Originally published December 28, 2015.
I love money.
I love the options it gives me. The time it brings me. The things I can buy with it. The control over my own life it allows me.
I love it because it is mine. Well, most of it. I would like to be taxed less, if at all, because I think I can put it to better use. More importantly, I would like to keep more of it for myself because it is mine.
Ayn Rand argued that this was the sole reason, the sole necessary justification, for someone to keep all the money they have earned, with no obligation, no compulsion, to give it to anybody else.
She loved money too.
Like her, I don’t see money as evil, or as “the source of all evil.” Money is a tool, whose value is the product of our collective agreement. Without it, we would have to use the much more complicated method of figuring out how many loaves of bread we could buy with a pig, how many eggs we need to pay our employees for 8 hours work.
Money does not come from nothing. It comes from work. Work can be of the kind that is labour in exchange for money. Or work can be of the mind and body, the kind of work which builds, grows, creates something which wasn’t there before, and thus creates wealth. If money is worked for, it is well earned, and it is all yours, or it should be.
To earn this money, discipline is necessary to get out of bed, get to work on time, put up with people, to do things you don’t necessarily like. The virtues of honesty, diligence, and perseverance are necessary to earn and to keep money. In order to create wealth, to create the need for work, and thus the opportunity for others to earn money, a special kind of genius, the kind which can see something which does not exist, and find a way to bring it into existence, is necessary.
Money is simply the most effective tool we use to represent the wealth we have earned, or created, by our labour. So, when I say I love money, I am saying that I love the discipline, the virtue, the genius – qualities which are the very best of human nature – necessary to create it. When I say I love money, I am saying that I love all the best qualities of human nature which money represents.
So, when you hear people calling money the source of all evil, think about why they are saying it. Are they the sort of people who work hard and don’t expect anything they haven’t earned, but are extremely grateful when they are given something for no reason, other than by the free will of the giver? They may find that they actually love money.
It is possible that, like me, they have always loved money, but, like the characters in the novels of Ayn Rand, didn’t have a way of articulating it until it was put this way.
Photo by 401(K) 2013