Andrew Carnegie’s Rise From Poverty

Harrison PainterBell Ringers, Economics(BR)

Watch: Andrew Carnegie’s Rise From Poverty

Common Sense Economics

Read: Andrew Carnegie and his family arrived in America from Scotland in 1848, virtually penniless. At the age of 13, he began working in factories to help support his family. He quickly moved from job to job until he became a successful businessman on his own. His wealth grew, and at one point he was the wealthiest man in America. He was also one of America’s greatest philanthropists. During his life he gave away more than $350 million (about $5 billion in 2016). Among many other causes, he was a great believer in libraries, and he built more than 2,500 libraries around the world to help others learn to help themselves.

Today, child labor laws, compulsory school laws, and minimum wage laws would hinder a Carnegie from ever getting a start. Perhaps he would have made it anyway. But perhaps not.

Do you think it is easier or harder today to achieve a “rags to riches” story today? Why the change? Should we design our policies in such a way as to make it easier (or harder)?