According to 1st. Timothy 6:10, “Money is the root of all evil.” However, in its present form, money also serves our society in many positive ways. It is hard to imagine what we would do if we did not have money as the means of exchange in order to express the value of goods and services which we all need in everyday life. Barter may have been OK when the world was a smaller and simpler place, but it would be a less than optimal arrangement today.
Coinage which has been around for several millennia, and paper money which has been around for a relatively short time, has always been fertile ground for research by everyone from economists to sociologists, and decisions about who, and how to make and print it, has become the exclusive province of national governments.
When we look US currency we see some very interesting artifacts. For example, did you know?
- The pyramid you see on the back of your currency is actually the reverse side of the Great Seal of the United States. The pyramid represents strength and permanence and has been left unfinished to signify the future growth of the country.
- The hands of the clock on the back of the $100 bill are set at approximately 4:10. Although the time is not readily identifiable to the naked eye, it can be seen when examined with 20-fold magnification. There are no records explaining why that particular time was chosen.
- Martha Washington is the only woman whose portrait has appeared on a U.S. currency note. It appeared on the face of the $1 Silver Certificate of 1886 and 1891, and the back of the $1 Silver Certificate of 1896. There have not been any women featured on U.S. paper currency in the entire 20th century.
- If you have three quarters, four dimes and four pennies, you have $1.19. You also have the largest amount of money in coins possible without being able to make change for a dollar.
These and many other curious facts tend to obscure the truth that our relationship to money is a complex and difficult one. According to Ludwig von Mises, in his work, “The Theory of Money and Credit“, “Money is a means to convert the fruits of human labor into a form that can be stored indefinitely, transported readily, and transferred easily to another person in exchange for goods or services…” But that coldly precise academic definition does little to address the complex human involvement with money as an expression of power, greed, utility, control and a whole host of other human characteristics.
Thus, Paul’s abjuration to his protégé Timothy was a clear eyed summary of the traps posed by money to a greedy mankind. Consider the wise words of Benjamin Franklin. “Money never made a man happy yet, nor will it. The more a man has, the more he wants. Instead of filling a vacuum, it makes one.”
***This article was written by one of our contributing writers: Malcolm Noden