My Answer to Ayn Rand

Somebody sent me an email asking me my thoughts on "Francisco's Money Speech" in Ayn Rand's book, Atlas Shrugged:

So you think that money is the root of all evil?" said Francisco d'Anconia. "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?
The rest of this speech is found at Capitalism Magazine.
It is only the superficial perception that money represents work and creativity!  It should represent work and creativity, but it surely does not. If money today were just, it indeed would be as Ayn Rand describes it.  But reality tells us otherwise: when you step back and look at the world scene, you see that money flows from the workers to the non-workers, from the creative to the non-creative!
Money Representing Work?

Money does often represent work, but the majority of money in the world represents the work of other people, not the work of the person who possesses it.  The money accumulated by Wal Mart and cheap dollar stores represents the labor and goods of millions of people working in overseas sweatshops living in poverty, so those who work less in the US can afford cheap products.

Money Not the Tool of Moochers?
Now look at banks.  Any banker or economist knows the money of banks is created out of thin air (called fiat money) with a stroke of the pen or the type of a keyboard.  Such money begins representing absolutely nothing, but eventually it ends up representing the nearly unbearable labor of millions upon millions of others who live in poverty. 

There is no greater mooch in all the world than the bank.  The bank creates nothing, contributes nothing but illusion, and in return it hoards the goods of the world's workers and the world's creative people, and then turns around and deceives the world's citizens into thinking they owe their life to the bank.

See essays in this website:
Money Representing Creativity?

Vincent Van Gogh is a most obvious illustration,
like a caricature, of these principles.  Van Gogh spent his life in abject poverty, selling only one painting (The Red Vineyard, at left).  Now that he's dead, his paintings are some of the most obscenely expensive on earth, cashed in on by art dealers.
Let's look more closely at creative inventiveness.  On the surface it appears that the creative inventiveness of our civilization comes from money.  But take a look at inventors, if you can.  Why are most inventors unknown?  Corporate marketeers buy the patents of inventors, take credit for them and cash in on them.  Money facilitates mass production of that creativity, but it does not facilitate the creativity itself.  It's comparable to bovine growth hormones facilitating the overproduction of low-quality milk, but the creation of milk was already there, in healthy balance.

What's great is you don't have to do research to find the evidence of where creativity really comes from.  Look within!  When I look within myself and examine my own creativity, I realize human creativity is not motivated by money.  In fact, my creativity becomes stifled if I even think about money.  

My Personal Witness of Artistic and Technological Creativity

When I look at all the truly creative people I personally know, all of them are poor.  

I have an artist friend here in Moab who recently started getting paid for his work.  Now he comments how it isn't fun any more, and he feels his creativity dying.  

I once worked at a homeless shelter in Boulder, Colorado in the early 90s and knew an inventor who was residing there.  He was a friendly, easy-going, unassuming white-haired man.  At the time he was working on a new-fangled sewing machine bobbin, and was so passionate about it he couldn't even think about making a living.  I don't even remember the man's name, but his bobbin is probably a part of sewing machines today.  And his pleasant character influenced me and is with me today.
But, yes, there are some people who can be creative despite money, but not because of it.

Money The Impetus of Civilization?
Yes, it seems obvious our civilization probably would have taken much longer to develop without money.  But I feel certain that if civilization were motivated by instinctual passion rather than money, it would take longer to grow, yet, like all things that take longer to grow, it would have more substance and quality and would be in balance with itself and with its environment.  A hand takes longer to develop than a malignant tumor!  And civilization would be just; and its creativity would sparkle so brightly today's techno-wonders and art would pale in comparison.  Maybe that's just wishful thinking.  But when I look within, it feels certain; because, when I also look without, I see the sparkling splendor of the creativity of nature.  Yes, Nature, the Infinite Universe, outside commercial civilization's walls, is infinitely creative, complex, beautiful, without money.  How can this be?  Did we come from the Universe or did we not?  Are we nature or are we not?  Find your True Nature, and you'll know the answer.

Money A Material Shape?

Money is not a material substance.  Money is a belief in the head.
See What Money Is & What Money Is Not
Money the Root of All Evil?

And, no, despite misconceptions, I do not say or believe that money is the root of all evil - nor do the scriptures from which this saying is taken and distorted.  "The love of money is the root of all evil" (1 Timothy 6:10). 
See FAQ # 2. Do You Think Money Is Evil?

Money itself would be good if it served us, but we serve money.  Money itself would be good if it represented goods, labors, and creativity, but it does not.  It has become unjust.  It has become unjust Mammon to us.