Is Money Evil? (#134)

This is part two of the 2-part money series on this blog. You can read part one here where we discussed what makes people believe in money and how it works.

No, money isn’t evil. The same way a knife isn’t evil but the murderer is (depending on your definition of evil). Money is a tool. It can be used any way we like. It depends on us whether we use the knife to cut vegetables to kill hunger or as a means to put an end to a life.

We often hear or have had experiences in our own life which indicate that money changes a person. But does it really? Or does it simply reveal who that person was in the first place?

“Power doesn’t corrupt, it reveals.”

Robert Caro

To emphasize, money is just a tool. A famous example would be of Elon Musk. An interviewer once asked him:
“You hit a point in your life where you know you made plenty of money and you could do whatever; what drives you to just keep going?”
(Side note: That question was referring to the time when Musk made about $180 million when PayPal was sold to eBay in 2002. Right after cashing in he invested almost all of that money into SpaceX and then Tesla. Not something you’d expect from Internet millionaires)
Elon explains, “Yeah I could be on a tropical island windsurfing with naked models… some people do that. I didn’t put all this effort into building SpaceX and Tesla because I thought they were easy ways to make money. Anyone who starts a car company thinking it’s an easy way to make money is a fool…”[1]

Although Musk may not be intending to point out the different kinds of ways money can be put to use, he puts it forth rather aptly.

The same money people would get out of selling a multimillion dollar business can be used on indulging in the mansion life or it can be used to create value, sincere value, not by investing in some “easy ways to make money” but like what Elon Musk is doing—setting up a rocket company which aims at getting humanity to colonize another planet (but that’s just one example).

The “change” we see after people achieve a bit of money is not because of money itself. But the attitude one keeps toward money. Money causes no harm, it is not the root of all evil, it is we who corrupt money, not the other way round.

Money is a great servant but a bad master.

Francis Bacon

But alas, our primitive instincts cause us to act in certain ways that displays money used in its vicious state. The pursuit of dollars for most of us never really stops. There is no infinite number we can reach when it comes to money. The possession of some makes us upgrade our lifestyle, and that makes us want to reach the next level, then the next, and the next. And it continues. Money becomes an addiction. Any money above the poverty line (at least) does not buy you any happier a state of mind. But the chase never ends because the mind does not realize there’s nothing to be gained (but indeed to be lost as one later regrets). Everyone wants more money, that’s what makes everyone else want more of it.

When money becomes our intentions, we are inherently being led by money. And being led by something whose entire purpose is to act as a thing to be used to exchange goods & services, as Francis Bacon suggested; is not very good.

The contrast between what we discussed in the previous article of this series (the history of money and why we trust in it) and money as it is today is really surprising. Money has come so far ahead that its considered one of the most powerful forces in the world. Some of the top leaders of today, as we call them are also led by money.

Let’s not forget the initial purpose of money, which was to act as a medium of exchange for trade. Money in itself is money itself. What you do with it can be judged good or evil. Let’s keep money our servant—the intersubjective entity which was meant to be that way. And not fall so low as to allow it to rule us.


[1] – FULL INTERVIEW: Elon Musk Sits Down With The Babylon Bee (YouTube)
– Part where he talks about windsurfing on a tropical island can be found here.

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