Carnegie, Powderly, and George have compelling arguments about wealth. However, each has a different perspective on the way the affluent obtain their riches and how to solve the problem it created in their society. Although they agree on most topics, they have different answers to inequality and wealth challenges. Carnegie, Powderly, and George agree that wealth is a problem and propose the law as a solution, although they differ on their attitude towards equality and some aspects of sources of wealth.
Notably, industrialization is the source of inequality of wealth. Carnegie states that industrialization resulted in the rich being more affluent. Although the poor were better off than before industrialization, they still could not compare to the rich (Carnegie 1). He illustrates the inequality gap using his experience in Sioux, whereby the masters lived in millionaire palaces while laborers dwelled in cottages. Comparatively, Powderly notes that rapid industrialization has enriched a few people at the expense of the broader working population (1). To demonstrate the unequal distribution of wealth, he highlights the oppression that laborers encountered such as delayed wages, unsafe working conditions, hiring convicts, and exploitation of children. Consequently, it made manufacturers and mine owners rich, while their workers languished in poverty. George mentions that technological advancement has yielded a civilization in which there is an unequal distribution of wealth (3). Modern civilization deprives people the opportunity to reap the bounties of the earth through wealth privatization, which results in the rich increasing their wealth, while the poor become worse off. Indeed, the three authors agree that industrialization is the reason for the unfair distribution of resources, widening the ridge of income inequality.
Powderly and George argue that inequality is unjust as the majority suffer, a point that Carnegie refutes. According to Powderly, injustices arise from the unfair ways that the rich use to accumulate wealth and power (1). He proposes that laborers have more shares of the wealth they create and that they have rightfully earned leisure. Moreover, Powderly claims that the privileges of the world allude to the unjust practices that the wealthy use to retain wealth and control. Comparatively, George argues that inequality deprives the majority their right to exploit natural opportunities, which are available to everyone because a few people monopolize them (1). Conversely, Carnegie considers inequality as a recipe for prosperity for everyone. He argues that leaving commercial control in the hands of a few people, according to the law of competition, would benefit society and ensure racial progress in the future (2). In any case, inequality was best suited for and unchangeable in the present civilization. According to Powderly and George, wealth disparity was unfair. However, Carnegie felt the condition was unalterable and beneficial to the human race.
According to all three, wealth originates from exploiting labor. Carnegie credits the human industry for making it possible for manufacturers to expand their businesses (1). Throughout his work, Carnegie illustrates the way the relationship between the master and servant affects wealth creation. The changes in the working dynamics are what made the masters richer than their servants. Equally, Powderly demonstrates that human labor was the force behind wealthy people (1). He recounts the way companies subject their employees to long hours of work, child labor, and depriving the poor their share. Notably, unfair labor laws enabled the prosperous to amass fortunes by promoting deplorable working conditions in the industries. George posits that human labor is needed to exploit the land to gain wealth. It is evident in his work that if people are given an equal opportunity to work, they can be wealthy. The affluent people rely on workforce to generate their wealth. All three concur that human labor is a critical factor in wealth creation.
Powderly and Carnegie state that capital is a source of wealth, whereas George’s emphasis is on land. Powderly advocacy against unfair laws on capital demonstrates that it is a crucial factor in creating wealth (1). Similarly, Carnegie praises startup money for making people wealthy. He illustrates how investing capital in multi-million dollar companies yielded interests in invested capital, making people rich (2). On the contrary, George stipulates that wealth hinges on the ownership of land (1). He states that the rich enjoy that status because they have accumulated many properties, which abounds in natural materials. While Powderly and Carnegie propose land as a viable source of wealth, George believes that it is essential for prosperity.
Undoubtedly, wealth is a problem for the wealthy. To Carnegie, wealth is a burden to the rich, whether alive or dead. He demonstrates the calamity by addressing the way surviving next of kin should share property when a person dies (3). There is no solution because it would be wrong to leave it to heirs, and there is worry of misappropriation when entrusted to the public. Equally, Powderly illustrates that wealth leads to aggression and injustice (1). His portrayal of the suffering of the workers depicts greed that wealth accumulation brings so that the masters exploit laborers to keep their pockets full. George denotes that wealth deprives people of their liberty and human rights. As prosperity increased, freedom declined (2). George recounts how the rich abused politics to safeguard their property at the expense of human rights. Wealth is a problem to society according to George and Powderly, but Carnegie claims that the wealthy individual is the one who suffers most.
The law is the answer to wealth problems among the rich. Carnegie explains that tax laws ensure the fairest way of disposing of wealth (4). He believes taxing will benefit the entire community because everyone will get a share of the property. Powderly mentions that creating and enforcing equality laws would protect the workers from exploitation and give them an equal opportunity to improve themselves and engage in commerce (1). George mentions that protecting liberty and promoting fair laws are paramount in securing free land ownership for all. Although proposing different strategies, all authors agree that the law has the power to solve the wealth issue
Carnegie, Powderly, and George agree that wealth is a problem. They propose that legal rules should act as solutions. However, they differ in their attitudes towards equality and some aspects of sources of wealth. Carnegie believes that wealth inequality is good, a claim that Powderly and George disagree with. All admit that exploiting labor leads to wealth and that policies will resolve wealth issues. The authors have compelling reasons to support their arguments and do not entirely agree with each other.
Carnegie, Andrew “Wealth.” North American Review, June 1889.
George, Henry. “Progress and Poverty: An Inquiry into the Cause of Increase of Want with Increase of Wealth: The Remedy.” 1879.
Terence V. Powderly Terence. “Constitution of the General Assembly, District Assemblies, and Local Assemblies of the order of the Knights of Labor in America.” Marblehead, Mass Statesman Publishing Co., 1883.