It is said that money is the root of all evil. The implication being that, if we somehow managed to do away with money, we could banish evil from the world and all live in peace and harmony. But do you really think that before the advent of money there was no murder, theft, or rape?
So what is money? Why do we need it?
Though twisted almost beyond recognition by the state and central banking cartels, in its essence money is nothing more than a universal means of exchange.
Because unless you’ve somehow attained the perfect Platonic ideal of self-sufficiency, we’re all reliant in some way on other people to meet even our most basic needs of food and shelter. And should you, like us here at The Rational Rise, accept that the initiation of force is immoral (aka the Non-Aggression Principle [NAP]), and have thus chosen to take force and coercion off the table, some form of voluntary exchange is your only moral alternative to acquire the things you need to live.
And while there is certainly a case to be made for barter, clearly it has only limited utility. Sure, you may have some chickens, but if the person who has what you want doesn’t want eggs, what are you to do? If the baker doesn’t want eggs, you ain’t gettin’ no bread! You could try to find some chain of intermediaries, but in practical terms, this would quickly become unfeasible.
So long as people create things of value, a truly universal means of exchange will always become necessary. Money is such a powerful tool because with it all goods and services may be converted and exchanged. In a sense money is the true Philosopher’s Stone.
Recognize also that money has no inherent value, it is merely a representation of the value one person creates, as determined by those that want it… Put another way, your creative labours have objective value only to the extent that others are willing to exchange their own labor for them. This is the essence of the market place.
Sadly what we have today isn’t actually money, it’s fiat currency, money by government decree. Which would actually be fine if we weren’t forced to use it, or were free to create our own currencies. Money today is a tool used by governments to extract wealth from the masses, they use it to buy votes (by promising people “free” stuff) in order to maintain their power. But currencies have collapsed many times before in history, the difference today is that, thanks to alternative digital currencies like Bitcoin (block-chain technology), there are secure, anonymous, open-source alternatives waiting in the wings…
It is trade that has given rise to civilisation as we know it, and the historically unprecedented levels of wealth, health and prosperity we now enjoy.
And while it’s certainly true that poverty exists today, it’s important to consider the historical context and recognize how relative the term “poverty” truly is. Today you can be considered below the poverty line, and might yet have running water, plumbing, electricity, “free” health-care/education, etc. You may even have a car, or a smartphone from which you have instantaneous access to essentially the sum-total of human knowledge. These are the kinds of luxuries that Louis XIV, king of 17th century France, wealthiest man in his world, could scarcely have dreamed of…
The market place creates the incentive for people to create technology, to create useful, and beautiful things. The basic things that we want, and make our lives better.
And the truly beautiful thing about voluntary trade, by definition, is that it’s a win-win interaction.
We’re all familiar with the process of course, but to spell it out, it works like this: let’s say I am a producer of epic, next-level muesli, and a customer comes to my factory to buy some of said muesli. This customer has 20$, and I have a bag of muesli. They want my bag of muesli more than their 20$, I want their 20$ more than my bag of muesli. We both voluntarily agree to exchange, no force involved. Hey, presto: win-win interaction! And both of us better off than we were before.
Nothing in the concept of money is inherently evil, so what, then, is the root of all evil?
I submit that the root of all evil is the desire for the unearned.
The Desire for the Unearned
The expectation that you can get something or are entitled to something without effort on your part, undeserved, unearned, for “free”… is immoral, and, I will argue, ignores the very fundamentals of reality itself.
Robert Heinlein famously said TANSTAAFL, ‘there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch’. He was right, nothing is free.
And what, you might ask, of the apple on the tree, or the fish in the lake? But if you truly think these things are free, I can only assume you’ve never actually tried to grow your own food, or consistently tried to catch fish—these things take immense effort, time and indeed specialized (and hard-won) knowledge! These things are most emphatically not free…
The air we breathe? Of course it only takes a moment’s thought, after all, what is it we’re breathing out? Every breath we take is, in fact, a beautifully evolved and elegant exchange, a trade in fact: we exhale CO2, which nourishes plant-life, for which they provide the oxygen which nourishes us. A perfect symbiosis, nature’s most fundamental and life-sustaining win-win interaction…
To go even further, every action you take, no matter how trivial, has a cost, because every action you take means you’re not doing any of the other things you could have been doing instead. Economists call this opportunity cost.
Perhaps most fundamentally, accepting that there’s no such thing as free is to acknowledge the basic laws of thermodynamics, by recognizing that every transformation/transaction requires some form of energy in exchange.
And yet seemingly all around us are people and organizations desperately trying to convince us that we can get something for free. And worse, that we should…
Most people understand that when an online store is offering “free delivery”, the actual cost of delivery is already covered by the cost of the product. But what about when your government offers free healthcare, free education, free roads, the whole massive edifice of the welfare state—FREE MONEY!
But how many people, while collecting their weekly welfare-system-distributed “free” money, give any thought to where that money is actually coming from?
Make no mistake, if you’re being told that something is “free”, in truth, someone is paying. It may not be you, it may not be today, but someone has, or someone will… Nothing is free.
And economics is the art of seeing the hidden costs.
But the most damaging effect of “free” is that people learn helplessness. We grow only with resistance.
When you speak for a child, the child will always need an interpreter. When a child is taught to use words himself he can communicate his own thoughts and desires.
When you read for a child, he will forever need a reading assistant. When he is taught to read for himself, the world of knowledge is unlocked for him to earn through his own labour.
When you think for a child, he will forever be stupid. When you teach a child to think rationally, he will be truly liberated to create his life and world as he chooses.
When you tell a whole society that they are children, who, without the “parent” of a government, would be unable to make safe food, name their own prices for their own goods, build a road, plan a city, exist peacefully, defend themselves, teach their own children or manage their own desires, then yours will forever be a society of helpless children, beggars and thieves.
These leaders are thieves stealing from their own children. The example the children learn from is that of desiring the unearned, and the inept thief simply becomes a beggar. There is no room for win-win exchange, for empowerment of an individual, let alone an empowered society.
When the thief wants something for free, he simply takes it. The rapist takes sex. The murderer takes a life… All of these demand the unearned.
So don’t expect the unearned, if there’s something in life that you want, make yourself worthy of it… earn it.
This is morality. This is justice. This is true freedom…