Monday, March 16, 2009


Have you ever thought about the meaning of money? What exactly is it? What does it stand for? 

In Atlas Shrugged, Rand wrote the famous "Money Speech" which remains perhaps the clearest definition of what money means. I refer you to the book for the entire speech, excerpts of which I have included here. 

I would pay particular attention to her prediction of when a society is about to crumble, because if you look, you can see many of those warning signs among us today. 

“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?

“When you accept money as 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 produce.

“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 bond 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?

 Money will not serve the mind that cannot match it. Is this the reason why you call it evil?

“Money will always remain an effect and refuse to replace you as the cause. Money is the product of virtue, but it will not give you virtue and it will not redeem your vices. Money will not give you the unearned, neither in matter nor in spirit. Is this the root of your hatred of money?

Let me give you a tip on a clue to men’s characters: the man who damns money has obtained it dishonorably; the man who respects it has earned it.

“Run for your life from any man who tells you that money is evil. That sentence is the leper’s bell of an approaching looter. So long as men live together on earth and need means to deal with each other—their only substitute, if they abandon money, is the muzzle of a gun.

“But money demands of you the highest virtues, if you wish to make it or to keep it. Men who have no courage, pride or self-esteem, men who have no moral sense of their right to their money and are not willing to defend it as they defend their life, men who apologize for being rich—will not remain rich for long. They are the natural bait for the swarms of looters that stay under rocks for centuries, but come crawling out at the first smell of a man who begs to be forgiven for the guilt of owning wealth. They will hasten to relieve him of the guilt—and of his life, as he deserves.

“Then you will see the rise of the men of the double standard –the men who live by force, yet count on those who live by trade to create the value of their looted money—the men who are the hitchhikers of virtue
. In a moral society, these are the criminals, and the statues are written to protect you against them. But when a society establishes criminals-by-right and looters-by-law—men who use force to seize the wealth of disarmed victims— then money becomes its creators’ avenger. Such looters believe it safe to rob defenseless men, once they’ve passed a law to disarm them. But their loot becomes the magnet for other looters, who get it from them as they got it. Then the race goes, not to the ablest at production, but to those most ruthless at brutality. When force is the standard, the murderer wins over the pickpocket. And then that society vanishes, in a spread of ruins and slaughter.

Do you wish to know whether that day is coming? Watch money.
Money is the barometer of a society’s virtue. When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion—when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing—when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors—when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you—when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice—you may know that your society is doomed.
Money is so noble a medium that it does not compete with guns and it does not make terms with brutality. It will not permit a country to survive as half-property, half-loot.

“Whenever destroyers appear among men, they start by destroying money, for money is men’s protection and the base of a moral existence. Destroyers seize gold and leave to its owners a counterfeit pile of paper. This kills all objective standards and delivers men into the arbitrary power of an arbitrary setter of values. Gold was an objective value, an equivalent of wealth produced. Paper is a mortgage on wealth that does not exist, backed by a gun aimed at those who are expected to produce it. Paper is a check drawn by legal looters upon an account which is not theirs: upon the virtue of the victims. Watch for the day when it bounces, marked: ‘Account overdrawn.’

“Until and unless you discover that money is the root of all good, you ask for your own destruction. When money ceases to be the tool by which men deal with one another, then men become the tools of men. Blood, whips and guns—or dollars. Take your choice—there is no other—and your time is running out.

As Francisco says at the end of the speech, "go ahead, refute one word of it."


Rumpole said...

I re-read this section and then thought of the victims of Bernie Madoff:

“But money demands of you the highest virtues, if you wish to make it or to keep it. Men who have no courage, pride or self-esteem, men who have no moral sense of their right to their money and are not willing to defend it as they defend their life, men who apologize for being rich—will not remain rich for long. They are the natural bait for the swarms of looters that stay under rocks for centuries, but come crawling out at the first smell of a man who begs to be forgiven for the guilt of owning wealth. They will hasten to relieve him of the guilt—and of his life, as he deserves."

My point is Caveat Madoff. He plucked those who really didn't respect their money enough to defend it by examining exactly who he(Madoff) was and what he was up to. Any firm that did due diligence on Madoff refused to deal with him.

Those people respected their money and/or they were earning their fees as protectors of other peoples money.

Anonymous said...

Is it just me or has this blog become really preachy lately? I remember this blog as being a lot more fun in the past.

Anonymous said...

Rumpole, the exact quote from St. Paul's letter to Timothy (not Geithner) is: "For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." 1 Timothy 6:10.

Anonymous said...

Let's talk about hot PD's and ASA's again. Let's bring back the Sunday DUI power rankings. Let's talk about the Q and let's discuss the fundamental differences bewteen Shumie and Shumie Time. Only then will the blog get back to its fun roots.

Anonymous said...

I concur with 4:52. This blog has become too preachy. What ever happened to talking smack about ASAs?

blog general manager said...

Rump doesn't talk about it, but I'm very excited for the upcoming blog season. We've lost only a few free agents, and have re-signed some big ones who will be participating more like:


and we've signed up some real exciting new bloggers, the biggest name probably being


as well as a few surprises to come.

Keep reading.

Anonymous said...

tick toc. your 15 minutes are up rump. how bout rather than stretch it out for another season, you give it the send off and leave having only fallen a bit from teh top, instead of all the way down. heck, you've complained the blog became an albatross. or does your ego prevent it?

plus dude, all you sensorship undermines your deep thoughts.


Slim And Slam said...

See 7:46, and then tell me if Rand didn't set up one of the biggest straw men in literary history.

Anonymous said...


1) "C" PD in Glick - hubba hubba

Rumpole said...

10:57 pm. Your comment would be taken a bit more seriously if you had the intelligence to spell "censorship" correctly.

As to censorship, I did not publish a comment about an individual who was recently let go from his/her job because of budget cuts, because the person asked me to hold off a few days. As this is not a newspaper, and I do not wish to hurt anyone, I have complied with her request and will wait.

Anonymous said...

dude - im a state hack defense attorney. spelling ain't important in my practice. atlas shrugged. give me a freakin break.

South Florida Lawyers said...

I love the Phil Donahue interview of Rand, back when there was sometimes real content on these teevee thingamajigs.