L'Evangile selon Bill Gates

On dit souvent de Bill Gates, l'homme le plus riche d'Amérique et peut-être du monde, et de Warren Buffett, celui qui arrive immédiatement derrière lui, qu'ils se sont inspirés du Gospel of wealth [L'Evangile de la richesse], le fameux livre d'Andrew Carnegie publié en 1889. Cet ouvrage, un classique, justifie la concentration de richesse engendrée par le capitalisme en disant qu'elle favorise le mécénat dans le domaine des arts et des sciences. Autrement dit, Carnegie pensait qu'une grande richesse individuelle contribuait au rayonnement de la civilisation.

The Gospel of wealth est basé sur l'idée que concurrence commerciale entraîne la "survie des meilleurs", c'est à dire ceux qui ont "le plus grand talent d'organisateur". Carnegie estimait que ceux qui réussissent dans les affaires et construisent d'immenses fortunes sont plus à même de juger de la marche du monde, et de ce fait bien placés pour savoir où apporter une aide financière. Il pensait que les gens qui réussissent devraient se retirer assez tôt des affaires pour se consacrer à dépenser leur fortune dans des actions à caractère philanthropique.

Carnegie défendait aussi les droits de succession en tant que stimulation, disant que cela "inciterait les hommes fortunés à s'occuper de l'utilisation de leur fortune durant leur vie". Encourager les riches à utiliser leur argent pour une bonne cause de leur vivant est préférable, disait-il, à l'abandonner entre les mains de leurs enfants (qui n'ont probablement pas leur talent).

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