Why I Love Money and I’m Not Ashamed to Admit It

by Mark on January 5, 2010 · 2 comments

“The love of money is the root of evil.”
1 Timothy 6:10

“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
Matthew 19:23-24, Mark 10:24-25, and Luke 18:24-25

As long as I can remember, I have always loved money, and I have never felt guilty about it. This is despite growing up with a religion that teaches about the evils of money and despite growing up in a society that often demonizes wealth. Politicians routinely denounce the wealthy as if being wealthy is proof of their wickedness and greed. Any company that dares earn a profit as a reward for efficiently providing valuable goods and services needs to watch their backs. Such virtue can’t go unpunished.

Even as a child, I never believed that the love of money was evil, although I never really thought about it much. It just didn’t make sense why it would be evil. Now that I’m older and have had a chance to think about it more, I love money more than ever, and I’m proud of it. I don’t begrudge the wealthy for having more money than me, and I don’t insist that they fork over increasingly massive amounts of money to the government as their “fair share.” It’s their money. I say good for them! If a company earns high profits, I think that is fantastic. It’s something to be commended, not condemned. Instead we seem to think that failure is the path to virtue. We reward failure and punish success.

Why do I love money so much?

Money is a tool of voluntary cooperation.

There are two ways to interact with people. You can use force or you can use voluntary consent. I am a firm believer that it is immoral to deal with others by initiating force against them. I believe in the Founding Fathers’ conception of the inalienable individual rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

I believe that we should be free to do as we wish as long as we don’t violate the rights of others. This means that we can’t force people to do as we wish and we can’t prohibit people from doing things that don’t violate our rights. The principles of liberty and individual rights that this country were founded on are now largely ignored (so is our Constitution), but I still believe strongly in them. I realize that others might not choose to do as I might wish, but I don’t think that this justifies using force to compel desired behaviors, such as forced charity for some undefinable common good.

If we can’t force people to do what we want, then our only alternative is to try to convince them to cooperate voluntarily. There are many ways to do this. You can beg and plead. You can promise to do something for them in return. You can promise to give them some of your property. Sometimes people will do things for you just because they love you or because it makes them feel good. These methods often fall short, however, when we are dealing with strangers. This is where money comes in.

Money is a tool of mutually beneficial exchange.

Money allows us to exchange value for value in market transactions. Contrary to popular belief, these market transactions are not a zero-sum game where one person benefits at another person’s expense. A voluntary exchange will only take place if both parties feel they will benefit from making the exchange. People will only buy something if they think that what they are buying is worth more than the money that they need to give up to buy it. People will only sell something if they think that what they are selling is worth less than the money that they would receive by selling it. This is the beauty of capitalism. The pricing mechanism of capitalist markets coordinates a vast and intricate web of completely voluntary behavior.

Money enables a far higher standard of living.

Money doesn’t guarantee that you will be able to get what you want. Others still have to be willing to give it to you voluntarily. If they are not willing to voluntarily consent to the exchange, you are out of luck. Money, however, does simplify things. Just think how much harder it would be to get things if money didn’t exist. You could try to barter, but this is complicated by the fact that the person who has what you want might not want what you have to offer. Money makes the process of exchange much easier by providing a standard of exchange that is almost universally desired and accepted.

Money allows us to be far more prosperous than we could be without it. By facilitating exchanges between individuals, it allows a far greater degree of specialization than would otherwise be possible. We would be stuck spending most of our lives working just to live at a subsistence level. We wouldn’t be able to enjoy even a fraction of the luxuries that we enjoy today. Money allows us to focus our energy and attention in order to be able to create value more productively in narrow specialties, value that we can then exchange with others. Think about what a difference it would make to your life if you were out deep in the woods and had no way to exchange anything with the outside world. Most of your standard of living would be eliminated without the ability to exchange with others. This is why money is so important.

Money helps us to pursue our dreams and passions.

Not only does money allow us to be more prosperous, but it also allows us freedom to choose what we want to do to get money. We don’t have to spend all of our waking hours working to gather food, build shelters, and make clothing. We can instead choose to earn money by doing something more interesting and fulfilling. Before the advent of money, you didn’t have much of a choice: hunter or gatherer. Pick one. Okay, so it wasn’t quite that bad, but the point is that your choices were extremely limited.

So why is the love of money evil?

If there is so much to love about money, then why is it condemned so often? That’s a great question. Maybe it’s because there have been people throughout history that have been willing to do evil things to get money, whether it is steal, commit fraud, invade countries, or whatever. Maybe it’s because there have been people throughout history that have been willing to use their money to buy evil things, like buying Barbra Streisand records (just kidding). I think it is partly a result of envy of people who have more money than we do. There seems to be a widely held misconception that wealthy people got that way by taking advantage of others. This is of course false. It is probably believed because the media portrays negative examples far more often than positive examples. Are there wealthy people who have taken advantage of people? Absolutely. But there are people who are not wealthy who have taken advantage of people too. Virtue and vice transcend economic classes.

Whatever the motivation for the condemnation of money, condemning the love of something that has benefited society so tremendously just doesn’t make sense. Money is just a tool. It can be used for good or evil.

The fundamental principle for making money honestly

There is one fundamental principle for making money honestly, and it relates to money’s function as a tool of voluntary exchange. Making money is simple. You merely have to exchange something of value with someone. If you want to be wealthy, you need to find a way to create much more value and exchange it with others. If you want bigger raises, find a way to be more valuable to your employer. If you have a business, find a way to provide more value to customers. It’s a win/win situation. Both sides to the transaction receive more value than they started out with.

There is one thing you should keep in mind. When you are brainstorming ways to create value, remember that it is how others value what you have to offer that is important. In other words, you might provide something of inherent value to society that isn’t valued very highly in monetary terms by the market. A good example of this is motherhood. Being a mother is arguably extremely valuable to society, but it is pretty rare to be paid to be a mother (although I suppose there might be cases such as surrogate mothers). Why doesn’t the market pay people to be mothers? That’s simple. It’s because so many women are willing to be mothers for free! Both supply and demand are important in determining the market value of a product or service.

The point is that if you want to make a lot of money, then you have to find something that is valued by the market. It’s not just a matter of working hard. You could be the hardest working French fry guy in the history of McDonald’s, but you won’t get rich from it. It simply is not valued very highly by the market. There is nothing wrong with working hard, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that hard work will entitle you to a lot of money. There are plenty of people throughout the world who work extremely hard and are barely at the subsistence level.

Ignore those who might look down on your desire for money. Money is a perfectly fair reward for providing value to society. You will have earned it.

What do you think about the idea of loving money?


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