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Money is NOT the Root of All Evil

Updated on April 22, 2012

by Christopher Peruzzi

The Myth

A few days ago I read a hub question asking if money brings unhappiness.

I've always maintained that people who say "money can't buy happiness" don't know where to shop. What I can't understand is this mentality that states "money brings unhappiness".

No, it doesn't. Stupidity brings unhappiness.

It's like the myth that guns kill people. Guns don't kill people. People kill people. Guns just make it easier. If you put a gun in a policeman's hand, or in a soldier's hand, he won't use it unless he has to. If you put a gun in a stupid irresponsible person's hand, he murders or does something catastrophically idiotic.

But I digress.

We've all heard the myth: Man wins lottery. Man spends all his winnings and ends up hopelessly in debt. So, ergo, money must have wielded some mystical power and made this poor unfortunate lottery winner miserable by giving him too much money. Or, maybe, just maybe, he spent more than he had.

It is this kind of mentality that keeps people from wanting riches. They say, "If it could happen to an average joe, then it could happen to me. Perhaps it's best that I remain poor or with just enough to get by."

Or perhaps they have been watching too much of the media. They see someone who is rich and acting foolishly. They immediately think, "That person is out of touch. He doesn't understand what it's like to be average. If I get rich, maybe I'll be that out of touch. Money changes people."

Let's take a closer look at having money or what constitutes being "wealthy".

How much is enough?

One of the questions that begs to be answered is "What is too much money?"

Some people say that there is never enough. I beg to differ. Is a million dollars a lot of money? No, not really. If you take the cost of living per year (or your own salary) and divide it into one million dollars, that's how many years you don't need to work.

Life insurance agents use this one all of the time. If a man earns $100,000 a year and gets a $1,000,000 death benefit for his family that buys the family 10 years of breathing room before the family needs to work to survive. In today's economy $100K is not a tremendous amount of money. Of course, the beneficiary could use the $1,000,000 to pay off the mortgage and put the rest in some kind of annuity, but it's still not a whole lot of money.

Okay, what about a billion dollars? That's with a "B". That would be more than enough to take care of yourself, your family, and have enough resources for you to reach some kind of self actualization or some kind of self fulfilling desire.

Will that bring unhappiness?

Well, that depends on the person.

A stupid person would take his money and either buy illegal drugs or make poor investments. Perhaps he'd go to Las Vegas and gamble it away. Perhaps he'd use it to get revenge on all of his enemies. Who knows? Will it make him happy? Maybe in the short run. I'm certain the drugs would have a temporary euphoria to them. And then what?

Or you could spend the money responsibly.

A normal law-abiding citizen may take the money, pay all of his debts. invest his money or create a trust for his kids so that they will have enough money to get their start in life and pay for a first class education. If it were me, I'd spend my money very much like that. Then I'd see the world. When I came home, I'd start a business doing ANYTHING and employ a workforce to make more money and stimulate the economy.

Andrew Carnegie made all of his money establishing U.S. Steel. He made more money than anyone could ever imagine and he started with nothing. Today, he is known as one of the biggest philanthropists in history who built universities and established funds on the building of the human spirit.

"If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy, and inspires your hopes." - Andrew Carnegie

I think he was happy.

And while he was not a educated man, he certainly was not a stupid one. He did not live as today's rich do and he certainly did not believe that being rich was something to be proud of. As a matter of fact, he thought that if you died rich, you died disgraced. That's why upon his death, he gave away (in 2010 dollars) $4.8 billion to foundations, charities, and to pensioners.

Final Thoughts

There is too much nonsense going around.

While I'll be the first person to say that today's upper 1% needs to pay more in taxes. I'll also be the first in saying that money does not make you evil. What money is, is material opportunity. What people choose to do with that opportunity is up to them.

There are some who believe that true happiness is seeking the path of God - and maybe it is. And if those people find that kind of peace and certainty in their own spirituality without money then more power to them. I, on the other hand, believe in making my own way without having to be a mystic - and channeling finances correctly seems to be a way in doing that.

Money is a tool. It's like a hammer. You can take a hammer and use it to build a house, or some furniture, or something really useful. Or you can take a hammer and bash someone's brains in.

Hey, sometimes you'll hit your thumb.

Robin Williams stated that "Cocaine is God's way of telling you that you're making too much money." In some senses, he's dead on. However, I believe that the mind that uses its resources to buy something as self-destructive as that really shouldn't be handling $10 dollars let alone millions. And in that case, $10 bucks is too much money.

Money can be the source of great sadness if used stupidly. However, when you view money as an opportunity and as a resource to enrich your life, future, and the well-being of others, then it can't be evil.

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    • cperuzzi profile image
      Author

      Christopher Peruzzi 5 years ago from Freehold, NJ

      What can I say? I disagree.

    • profile image

      Max 5 years ago

      Money is the root of all evil..........http://szrzlj3.blogspot.nl/2011/04/nelson-mandela-...

    • ananceleste profile image

      Anan Celeste 5 years ago from California

      Interesting perspective to an old age question. You are dead on on this, it is a tool. And with any tool it can build lives or destroy them.

    • Lizam1 profile image

      Lizam1 5 years ago from Victoria BC

      Thought provoking hub. Well written and I like the information about Andrew Carnegie

    • rmcleve profile image

      Rachael Cleveland 5 years ago from Woodbridge, VA

      This was a good hub. Well-written and very accessible.

      I also liked your take on the role of money in a person's life, especially if they happened upon a lot of it.

      There are definitely ways that greed can hurt your happiness, but money itself is not able to inflict damage upon anyone.