Money will not purchase happiness for the man who has no concept of what he wants: money will not give him a code of values, if he’s evaded the knowledge of what to value, and it will not provide him with a purpose, if he’s evaded the choice of what to seek. Money will not buy intelligence for the fool, or admiration for the coward, or respect for the incompetent. The man who attempts to purchase the brains of his superiors to serve him, with his money replacing his judgment, ends up by becoming the victim of his inferiors. The men of intelligence desert him, but the cheats and frauds come flocking to him…
Only the man who does not need it, is fit to inherit wealth- the man who would make his own fortune no matter where he started. If an heir is equal to his money, it serves him; if not it destroys him. But you look on and you cry that money corrupted him. Did it? Or did he corrupt his money? 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 that was the fortune.
From Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. This passage is from a long monologue from Franciso d’Anconia in response to a character who contended that money is the root of all evil.
Atlas Shrugged is controversial on many levels. At times the book is tedious and pretentious and the characters are often two dimensional. But the continued popularity of the book is because of its unapologetic philosophy of the virtue of using human intellect to generate real wealth and the morally corrupt who condemn wealth and discount the virtues that created it.
At a time when our political discourse is more about distribution than creation of wealth Atlas Shrugged is enjoying a resurgence.