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DUTIES OF A MAN OF WEALTH: THE ANDREW CARNEGIE STYLE —– EMBRACING SELFLESSNESS INSTEAD OF SELFISHNESS

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  • ’The rich are associated with wealth, power and fame; while the poor are associated with suffering, obscurity and lack. ’Social stratification based on financial status is more pronounced than any other type of stratification in modern society. – Adeboye
  • The man of wealth should set an example of modest, unostentatious living, shunning display or extravagance; to provide moderately for the legitimate wants of those dependent upon him; and after doing so to consider all surplus revenues which come to him simply as trust funds. – Andrew Carnegie.
  • “By leaving people in poverty, at risk of their lives due to lack of basic living essentials, we have stepped across the boundary of civilization. – Bill Clinton Reelection Committee

Human beings reason every second.  It was that genius and playwright who submitted that there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.  A psychologist, Mike Brooks asserts that the Shakespearian thought is an: ‘’effective therapeutic approach known as cognitive behaviour therapy, while ‘’thinking’’ is the mental process in which beings form psychological associations and models of the world. ‘’Thinking is manipulating information, as when we form concepts, engage in problem solving, reason and make decisions. Thought, — the act of thinking, produces thoughts’’ This perhaps explains beyond reasonable doubts factors that contribute significantly to decision-making in human communities. The second identifiable factor is personality that psychologists say is the combined product of nature and nurture.

This also explains why one act considered insane or awkward in one community may be acceptable in another community. Cultures and traditions form the third factor.  Apparently, because they became sophisticated and cosmopolitan centuries ago. The rule of law and human rights operate fully in those societies.   No one would most probably escape the radar for any act committed – good or bad. That is one reason why it is not very common holding those wild parties abroad with ‘’spraying’’ of currencies of different denominations at their parties. The work culture and reward system make it almost impracticable to be unreasonable. It is ‘’work and eat’’ You work for every cent earned. There is usually no free lunch. In those societies, those engaged in political and corporate governance are taken to task and held accountable. They are the masters of the political class. And you don’t just stroll into government houses for the purpose of eating and drinking. Who pays the bill? These are some of the reasons why the gap between the developed and developing world continues to widen daily. Philanthropy is the reason why names of prominent Americans who died two centuries ago still live after them. And those names will ring bells eternally if their successors continue with their good legacies.

Andrew Carnegie was a Scottish-American industrialist who became one of the richest men in world history through his company, Carnegie Steel. He sold Carnegie Steel to J.P. Morgan in 1901 for $480 million — according to Time, that number equated to more than 2 percent of the American GDP. He was worth the equivalent of US$372 billion today, and he spent the last several years of his life donating the majority of that money to universities, libraries and other public causes. The ‘Gospel of Wealth’ was an article written by Andrew Carnegie in 1889, about the philanthropic responsibilities of the wealthy. The ‘Gospel of Wealth’ states that wealthy men have the responsibility to use their wealth to improve society for the greater good.

RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE WEALTHY – MERE AGENTS & TRUSTEES: Andrew Carnegie argued that very wealthy men like him had a responsibility to use their wealth for the greater good of society. First, to set an example of modest, unostentatious living, shunning display or extravagance; to provide moderately for the legitimate wants of those dependent upon him; and after doing so to consider all surplus revenues which come to him simply as trust funds, which he is called upon to administer, and strictly bound as a matter of duty to administer in the manner which, in his judgment, is best calculated to produce the most beneficial results for the community—the man of wealth thus becoming the mere agent and trustee for his poorer brethren, bringing to their service his superior wisdom, experience and ability to administer, doing for them better than they would or could do for themselves.

Andrew Carnegie sold his steel company, Carnegie Steel, to J.P. Morgan for $480 million in 1901. According to the Carnegie Corporation, Carnegie’s personal peak wealth was about US$380 million, or around $309 billion by today’s standard. By 1910, Carnegie had given away $180,000,000 of his fortune. Carnegie later created the Carnegie Corporation of New York in November 1911, and transferred to it the bulk of his remaining fortune, US$125,000,000, “to promote the advancement and diffusion of knowledge among the people of the United States.”  Good governance connotes accountability and responsiveness.  Governments must provide for the security and welfare of the citizenry. This, in fact, is the primary responsibility of the Government. This responsibility, of course, includes creating an enabling environment for the populace to live for the accomplishment of their legitimate objectives, including the creation of job opportunities for the sustainable development of ‘’man and his environment.’’

THE PLIGHT OF THE DEVELOPING WORLD: One of the most touted agenda in the international community in the last two decades is globalization. It deals basically with attempts to correct the perceived imbalances between the developed and the developing world, and inequalities between the rich and the poor, which have continued to widen; occurrences considered to be very dangerous for humanity. Therefore, the whole world, through international, regional and multilateral organizations has stepped up efforts at bridging the widening gap through a systematic programme of action. The plan attacks the scourge of poverty, and emphasizes the crucial significance of education, encourages the introduction and usage of scientific and communication dimensions, and also confronts frontally, the scourge of poverty. World leaders realize the fact that It is apparent that efforts at globalization, and the re-engineering process for the emergence of a sound polity, the world over, cannot be complete, without due regard and attention for the closing of the embarrassing gaps in the polity.

THE CRITICAL NEED FOR INTERVENTION: A former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Kingsley Moghalu  (2014) a paper points out that ‘’Africa’s share of world trade is a minute 3 percent, with less than 4 percent of global Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flows going to the continent. With a combined GDP of S1.6 trillion, the combined GDP of the continent’s 54 countries is just about that of Brazil. The GDP of entire sub-Saharan Africa, including South Africa, is just about equal to that of Belgium or that of metropolitan Chicago. All the electricity produced in sub-Saharan Africa, half of which is, in fact, produced by South Africa, is equivalent to that of Spain which has 20 times fewer people than Africa.  Moghalu argues further that  ‘’Economic globalization has, in fact, hurt Africa more than it has helped the continent, contrary to the received wisdom. The gains for African countries from opening up to international economic forces without adequate internal preparation have been limited and far outweighed by the adverse of the continent’s engagement with economic globalization. ‘’Economic policies enunciated by the Bretton Woods institutions in the 1980 and 1990s led to lost decades of development opportunities and outcomes.

SOCIAL STRATIFICATION: Pastor Enoch Adeboye, General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God Worldwide in his comments asserted that: ‘’Social stratification based on financial status is more pronounced than any other type of stratification in modern society. ‘’The rich are associated with wealth, power and fame; while the poor are associated with suffering, obscurity, and lack. The rich have many friends, associates, and family members. He is an independent fellow who can afford to pay his or her bills and also contribute to the development of society. The poor, on the other hand, has few or no friends or associates. He can hardly pay his bills not to talk of contributing to the development of the community. And he goes ahead to assert that ‘’God is personally interested in the cause of the poor.’’

CHANGING OUR MINDSET & PREFERENCES: We have cultures and values that require radical review to discard those that are not in tune with the realities of this age.  It is evident that most of us in the elite and political classes operate the principles of selfishness instead of selflessness and so save wealth for our unborn generations.  Good governance is our best hope against these challenges.  Governance entails choices. It demands a visionary leadership that will set enlightened priorities and redeploy resources and retain skilled talent. Compassionate and committed leaders can and must create the policies and invest the necessary resources in infrastructure and services, empowering people to improve their conditions and safeguard their children’s lives. We also need to part with our love for the celebration of ignorance with a display of flamboyant lifestyles deepen and widen equitable resource distribution for our societies to flourish.

POLITICAL & ECONOMIC STABILITY – Having set the agenda in motion, how many of his colleagues will Dangote be able to convince about his giving agenda? Will these potential givers trust the society to part with excess income? There is indeed a ray of hope with Aliko Dangote’s promise as he is capable of encouraging his friends in the privileged class to buy into the arrangement. But it might not be too easy initially, given our orientation.   The conspirators against progress include the lack of economic development, leading to poverty, wars, disease and corruption campaign (Chisano)This for redistribution of income must start from the top, through leadership by example that must show commitment to the elimination of all avenues for wastages through vibrant and workable policies. Why for instance do people prefer to keep their legitimate and illegitimate funds abroad?

The answer lies in political and economic stability. There is also the issue of greed by people who wish to provide for their children and generations yet unborn. If the government decides to embrace a low profile policy today, people would be convinced to follow. In a paper presented to President Bill Clinton in 1996, the Committee on Reelection asserted that: “By leaving people in poverty, at risk of their lives due to lack of basic living essentials, we have stepped across the boundary of civilization. We have conceded that these people do not matter, they are not important. Allowing them to starve to death, freeze to death, die from deprivation, or simply shooting them, is in the end exactly the same thing. Inflicting or allowing poverty on a group of people or an entire country is a formula for disaster.”

PEOPLE-CENTRED ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: Government and the private sector must collaborate to lift people out of poverty. The United Nations defines poverty as a denial of choices and opportunities, a violation of human dignity. It means a lack of basic capacity to participate effectively in society. It means not having enough to feed and clothe a family, not having. Today, more than 780 million people live below the international poverty line. More than 11% of the world population is living in extreme poverty and struggling to fulfill the most basic needs like health, education, and access to water and sanitation, to name a few. Such is the importance attached to the issue under reference that two former Secretaries-General of the United Nations: Kofi Annan and Boutros Boutros-Ghali, both Africans; have argued independently, that without peace, there can be no development; and without sustainable development, there can be no durable peace.

THE WAY FORWARD — INGREDIENTS: It is evident that there is a huge need to adopt measures for redistribution of income that would encourage the rich to part with their money. The pangs of hunger are felt across the strata of society. Pastor Enoch Adeboye in his comments asserted that: ‘’Social stratification based on financial status is more pronounced than any other type of stratification in modern society. ‘’The rich are associated with wealth, power and fame; while the poor are associated with suffering, obscurity, and lack. The rich have many friends, associates, and family members. ‘’He is an independent fellow who can afford to pay his or her bills and also contribute to the development of the society. ‘’The poor, on the other hand, has few or no friends or associates. He can hardly pay his bills not to talk of contributing to the development of the community. And he goes ahead to assert that ‘’God is personally interested in the cause of the poor.’’ If only governments at the three tiers could put in place strategies for social security and stable economic and political systems, we might be able to get there before this long. However, for now, the thoughts of the affluent are premised on the belief that the country’s economic and political systems are very unstable; hence their fears that their investments may crash and the children and offspring left in the lurch by a society that cannot take care of their offspring. In a way, these fears are justifiable given the fact that nobody wants his/her children to suffer.

THE FUTURE & PROSPECTS: Rather than have our own original ideas and chart a new path for development, the present regime, with all its good intentions, aided and abetted by the West, has made anti-corruption crusades its main vehicle of economic growth and development. It has enacted a stiff anti-corruption law which is not materially different from what had long existed in many countries of southern Africa, Egypt, Algeria, etc., where corruption has increased. The regime seems to forget that most of the Western countries developed on corruption, both internally and internationally. The difference between the corruption of the West and Africa’s is that while that of the West was internalized and productive, ours in Africa had been, and continues to be externalized and destructive. There is no political system, democratic, oligarchic, dictatorial, republican, or monarchical, that had not been corrupt in varying degrees, Germany inclusive. (Prof. Sam Aluko)

GOOD NAME NO LONGER MATTER

Our preferences and wrong priorities require urgent attention. Regrettably, those who have successfully cornered a  substantial part of the society’s wealth have always engaged in wanton profligacy and demonstration of affluence, a development that the younger generation has imbibed leading to a feverish struggle for the acquisition of wealth at all costs by the old and the young, male and female. Here lies thevery salient factor that produced armed robbers in a nation that used to place a great premium on family values, morality, and good name.

So many things have gone wrong in the past few decades. We need to do away with those wild functions and parties staged at home abroad where even foreign currencies are abused and pasted on the foreheads of celebrants as if people are possessed.  We surely need to do a rethink. Ownership of houses locked up in all major capitals of the world appears senseless except people to live inside or they are there for economic purposes.

May the Good Lord bless Nigeria.

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