As the sidebar indicates, one of the books I’m reading right now is Atlas Shrugged. It’s 1069 pages long and worth every minute of my time. Ayn Rand, the author, was one smart cookie. I’m only on page 400 or so right now, but the last few pages have been highly interesting. One of the characters, Francisco D’Anconia, just spent five pages talking about the nature and purpose of money, prompted when another person claimed that “money is the root of all evil”.
If you plan to never read the book, you can skip ahead and read the section about money at this page. But for those with an interest in literature, especially relating to all things political and societal, I highly recommend reading the book.
There were two sections of D’Anconia’s monologue that I found quite interesting:
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.
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.
Again, this quote is quite indicative of our current situation. Special interest lobbying groups, “consultants”, politicians and corporate big wigs change money around while actually producing nothing. Favors are promised, closed-door combinations created, contracts made—all making men “richer by graft and by pull than by work”. And the laws? Whom do they protect? Who takes advantage of the abundant loopholes? Is honesty a self-sacrifice in the corporate world? You bet it is.
According to Francisco, our society is doomed. I’m not sure that I disagree with him.