Only money?

By Michael Miller
web posted February 1997

You’ve heard them. “Money isn’t everything. Money can’t buy love. Money can’t buy happiness. It’s only money.”

St. Paul’s voice thunders down the centuries: the love of money is the root of all evil!

Oh yeah? Let’s see.

Money is the most liquid form of wealth, the form most readily converted into other forms. All forms of wealth are convertible to one another through money. The alchemist dream of turning lead into gold is easy to accomplish with money: sell lead, buy gold. So money can stand in for all wealth in our thinking. To love money is to love wealth.

Is wealth important?

Well, wealth is what you eat. Wealth is the table you eat it from. Wealth is what you wear on your back, live in, sleep on and ride around in. It serves your life, and you can’t live without it. Wealth is important.

Is wealth a value?

Well, a value is what serves life. This is just a re-statement of the principle that life is the standard of value. Wealth serves your life. Wealth is a value.

Is wealth a moral value?

Well, a moral value is a value that must be recommended to all, a value that is not optional, a value that everyone should value. A value no man can live without is evidently a moral value.

Wealth is a moral value.

As you see, this is the simplest conclusion in the world. It follows easily from evident premises. It needs no laborious study of weighty tomes-merely a moment’s thought, and a mental check mark. It also runs smack into the prejudices and half-truths of millenia!

To love wealth is to love what it makes possible. And what is that? Life is what wealth makes possible; wealth is the gamut of material things that serve human life. To love wealth is to love life.

So Paul’s doctrine amounts to this: the love of life is the root of all evil. Anyone care to agree with that?

If you do, you land in trouble, big time! It commits you to saying that life is evil! In that case, what on Earth is your standard of good and evil-and why are you still here?

Paul was mistaken. Wealth is a good thing, and a means to good things; you gotta love it!

Wealth is so tightly connected to self-interest that a man who scorns one will be driven to scorn the other. Anti-wealth breeds anti-selfishness. Anti-selfishness breeds anti-wealth. This creates a logic jam; the two errors support each other.

The cure is obvious: uphold wealth in the name of egoism. To do this, it isn’t enough simply to say wealth is good. We must say something about what it is good for.

Those who say money can’t buy happiness and love just don’t know how to shop! Money can buy all sorts of things which can make you happier and more loveable. The list of possibilities is as long as the list of human values. Anything from a toy to a business to a painting could contribute to happiness. Loveableness could be enhanced by anything from a course of lectures on ethics to a stick of deodorant! Of course, these are just wisecrack retorts to wisecrack slurs, but they point to a deeper truth.

Money isn’t everything? In a sense money is everything, every value.

For a start, it is a means to everything which is for sale-other forms of wealth. When you think about how much of your time is spent earning the wealth you need, a new perspective on money opens up.

Money can buy time off work.

So what? So you can use that time off work for anything you can do, you can devote it to any value whatever. So money can buy any value whatever!

You can use time off work to do (or to discover) the things that make you happy, or to seek love. So we conclude, astonishingly to conventional wisdom, that money is everything, money can buy happiness, money can buy love, love of money is the root of whatever you regard as good.

This is no debating trick; it is a matter of everyday experience. You prove it anew every time you say, “I’d love to do X, but I can’t afford the time.”

Wealth releases your abilities from other uses, and lets you direct them to whatever value pleases you. Wealth is as versatile a value as your own abilities.

And more! When you live in society, your wealth is as versatile as the abilities of everyone in that society! What you cannot do yourself, you can pay others to do.

Maybe you don’t have the ability to play a tune, but you can hire a musician. By doing so, you help to make music possible-by freeing potential musicians from the necessity of milking cows or hoeing potatoes for a living! It is no accident that the arts have flourished in prosperous eras, and languished in poverty-stricken eras.

Wealth releases ability. Another word for ability is power.

Wealth is power! In the first place, and fundamentally, it is your own power. But it is also the power of anyone you can come to terms with. Wealth is not power over men, wealth is the power of men.

Wealth is good, and-within limits so broad that the far edge has never been seen-more wealth is better. The greater your wealth, the greater your scope of action, the greater the range of values to which you can aspire, and the better your life.

After the centuries of bad-mouthing wealth has suffered, will it be easy to convince men that wealth is a moral value? Not at first, but by all means tell them.

Once stated, right ideas spread uncontrollably, bypassing their opponents, and strengthening the good guys who do accept them. In time the good guys and right ideas win. This fact has been the despair of despotisms throughout history.

“Wealth is power” is a right idea. “Wealth is a moral value” is a right idea.

While others make up their minds about them, you can make your fortune-with the delighted blessing of an eager conscience.

Then, when enough of the others have caught on, you’ll have a free country in which to enjoy your fortune. For the moral status of wealth is the root of property rights, and hence of capitalism.

You needn’t despair at the bad-mouthing of wealth-you can become a Quackgrass activist! Copy this article! Keep the original for future copies. Paper meetings with it! Paper your office! Leave a stack on your business counter! If you expect hostility, use stealth and cunning-it’ll drive your opponents wild! Be ingenious! Have fun!


1995, by Michael Miller. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial reproduction and circulation of this article.




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