Is Money the Root of All Evil?

“Money is the root of all evil”. Or is it not? This may seem like a tautological discussion, but the fact that it is unresolved, proves that it is still as contentious as the frequency of your own conscience asking you if it is alright to spend the money that you earned, especially easy money.

Although many have claimed to have a heart as cold as steel with the cliche remark of “I don’t care how I become rich as long as I get the money and it is legal (to some, even the latter prerequisite is redundant”, is being legal a valid justification or is it just a self denial of one’s own conscience? I believe we have all ask ourselves the question at one point or another in our lives, as we are inextricably linked to money irregardless of our profession. I shall make a bold attempt to answer this question, or at the very least, shed some light about it. So… is money the root of all evil? Before we plunge into a “yes” or a “no”, the link between the two elements, “money” and “evil” must be discussed.

“Money”, albeit complicated in its nature, sociological background, and history, it is actually a simple element as far as our discussion is concerned. Why? Because “money” is “objective” in our question (Unless your question is “what” is money, then that would be a different story altogether). Even a little child will know what money is, and that this level of understanding is enough to tackle the question. Why, you ask? Because even a child who can reason will most probably understand that it is wrong to steal money from another.

So that leaves us only to our second element– “evil”. What is “evil”? This may seem like a simple elementary question, but it is something that even modern philosophers fail to quantify. It is not as simple as how many would love to believe it to be, that as long as you’re not doing anything illegal, then you’re not “evil”. Evil, in its strict meaning according to a dictionary, is anything against morality. Morality, on the other hand, is another subjective question that is unresolved. What is immoral to one may not be so to another. And one of the most contentious issues in relation to “morality” as far as money is concerned, is “equality”.

If you are an employee (in which the possibility is 90 per cent, as per Robert Kiyosaki), then have you ever wondered whether it is fair that you worked so hard, and yet you do not earn as much as your boss does. Is this “fair” and “equal”? If your answer is “yes”, it may be due to several reasons. First, you may be a true capitalist supporter, and you’re probably one yourself. Second, is that you might be one of those who belittle yourself into thinking that this is the way of the world, the rich gets richer and the poor gets poorer. Those who are rich can make more money with money. As much as some have conceded this to be “reality”, at one point of time, Karl Marx, the father of communism, chose to believe otherwise. He had a vision of creating a perfect society in which everyone is equal to one another. There will be no class conflict, i.e. employer and employee, landlord and tenant.

As long as there is class conflict, Karl Marx claimed that the employer will always exploit the working class. He demonstrated it with a linguistic illustration that if an item is manufactured, why does it have an extra value which yields profit? Suppose that a plastic is turned into a bowl, and the plastic cost $1 including the expenses of processing it, and it is sold $10 in the market, where does the extra $9 came from? It is none other than from the working class. Labour work is also a type of commodity that can be quantified. Therefore, in this analogy, the value of the work is actually $9. However, employers usually don’t pay the full $9 to the working class, and may in fact take the majority of the profit as their own, and return a small proportion to the workers.

Up to this point, some may think that, isn’t this fair? Is this not how it works, since it is a business after all? This is what Karl Marx refer to as “Mystification”, which is an illusion created by the upper class. Let’s step outside of the box and think again, the employer pulls out $1 from his pocket for the TOTAL cost of the plastic bowl, and it is the value of the worker’s effort that increased it by a sum of $9, so why should the employer get a relatively large proportion of the increased value of the plastic bowl when he provides a commodity with a value less than 9 times what the worker provided? This may only be an example but the profit ratio is always on the employer’s side. You will hardly see an employer earning less than what he gives his employee. This is why, in a capitalist country, it is to a large extent veracious, that the rich gets richer. Without much effort, an employer can make passive income with the money he already has. (By the way, if you believe that you can become rich other than becoming a capitalist, then read Robert Kiyosaki’s books)

So what are the alternatives, IF at all this is deemed “unfair”. Karl Marx believed that if all properties belong to the government, who acts only as an administrative role, by having everyone to work for everyone, then it will achieve an altruistic society where everyone is equal. Thus, by reference to the above analogy, every worker is both the employer and employee, whereby they actually have a “share” of the industrial site they are working in, and the profit of the plastic bowl will be equally shared among all the workers.

Calling someone a “communist” may sound as if there is a pejorative connotation to it. But there are actually many variations to the classical Marxism. There is even a variation called the Christian Communism, which base their beliefs on the Book of Acts chapter 2 verse 42-45: 42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and in fellowship […] 44 And all that believed were together, and had all things in common; 45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. (King James Version).

So, coming back to our main question, is money the root of all evil, since having an unequal share of it MAY be deemed immoral by reason of inequality as pointed out by Karl Marx? First of all, the utopia that was described by Karl Marx never existed. Contrary to popular beliefs, the Soviet Union is NOT a full Marxism system. Karl Marx’s structure of a government system does not include a dictator. Karl Marx did explain that a temporary dictator may be necessary between the transition from capitalism to communism. However, in history, there never was an example that passed the stage of “transition”, as no dictator who governed a communist country gave up their power. It is almost as if John Dalberg, who originated the famous quotation of “power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely”, would have told Karl Marx “I hate to say I told you so” if they both knew each other.

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