The end justifies the means. Not always, but hindsight condemnation out of context is not right either especially when we have enjoyed the results of those means.
The History Channel has a series on the Robber Barons; Ford, Rockefeller, Carnegie, Morgan and Vanderbilt. The Men Who Built America.
In the process of building America they abused workers, the environment and the financial systems. What they did in the 19th century and early 20th century would likely land them in jail in the 21st century. And, they were the ultimate expression of inequality. It has been estimated that Rockefeller was worth $256 billion in today’s dollars.
Thomas Edison who helped light the world once electrocuted an elephant in a failed effort to prove the benefits of DC electricity.
On the other hand, they built railroads and connected the continent, they built industries and created untold numbers of jobs, they forever changed people’s lives for the better and … they built America.
They and their ancestors were generous with philanthropy making many of the institutions possible that we take for granted; libraries, museums, colleges and one of my favorites, Williamsburg Virginia.
On balance, would we trade our current lives based on what these Americans contributed to purify history without them? I doubt it. Should we rip the Carnegie name from from libraries, close the Frick museum, boycott Rockefeller Center, stop buying F-150s?
There are pluses and minuses, good and bad in all the deeds of our ancestors, including the Founding Fathers.
We have no right to focus on one element of their actions that we now find offensive while ignoring the benefits we enjoy. The same holds true for most Americans of today’s super wealthy.
What are you willing to give up that many billionaires created?