Is money evil?

I just received an email from someone asking the question "Is money evil?"

I was once a Baptist pastor, so I am intrigued by this question because often people cite the Bible in support of an answer that says "Yes". Actually, the Bible says that it is the "love of money" that is "a root of all kinds of evil" that leads people away from what is good.

I raise this because one of the "mindset" issues business owners can wrestle with is the principles they learnt, or half-learnt, as children. So, if we were taught that money is evil we may feel guilty when our businesses make money for us.

For myself, I see money as morally neutral and as nothing more than a store of value. It pays people to do valuable work that benefits others while allowing the people employed to buy what they need to live and, in so doing does the same for the people that provide the food, housing, utilities etc. Thus, money enables a complex network of interactions by which we create and deliver what we collectively value.

The investor who has money to invest has a problem because that money is doing nothing. Entrepreneurs often mistake the balance of power between themselves and investors, thinking that the person with the money has the power. Actually, investors have a problem: they need someone to make their money work, which means they need entrepreneurs as much as entrepreneurs need them.

I met a property tycoon a little while ago who wanted to "give back" and so wanted to do something himself. Whilst I applauded him for this, I suggested to him that maybe he would be more effective doing what he was doing to make money through delivering value to people and then giving money to fund people who were better able than him to do the good he intended. His face lit up when he realised this was a much more valuable approach in the sense that more value was created by him and those he enabled than by him diverting time and effort to do what others could do more effectively if he funded them.

This reminds me of someone who said, "The best way to help the poor is not to be one of them." Is money evil? In my book it is the deliberate hoarding of money and its admiration for its own sake that heads in this direction. That is what I think is meant by the love of money. Such money is stagnant and, like stagnant water, smells a bit. Only when it moves does it teem with life. What do you think?

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