“’Twasn’t the money we were after, ’twas the power. We were all playing for power. It was a great game.” James Stillman, Gilded Age financierf cited in Jaher (1980)
“If you give away the surplus [money], you give away the control.” Cornelius Vanderbilt, cited in Jaher (1980)
“‘Tis a sort of duty to be rich, that it may be in one’s power to do good, riches being another word for power.” Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (1689-1762), English society figure, letter writer. Letter, c. 24 Sept. 17Ц, to her husband, cited in Jaher (1980).
This last quotation raises a final idea that crops up frequently in the statements of the wealthy themselves: that the purpose of accumulating wealth is ultimately to enable the wealthy person to pursue philanthropic activities, or to establish institutions to carry out such activities. While such an evidently self-serving interpretation should be subject to considerable skepticism, there are many prominent examples of philanthropy that bear out the proposition. The Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, Carnegie-Mellon University, Duke University, Johns Hopkins University, the Getty museum, and a host of other prominent institutions owe either their existence or a substantial part of their endowments to the munificence of wealthy individuals (often, although not always; manifested through bequests). Morally, socially, and psychologically this motivation for wealth accumulation is very different from pure greed. However, if more wealth allows one to establish a larger foundation or endow more institutions, the implications for saving behavior are again virtually indistinguishable from the idea that wealth enters the utility function directly.