Francisco d'Anconia's Speech on Money
I said earlier this month that I would, from time to time, highlight some of my favorite passages from Atlas Shrugged. October 10 will be the 65th anniversary of its publication.
One commenter, Paul Sand, recommended Francisco d’Anconia’s speech on money. It’s one of my favorites also. I like it, not just because of its ideas but also because of something Ayn Rand does very well that she gets very little credit for: fresh phrasing. George Orwell talked about how when you use too many shopworn phrases, they replace thinking. Rand had an ability to come up with fresh ways of saying things.
Some highlights within the speech follow.
What I think of whenever I think about inheritance taxes:
Do not envy a worthless heir; his wealth is not yours and you would have done no better with it. Do not think that it should have been distributed among you; loading the world with fifty parasites instead of one, would not bring back the dead virtue which was the fortune.
Her great wording:
Did you get your money by fraud? By pandering to men’s vices or men’s stupidity? By catering to fools, in the hope of getting more than your ability deserves? By lowering your standards? By doing work you despise for purchasers you scorn? If so, then your money will not give you a moment’s or a penny’s worth of joy. Then all the things you buy will become, not a tribute to you, but a reproach; not an achievement, but a reminder of shame. Then you’ll scream that money is evil. Evil, because it would not pinch-hit for your self-respect?
That last line is so good. My guess is that Ayn Rand never saw a baseball game in her life. But what a fresh metaphor.
Men who have no courage, pride or self-esteem, men who have no moral sense of their right to their money and are not willing to defend it as they defend their life, men who apologize for being rich–will not remain rich for long. They are the natural bait for the swarms of looters that stay under rocks for centuries, but come crawling out at the first smell of a man who begs to be forgiven for the guilt of owning wealth. They will hasten to relieve him of the guilt–and of his life, as he deserves.
I love the wording but I strongly disagree with Rand’s view that someone like that doesn’t deserve to live.
On making money:
If you ask me to name the proudest distinction of Americans, I would choose–because it contains all the others–the fact that they were the people who created the phrase ‘to make money.’