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What is money? October 6, 2012

Posted by ourfriendben in wit and wisdom.
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Most of us would really like to have more money. And yet, we all know the saying “Money is the root of all evil.” But that’s a misquote. The saying, radix malorum est cupiditas, is “The love of money is the root of all evil.” Think Scrooge: someone who loves money for its own sake.

Money itself is neither good nor evil. It’s a shorthand form of exchange. It stands for something else. With money in our pocket, we don’t have to carry a cow to market over our shoulders to trade for the goods we need.

It’s important to keep that stand-in factor in mind. We don’t actually want money; we want something it stands for. Whether that’s a lovely house or a new car or a swimming pool or someone to mow our lawn or a vacation; whether it’s the ability to pay for our kids’ college or to pay the part of a much-needed medical procedure that insurance won’t cover, these are all real things. These are the things we want, not money per se.

Even the peace of mind that comes from knowing there’s something in the savings account if you get laid off or something goes wrong, though intangible, is an actual benefit. So is the good feeling that comes from knowing that you’re paying off the mortgage, putting money aside for the college fund, saving for that vacation.

Money is in essence a worthless piece of paper to which we’ve all mutually agreed to assign a surrogate value. It’s greed, the love of money for its own sake, the willingness to deprive others to take more than one’s share, that’s evil, not money.

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