In the middle of a discussion of the rise of John Jacob Astor
, Gustavus Myers, author of History of the Great American Fortunes
, written in 1909, reflects upon the
effects of the drive for profit
. . . the pursuit of profit will transform natures inherently capable of much good into sordid, cruel beasts of prey, and accustom them to committing actions so despicable, so inhuman, that they would be terrified, were it not that the world is under the
sway of the profit system and not merely excuses and condones, but justifies and throws a glamour about, the unutterable degradations and crimes which the profit
system calls forth.
Meyers language may seem quaint and archaic, but this is the way Astor became the first decamillionaire in the United States, in 1848.