Maybe you’ve heard that Andrew Carnegie left a note that all his wealth would go to charity upon his death? But there is certainly room for debate about the sordid manner by which Mr. Carnegie gained his wealth. Is the pain and suffering caused by Mr. Carnegie’s pursuit of wealth forgiven for his giving it away at death?
It is an interesting debate. Locally, we have Sandy Weill giving millions to charities and edifices like the Green Music Center. Yet he earned his money as CEO of Citibank and a major cog in the Wall Street machine that has wrecked the world’s economy over the past decade.
Hearst, Vanderbilt, Morgan, the list of major American donors who gained their wealth in ill-gotten ways and then gave it away in hopes of repairing ugly reputations is quite long.
That is what makes this story out of Seattle so nice to read. A coupon clipping retired attorney, Jack MacDonald recently died and willed to charities $187 million he had saved and earned by investing his whole life. Wow.