Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

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Francisco d’Anconia is one of the heroes of ‘Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand’ and while giving his speech he stated that “The ‘words’ to make money’ hold the essence of human morality.” Franscisco implied that money is made through manufacturing of goods and services, and trade. Making money through production and trade is the most ethical way to live since a person creates something of value and in return gets value in a voluntary transaction. The practice of getting value in such a manner takes place in a free market. In itself, money does not produce anything but it’s used as a medium of exchange. Therefore, money exists under the condition that goods and services are being produced, and men are willing to trade produce and trade them. Though in today’s society money is commonly referred to as the root of evil, William (2010) claimed that money is a representation of achievement, justice, and progress.

Why I agree with Franscisco views towards money

As an objectivist, Francisco defends the moral worth of money because production, rationality, and independence of human beings are attributes richly admired. Nonetheless, it doesn’t hold that money is equated with moral especially in today’s mixed economic systems. Money should not be an end to itself (McCourn 1998). It is however valuable depending on what it’s used to do and it’s moral worth is associated with how it’s obtained freely in the society. Objectivists thus asses how money was earned and what’s being used for instead of finding out whether a person has money. It therefore means that the morality of money is determined by what it’s being used for and not how much an individual has.

Though money does not symbolize moral worth, it’s however signifies goodness (Stelios 2014). When people make profits after creating and exchanging value in a free market, they become jolly thus representing the goodness of money. Even in instances when consumers demand things that are deemed unworthy, for instance beer, the responsibility of handling the transaction lies with both the customer and the seller. The customer is supposed to ensure that he is careful so that the transaction is clean, and the seller needs to have confidence that the consumer will be responsible in handling the product. Therefore, selling beer and other disputable products has moral worth though some individuals use the products irresponsibly.

It’s debatable however whether the morality of money is only an assumption. For instance, an heir of property is not esteemed as high as the owner since the former is not the original creator of wealth. As such, moral worth of a person depends on his wealth and the origin of it. It should however be noted there is a difference between earning money and pretending to earn it. For instance, Enron’s Ken Lay deceived shareholders and employees by pretending to build a financial company. The moral worth of money is not solely based on spending, possessing it, or making it, since it can be used for ill purposes such as promoting irrationalism or sacrifice, or bribing people for political purposes.

Francisco was basically trying to change the traditional hatred towards wealth creation in the market place especially in American society where earning money is not a problem but there is a strong conviction of money being the root of evil. For instance, you find productive employees passing their earnings to industrial enemies, churches, and other social and political affiliations.

Today’s prevalent moral attitudes towards money

In a study conducted by Alex and Lia (2008) on the attitudes of gamblers towards money, it was revealed that gamblers are motivated to win money in order to promote their self-image, ego, confidence, and narcissistic wants. For instance, those who use electronic gambling machines seek for enhancing psychological rewards instead of materiality of money. Therefore, money is used for power, prestige, and satisfaction of wants that are related to oneself.

Modern consumers are driven by the desire to possess, spend and accumulate money. Money significantly plays a major purpose in the sociological and cultural aspects of individuals. Most societies have become psychologically obsessed with money such that it shapes the day to day activity of a person. Srinivas and Steven stated that money is now is treated as a means to an end, with the end being mostly vanity or materialism. Money no longer serves its conventional economic purpose but it’s used for social recognition with marketers using it as a symbolism of power and lifestyle. The modern consumer is driven by the desire to be wealthy and it’s no longer matters where the money is derived from. People are worshipped because of money and in essence, only the wealthy in society are given respect. Contrary to these beliefs, sociologists (Tang et al. 2005) argued that obsession with money and its capacity to acquire material things is dysfunctional to both the society and an individual since it promotes evil in form of corruption, addiction to gambling, and even fraud which deprives the society its moral values.

Williams (2010) noted that Enron’s a reputable firm collapsed as a result of practicing a culture of greed, dishonesty, and unethical practices that have been prevalent in corporate America for decades. The collapse of the company indicted the moral decay of the free market in term of money making and accumulation. In fact, companies go to the extent of forging financial data to lure investors in to their firms or to acquire investment.

However, not all scholars perceive money to be evil. Government’s monopolistic funds are now being challenged by bitcoin and other forms of e-currency. Economists believe that this is a good thing since it enables people to view the role of money from the original principles. It is inappropriate for the government to have monopoly on the money used by people since its restriction can lead survival problems by small business people and farmers just because of a few institutions and individuals that inflate prices. Economist Charles (2012) asserted that it’s possible for government to manipulate money to satisfy the few individuals in government in form of taxes and public debts. The government doesn’t’ restrict money for the sole purpose of sustaining the welfare of citizens but mostly to have control over the nation, and if possible attain global power.

Conclusion

In all the arguments concerning money, it all leads to the fact that money in itself isn’t evil but the users of money are. Money is used a medium of exchange but in modern society, the amount owned by an individual translates to their self worth and status. The wealthy are feared and worshipped by the poor and this has led to the rise of evil deeds for prestige and self actualization. For instance, the interiors of Enron were decorated with scantly decorated women and sacred pictures marked with a dollar sign. Dollar and other currencies that can be used in such practices symbolize money, which is a sign of modern day capitalism, which in essence is immoral.

References

Alex, B. and Lia. N. (2008). Differences in attitudes toward money between subgroups of gamblers: Implications for smart card technologies and an exploration of the Tool and Drug Theories of Money in gambling. University of Sydney. Available at: https://publications.qld.gov.au/storage/f/2014-06-20T01%3A27%3A11.755Z/differences-in-attitudes-toward-money-between-subgroups-of-gamblers-implications-for-smart-card-technologies-and-an-exploration-of-the-tool-and-drug-theories-of-money-in-gambling.pdf

Abbott, M. (2006). Do EGMs and problem gambling go together like a horse and carriage? Gambling Research

Ainslie, G. (1975). Specious reward: A behavioral theory of impulsiveness and self-control. Psychological Bulletin

American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. American Psychiatric Association Press.

Bailey, W.C. & Lown, J.M. (1993). A cross-cultural examination of the etiology of attitudes towards money. Journal of Consumer Studies in Home Economics.

Bla, A. & Nower, L(2002). A pathways model of problemmand pathological gambling. Addiction, 97, 487-499.

Charles, C. (2014). The Morality of John Galt, IV. Available at: http://www.thecommentator.com/article/4736/the_morality_of_john_galt_part_iv

Connor, J (2006). Gambling is an Addictive Disorder: Impaired Control Harm Minimization, Treatment and Prevention. Cambridge: International Research Monographs in the Addictions

Delfabbro, P. (2007). Australasian gambling review, Independent Gambling Authority of South Australia.

James, S. (2010). Francisco’s Money Speech from Atlas Shrugged. Available at: http://www.working-minds.com/money.htm

Stelios, S. (2014). Is Money the Root of All Evil (Atlas Shrugged). Available at: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140702014611-267722970-is-money-the-root-of-all-evil-atlas-shrugged-by-ayn-rand

Srinivas, D. and Steven. L. (2010). Money, Money, Money – How do AttitudesToward Money Impact Vanity and Materialism? –the Case of Young Chinese Consumers

Seligman, M. (2004). Beyond money: Toward an economy of well-being. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, Supplement to Psychological Science

Tan, P. (1995). The development of a short money ethic scale: Attitudes toward money and pay satisfaction revisited. Personality and Individual Differences, 19, 809-816.

Tang, T. (1992). The Meaning of money. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 14, 93-99.

Tang, T.L., Tang, D.S., & Luna-Arocas, R. (2005). Money profiles:the love of money, attitudes, and needs. Personnel Review, 34(5),603 618.

Walker, M.B. (1992). The Psychology of Gambling. Oxford: Pergamon.

Williams, R. (2010). The Morality of Money. The Atlas Society. Available at: https://atlassociety.org/commentary/commentary-blog/3988-the-morality-of-money

June 15, 2022
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