November 18, 2009

The Root of All Evil is NOT Money

I have been reading Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand and I came across something that has always been an issue in my mind. Many people feel that money is the reason for all evil in the world, and frankly, I’ve found that this has been such BS that it’s really bothered me at times when I’m discussing it with people.

Yes, money can lead to evil but so can lack of money. I’m sure you’ve heard of robberies taking place and people being held up so that a junkie could get money to score drugs. I know I have, even in the past 3 years I have heard a ton of stories. Living in cities as I have, Albany, Binghamton and now Buffalo these stories are more frequent than when I was growing up and living in the small town of Waverly.

I’d like to just share with you a part of the story that really made me smile after reading it.

“So you think that money is the root of all evil?” “Have you ever asked what is the root of money? Money is a tool of exchange, which can’t exist unless there are goods produced and men able to produce them. Money is the material shape of the principle that men who wish to deal with one another must deal by trade and give value for value. Money is not the tool of the moochers, who claim your product by tears, or of the looters, who take it from you by force. Money is made possible only by the men who produce. Is this what you consider evil?”

“When you accept money in payment for your effort, you do so only on the conviction that you will exchange it for the product of the effort of others. It is not the moochers or the looters who give value to money. Not an ocean of tears nor all the guns in the world can transform those pieces of paper in your wallet into the bread you will need to survive tomorrow. Those pieces of paper, which should have been gold, are a token of honor- your claim upon the energy of the men who produce. Your wallet is your statement of hope that somewhere in the world around you there are men who will not default on that moral principle which is the root of money. Is this what you consider evil?”

“Have you ever looked for the root of production? Take a look at an electric generator and dare tell yourself that it was created by the muscular effort of unthinking brutes. Try to grow a seed of wheat without the knowledge left to you by men who had to discover it for the first time. Try to obtain your food by means of nothing but physical motions- and you’ll learn that man’s mind is the root of all the goods produced and of all the wealth that has ever existed on earth.'”

“But you say that money is made by the strong at the expense of the weak? What strength do you mean It is not the strength of guns or muscles. Wealth is the product of man’s capacity to think. Then is money made by the man who invents a motor at the expense of those who did not invent it? Is money made by the intelligent at the expense of the fools? By the able at the expense of the incompetent? By the ambitious at the expense of the lazy? Money is made – before it can be looted or mooched- made by the effort of every honest man, each to the extent of his ability. An honest man is one who knows that he can’t consume more than he has produced.”

“To trade by means of money is the code of the men of good will. Money rests on the axiom that every man is the owner of his mind and his effort. Money allows no power to prescribe the value of your effort except the voluntary choice of the man who is willing to trade you his effort in return. Money permits you to obtain for your goods and your labor that which they are worth to the men who buy them, but no more. Money permits no deals except those to mutual benefit by the unforced judgment of the traders. Money demands of you the recognition that men must work for their own benefit, not for their own injury, for their gain, not their loss- the recognition that they are not beasts of burden, born to carry the weight of your misery- that you must offer them values, not wounds- that the common bonds among men is not the exchange of suffering, but the exchange of goods. Money demands that you sell, not your weakness to men’s stupidity, but your talent to their reason; it demands that you buy, not the shoddiest they offer, but the best that your money can find. And when men live by trade- with reason, not force, as their final arbiter- it is the best product that wins, the best performance, the man of best judgment and highest ability- and the degree of a man’s productiveness is the degree of his reward. This is the code of existence whose tool and symbol is money. Is this what you consider evil? ”

Sorry about this post being so long but I felt the need to include the whole part 🙂
Please leave some feedback, I’d love to know what you feel about this and any questions you may have about it!

Chris Hughes

Chris loves learning, going on adventures, surfing and having fun.
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