Ben Benson

The idea that money is the root of all evil is the mother of all money myths (and probably the grandmother too). It's been around for thousands of years so it obviously has longevity. If it hasn't made your list, I'd be extremely surprised. Only one small problem ... or maybe two. For not only is it untrue, it's also inaccurate. "Money is the root of all evil" has become such a cultural sound bite, even those that have never read the Bible will have heard the statement. Yet it's not what the Bible actually says. The Biblical assertion is that, "for the " love of money is the root of all evil" (Timothy 6:10). The true quotation emphasises that the LOVE of money (not money itself) is the root of all evil. Lose the "love" and the meaning of the statement alters entirely. Those who spout the resulting myth point to the major ills of the world as evidence of its truth. And certainly things like drug smuggling, people trafficking and other heavy crimes are often motivated by "the love of money." But, as always, the root of the evil lies within the perpetrators, not the money. And, in any case, there is plenty of evil in the world that has nothing at all to do with money. Money is nothing but a means to an end. It is a great servant but an unforgiving and often cruel master. There is no doubt that when people put their desire for money above everything else, their moral compass is forever altered, and that can and does have disastrous consequences. But money itself is not to blame. How do we know this? Well, there are many people who have made serious money and have found ways to multiply and share it. Having money doesn't make you a bad person—it merely amplifies what you already are.

I am reminded of the saying "in vino veritas" ("in wine is truth." In other words the more you take, the more truth you will reveal). We could say exactly the same about money.

The person who said money is the root of all evil just flat out didn't have any. Stuart Wilde

Is philanthropy evil?

Andrew Carnegie, the man who effectively commissioned Napoleon Hill to write Think and Grow Rich (the classic treatise on individual wealth creation) was an extremely ambitious and, some say, ruthless man. His formative years were spent in poverty in Dunfermline, Scotland, and it was that poverty that drove him to better himself. His family emigrated to Pennsylvania in the United States, and his first job was a bobbin boy changing spools of thread in a cotton mill twelve hours a day, six days a week. He was just 13 years old. Carnegie's love of money and deep desire to leave his poverty behind was not evil, it was smart. He used his own experiences to put fire in his belly, and Carnegie went on to be one of the richest industrialists of his day. He spent the first half of his life amassing a great fortune and the last half of his life giving it all away. He was passionate about education because he recognised it as the road out of poverty for anyone. He founded the Carnegie Corporation of New York with the mission to "promote the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding" and t he Carnegie Mellon University. He established libraries, schools and universities in the US and UK as well as pension funds for former employees. There can be little doubt that Andrew Carnegie was driven by money, and doubtless loved what he could do with the power and wealth he accumulated, yet he wasn't evil—far from it. He left an enduring cultural, social, educational and economic legacy on both sides of the Atlantic.

Man must have an idol and the amassing of wealth is one of the worst species of idolatry! No idol is more debasing than the worship of money! Andrew Carnegie


In modern times, Bill Gates looks set to do the same. For years Gates has been named the richest man in the world, and together with his wife is now distributing that wealth through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In 2006, billionaire investor and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffet, pledged to give 85% of his fortune away. Buffet, who has for many years been the second richest man in the world and also a close friend of the Gates, earmarked 5/6th of his fortune (an estimated $30 billion) for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It is quite clear therefore that money has no more to do with evil than it does with good. Good and evil have everything to do with people and their values. If someone chooses money over love, friends and family, then that is a reflection of their values. Money is just the convenient scapegoat for an individual's moral vacuum.

Why is this myth so toxic?

The "money is the root of all evil" myth is damaging because it vilifies money. If you believe it, how can you possibly create wealth and feel good about it? If you believe at some level that money is evil, or that money makes you evil, then even if your conscious mind wants to make more money, your sub conscious mind will be holding you back because, by association, that attainment would change you- would even make you "evil." In this way this myth acts as a limiting belief against your attainment of wealth.

Money is the root of all excellence. Louis E Bejarano

So, we need a new rule ...

A more useful and accurate adaptation of this myth is this: "the LACK of money is a root cause of evil." There is nothing inherently noble about struggle. Just a harsh reality. There is no automatic creative response, no romance (except in films and books), little fun, nor room for anything but worry and heartache. Poverty may be photogenic, but behind the image of dignified struggle, a lack of money leads desperate people down desperate paths. A mother without money may steal baby food to feed her child—is that act evil? No, but the fact that she finds herself in such a desperate position in a wealthy world probably is. So forget the myth and look at the facts. Having money just offers you a better way to live. Taking action against a LACK of money, while maintaining your moral compass, can make you a more useful member of society, and also help you to achieve your dreams. Look at all the charities in the world. I have yet to hear of one that didn't value a financial donation. Money can provide freedom, choice, empowerment, increased self-esteem, value and even the ability to express goodness. It can allow you to look after yourself and your loved ones. It also provides an opportunity to support those less fortunate and make a positive contribution on a wider scale. The love of money? Well, that is something different altogether. Make money your god and you will have the devil of a job to stay in control. Expecting others to provide money for you without work or effort is crazy. No one owes you a living—it is up to you to apply yourself to the task of getting what you want. But there's nothing wrong in that, and if you make millions in the mean time, you will have the right to enjoy it and the choices it can bring.

New Rule of Wealth : The LACK of money is the root of all evil.