carnegie began writing in 1889. But the poor don't get a free pass. Giving "excess" money directly to them is almost always "wasted."
What to do? Follow the laws of capitalism, in which talented men become rich. They then should spend their money for the common good, creating universities, parks and the like to develop those diamonds in the rough "reared in the stimulating school of poverty." Leaving estates to heirs leads only to ruin, since they have no incentive to work. It is the duty of the millionaire to increase his wealth, Carnegie writes. "The more he makes, the more the public gets." Try it sometime.