- Jan 2016
If, then, there be liberty, men get from her just in proportion to their works, and their having and enjoying are just in proportion to their being and their doing.
During this time the Captains of Industry/Robber Barons were gaining power and wealth. The idea that these men were working harder than others was severely skewed. All of the richest men at the time were creating their monopoly and money off of the backs of the working class. Exploiting this class was commonplace, forcing workers to work 10+ hour shifts in dangerous situations for minimal pay. Sumner's idea that work is proportional to success shows a lack of understanding of the conditions of the working class.
We can deflect the penalties of those who have done ill and throw them on those who have done better. We can take the rewards from those who have done better and give them to those who have done worse
At first glance, Sumner seem to be saying: Let's punish those who are successful and reward those who are not. I think what Sumner really means by "penalties" is the consequences that come with not being successful (e.g. poor living conditions). Similarly, when he discusses giving the "rewards" to the less successful, he means that we should share the benefits of success (e.g. money) with those who may not have had the opportunities to succeed like their counterparts so that they may live better, healthier lives. For example, Carnegie had libraries built for the public so that they could access books for knowledge and entertainment, whereas they may never have had access to readily available, free books before.