Centibillionaires can learn from Carnegie

<span>‘Money is not only the sinews of war but also of peace.’</span><span>Photograph: Alamy</span>
‘Money is not only the sinews of war but also of peace.’Photograph: Alamy

Rich people who are considering giving money away to good causes (Six tips for budding centibillionaires, (No 1: come from a very wealthy family)6 April) could do worse than consult the 160‑page prospectus that William Thomas Stead issued in 1900 titled Mr Carnegie’s Conundrum: £40,000,000. What shall I do with it?

The title page featured Andrew Carnegie’s dictum: “The man who dies rich dies disgraced.” The Scottish-American tycoon, who was a great believer in education, financed the construction of 2,500 libraries in the English-speaking world. Detesting war, he financed the construction of the Peace Palace in The Hague (today the seat of the UN’s international court of justice) and the Pan American Union building in Washington DC (today the seat of the Organization of American States) to provide a home for new international organisations that aimed to reduce the incidence of war through arbitration, international law and international organisation.

More than a century later, we still benefit from his munificence. Our nuclear-armed world urgently requires a Manhattan-scale project for the prevention and abolition of war. Money is not only the sinews of war but also of peace. However, in the words of the former UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon: “The world is over-armed. Peace is under-funded”. We must hope that at least a few millionaires and billionaires will follow Carnegie’s example.
Peter van den Dungen
Lightcliffe, West Yorkshire

• Would “hectobillionaire” denote someone “worth” £100bn (Letters, 7 April) or merely a person in possession of that sum?
Mark de Brunner
Burn Bridge, North Yorkshire

• We already have adequate provision in the English language to describe centibillionaires. They are known as robbing bastards.
Tom Scanlon
Neston, Cheshire

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